Music Biz Headlines, April 7, 2022

Joni Mitchell (pictured) receives a MusiCares tribute, Canadian artists rethink their careers in the wake of the pandemic, and Pup takes chances on its new album. Also in the headlines are Plastikman and Chilly Gonzales, the CFMAs, Martha Wainwright, Justin Bieber, Alex Lifeson, the Grammys, Kanye, Rich Aucoin, Leonard Cohen, John Zaritsky, BMG, Universal, Instagram, Audio Up, Ed Sheeran, deaf DJs, Sex Pistols, Birmingham, Foo Fighters, Bad Bunny, Joel Little, and Francisco González.

Music Biz Headlines, April 7, 2022

By Kerry Doole

Joni Mitchell takes stage at all-star MusiCares tribute

Joni Mitchell thrilled a Las Vegas audience on Friday by taking the stage during a rare public appearance to sing along with an all-star lineup of musicians who paid tribute to her pioneering career. Artists from John Legend to Cyndi Lauper, Beck, Billy Porter, Mickey Guyton and Brandi Carlile performed favorite selections from Mitchell's catalog at the annual MusiCares fundraising gala before the Grammys. – Channel News Asia

As live music lockdowns lift, musicians are still questioning their careers

According to statistics provided by the Unison Fund (a Canadian org that offers counselling referrals and financial relief services to musicians and music workers), mental-health issues in the industry have surged dramatically. Crisis interventions since March 2020, have more than doubled. Of the more than 600 calls the service has received, 85 were considered urgent, 911-level emergencies. – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail


Toronto punks PUP on the new album, their ‘unravelling’ and perfecting imperfect music

The band’s fourth album “The Unraveling of PUPTheBand” drops Friday. It’s not often you hear someone refer to their own decisions as “stupid,” but PUP singer and rhythm guitarist Stefan Babcock means that in the most sincere way possible. "But I love this record and I’m so glad we made those decisions.” – Justin Smirlies, Toronto Star

Canadian songwriters made $67 on average from streaming last year. Would Bill C-11 change the game?

The body representing Canada’s songwriters and composers has revealed that on average musicians writing their own material earned only $67 last year in royalties from domestic streaming services. – Marie Woolf, CP

‘Consumed In Key’ a compelling reinterpretation of Plastikman’s 1998 album ‘Consumed’

“Consumed In Key” released April 1, reimagines Richie Hawtin’s, (a.k.a. Plastikman) 1998 album, “Consumed,” with collaborators Chilly Gonzales and Montreal DJ and producer Tiga. – Ben Rayner, Toronto Star  

The Canadian Folk Music Awards 2022 – winners and highlights

How was this already the 17th annual Canadian Folk Music Awards? The CFMAs remain a banner event on the Canadian roots music calendar, one that is arguably more relevant than ever before in an era when live music will likely continue to face challenges due to Covid. When you can’t tour, you need other ways to bring attention to great new music, and let’s face it, everyone loves an awards show. – Heather Kitching, Roots Music Canada


Stories I Might Regret Telling You by Martha Wainwright review – first-class family drama

Tales of rivalry, love, drugs and difficult births litter the singer-songwriter’s gripping account of life in a dysfunctional music dynasty. – Kitty Empire, The Guardian

Here’s why Justin Bieber’s Grammy shutout is no reason to weep

Perhaps winning a Grammy is one of the less important matters to this relatively young adult who has not only grown up in the spotlight, but survived and flourished. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

Rush's Alex Lifeson finds spark again with new band Envy of None

By the time Rush had completed its 40th anniversary tour in 2015, guitarist Alex Lifeson had heard the word “retirement” plenty of times. But even if the band wasn’t going to continue — and Lifeson emphasizes that he thinks the trio that he formed with Geddy Lee and the late Neil Peart could have kept going — he wasn’t ready to stop making music. – Mark Daniell, Postmedia

No, Gus' Pub isn't closing

"It's the same rumour that comes around every few months, for 20 years," reassures the popular bar's manager. – Morgan Mullin, The Coast

Rich Aucoin audience celebrates at triumphant show

There was something kind of wonderful about a room full of smiling young people singing “We are not dead yet, we are undead” at this Toronto show almost two years to the day after the plague lockdown hit. – Michael Hollett, NEXT


Five poems to make you love Leonard Cohen

With April known as National Poetry Month, there is no better way to celebrate than to honour the legacy of one of Canada’s most prolific poets: Leonard Cohen. While most know Cohen as a musician, beyond the songs is a collection of written works – primarily poetry – that have had an impact just as much as his music. – Nicholas Seles, Globe and Mail

Bieber booed at Montreal concert for praising Maple Leafs 

Justin Bieber might need a lesson in "know your audience" ... 'cause fans booed the hell out of the singer during his tour stop in Montreal on Tuesday for dissing the hometown Canadiens. Bieber -- a massive fan of the Habs' hated rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs -- showed love for his team right before his final song of the night ... saying, "How about those Leafs though, huh?" – TMZ


Tom Lavin & the Legendary Powder Blues play a benefit for Vancouver Co-op Radio at the Rio on May 15

Anybody wondering whether Powder Blues are still doin' it right on the wrong side of town? Mainman Tom Lavin still leads a version of the band--now known as Tom Lavin and the Legendary Powder Blues--and they'll be playing at the Rio Theatre on May 15, with guests Harris&DeBray (singer Leslie Harris and guitarist Curtis Debray). – Steve Newton, Georgia Straight

Oscar-winning documentarian John Zaritsky dies at 79

Born in St. Catharines, Ont., Zaritsky had a career that spanned over 40 years and often tackled controversial subjects, while giving a voice to survivors. In 1983, he won the Oscar for best documentary feature for an episode of The Fifth Estate, Just Another Missing Kid. – Sadaf Ahsan, CP


BMG's annual revenues grew 10.1% to $784m in 2021

BMG turned over more than three quarters of a billion dollars in 2021. According to newly-published financial figures from parent Bertelsmann, the music company generated €663m (approx. $784m) in annual revenues last year. That was up 10.1% on BMG's equivalent figure from 2020. BMG's operating EBITDA increased by 5.4% YoY in 2021 to €144m ($170m). – MBW

Universal Music confirms it will start paying royalties to unrecouped heritage artists

Universal Music has, as expected, confirmed it is following the lead of its major label rivals, who in turn followed the lead of certain independent labels, in committing to pay through royalties to unrecouped heritage artists. The mega-major includes its commitment in this domain within its 2021 annual report, which was published last week. – Chris Cooke, Complete Music Update

Instagram adds music From Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music to messages

Instagram has added a number of significant new features to its messaging platform. Most useful for musicians and music marketers is the addition of 30 second song previews from Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. In addition to music, new messaging include the ability to send a message silently, the ability to see who’s online to chat and more. Instagram’s addition of quick polls could also be a useful tool for artists." – Hypebot


Grammys 2022: The night's best, worst, and most quotable moments

Happening just one week after Will Smith shockingly slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage at this year’s Oscars, all the Recording Academy had to do Sunday night was to avoid a scandal for its Grammys to be deemed a success by comparison. Highlights included Jon Batiste’s awards, Ukrainian President Zelensky’s powerful speech and Joni Mitchell’s history. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

The 12 Best and Worst Moments of the 2022 Grammys

From Billie Eilish’s Taylor Hawkins tribute to Doja Cat’s refreshing realness to Olivia Rodrigo’s tear-jerking victory lap. – Pitchfork

Universal Music Publishing Group strikes strategic alliance with podcast firm Audio Up

Universal Music Publishing Group has entered into a strategic alliance with audio content production studio, Audio Up. The agreement will focus on signing songwriters to create unique music for Audio Up’s original podcast programs. – MBW

After raising $34m, music funding platform beatBread names Advocacy Council 

Among the founding members are Mike Caren (Artist Partner Group) and Dave Dederer (Label owner and founding member of The Presidents of the United States of America). The launch of the Advocacy Council follows beatBread's $34M seed round in Feb. led by Fintech-focused venture capital firm, Deciens.– MBW 


Musicians are begging fans to mask up at concerts. Here’s why.

With mask mandates being pulled, artists like Jeff Rosenstock, Wednesday, Mary Lattimore, and Speedy Ortiz say that they feel forced to choose between healthcare burdens and income loss. – Pitchfork

Ed Sheeran wins copyright lawsuit in the UK

Ed Sheeran has beaten a lawsuit in the UK over the alleged infringement of his single Shape of You. The case was brought against Sheeran by a British artist called Sami Chokri (aka Sami Switch), who claimed that Sheeeran ripped off the hook in his song Oh Why, which was released in 2015. The verdict was delivered in Sheeran’s favor in a UK High Court on April 6. – Murray Stassen, MBW

"Frequencies I'd never felt before": How deaf DJs are revolutionising the club experience 

Becky Buckle speaks to Troi Lee, KIKAZARU and Robbie Wilde on tech, crowds and overcoming music industry obstacles. – Becky Buckle, MixMag

John Lydon wants nothing to do with new Sex Pistols soundtrack

This week, Universal Music Group announced a 20-track collection, dubbed ‘The Original Songs’, is being released as a companion to the Disney+ series ‘Pistol’, which Lydon took his bandmates to court over the use of their songs in the drama. And now, Lydon has issued a statement confirming he “does not endorse or support” the release. – Music-News

Foo Fighters need a new drummer, and here are four legends worth looking at

In announcing the cancellation of all tour dates this week following the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins, Foo Fighters stated that this is a time to “grieve, to heal, to pull our loved ones close”.  Once they regroup, here are some possible drummer choices. – Mike Usinger, Georgia Straight 

The beats of Birmingham: A music lover’s tour of the increasingly diverse U.K. city

In this multicultural, musically driven city, if you stick to only the obvious downtown attractions, you’re missing out. – Lucas Aykroyd, Toronto Star

Why we can't quit the rock guitar solo

It’s easy to dismiss the guitar solo as an outdated, macho institution. The shredding lead guitar, once ubiquitous in rock music, can now feel like a relic of a bygone time. – NY Times

In what will likely shock every North American music fan, Ukraine's Antytila trades guitars for military fatigues

Rock stars at home, group members now pass their days on the frontlines helping provide first aid to wounded soldiers, loading weapons, and generally stepping up like their fellow Ukrainians who’ve fought against Russia, on the streets and in the forests, ever since Vladmir Putin decided to invade just over a month ago.  – Mike Usinger, Georgia Straight

Jack Scorpio calls for more females in the sound system industry

In the past year, discussions regarding female representation in dancehall and their overall contributions to the entertainment industry have transformed into passionate conversations. Veteran sound system owner and producer Jack Scorpio has added his two cents to the topic. –Jamaica Gleaner

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Unlimited Love review – bloated and self-indulgent (2 of 5 stars)

The Californian quartet’s latest follows a long line of forgettable albums, even if they do enshrine Southend in a lyric. – Phil Mongredien, The Guardian

How Bad Bunny upgraded fans’ concert experience with a pre-show experiential museum

The hitmaking Puerto Rican rapper surprised fans with a pre-show museum celebrating his live show after a two-year, pandemic-induced hiatus, complete with an inflatable slide sculpted into the shape of the star’s head. – BizBash

Kanye West pulls out of 2022 Coachella headlining set

The rapper previously threatened to pull out of the festival if Billie Eilish did not apologize to Travis Scott, whom he planned to bring out for his set. – Starr Bowenbank, Billboard

Not a vanity project: Joel Little is giving back to Aotearoa's music scene

Whatever Joel Little does, music is never far away. And it’s like this today, as he talks to me about post-Lorde fame, working with Taylor Swift, and the new studio complex he’s been building in Auckland. – Grant Smithies, Stuff

Francisco González, Los Lobos founding member and guitar-string pioneer, dies at 68

González would leave the group within a year, just before they went on to become the most famous Chicano rock group of them all. But the East L.A. native nevertheless became a musical icon of his own. – LA Times

The cast of "Stereophonic"
Julieta Cervantes

The cast of "Stereophonic"


Will Butler on Writing the Tony-Nominated Music for ‘Stereophonic’: ‘It Was Like a Thousand-Piece Puzzle With 200 Pieces Missing’

The former Arcade Fire member has two nominations for his stunning songs, written for a fictional (but very believable) rock band onstage.

Will Butler’s first meeting with playwright David Adjmi was fairly open-ended: a friend had told Butler that Adjmi — a fan of Arcade Fire, the band Butler was in at the time — was working on a play about a band and that Butler could “write the music or just consult or whatever.”

But from their first sit-down at a diner near New York’s theatre district, Adjmi’s vision was “instantly recognizable” to Butler: “Like, oh, it’s a demo — it’s like a transcendental thing that they can never recapture. You have things falling apart because the headphones sound bad, you have people yelling at each other over music but it’s because of how their dad treated them,” he recalls with a laugh.

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