P.E.I.-raised music industry vet nominated for country music honour

Steve Coady started out playing music in Charlottetown bars, but has risen in the record company world instead, and now is nominated for a Canadian Country Music Award.

Record exec Steve Coady has gone from Charlottetown bars to Toronto boardrooms

Warner Music Canada's Steve Coady (left), with country star Brett Kissell. Coady's work with the artist has been acknowledged with a Canadian Country Music Award nomination for the Island-born record exec. (Steve Coady)

An Islander now living in Toronto is up for one of the top awards in country music in Canada, but he's not someone you'll hear on the radio.

Instead, it's his job to get musicians played on the airwaves.

Steve Coady, originally from Charlottetown, has been nominated for record company person of the year at the upcoming Canadian Country Music Awards, and has been the vice-president of radio promotion for Warner Music Canada for the past 15 years.

"What that is in a nutshell is I have a team of people across Canada," explained Coady to Karen Mair, host of CBC Mainstreet. "Our clients are radio stations, including the CBC chain, and mostly our efforts are towards having our artists that are signed to Warner, both locally through Canada and internationally, get played on the radio stations."

While Coady works with all of Warner Canada's artists, from Michael Bublé​ to Tegan and Sara to Simple Plan, this nomination recognizes his success in the country roster, notably with Alberta's Brett Kissel and newcomer Meghan Patrick among others.

Making the hits

While he works hard to make the hits, he admits there's no sure-fire formula.

"Boy, if I knew the answer to that!" he laughed. "There's an artist that we have that we represent through an independent label that we distribute, and the artist has had a couple of pretty big hits on country radio in Canada, and their latest single we all thought was a pretty strong song, but we're really struggling to get it going.

"We're just sort of analyzing now, is it because it's not a great song? Because we think it is. Or is it the wrong time of year, because the song didn't have the right sort of tempo or feeling or vibe that stations want to play. Or is it just because, and this is what I really think it is, is that there are so many great Canadian artists being presented to radio now."

Started in Charlottetown

Coady started his music career on the other side of the business, on stage in the Charlottetown group Tequila.

From there he moved to Halifax to play with The Trees, until becoming interested in how record labels worked.

He was first hired by A&M Canada, moved up to head office in Toronto, and has been offered promotions at other labels until landing his current job at Warner.

Working with stars

For a huge music fan, it's been a dream career.

"I'm very lucky, the perks that come with my job, sometimes I pinch myself or, not usually in front of my boss will I say this, but 'I get paid to do this?'" he said.

Hanging with the stars: Steve Coady of Warner Music Canada (right), country superstar Blake Shelton (centre) and Kelley Burns-Coady, originally from Summerside, Coady's wife. (Steve Coady)
"A lot of iconic Canadian artists that I've met or work with, from Blue Rodeo to Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, and some younger artists, we've been working with the band Billy Talent, basically they started at Warner around the same time that I did so it's been very gratifying to watch their career grow."

Usually Coady is one of the people artists thank from the stage at awards shows, but this time he could be doing the thanking.

The Canadian Country Music Awards happen on Sunday, Sept. 11 in London, On., broadcast on CBC TV.

With files from Mainstreet