The Secret History of Rock

The MAPL Symbol

Have you ever wondered what that little pie-shaped symbol means on CDs issued by Canadian artists? That’s called the MAPL symbol.  

It’s a bureaucratic way of measuring the “Canadian-ness” of musical material.  Here’s how you decode it.  The M stands for “music”—and you’ll see if the music was written by a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant.  

The A means “artist”–same rules as M.  The P is for “production.”  In this case, we’re talking about a musical selection that consists of a live performance recorded in Canada and broadcast live in Canada.  

And L, obviously, is for “lyrics”–same rules as M and A.  For a song to be considered Canadian in the eyes of the government, it has to meet at least two of those criteria.

But here’s the weird thing:  if, say, Our Lady Peace, records a cover of a Green Day song in New York, that’s not enough for the song to be classified as a Canadian recording because only the artist (the A) applies.  

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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4 thoughts on “The MAPL Symbol

  • It's not weird. It all makes perfect sense once you realize that the government is interested in supporting the Canadian music business, not Canadian music. The artist is just part of the product like steel in an automobile, and as far as they're concerned the <I>product</I> is what matters.

  • I wonder if Quebec pushed for the L to be Language, requiring a song to be bilingual.

  • Do you really believe what you just said Chris o? You must be trying to be funny, right? Maybe fishing for a reaction? If not, then this is the most stupid comment i've read in a long time!


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