Published Apr 01, 2016Universal Music Canada is getting in on the musical celebrations in Calgary this week, announcing that it has donated the EMI Music Canada archive to the University of Calgary. That means that more than 60 years' worth of files and recordings — spanning genres like folk, jazz, classical, country, pop, rock and heavy metal — will now be available to the public through the school's Libraries and Cultural Resources department.
In addition to the donation, the University of Calgary also revealed a new partnership with the National Music Centre, who will collaborate on educational programming and exhibitions to showcase the archive's material at the NMC's new Studio Bell facility (due to open this summer).
The collection itself is made up of 5,500 boxes holding 21,000 audio recordings, 18,000 videos, and more than two million documents and photographs. Amongst those are master recordings, publicity photos, demo tapes, album artwork, video outlines, marketing plans, lyric drafts, awards, and correspondences between artists, producers, engineers and EMI execs. As one might assume, moving the massive collection is no easy task; a press release notes that it will be transferred from Toronto to its new home in shipments over the course of the next few years.
EMI Music Canada was originally established in 1949 with the intent of distributing international music and developing homegrown Canadian talent. It included the Canadian division of Capitol Records, which served as the recording company for artists like Anne Murray, Tom Cochrane, Sarah McLachlan, Nickelback, Glass Tiger, Kim Mitchell, Helix and the Rankin family.
EMI also acted as the distributor for artists like the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Heart, Smashing Pumpkins, Garth Brooks, Pink Floyd, Queen and Iron Maiden. Capitol even released the first Beatles records in North America, bringing "Love Me Do," "Please Please Me" and "From Me to You" to the Canadian masses in 1963 before "She Loves Me" was released in the United States months later.
Universal Music Canada acquired EMI in 2012 and has pledged to contribute funding in years to come in order to preserve and manage the collection. In addition to being available to the public, the archive will also be heavily used by students and instructors for research and course work in the School of Creative and Performing Arts and other disciplines at the University of Calgary.
"Plans for an educational component around music and the ambitions for this archive are tremendously exciting," said president and CEO of Universal Music Canada (and co-founder of Toronto-based indie label Arts & Crafts), Jeffrey Remedios. "EMI Music Canada became the source of the music many Canadians grew up listening to. It's such a rich and treasured history and it's terrific that generations to come will have the opportunity to explore that."
A virtual introduction to the collection can be seen in the video below.