TORONTO – Jann Arden concedes that, in anger, she “threw some low shots” at the masterminds of a Calgary radio station that was dramatically shortening pop songs, but she argues that she needed to take a strong stand for young artists.
The station, 90.3 AMP (CKMP) announced Tuesday that it was abandoning its “QuickHitz” format switch, which involved truncating tunes in order to give listeners “twice the music.”
Newcap Radio vice-president of programming Steve Jones said the strategy met with much “curiosity” as well as “numerous legal threats from a variety of different directions.”
The scheme was also greeted by overwhelming online blowback, including from Calgary chanteuse Jann Arden, who launched a profane and days-long Twitter campaign against the idea.
After news that the station had abandoned its plan, however, Arden said she has “respect” for “all those guys” managing the station.
“I can’t fault them for trying to make money, for trying to keep people employed, for trying to keep their building paid for,” the friendly songstress said Thursday in a telephone interview. “I was mad. I was on Twitter hurling insults, but one of my (tweets) was: ‘I will bully, I will intimidate, I will insult, I will do whatever I can to draw attention to what this is, and it’s absolutely nothing personal to any of the people who work at the station.
“(They’re) putting food on the table for kids, and are good people.”
Still, the “Insensitive” singer’s empathy hasn’t lessened her disdain for the concept itself, which she calls “a disaster.”
Though the 52-year-old stresses that she wasn’t the one to shift her displeasure to the legal realm, she’s also not surprised that artists would react unfavourably to having their work indiscriminately chopped up without their involvement.
(Jones told The Canadian Press on Tuesday that while no lawsuits were ever launched, there was much “swashbuckling” to that effect. He didn’t immediately respond to an interview request Thursday.)
“I think before it got out of hand, everyone just kind of needed to take a step back and say, ‘Hey, if you want to edit songs, I’m absolutely fine with it — if the artists that you’re playing have given you their permission. Really, if Joe Blow wants to say: ‘Go for it, two-minute version?’ Awesome,” said Arden.
“But please make sure you have their permission. Because if you don’t, that’s a whole different story.”
The eight-time Juno Award winner has more than 102,000 followers on Twitter and has previously exhibited a flair for inciting reaction. Previously, she made headlines for ranting against Via Rail after a flap involving her pup Midi and also for issuing what read like a defence of celebrity chef Paula Deen, then-embroiled in a scandal over allegedly racist behaviour.
So Arden wasn’t surprised when waves of vitriol arrived from those who disagreed with her radio stance.
“I took a lot of beatings. It’s not for the faint of heart — let’s put it that way,” said Arden, who will launch an extensive Canadian tour Sept. 4 in Victoria and also co-host the Canadian Country Music Association Awards on Sept. 7.
“But my shoulders are broad. And when it comes to art, it’s a very, very easy thing to stand up for. It’s very easy to stand up for music and especially young people that are afraid of retribution, that are afraid of reprisals.”
“I’m like, (hell), I’ve had my day at radio,” she added, in fact using a saltier expression. “You do whatever you want to me. It’s not about me. It’s about someone who just signed a record deal that’s desperate to get their song on the radio.”
The matter isn’t completely dead, however.
Earlier in the week, Jones mused that he may re-examine the concept in the future, aided by more input by “some of the various stakeholders in the industry,” and try to nurture the idea of snack-sized songs back to fruition at some “later” date.
Arden, of course, is deeply skeptical it will ever work.
“I don’t think people want to listen to music that way. I don’t,” she said.
“God, if you were in an office with that on all day and you were a dentist? You’d be drilling through people’s jawbones.”
© The Canadian Press, 2014