For someone who doesn’t like being in the spotlight, CMRRA Senior Membership Services Administrator Nigel Barylewicz has certainly made his presence felt in other ways this past year at CMRRA.
Barylewicz is the 2017 recipient of CMRRA’s Cyril Devereux Award, an annual honour recognizing excellence in client service, work quality, professionalism, enthusiasm, and team spirit.
His journey at CMRRA began in 2005 as a part-time copyright administrator. He spent ten years in the role, meticulously maintaining song catalogues and collaborating with music publishers.
“My job was to ensure CMRRA’s database reflected each publisher’s catalogue and any new releases or agreements,” he shared. “I really enjoyed the challenges of keeping all the catalogues up-to-date.”
In 2015, Barylewicz volunteered to take on a new, more forward-facing role as a membership services administrator. He’s also user testing new developments within CMRRA’s cloud-based Licensing and Royalty Distribution System (LDS).
“The way the industry has evolved with online streaming services, we’re having to concentrate on a much larger volume of releases,” he explained. “There’s definitely no shortage of work.”
Proficient in French, Barylewicz grew up in the Southwestern Ontario town of Chatham where he attended school in Pain Court, one of the earliest French-speaking settlements in the area.
“It’s a very old French community with an elementary and high school, a church, and some houses,” he said. “There were maybe 300 people in high school, it was small, so it was very special in that way.”
He often found himself in the school’s music room, surrounded by guitars and drums.
“We had a really great music teacher in high school and I would spend tons of time in the music room just experimenting with all of it,” he recalled. “Music was the only thing I was really interested in.”
As time went on, Barylewicz became intrigued by the technical process of music production and in 2001, enrolled in the two-year Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe College.
There he learnt about the business side of music under the tutelage of faculty members including Juno-award nominated Canadian record producer and Order of Canada recipient, Jack Richardson.
“There were lectures at Fanshaw with alumni who were working with Celebrity Cruises’ entertainment team,” he said. “I was interested in live shows and wanted to travel so it made sense to combine the two.”
Barylewicz spent the next few years post-graduation working on and off as an audio-visual technician for Celebrity Cruises where he could be found every night in the ship’s main theatre or various lounges.
He travelled the Baltic Sea, Caribbean, and Mexican Riviera on six to eight-month contracts. During the days he was free to visit many of the ports.
“It was just an adventure, you know?” he said. “Every night had a different show, so you had to completely set-up the stage for something else and during the show you had to be on the radio with the cast and cruise director.”
As much as he loved it, rough seas and living out of a suitcase would eventually take a toll.
“I would get seasick sometimes,” he revealed. “The ships would generally steer away from bad weather but when I was in the Baltic sea it would get pretty rough and I found myself always worrying about it getting windy or getting into a storm.”
With the travel bug behind him, Barylewicz moved to Toronto in 2005 and started working for CMRRA.
In his down time, he joined an industrial rock band called Lye and played numerous shows as the band’s drummer before they eventually dissolved. He continued to work on various experimental side projects with friends for kicks.
“I guess you could call me a home recording enthusiast,” he said. “I still have a rehearsal space and I’ve been doing anything that comes up along the way, there’s always a new thing.”
“I’m currently trying to finish an instrumental metal project with my cousin we’ve been working on for a while now,” he said. “We don’t play shows or anything, we just record and write.”
What a lot of people don’t know about Barylewicz is that he collects Canadian large cents which were in circulation from the mid 1800s until 1920 and sized slightly larger than a quarter.
“I have all the years that Canada ever made any and some from before Canada was Canada, like pre-confederation,” he said. “It’s something I did when I was younger, and my parents just brought me back the boxes from home a couple of years ago and I got right back into it.”
When Barylewicz accepted the Cyril Devereux Award at CMRRA’s holiday party last month, his colleagues noted he was often the epitome of calm.
“I agree with that,” he said. “When things go wrong, I’m usually the calm guy.”
“It’s an honour to be recognised for my efforts at CMRRA and I am excited to see what’s next with the company and hope to be a part of its continued growth,” he said.
Cyril Devereux was CMRRA’s first General Manager and a long-serving Treasurer. He was a gentlemen, friend, and teacher to many and fondly remembered as an ardent advocate for Canada’s songwriter and music publisher community.
Devereux retired from CMRRA in July 2001 at the age of 90. The award named after him serves to honour the qualities that Devereux best exemplified. To learn more visit our website.