By Isabelle Speerin
Arun Chaturvedi may very well have been Canada’s next big hockey player. Thanks to a tough decision he made as kid, though, he’s now one of Canada’s most sought-after producers and songwriters. Blessed with an active career, he’s now the voice of the Canadian songwriting community in his role as President of the Canadian Songwriters Association (S.A.C.) board.
“I once had to make the decision between continuing my hectic piano schedule or going into hockey and I chose piano, I remember that very clearly,” he states. “I still like to play hockey once in a while though too.”
A multi-instrumentalist, Chaturvedi started playing the piano when he was five. He added guitar and drums to his repertoire and performed in jazz and rock bands as a teenager. In fact, some may remember him as the front man for Canadian modern rock group Driver, who performed the 2006 radio hit ‘She Laughed at Me’.
Chaturvedi eventually landed at CBG Artist Development, a studio and artist incubator responsible for guiding the career of Chantal Kreviazuk and other talented Manitoban artists. “That’s where I learned how to produce and mix,” he notes. “I was able to bring my own artists in at night to write and produce in the studio and I produced a couple Juno-nominated records.”
During the day, Chaturvedi studied computer science at the University of Manitoba. “I never worked a day [in computer science] in my life,” he laughs. “I’ve just always done music.”
Frequent writing trips from Winnipeg to Toronto led to a permanent move ten years ago that made sense operationally and also opened up new opportunities for industry advocacy. Shortly after arriving, Chaturvedi was asked to join the Songwriters Association of Canada (S.A.C.) board. He has since spent five years on the board, the last year at the helm as president. “I’m passionate about standing up for creators rights and making sure the music ecosystem is fair and balanced because creators really are the cornerstone of the entire industry,” he asserts.
S.A.C. is a member-based organization that has protected the business, legal, and creative environment for Canadian songwriters for almost 40 years. It advocates for all music creators, including songwriters, beatmakers, and rappers. “If you’re on the song registration, you’re a songwriter, you’re a creator,” Chaturvedi says. “That’s really important to us because we aim to be inclusive of genre and region.”
S.A.C. supports members with networking opportunities and transformational experiences like song camps, where creators, artists and producers collaborate to create pitch-ready tracks. The organization also offers online webinars and educational programming to help emerging and established songwriters improve their music business literacy.
Chaturvedi insists that “songwriters need to know about their rights and revenue streams and be aware of buyouts, work-for-hires and other potentially predatory practices. I’m not saying these things are necessarily bad, but I think creators need to understand what they are getting themselves into and make decisions in an informed way and with eyes open.”
He also alludes to an interesting trend he’s starting to see more and more. “Some songwriters who have clout are saying if you want to cut this song, send me some points on the master. I’ve never seen this before and it’s an interesting development.”
An important part of S.A.C.’s role is to advocate for fair compensation and a favourable legislative environment for songwriters, a mission Chaturvedi does not take lightly. “We like to keep a pulse on what’s happening in the industry and make sure any issues flagged by creators are closely monitored and brought to the forefront like the Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11), for example, which is currently awaiting Senate approval”. Once the Senate resumes in the fall, S.A.C.’s focus will be on engaging with Senators to ensure they understand just how important this piece of legislation is for Canadian music creators.
S.A.C. and CMRRA have worked together to nurture a close working relationship over the last few years. “I’ve been fortunate to meet monthly with CMRRA president Paul Shaver to discuss several various initiatives aimed to strengthen the creator and publisher sector within the industry. I’ve also been very impressed with and appreciate the outreach that CMRRA has been making to self-published songwriters in Canada. This is an important segment of the industry, and it’s great to see their needs being taken care of.”
In addition to his work with S.A.C., Chaturvedi is an in-demand producer and songwriter. He has worked with artists and songwriters including the late Lamont Dozier, Jim Brickman, and Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals. His film and television composer credits include Keeping Up with The Kardashians, General Hospital, and Degrassi.
“It was pretty cool to see the Kim Kardashian wedding episode where she walked down the aisle to one of my beats playing in the background,” he recalls when asked about career highlights.
At the time of writing, Chaturvedi was putting finishing touches on singles for Jim Brickman, The Modern Gentlemen, and Mat and Savanna, all of which he wrote and produced with long-time collaborator and business partner, Luke McMaster.
Looking into the future, Chaturvedi is confident creator groups worldwide will continue to work hard to ensure creator rights are upheld and impact positive change.
He adds that it’s a challenging time for music creators. “On one hand music is being consumed more than ever, and the commoditization of copyright has resulted in huge catalogue valuations. But buyouts, work for hire, artificial intelligence and the unbalanced valuation of publishing and recording rights on the streaming services pose threats and make it difficult for music creators to earn a living today.”
His soundtrack for the future? ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ written by Randy Bachman and first recorded by Canadian rock group Bachman-Turner Overdrive. “As creators you constantly need to be making good music and that takes a lot of time and energy,” he observes. “But songwriters need to take care of their business!”
To learn more about the Songwriters Association of Canada, visit www.songwriters.ca. Membership is free until the end of 2022.