Back in 2005 I pointed to a great CBC resource called InSite that exposed helpful data about CBC Radio programs to the public: the music tracks played on a show, for example, or the rundown of guests.

As the CBC has synergized and commercialized in the years since, valuable, raw public services like this have fallen away; fortunately the historic data is all still available via the Internet Archive. Here’s the 1997 episode of The Vinyl Café that I pointed to, for example, in that 2005 post.

Looking at that now-20-year-old page, I noticed something I’d forgotten about: the MAPLE Code:

Recording Format (Medium): CD
Recording Title (CD or Album): COWBOYOLOGY
Spine: 03-1 CD
Cut Number: 7

MAPL stands for Music, Artist, Producer, Lyrics, and is a system devised by the CRTC to determine “what makes a song Canadian.”

To qualify as Canadian content, a musical selection must generally fulfil at least two of the following conditions:

  • M (music): the music is composed entirely by a Canadian
  • A (artist): the music is, or the lyrics are, performed principally by a Canadian
  • P (performance): the musical selection consists of a live performance that is recorded wholly in Canada, or performed wholly in Canada and broadcast live in Canada
  • L (lyrics): the lyrics are written entirely by a Canadian

Canadian radio stations, at least in the 1980s when I was playing records on the radio, would have a condition of license that would set out a commitment to play a certain percentage of Canadian content, and the MAPL system was used to make this determination. As a result, stations, in their program logs, had to record that information, and record companies, in their supplementary materials or liner notes, had to indicate it. That’s why you see that line in the CBC InSite system.

For example, in its 2001 license renewal, Trent Radio, where I used to play records, had, as a condition of license:

The licensee has committed to meet the new regulatory requirements with respect to the percentage of Canadian musical selections from category 2 (35%) and category 3 (12%) that community and campus radio stations must broadcast each broadcast week.

The “categories?” Well, that’s complicated, but Category 2 is “popular music” and Category 3 is “special interest music.”

I don’t know whether the “cancon” rules that gave rise to MAPL achieved the over-arching goal of protecting Canadian music from obliteration by America, but I do know that in the small world of community radio producers that I was once a member of, our knowledge of who was “Canadian” and who was not was heightened. And that wasn’t such a bad thing.