Music Biz Headlines, Aug. 13, 2020

A look at country mystery man Orville Peck (pictured), Joel Plaskett and Chris Murphy honour Matthew Grimson, and an archive interview with Salome Bey. Also in the headlines are Geddy Lee, drive-in shows, Come From Away, UMG, Tencent, Cox, Spotify, Kanye West, Smash Mouth, Richard Russell, Mungo Jerry, The Mission, Wagner, Jeff Tweedy, Chrissie Hynde, and Boy George.

Music Biz Headlines, Aug. 13, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Joel Plaskett and Sloan's Chris Murphy bring songs of late Halifax musician Matthew Grimson back to life

Speaking about the late Nova Scotia songwriter Matthew Grimson on an hour-long Zoom call, Joel Plaskett and Sloan singer-bassist Chris Murphy smile sometimes and come close to tears at others. Mostly they are in awe of the obscure man’s peculiar gifts, and now the pair are resurrecting his songs.  – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

NOW’s 1981 interview with Canadian blues icon Salome Bey

The "First Lady of Canadian Blues" died last week at the age of 86. In the interview, she talks about the similarities between Bertolt Brecht and the blues and why a good singer should be able to act. – NOW

Background performers worry they’re being replaced by mannequins on film and TV sets

With many productions limiting the number of people in scenes and on set to create physical distancing to decrease COVID-19 infection risk, background performer Paula Spurr says her already unpredictable line of work has “become very uncertain.” Showrunners have been changing scenes to have little or no background performers, she says. – Victoria Ahearn, CP


A cutout of Geddy Lee was recently spotted at Toronto Blue Jays home games

The Rush frontman is among the cardboard cutouts found in the stands at baseball games these days. The coronavirus pandemic has kept people from attending sporting events in person, so many teams have placed cutouts of fans in the stadium's seats. – Ultimate Classic Rock

Take a drive out for a drive-in

With Covid-19 still very much present, there’s something nostalgic, and safe, about an old-fashioned drive-in. Two local organizations continue their partnership this week with a second round of drive-in movie events in the Calgary area. – Calgary Herald

There’s a method to Orville Peck’s maskness

Orville Peck was at the Grammy telecast earlier this year when a woman yelled his name during a commercial break. Peck turned around to see none other than Shania Twain coming his way. The country music icon got to Peck’s seat, hoisted him in her arms and hugged him. She’s a fan – not nearly the only one. – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail 


After Come From Away’s cast and crew left the stage, they found new roles in a pandemic

The Tony-winning “Come From Away” is the most successful show in Canadian-made musical theatre history. Three years into its run in Toronto, it was still packing houses, then Covid-19 hit. The Star checked in with several cast and crew members about their months being off stage, away from their show and their theatre family. – Karen Fricker and Carly Maga, Toronto Star


Universal signs two major deals in China – and launches JV label with Tencent Music

Universal Music Group has signed two important, direct licensing deals in China – one with Tencent Music Entertainment, and the other with TME's biggest competitor, NetEase Cloud Music. In addition to announcing these deals today (August 10), UMG has also taken the wraps off a new as-yet-unnamed JV label, which it is launching with TME. This label, says TME, "will be dedicated to reaching audiences across China through cultivating, developing, producing, and showcasing highly talented domestic artists and their premium original music". –Tim Ingham,  MBW

Universal to pay-gate music in China as part of new Tencent Music deal

With every week that goes by, TME – owner of QQ Music, Kuwo Music and Kugou Music – is making an increasingly large chunk of music on its platform exclusively available for users who pay for Premium streaming access. This is a central tactic for TME in its quest to get more Chinese music fans shelling out for premium streaming subscriptions. The company just got a big hand in this mission – in the shape of its new deal with Universal Music Group. – Tim Ingham, MBW


England's first socially-distanced gig: Singer Sam Fender entertains up to 2,500 fans at Newcastle venue.

Groups of five were set to watch the concert on raised metal platforms. It's the UK's first major live music event since the lockdown. – Faith Ridler, Daily Mail

Cox Communications: Our $1bn copyright infringement fine should be cut by $243m

US-based internet service provider Cox Communications has asked a federal court to significantly reduce the $1 billion copyright infringement fine awarded to Sony, Universal and Warner and others in Dec. 2019. The music companies’ case against Cox found that the ISP infringed a total of 10,017 works and was fined $99,830.29 for each one. – Murray Stassen, MBW


Could Kanye West be charged with electoral fraud?

Two states have determined the majority of signatures on the rapper’s presidential petitions are invalid. – Emily Kirkpatrick, Vanity Fair

Songwriters dealt blow in Spotify royalty battle as streaming services granted 'procedural victory' in US appeals court

Digital services including Spotify, Amazon Music and YouTube Music have reportedly secured a "procedural victory" in their bid to overturn the 2018 Copyright Royalty Board (CRB)'s ruling that would see a 44% increase to streaming royalty rates paid to songwriters in the US. Fear not, songwriters: this doesn't mean said platforms have won their appeal to bring down the rate (they still could, however). But it's not good news for you – MBW

'It's alright to feel fear – so long as you ignore it.'

Loftus Road, home stadium to London football team Queens Park Rangers, is perhaps an unlikely crucible within which to experience a life-altering epiphany. Yet for Richard Russell, co-founder and talisman of XL Recordings – the UK’s most successful, and probably its most influential, modern independent record label – that’s exactly where everything changed. He has written an illuminating and often drily funny memoir, Liberation Through Hearing. – MBW

Thousands turn out to see Smash Mouth play in the middle of a pandemic

The "All Star" rockers headlined the Sturgis Buffalo Chip on Sunday night to a large and not distanced crowd. – Alex Young, CoS

The best country songs of 2020 to date

Summer 2020 has been a strange one. There wasn’t a dominant “Song Of The Summer” this year, so we decided to list some of our favourite country tunes of the year so far. It’s not a list based on radio play or popularity. It’s just what we like, and we hope you like it too. Canadian Tenille Townes makes the cut.  – Paste

In the Summertime: how Mungo Jerry made a sweltering classic

‘I still had my old job when it went to No 1. There were women chasing me across the factory floor.’  – The Guardian

Members of The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths remake ‘Tower of Strength’ for Covid relief

Wayne Hussey has enlisted current and former members of The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Cult, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and The Smiths for an all-star remake of The Mission’s 1988 anthem “Tower of Strength” to benefit “key workers dealing with Covid-19 globally.” The single will be released digitally Aug. 28.  –Slicing Up Eyeballs


Wagner: where to start with his music

The German composer was the most influential musician of his era after Beethoven, reinventing opera and leading the way to musical modernism – yet his music’s association with the Third Reich leaves him with a complex legacy.  – The Guardian

Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy announces new book How to Write One Song

“The feeling I get when I write… that I’m simultaneously more me and also free of me—is the main reason I wanted to put my thoughts on songwriting down in book form to share with everyone so inclined.” –  Matthew Strauss, Pitchfork

The chaos of Tony Wilson's digital revolution

It’s January 2000, and Tony Wilson is regaling me with tales of his brilliant career; how signing Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays to his Mancunian indie label Factory Records was like “winning the pools three times. Twice is a miracle, three and you call in the fraud squad”. – Dave Simpson, The Guardian

Chrissie Hynde profiled as The Pretenders release a new album

The Pretenders leader is reluctant to intellectualize what she does. “I’m in a rock band,” she adds. “I’m blagging it, as the English say, fooling them all. I’m a rock musician. I didn’t do good in school; I didn’t take lessons. I just make it up as I go along. I prefer it that way." – Geoffrey Himes, Paste


Boy George apologises to former Culture Club drummer Jon Moss

Moss was reportedly told to "take a break" by the band's manager in 2018. – Matthew Neale, NME

Brazil's black trans musicians: 'When we join forces, we're dangerous!'

Informed by baile funk, metal and more, Linn da Quebrada and Jup do Bairro – with producer Badsista – are dodging racism, transphobia and music industry resistance to tell their own stories. –Carolina Abbott Galvão, The Guardian

Céline Dion in 'I Am : Céline Dion'
Prime Video

Céline Dion in 'I Am : Céline Dion'

Tv Film

Céline Dion Calls Prime Video Documentary 'A Love Letter To My Fans' In a Message at Her Montreal Premiere

The Quebec artist is as vulnerable as ever in 'I Am: Céline Dion,' which premiered on June 17 before its official release on June 25. Here's what we learned from the sneak peek of the film, which is raw and vulnerable and sometimes hard to watch.

The Maisonneuve Theatre in Montreal was packed to celebrate Quebec's national treasure, Céline Dion.

Monday evening, June 17, Prime Video organized a handful of previews of Irene Taylor's highly anticipated documentary I Am: Céline Dion. In Montreal, where Billboard Canada was among the guests, many people came to attend the special screening.

keep readingShow less