Music Biz Headlines, Aug. 3, 2020

Junia-T (pictured) gets a Polaris boost, a time capsule from Neil Young, and Toronto concert venues still face problems. Also in the headlines are Rush, Fergus Hambleton, Elise LeGrow, Salmon Arm fest, UMG, Facebook, TikTok, Tidal, YouTube, U2, SEO, live-streaming, The Go-Go’s, Taylor Swift, Twitch, Madonna, Iggy Pop, and Arlo Guthrie.

Music Biz Headlines, Aug. 3, 2020

By FYI Staff

How songwriter/producer Junia-T became a studio monk

“Definitely happy,” is how Junia-T describes his reaction to being short-listed (in the Top 10) for the 2020 edition of the prestigious Polaris Music Prize. The multi-talented producer/engineer, songwriter, and MC celebrated the CBC Music announcement recognizing his suitably titled Studio Monk album with a glass of champagne, fittingly surrounded by a group of friends. – Del Cowie, Words & Music

A Neil Young ('Homegrown') time capsule

Young is terrifyingly adept at singing to the parts of a person that don’t see too much sun—our ugliest and least elegant fears, our deepest regrets. – Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker

Toronto concert venues don't think Stage 3 will help the live music scene

Live shows are permitted once again in Toronto with the arrival of Stage 3 across all regions in Ontario, but don't expect concerts to be anything like they were before the pandemic. A number of music venues in the city say this current stage of the reopening plan just doesn't work, with the new rules making it near impossible to get muscians and concert-goers back in the door. – BlogTO



Fergus Hambleton: Where Do We Go From Here

Catching up with Fergus Hambleton at his home in Toronto, you can feel the positivity in his voice and he sounds like a kid in his 20’s when he talks about his love of music. He is like a walking musical encyclopedia, with a vast knowledge of the songs from yesterday and today. – Sandy Graham, Cashbox Canada

Rush's last show five years later: The performance and the aftermath

Throughout four decades of touring with Rush, Neil Peart had never crossed the "back-line meridian" to greet the crowd onstage. "I stay behind my drums and cymbals for 40 years and never go out front, never," he recalled in the 2016 band documentary Time Stand Still. "It’s not my territory." But the drummer and lyricist changed his policy just once. – Ryan Reed, UCR

Elise LeGrow shares how she turned tragedy into beauty

Writing a song which speaks to a life-changing experience isn’t such an easy thing. Being able to tap into your subconscious to come up with something that has as little “middle-man” between the song and the emotion as possible doesn’t necessarily take practice… but it does take patience. One artist who produced a masterful example of this is Elise LeGrow with her new single, Evan. – Joe Vitagliano, American Songwriter

With dance floors vacant, Canada's nightclub life faces an identity crisis

Paisley Nahanee is longing for those exhilarating club nights, the ones where bumping into a few old friends on the dance floor wasn't considered a health risk. But when the disc jockey and event organizer throws a couple parties at Vancouver's pride festivities this weekend, nobody will be making close encounters beneath the disco light, under orders from British Columbia health officials. – David Friend, CP


How the Shaw Festival kept 500 people employed during COVID — by taking out pandemic insurance three years ago

About three-and-a-half years ago, Tim Jennings, the executive director and CEO of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, decided to undertake some risk analysis alongside his CFO. He  came to a shrewd conclusion: The festival should take out an insurance policy against the threat of a pandemic. The policy covered the interruption of planned performances by communicable disease. – Calum Marsh, National Post

This is what Toronto’s virtual Carnival will look like this year

Toronto Caribbean Carnival has released its tentative lineup, which spans 13 hours and 8 countries. – Richard Trapunski, NOW

Roots & Blues festival trades Salmon Arm stage for screens province-wide

Although a live festival is halted, it can be watched digitally on Black Press Media sites Aug. 14-16 from 7 to 9 pm each night. – Jim Elliot, Salmon Arm Observer


Barry Manilow sells song catalogue to Hipgnosis

– Veteran manager and recording executive Merck Mercuriadis’ Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ltd. is adding the Barry Manilow catalogue to its $1 billion-plus portfolio. – Variety

Stat of the week: Covid-19 is hurting UMG’s revenue- but proving its profitability

Universal Music Group will have to battle hard to grow its revenues in the second half of 2020.That’s one obvious deduction from the firm’s Q2 (and half-year) results, as issued by majority-parent Vivendi on July 30. These weren’t the double-digit rises we’re used to seeing from UMG, but considering current global circumstances, they’re impressive nonetheless. Tim Ingham, MBW


Facebook is launching licensed music videos in threat to YouTube

This past weekend, the social media giant began rolling out official music videos in the US. The content will appear on a new music section in Facebook Watch, organized by genre, artist and mood, and will also be available on Facebook artist pages. Facebook (FB) is partnering with Sony Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and others. – CNN

Microsoft in talks to buy TikTok, say reports

Last week we brought you three good reasons why it might make sense for Apple to buy TikTok – the short-form video app now coming under increasing pressure from President Donald Trump's administration over its alleged connections to the Chinese government.Turns out it might be another US tech giant who steps up to acquire the platform. A number of credible reports are emerging today (July 31) that Microsoft is exploring a possible acquisition of TikTok, and is in talks with the app's owner Bytedance. – MBW


Looks like UMG is shutting down their US offices until early 2021

Universal Music Group (UMG) could be shutting down its U.S. offices until 2021 in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Digital Music News was tipped off about the potential long-term closures with a legitimate-seeming internal memo. However, Universal Music Group hadn’t publicly confirmed the rumor or responded to our inquiry at the time of this writing.   – DylanSmith, Digital Music News

Tidal pays the highest ratio of royalties vs. revenues to music creators of any streaming service, and equal rates are paid to artists regardless of whether they’re signed to a major label, an indie label, or not signed to a label at all. – Brian Polson, Meeaw

YouTube threatens to remove music content in Denmark

YouTube is embroiled in a very public spat with songwriters and music publishers in Denmark, via local collection society Koda. According to Koda – Denmark’s equivalent of ASCAP/BMI (US) or PRS For Music (UK) – YouTube has threatened to remove “Danish music content” (ie. music written by Danish songwriters) from its service. – Tim Ingham, MBW

U2 donates $1.5M to live music industry damaged by the pandemic

The band is helping colleagues by donating $1.5 million to the live music industry as it suffers during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than $200,000 of U2's $1.5 donation will go to help those in the business in their country hurt by Covid-19 shutdowns. The news comes after they donated €100 million ($118 million) to Irish relief efforts in April. – Inside Edition

Why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital for musicians in 2020

SEO should always be an important marketing strategy for musicians — but thanks to the uncertain times we’re going through in 2020, it has become more important than ever. That’s especially true for “DIY musicians,” who are trying to be seen and heard on their own.  – Magnolia Potter, Music Think Tank


The musicians’ guide to live-streaming

Live streaming is not a replacement for the visceral experience of a real-deal, in-person show; it’s an engaging medium all its own.  In this article, we’ll briefly cover the history of live streaming and provide some helpful tips to get you started.  – Greg Majewski, DIY Musician

TikTok sued by rival Triller for patent infringement

TikTok, the popular short-form video app, has been sued by rival Triller, which accused it of infringing its patent for stitching together multiple music videos with a single audio track. Triller said in a complaint filed on Wednesday that TikTok and its Chinese-owned parent ByteDance Ltd willfully infringed the June 2017 patent by importing and selling its app for iPhones and Android-based smartphones. – Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

Salzburg festival opens for its 100th edition despite coronavirus pandemic

The global struggle to contain the coronavirus outbreak has led to the cancellations of a myriad of events, but one major festival in Europe has gone ahead - the Salzburg music and drama festival. Despite the ongoing battle against COVID-19 in Europe, the festival in Austria opened this weekend, with measures in place to protect against the virus. –  EuroNews

Taylor Swift ’Folklore’ surpasses two million

Folklore stands out as the No. 1 album in the world with global sales over two million worldwide and over half a billion total streams on audio and video in just one week. It has reached No. 1 on iTunes in more than 85 countries. – The Music Universe. 

Jeff Bezos isn't sure if Twitch pays royalties to artists (it doesn't)

Amazon-owned live streaming platform Twitch doesn't pay music licensing royalties to artists for records played on its service. That might not be common knowledge, but it is public knowledge, highlighted by last month's news that a number of prominent Twitch users were being threatened with having their accounts terminated after receiving copyright infringement notices for unlicensed music used in clips posted on their channels. – MBW


Madonna is a Covid conspiracy theorist who believes Trump’s quack “doctor."

She says Trump's quack doctor that believes infertility is caused by having sex with demons in your sleep "is my hero" for being a truthteller. – Bil Browning LGBTQ Nation 

Arlo Guthrie unveils pandemic-inspired Stephen Foster cover ‘Hard Times Come Again No More’

166-year-old song came to Guthrie in a dream — and he knew it was time for a cover.  – David Browne, Rolling Stone

‘The Burnt Orange Heresy’ is mostly smart and sexy — with a healthy dollop of Mick Jagger

Jagger plays an art dealer called Cassidy who’s taken in a famous — and famously reclusive — house guest: painter Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland). The new film adapts a book by famed crime author Charles Willeford. – Pat Padua, The Washington Post

Iggy Pop has become a minor investor in United States lower-league soccer club Detroit City FC.

The Michigan native has also lent his voice to a marketing campaign as Detroit City looks to sell a 10-per-cent stake in the club to its fans in an effort to raise $1.2m. Detroit City, which has both men’s and women’s teams, is selling limited equity units starting from $125. – Sports Business

The Go-Go’s made history 38 Years ago. There’s still more to their story 

A new documentary about the Los Angeles band explores the punk roots that came before its pop sheen, and the power dynamics that led to its split. – Lindsay Zoladz, New York Times

The Growlers issue apology; co-founder Matt Taylor temporarily leaving band

Lead singer and co-founder of The Growlers, Brooks Nielsen, has issued a new apology following a statement from Starcrawlers' Arrow De Wilde accusing bandmembers of sexual misconduct. "This week has been a wake up call about our behavior at shows, after shows, in interviews," he writes. "With girlfriends, journalists, friends, fans. Behaviour that was insensitive, offensive, or even improper." –  Amanda Hatfield, Brooklyn Vegan

Art-punk icon Vaginal Davis on creating, quarantine, and rebellion

n the realm of punk and performance art, Vaginal Davis is the almighty mother. She began her legendary career as the frontwoman to LA art-punk band the Afro Sisters, inspired by Black radical activists. (She named herself after Angela Davis.) She then went on to perform in a slew of iconic bands that infused a theatrical confrontation with identity into punk. – Brontez Purnell, Vic

In coronavirus quarantine, musicians give neighbors a treat

It may be a long while before music fans can again attend a concert in an established club or venue, but music has still managed to flourish during quarantine. Musicians, longing to connect with friends and neighbors, and eager to practice their art, have found ways to perform. – LA Times

His film is a punk classic, but the credits now roll without him

CB Although it never rose to cult status, The Blank Generation is nonetheless a classic in the punk pantheon, a signature No Wave film that captured a fleeting time when an eye-popping number of future rock stars were lean and hungry unknowns. Director Amos Poe has had his name removed from a new revised version. – Cara Buckley, New York Times

Vanessa Heins


Music News

Alexisonfire Are Releasing a Live Album from Their Hometown Born & Raised Festival

The St. Catharines, Ontario band are bringing the festival back this summer, and they'll release LIVE Born & Raised 2022, St Catharines ON just in time for fans to hear it first.

After a two year hiatus, Alexisonfire are resurrecting their hometown festival Born & Raised on July 5 and 6 at Montebello Park in St. Catharines, Ontario. Just in time, they're releasing a live album from the last time they held the festival, in 2022.

The album, LIVE Born & Raised 2022, St Catharines ON, captures their career-spanning set from the inaugural edition of the festival. In front of their hometown fans, they played songs from throughout their more-than-two-decades long career.

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