Chad Richardson: A Link in the Chain

One Newfoundlander takes pride in being part of the path towards success for others


Chad Richardson might call LA home, but he’s a Newfoundlander to the core.  Case in point? He posted an open invite for anyone in the general area to come for Christmas dinner.

From Topsail to LA

Opening your home to everyone and anyone is very much a NL thing to do.

Richardson laughs. ‘‘When I share where I’m from people will give me a very inquisitive look that asks, what was the trajectory from growing up in Topsail to being a music executive in Los Angeles?’’

Richardson takes every opportunity to talk about ‘home.’

‘‘I grew up in a time when the only outside view we had of the world really was the Encyclopedia Britannica. I had a yearning from as far back as I can remember of wanting to see the world and experience different cultures and that was the main impetus for everything I did.’’

Richardson has lived an interesting life. From bands to Broadway musicals, to traveling the world, to staring as a young David Bowie in the artist’s video The Pretty Things are Going to Hell. There’s been much to brag about, though Richardson isn’t into self praise.

While Creative Manager at Ole Music Publishing in Toronto, he signed rock icon Steven Tyler and worked with some amazing songwriters and producers. In 2014 he began working for SOCAN, becoming General Manager of the Los Angeles branch.

Lately, Richardson is focused more on songwriting, becoming one of the most sought after curators in the industry for A-list Song Camps, running over 20 camps in locations all over the world with some of the top songwriters.

The S.O.N.G. Space

With a desire to give back as motivation, in 2018 he formed The S.O.N.G. Space, a networking community for artists and songwriters. The journey to music isn’t often a straight path, he shares.

‘‘When I was young, the idea that I could have a music career was laughable to me. So I did my B plan, which was leaving Newfoundland for France at 17 and I went to chef school.’’

It was there he began writing his own music. A demo tape was sent to Warner Music Canada. He misread a response. ‘‘I left my apartment in the middle of the night, skipped out on my lease with my drummer in tow and we moved to Toronto thinking I was getting a record deal.’’

That didn’t happen, but he didn’t give up. Richardson is the younger brother of ‘the Red Albino’ otherwise known as Jody Richardson.

‘‘That helped me a lot. The people first paying attention to me in music did so because I was Jody’s younger brother, and that was fine by me.’’

His big moment came when he was cast as the lead in Rent.

Path to success

‘‘When I was doing Rent on Broadway, which I did for five years, I started becoming the in-house songwriter and producer for the cast.’’

His music was finally being heard. ‘‘I had over 30 cuts in Asia, I was the writer on the Song of the Year in Taiwan, had multiple top 10’s in Japan, multiple in Korea. I kind of fell into it.’’

Things were about to change again.  ‘‘I had always thought my love was writing songs until I realized that my love was actually the art of writing songs. That’s when I really got into song camps. The first half of my career was all about championing my creativity, then it switched to championing other people’s creativity in songwriting.’’

Now he spends his time trying to be for others what he wished he had access to when first starting out. There are many links to every chain, he continues, and the path to success is no different.

‘‘Of all the unique links, some might be greater in size and influence but none of the links are less important influence-wise. I’m a link in so many songs that are on the radio. I have great pride in knowing that if I’m out of the equation, then maybe something great wouldn’t have happened.’’

There’s a story that involves Richardson, Johnny Reid and Joe Cocker. When he heard Reid’s Fire it Up, he knew Cocker had to record it, he shares.

Fire it Up

‘‘I called Joe’s people and they were like, ‘we have the single, our work’s done,’ and I said, ‘I’m telling you, this song is going to change your plans.’ Two weeks later, they called. Joe was coming to LA. to record the song. It became number one. It was the name of the album, the single and the name of the tour.’’

Richardson saw Cocker perform on the tour live in Germany. It was powerful, he shared. Two weeks before Cocker’s death, Richard received a platinum record in the mail.

What’s his passion nowadays? Tayla Parx, an American singer-songwriter who has worked with Ariana Grande, has teamed up with Richardson for a series of camps called Burnout. ‘‘Those camps bring together the world of self care and wellness along with songwriting. That’s really important to me; mindfulness, self care, and mental health.’’

He’s heading to Nashville in mid-February and then to eight different cities around the world. Burnout Nashville will be his 29th camp.

While he’s certainly world travelled, he remains connected to home.

‘‘Even though I’ve spent more years away than there, (NL) remains a driving force of who I am as a person.’’

He credits his creativity to growing up on ‘The Rock.’

‘‘Newfoundland, in the 80s, was a fiercely creative place, and it still is. And I think a lot of that creativity came from isolation. I think it made me grow up with a very strong sense of the value of art and individualism, and that’s the hardest thing to fake.’’

If you can truly figure out who you are and then live that truth, it’s the biggest power you can have in the music industry, he adds sincerely.

Richardson is a dad, raising his son in LA. He makes sure Newfoundland is never forgotten.

‘‘My son, he’s an LA. boy, but he’s fiercely proud of Newfoundland and he knows it very well.’’

And the music scene here has remained extremely close to his heart, too. He’d love to bring one of his music camps to this province, he adds.

‘‘The last camp I did in New York, there was over 10 number ones between the writers. There were over 20 Grammy nominations. I’d like to bring that sort of success to artists from Newfoundland.’’

Richardson hopes to connect with more artists and aspiring musicians and songwriters from home. ‘‘Reach out to me on Instagram or through social media. I have an open door policy. No one needs to know someone to get to me.’’

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