William Harold Moon (1908-1984)

Year Born: 
1908
Year Died: 
1984

Pioneer

Moon, William Harold (1908-1984)

Harold Moon was born in Toronto and started his career as a writer before he was 20. He retired more than 40 years later as general manager of what was then BMI Canada Ltd. after a career that had a strong influence on Canadian music. He was a songwriter, but his strengths were in encouraging others, and in his rapport with the broadcast and music industries.

In 1930 Harold organized a band-booking business in Montreal. In 1942 he joined Royal Air Force Transport Command and wrote scores for camp shows. After the war, he organized and became manager of North American Music Ltd., set up to publish Canadian music.

In 1947, Harold was appointed managing director of BMI Canada Limited, an affiliate of BMI Ltd. of the United States. The establishment of the U.S. company in 1940 as Broadcast Music Inc. had been fostered by the American radio industry to create a music performance licensing body which would operate in similar fashion to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, known as ASCAP, establishing and administering an expanding catalogue of copyrighted music that would provide an alternate source of program material.

Canadian radio stations had long felt the need for a second source of licensed music, an alternative to the Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (CAPAC), and they lent their support to the formation of BMI Canada Ltd. Broadcasters from both the private and public sector were appointed to the board. An affiliation agreement was cemented with Broadcast Music Inc. and Harold Moon turned to the task of adding to BMI's repertoire of new songs composed by Canadians. “He became the best friend of budding Canadian songwriters,” said Lyman Potts, who in those days was assistant manager of CKOC Hamilton and one of the first directors of BMI Canada.

As an experienced songwriter himself, Harold recognized the importance of having recordings by Canadian performers promoted on radio. He developed a good relationship with Canadian radio programmers and sponsored a number of seminars in Canadian cities involving leading North American program directors to which songwriters and the staffs of radio stations were invited.

BMI Canada's first memorable hit was Man in a Raincoat, composed by Rick Webster, which launched the long singing career of Priscilla Wright.

In 1976, BMI Canada Ltd. changed its name to PROCAN – the Performing Rights Organization of Canada – and Harold became chairman in 1977, a position he held until his death. PROCAN merged in 1990 with CAPAC to form SOCAN, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada.

Harold was responsible for setting up the BMI Canada Awards, which evolved into the SOCAN Awards. SOCAN also continued the Wm. Harold Moon Award, set up by PROCAN to recognise members who had brought international recognition to Canada through their music.

Harold Moon was the first non-American member, and in fact a founding member and officer, of the U.S. Country Music Association. He was also a founding member of the Canadian Country Music Association and is in its hall of fame. He was presented by RPM Magazine with the first Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame Award, and with a Gold Bessy Award by the Broadcast Executives Society.

He died at his winter retreat in Arizona in 1984 leaving a wife, Vera. The oral autobiography he was working on was never finished.

Written by J. Lyman Potts - February, 2003

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