The Billboard Canada FYI Bulletin: Reservoir Media's Joni Mitchell Success, Hipgnosis' CEO Shakeup
Also in this week's music business roundup: former Dragonette Dan Kurtz resurfaces, Joe Bamford calls in from Florida, and Dominique Zgarka has Frostbyte.
– Remember Dragonette, the electro-pop trio led by singer/songwriter Martina Sorbara and multi-instrumentalist Dan Kurtz? Well, after a divorce, Sorbara continues to record and appear using the band’s name, and a news release reports that Kurtz has reappeared at UK-based fintech firm Salt as SVP Americas. New music rights & royalties platform investors include Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus, Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, Quincy Jones and Kurtz.
– Universal Music Group EVP Julie Adam has announced that Nick Hodge is the new VP of Partnerships. He joins from a similar post at The Feldman Agency.
– Pierre-Marc Lauzon has been named Director of Music Policy & Programs at Canadian Heritage. He was formerly a director of Comms, Legislative and Regulatory Policy with the department.
–Veteran music manager and six-season Canadian idol judge Jake Gold is to be inducted into CMW’s Music Industry Hall of Fame on June 4. The popular and knowledgeable music business mainstay has his moment at the Westin Harbour Castle ballroom, where clients, current and past, and peers will be clinking glasses and cheering him on stage. For those not in the know, Gold started his company, The Management Trust, in the 1980s, working with acts that most notably include the Tragically Hip. His charitable work is well known and has a long fountain of knowledge about the inner workings of the biz that, oftentimes, offers unvarnished accounts of skulduggery at play. Jake is expected to make his grand entrance, as per usual, in new threads. Jake's tailor has created something for him that gives him a unique style that he has come to be known for.
– Among the 10 Grammy honours for Reservoir Media is Joni Mitchell at Newport, who won in the Folk Album category. The NYC-based music firm also has offices in L.A., Nashville, Toronto, London and Abu Dhabi and signed Mitchell to an all-encompassing global music publishing admin deal in 2021. Notably, Reservoir is owned by the Iranian-Canadian Khosrowshahi family, who founded and then sold Future Shop to Best Buy in 2001 for $580M. Reservoir is run by daughter Golnar, a classically trained pianist with impeccable business credentials. The music firm now represents 150,000 copyrights and 36,000 master recordings that include the Tommy Boy and Chrysalis catalogues. She may be the wealthiest, most influential and little-known woman in Canadian music, so a tip of the hat to her, Joni, and the company.
– Better known than Golnar, IP mogul Merck Mercuriadis, the seemingly perpetual news-making visionary behind the Hipgnosis Songs Management, had his start as a promo rep for Virgin Records in Toronto. Now embroiled in a well-publicized tussle with shareholders, the latest development has him stepping down as CEO to take on the position of Chairman. Hipgnosis Song Management (HSM) serves as the investment advisor for both the UK-listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund (HSF, aka SONG) and the Blackstone-funded Hipgnosis Songs Capital (HSC), managing approximately $3B in music assets. HSM also boasts Blackstone as its majority investor. The column is guessing it won’t be long before this story becomes a Netflix docu-drama a la The Playlist that (sort of) told the inside story behind the making of Spotify. Merck may have almost as many lawyers as songwriters working for him.
- Prolific Trini-born Montreal-based R&B singer Trinisha Browne has signed a recording and publishing deal with music biz icon Dominique Zgarka’s Toronto-based Frostbyte Media. Several compilations of her earlier releases are scheduled, along with several new singles that lead up to the release of the album Rhythm of Love.Distro is via SRG-ILS / Virgin / Universal Music worldwide.
– Once the music biz charter tour bus king, Joe Bamford is now semi-retired, wintering in Florida and residing in Fredericton, where he and wife Fatima promote occasional Get Off the Bus Concerts featuring old-school rockers. He’s got a book in progress as well about his 30+ years on the road with the likes of Blue Rodeo, Willie Nelson, Jann Arden and others who have needed his fleet of coaches to go on the road with. He writes the column that he’s also representing fellow New Brunswicker, Kylie Fox. There’s an album in the can, and he’s calling out for interest from labels and agents. Below is her most recent video. I’m sure you can agree that she has a set of pipes and a keen sense of a song.
– Amazon MGM Studios has acquired worldwide rights to the feature-length Celine Dion documentary, I Am: Celine Dion. The feature was produced by Sony Music Vision in partnership with Sony Music Ent, Canada and Vermilion Films. Prime Video plans to stream this exclusive in 240 countries, but no date when as yet.
– The first wave of CMW music festival artists has been released. By our count, about 95 acts of the planned 200 have been named to perform at the 42nd annual, which serves as a beacon for talent hunters who hopefully will be lurching, some crawling between the 25 designated venues in Toronto between June 1 and 8. Seriously though, there have been a great number of discoveries rising up from this traffic jam of clashing genres, exuberant exhaustion and designated destinies. Click here to apply to play.
– Anthem Ent. has acquired “certain copyrights” formerly held by Beth and Luke Laird through their company Creative Nation. The Nashville firm has banked a catalogue of 20 #1 songs and over 60 radio singles recorded by Sam Hunt, Harry Styles, Lady Gaga and Carrie Underwood and others. Some of Anthem’s recent successes include #1 placements from The Weeknd and Ariana Grande’s collaboration “Die For You,” co-written by Martin “Doc” McKinney.
– Belated best wishes to Pegi Cecconi, the longstanding SRO Mngt. VP, who recently celebrated a birthday of note. Ray Danniels and Geddy Lee were among those who attended the surprise soiree put together by friend Rhonda Ross.