In the early 80s, a 22-year-old Kathryn King beat out 200 applicants for a coveted part-time role typing index cards at Chappell Music (now Warner/Chappell Music Canada) in Toronto.
Armed with a resumé that included composition and songwriting, singing, guitar, mandolin and keyboard playing, not to mention an unwavering passion for music, it was an early indication of the accomplishments that would follow this Englehart, Ontario native over the next three-and-a-half decades of her music industry career.
After a year at Chappell, Kathryn made the move to CMRRA, joining General Manager, Cyril Devereux, and his small team in 1983. For the next six years, she immersed herself in all aspects of the business.
“When I joined CMRRA, songs were typed onto index cards and stored in a shoe box,” she muses. “We did a lot of thumbing through boxes to locate copyright information to manually enter into mechanical licensing forms.”
Within a few months, IBM arrived on the scene and set up CMRRA’s first office-wide computerized system. “During the testing phase, they asked who wanted to type in the first song and I said ‘me, me, me’ because I was pushy like that,” she laughs.
With the team and workload growing, and new General Manager David Basskin on the scene, Kathryn gained a new role and title in 1989 – Assistant Manager. Her out-of-office artistic talents as a song and story writer, as well as a board game creator, helped her conceptualize and work with IT to build the infrastructure for the international department, and later, for other new lines of business.
As CMRRA’s place in the industry exploded so did Kathryn’s role, and from 1990 to 1998, she became Director of Copyright. Her new role included managing a large team, working with Basskin on the day-today management of the office, and travelling regularly on business trips to Montreal, New York, Nashville and California to meet clients.
When a television production company approached her in late 1997 to write music for several shows that aired on Discovery Channel, she requested the option to work four days week and change up her position at CMRRA. Kathryn then became Manager of Special Projects, a title she kept for almost twenty years.
Her new role allowed her to concentrate on start-up projects and new lines of business, starting with the broadcast mechanical. “A highlight was speaking at the Copyright Board, which was definitely one of the scarier things I’ve done,” she says.
By 2001, Kathryn approached then CMRRA President and CEO, David Basskin, about working on a new project – the private copying levy. At the time, there was no infrastructure in place to claim for private copying royalties.
Kathryn helped develop the claims process for the publisher/author college from square one, working with SOCAN, SODRAC, and the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC), amongst others.
While the position was a massive undertaking, it proved to be lucrative. “Private copying has generated massive amounts, around 180 million dollars, just for the publishers and writers since its inception,” she revealed.
As her three-plus-decade career comes to a close, she says, “Watching CMRRA grow from songs on index cards in shoe boxes to its stature today, and knowing I played an important role in its development, is one of the highlights of my career.”
“My most cherished memories, though, will be of the many wonderful, enjoyable people I met and had the privilege of working with at CMRRA and beyond. My longevity and enthusiasm for the business was because of them.”
While Kathryn may be retiring from her full-time role working in the industry, she plans to continue on the creative side as the lead songwriter, singer, synth and guitar player for her band, We’re From Earth, which is currently contemplating its third album. She expects to stay in touch with CMRRA as a client.
On behalf of CMRRA President, Caroline Rioux, and the entire CMRRA team, we thank Kathryn for her years of service to the publishers and writers in the Canadian music industry.