Digging up roots: Holger Petersen has weathered 50 years in the Canadian music business

(Holger Petersen launched Stony Plain Records in 1976 with a focus on blues and roots music. PHOTO BY FPM PHOTO ILLUSTRATION)


by Andy Holloway

Financial Post

August 3, 2021

Some of the world’s biggest music superstars are Canadians in Drake and the The Weeknd, so it may be hard to remember a time when the country’s scene was a lot less glamourous, to say the least. It was so dire that rules were implemented in 1971 to force radio stations to play 25% Canadian content, which was upped to 30% in the 1980s and then 35% or 40%, depending on when a station’s licence was granted. Back in the early ’70s, starting a record label in Canada wasn’t a road to fame or fortune. But Holger Petersen didn’t care about any of that when he launched Stony Plain Records in 1976 with a focus on blues and roots music, two genres not tearing up the charts.

“For the first several years, I tried my hand at pop music, working with certain bands that I really liked, and certain artists that I really liked, but, you know, they were geared towards a bigger pop kind of market,” Petersen says. “And I learned very quickly that as a small label, we just were not in a position to compete.”

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