WIDEawake, a Toronto-based indie entertainment company, recently opened its studio doors to the public in downtown Toronto with a lavish launch party. Formed in 2006, the company develops film properties, artists, proprietary technology/business models and multimedia projects. Situated in the trendy Liberty Village, the multi-media facility boasts a 6000 sq. ft. that surpasses any of its kind in the city and provides musicians, producers, filmmakers and editors a wide range of services. Attendees at the party included WIDEawake artist Sean Jones, comedian Nicole Arbour, Canadian Idol contender for first season Gary Beals, MTV Live co-host Nicole Holness, singer/songwriter Andrew Cole and Oshawa rock band Rides Again.
In its short life span WIDEawake has been plagued by controversy. In 2009, the company purchased Death Row Records for $18 million dollars. The infamous hip hop label was founded in the early 90s by Dr. Dre and Suge Knight, and was home to some of the West Coast’s most notorious rappers, including 2Pac, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. In February 2010, Dr. Dre sued WIDEawake Death Row Records in federal court, alleging non-payment of royalties, unauthorized release of The Chronic Re-Lit album and violation of his digital distribution rights to The Chronic album
Lara Lavi, WIDEawake’s CEO/music lawyer who spearheaded the purchase of Death Row after its original bankruptcy, was fired because of a dispute with her financial backers. Robert Thompson-So, who hails from the Canadian financial services and advisory field, was hired in late 2009 to replace Lavi as CEO. He is virtually unknown in the entertainment world and has no previous experience in the music production business.