Music Biz Headlines, April 5, 2021

Paul Brandt (pictured) fights human trafficking, baseball nut Geddy Lee speaks out, and Holly Cole discusses her new album. Also in the headlines are The Weeknd, Patti Smith, Soundgarden, Jess Moskaluke, Against the Grain, Scooter Braun, Justin Bieber, Som Livre, Kanye West, Brit Awards, Lorde, Britfunk, Malcolm Cecil, Bhad Bhabie, and Amy Winehouse.

Music Biz Headlines, April 5, 2021

By Kerry Doole

Geddy Lee criticises Sportsnet over its baseball coverage

Rush frontman and baseball fanatic Geddy Lee is speaking out over the decision of Canadian sports network Sportsnet to do away with dedicated radio broadcasts of Toronto Blue Jays baseball games. The company announced it will instead simulcast their television broadcast over the radio for the 2021 season, making it the first MLB team to do so. – Ken Kelley, Ultimate Classic Rock

Fighting human trafficking ‘more urgent’ amid pandemic: country star Paul Brandt

“Traffickers are taking advantage of this time where vulnerable people are at home and online and that really makes our work feel much more urgent,” said country music star Paul Brandt, who has been leading a committee to help guide Alberta’s fight against the crime for almost a year. Brandt, a former pediatric nurse, founded the organization Not in My City in 2017 with his wife Liz to raise awareness and bring together those fighting exploitation. – Lauren Krugel, CP


Holly Cole talks new album Montreal, concert at El Mocambo

The Toronto jazz star has a new recording called Montreal, where for the first time in a quarter of a century, she’s back with her original trio featuring bassist David Piltch and pianist Aaron Davis. In celebration, last week she took to the stage of the El Mocambo for a very special live-streamed concert called Holly Cole: Live From Under the Neon Palms. She joined us to talk about what to expect from the new album. – Brad Barker, JazzFM

The Weeknd jumps on the blockchain bandwagon: NFTs are ‘democratizing’ the music industry, he says

The Weeknd released a new song this past weekend, but you may never own it – let alone hear it - unless you have very deep pockets. Scarborough-born R&B superstar Abel Tesfaye – better known as The Weeknd – is jumping on the blockchain bandwagon and the recent NFT (non-fungible token) craze: he will auction off a previously unreleased song and some art at beginning April 3. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

Niche classical recordings garner Juno nominations

Spring is Juno time, the annual awards for Canadian-made recordings. – David Gordon Duke, Vancouver Sun 


Jess Moskaluke: The singer now writing the songs

In a rare silver lining for the cloud of the COVID-induced lockdown, Jess Moskaluke has found a reason for gratitude. “In some ways I’m thankful for the pandemic, as my new album The Demos might not exist without it,” the Saskatchewan-based country singer-songwriter explains. – Kerry Doole, Words & Music

Red Deer’s Levi Cuss uses the pandemic to fuel an outpouring of musical inspiration

He’s released three digital EPs so far — and isn’t done yet. – Lana Michelin, Red Deer Advocate

Toronto is getting a breathtaking new arts and cultural centre this spring 

Already a scenic spot on the Scarborough Bluffs with monumental artifacts and sculptural ruins scattered on the grounds, Guild Park and Gardens is about to also be home to a magnificent cultural centre. The new building at the Clark Centre for the Arts, which will come complete with a public gallery, art studios, exhibitions, an event space and community programs, should be ready soon. – BlogTO

Next Week in Music | April 5-11 • The Short List: 5 titles you want to hear

Brockhampton, Cheap Trick, L7, Rev. Peyton & Nick Waterhouse are on the horizon. – Darryl Sterdan, Tinnitist

Five springtime concerts and operas to watch

How did the Toronto-based Against the Grain opera company manage to film its version of Handel’s Messiah across every Canadian province and territory during a global pandemic? Spoiler alert: It wasn’t by the grace of God. A free, two-week encore presentation of Messiah/Complex, just one of five recommended classical concerts and operatic productions that are currently streaming, or soon will be. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail


15 virtual events in Toronto this spring

Virtual events in Toronto this spring give us something to put on the calendar. Art festivals, tech conferences and riveting musical performances continue across the city, only this year to be live-streamed from your computer or television screen. BlogTO


Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, J Balvin to see big paydays from Scooter Braun mega deal

A commitment of $50 million was divvied up between SB Projects acts and longtime staffers. – Shirley Halperin, Elaine Low, Variety

Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande & J Balvin to reap millions in HYBE deal to buy Ithaca Holdings

HYBE’s $1.05 billion deal to buy Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings will award Braun’s artists and staff with more than $40 million in equity, including shares to Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, J Balvin, Demi Lovato and Quavo according to a corporate filing from HYBE, the publicly traded company formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment. – Ed Christman and Alexei Barrionuevo, Billboard


Here’s a running list of artists who have sold some or all of their song catalogues to a new breed of company

The music world is being shaken by the actions of a half a dozen or so companies who are buying up the song catalogues of successful artists. The artist gets a huge infusion of cash up front which takes away financial pressures for the rest of their lives. It’s then up to these companies to exploit the value in these songs in order to make their money back and turn a profit. – Alan Cross, A Journal of Musical Things

Sony Music is buying Som Livre, Brazil's biggest homegrown record label

We told you so. Last month, MBW predicted that Som Livre, owner of the biggest domestic-born record label in Brazil, was set to be acquired by a major music company. Sony Music Entertainment has today (April 1) confirmed that it has agreed a deal to acquire Som Livre for an as-yet-undisclosed fee (we predicted around $250 - $300m). So long as the deal passes regulatory approval, Sony Music will buy the Brazilian company from its current parent, the Globo group. – MBW

Hit songwriters ask pop stars to stop taking credit for songs they didn't write

Some of pop's biggest hitmakers are asking artists to stop taking credit for songs they didn't write. In an open letter, the writers behind songs like Dua Lipa's New Rules and Ariana Grande's 7 Rings said "a growing number of artists" were demanding a share of publishing royalties, even if they had contributed nothing to a song. – Mark Savage, BBC

Adidas and Gap help boost Kanye West's net worth to $6B

Kanye West is now worth a staggering $6.6 billion, as revealed in a new Bloomberg report and confirmed by a rep to Billboard. According to a private document obtained by the outlet, Yeezy – West’s sneaker and apparel business with both Adidas and Gap – has been valued at between $3.2 billion to $4.7 billion by the Swiss investment bank UBS Group. – Billboard


California to allow indoor concerts and theaters to reopen on April 15

Indoor concerts, theaters and other private gatherings may start up again in California beginning on April 15, the state’s Department of Public Heath announced Friday. However, to attend the reopened events indoors, people will need to prove they have been fully vaccinated against Covid or be tested for the virus. The number of guests allowed at the event or gathering will also depend on which four-color restriction tier the specific county is in. – Jordan Moreau, Variety

Dua Lipa, Arlo Parks and Celeste head Brit awards race

Singer-songwriters Dua Lipa, Arlo Parks and Celeste lead the competition for the Brit Awards, with a trio of nominations apiece for the U.K. music prizes. The three British women were nominated for best female solo artist and album of the year on Wednesday. Lipa is also up for best British single, for Physical. Parks and Celeste - who has an Academy Award nomination for Hear My Voice, from the film The Trial of the Chicago 7 - are contenders for the breakthrough artist trophy. – AP


5 Album release strategies we loved in 2020

If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that there is no one “right” or “ideal” way to release music. Below, check out five of our favorite strategies from artists who had a wildly successful year of releasing music in 2020. – Karen McCormick, Venture

Watch Lorde cover Bruce Springsteen with Marlon Williams

They sang “Tougher Than the Rest” onstage in Auckland, New Zealand. – Madison Bloom, Pitchfork

‘There were pitched battles, fist fights’: how Britfunk overcame racism to reinvigorate UK pop

Blending jazz-funk, glam rock and punk energy in the late 1970s, Britfunk crash-landed into the charts and inspired club culture. The musicians relive one of the first homegrown Black music scenes. –  Alexis Petridis, The Guardian

Remembering Malcolm Cecil, synth pioneer and Stevie Wonder producer

On March 28, the music world, and the Hudson Valley’s close knit community of music makers, lost another great one, Malcolm Cecil.  The much-traveled musician, producer and Grammy-winning engineer passed away after a long illness in Malden-on-Hudson. Though Cecil was a man of many hats he is perhaps best known as the co-creator of TONTO, the world’s largest analog synthesizer.  – Sal Cataldi, NYS Music

Covid-19 changed how movie and TV music gets made. Why L.A. musicians are worried

The plague year proved the ingenuity of musicians, as well as the composers who write for them. But it also opened new cracks — and exposed old ones — in the post-pandemic job market of musicians who make their living recording scores in L.A. – Tim Greiving, LA Times

Rapper Bhad Bhabie breaks OnlyFans record by earning $1 million in six hours

Teen rapper Bhad Bhabie has captured the crown as queen of OnlyFans — claiming that she racked up more than $1 million in just six hours after her debut on the not-safe-for-work site. Bhad Bhabie is charging $23.99 per month for access to photos and videos on her OnlyFans page. Subscribers also are promised the ability to “direct message" the star. – Todd Spangler, Variety

New BBC film to mark tenth anniversary of Amy Winehouse’s death

The documentary will portray the star primarily through the eyes of her mother, Janis. – Paul Sexton, UDiscovermusic

Appreciating Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, a year after Covid took one of modern rock’s great songwriters

Droll. Adroit. Literary. Observational. Epigrammatic. Empathic. Finely tuned. Waggish. Harmonious. Hilarious. Dryly devastating. These were the qualities that marked Schlesinger’s songwriting. And, frankly, on a survey of what rank-and-file fans would say they prize most about rock ‘n’ roll, these would probably end up near the very bottom. – Chris Willman, AP

Soundgarden accuse Vicky Cornell of locking band out of social media accounts, website

In new legal papers, the band's surviving members say Cornell is "holding hostage the login information." – Jon Hadusek,  CoS

As YouTube’s top music genre, hip-hop presents vast ad opportunity

Following the launch of audio ads and music line-ups late last year, YouTube recently announced that in Q4 2020 hip-hop was the most viewed music genre on the platform. The video-sharing company also revealed that, for the same time period, hip-hop is the fastest growing of the top three music genres (hip-hop, pop and rock) in the U.S. This present a real commercial opportunity. – Forbes

Patti Smith launches free weekly newsletter for fans

Patti Smith is treating fans to a free, weekly online newsletter, containing poetry, music and "ruminations" from the punk legend herself. She took to Instagram last week to announce she's teamed up with email subscription platform Substack for the newsletter. – MusicNews

Mélanie Renaud
Courtesy photo

Mélanie Renaud


Obituaries: Quebec Singer Mélanie Renaud, Saxophone Legend David Sanborn

This week we also acknowledge the passing of English keyboardist John Hawken and soul/ska singer Jimmy James of The Vagabonds.

Mélanie Renaud, a Quebec singer, died on May 14, at age 42, from ovarian cancer.

The Haiti-born artist, who was adopted by Quebecois parents when she was eight months old, was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer more than seven years ago.

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