Music Biz Headlines, Aug. 6, 2020

Alex Cuba (pictured) helps trailblaze the future of Canada's live music scene, an exploration of O Canada, and an innovative TikTok concert by The Weeknd. Others in the headlines include Neil Young, Sony Music, WMG, UMG, Spotify, Round Hill, live-streams, Paul McCartney, Beyonce, Stewart Copeland, David Byrne, Melissa Etheridge, Alan McGee, and Def Jam Africa.

Music Biz Headlines, Aug. 6, 2020

By FYI Staff

Sacred Spaces: Rufus Wainwright, YUNGBLUD, Keb' Mo' and others reflect on the independent venues and clubs that changed their lives 

As the majority of the live concert industry across the world remains on pause, chatted with a handful of artists about their cherished concert memories at some of their favorite clubs and venues. – David McPherson,

Pay cuts, seating charts, Covid screening: How one B.C. venue is bringing back concerts

Alex Cuba wasn't planning to be a trailblazer for the future of Canada's live music scene, but his upcoming concerts may serve as a blueprint for the road ahead in the midst of the pandemic. – CP

Expat musicologist contends O Canada not an original composition

The music of O Canada is not original but rather a patchwork of four pre-existing pieces, an expat Canadian musicologist says in a recently published article. Ross Duffin, a distinguished university professor emeritus in the department of music at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, links musical passages of O Canada by French-Canadian composer Calixa Lavallée to previously published works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt and Matthias Keller. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail


The Weeknd to hold augmented-reality concert on TikTok

The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter The Weeknd will hold an augmented-reality concert on TikTok on August 7.  Rather than appearing in person to perform songs from his chart-topping album, The Weeknd will be represented by a digital avatar as part of what TikTok calls its “first-ever in-app cross reality experience. – Malay Mail

Instagram launches its TikTok-like feature called ‘Reels’ in Canada

It’s worth noting that are some functions that Instagram Reels doesn’t have when compared to TikTok. For instance, TikTok users are able to duet other users’ videos, which is a core function that lets people interact with each other and build upon videos. – Mobile Syrup

Neil Young files lawsuit against Trump campaign over song usage

The rocker's lawsuit focuses specifically on Rockin’ in the Free World and Devil’s Sidewalk, which were used at recent events in Tulsa, Mount Rushmore. – Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone


Rapino optimistic despite a brutal Q2 for Live Nation

While president and CEO Michael Rapino was optimistic in his remarks, overall revenue for Live Nation in the Q2 fell by a heart-stopping 95%, plummeting from $3.157 billion in the quarter in 2019 to just $74.1 million. Live Nation’s concert business bore the brunt, with revenue for the segment declining from $2.639.5 billion from Q2 2019 to just $141.8 million for this year’s Q2. – Ian Courtney, Celebrity Access


Streaming provides bright spot for Sony Music

Sony Music’s revenue from streaming rose nearly 6% to $640.3M in the first quarter of the company’s fiscal year that ended 6/30. Recorded music was down 10.5% from 2019 to $911.6,M and the overall music division, which includes publishing and Visual Media & Platform, reached $1.61B, a decline of 11.5%. Operating income was $325M. – Hits Daily Double

WMG revenues down 4.5% during Covid-19

For recorded music, revenue was down 5.7% year-on-year (4.2% in constant currency) at $861M. The decline was down to the pandemic, including the impact on physical sales, tour merchandise and currency rates. Growth in digital revenue was more than offset by the declines in physical revenue, artist services and licensing revenue. – Music Week

Universal's stake in Spotify is worth over $1.6B, but it has no plans to sell up

This more-than-doubling of Spotify’s public valuation is good news for Universal Music Group. UMG has an approximate 3.5% stake in Spotify today. That 3.5% stake was worth $759M on March 16. Today, it’s worth over $1.6B. A good time for Universal to sell up? You might think so, but UMG’s parent Vivendi evidently has reason to think otherwise. – MBW


Better concert live-streams are coming, but they'll cost you

Paid livestreams from artists like BTS are netting millions of dollars, skyrocketing brand-new startups to the top of the music industry, and making labels and talent agencies scramble to adapt. Will they last? –  Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone

Round Hill sues TuneCore and its parent Believe, alleging copyright infringement

A major legal case is kicking off in the US between two successful members of the global music rights industry, we can reveal. New York-based publisher Round Hill Music is suing DIY distributor TuneCore and its parent Believe, alleging that the latter two companies “reproduced and distributed musical compositions owned or controlled by Round Hill… despite knowing that [these] compositions were never properly licensed”. – MBW


Republicans are helping Kanye West get on election ballots

Republican operatives, some with ties to President Donald Trump, are actively helping Kanye West get on presidential general election ballots in states ranging from Vermont to Arkansas to Wisconsin. The effort is raising questions about whether Republicans are pushing for the rapper's addition to the ballot as a way to potentially siphon voters from Joe Biden. –   Dan Merica and Jeff Zeleny, CNN

The 8 best music videos of July 2020

Our list includes Phoebe Bridgers’ apocalyptic vision, Jessie Ware’s extreme blowout, Flo Milli’s Polly Pocket rap daydream, and more. – Eric Torres, Pitchfork

At home with Paul McCartney: His most candid interview yet

He was wistful, candid and contented as he recalled all the notes of a miraculous life. How four lads from Liverpool came together to change a great deal more than music. What it felt like to be blamed for the band’s demise. How behind fame, adulation and wealth exists a normality he jealously protects. And why the work of a lifetime is still far, far from finished. – Dylan Jones, GQ

Beyoncé’s ‘Black Is King’ reimagines ‘The Lion King’ as abstract tribute to Black power, beauty and wisdom

Black empowerment is the star of Beyoncé’s new visual album, “Black Is King,” a 90-minute reclamation of heritage and power that touched down early Friday morning on the streaming service Disney+. Directed, written and executive produced by the singer, the film is a visual companion to the 2019 album “The Lion King: The Gift,” a recording she curated for “The Lion King” remake. – Lorraine Ali, LA Times

Simon and Garfunkel: College roommate who went blind reveals an untold story

It is one of the best-loved songs of all time. Simon & Garfunkel's hit The Sound Of Silence topped the US charts and went platinum in the UK. – Peter Sheridan, Express UK

Coups, lies, dirty tricks: The Police's Stewart Copeland on his CIA agent father

The drummer was brought up in the Middle East - not realising that his father Miles was a spy sent to destabilise the region. But, he says it was Miles’s claim that the Police were a psy-ops outfit that upset Sting. – Dorian Lynskey, The Guardian


All the stylish looks from Beyoncé's ‘Black Is King’ you can’t buy — and one you can

Who needs red-carpet arrivals and runway shows to showcase your high-fashion frocks when you’ve got a fashion show of one, courtesy of Beyoncé? That thought crossed my mind — more than once — while watching “Black Is King,” which debuted Friday on Disney+. – Adam Tschorn, LA Times

US Marshals put Fyre Festival merch up for auction 

More than three years after the highly publicized Fyre Festival famously fizzled out in the Bahamas, merchandise and other “minor assets” are up for sale — courtesy of the U.S. Marshals Service. Last week, the U.S. Marshals announced that 126 items from the festival will be auctioned off, with proceeds going toward the victims of Billy McFarland. – AP

Melissa Etheridge’s live-streams are pulling in $50K per month: The artist on doing it her way 

As musicians grapple with ways to earn a wage during the live music shutdown, Melissa Etheridge has found her groove with the new subscription-based Etheridge TV. It  is drawing more than 1,000 subscribers who pay $50 a month for access. – Cathy Applefeld Olson, Forbes

Rockers respond angrily to Spotify's Daniel Ek

Musicians have responded with pointed words after Spotify CEO Daniel Ek suggested artists need to churn out new material at a faster pace. “While you (the listener) benefit & enjoy Spotify, it's part of what's killing a major income stream for artist/creators,” noted Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider. “The amount of artists ‘rich enough’ to withstand this loss are about .0001%. Daniel Ek's solution is for us to write & record more on our dime?! Fuck him!” – Ultimate Classic Rock


Def Jam Africa announces further expansion into Côte D’Ivoire, Cameroon and Senegal

Universal Music Group’s label dedicated to supporting the best in African hip-hop talent and culture across the continent, extends its reach into French-speaking Africa. –

Alan McGee: “The music industry doesn’t want young indie rock ‘n’ roll. The culture is so different”

The Creation Records boss speaks out on the future of music, touring with IDLES' Joe Talbot, socially-distanced gigs and signing "cocky little fuckers" on the second anniversary of his new label Creation 23. – John Earls NME

Hardcore pop fans are abusing critics – and putting acclaim before art

Taylor Swift superfans are ganging up on critics who haven’t given her new album a perfect score – a symptom of a culture obsessed with quantifying our lives. – Ben Beaumont-Thomas, The Guardian

David Byrne discusses his Sonos show and the fate of music venues

David Byrne's monthly curated show, "Here Comes Everybody," has now made its debut on the Sonos Sound System station. Here he also talks about the importance of saving independent music venues.  Brooklyn Vegan

'The narrative is we don't sell records': the black female singers uncredited by the UK industry

Their vocals and songwriting feature on some of the biggest hits, but black women are often not credited, leaving their solo careers stunted and causing them to lose out financially. – Jumi Akinfenwa, The Guardian

Are musicians more or less materialistic in 2020?

Money has always been a hot topic in the music business. For decades artists have examined the role money plays in society. Writing about filthy lucre isn’t exclusive to a single genre of music. There are country, rock, rap and pop songs that all celebrate either the lack of funds or the overabundance of cash. – Buddy Iahn, The Music Universe

YouTube Music: Google to axe Play Music in October

Google will focus on its newer YouTube Music app. Google Play Music failed to attract as many subscribers as rivals such as Spotify and Apple Music. YouTube Music will offer more than 60 million songs to stream, but will not have a download store to buy music. – BBC 

Influential Indie Record Labels Band Together to Form the Organization for Recorded Culture and Arts
Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash
grayscale photo of people holding assorted music instruments
Business News

Influential Indie Record Labels Band Together to Form the Organization for Recorded Culture and Arts

During a turbulent time in the music industry, 16 indies from around the globe have founded the new think tank, ORCA, including Sub Pop, Secretly Group, Beggars Group, Canadian label Secret City Records and more.

Some of the world's biggest indie labels are coming together around a common cause.

Sixteen independent record labels from around the globe, including Canadian label Secret City, have founded a new music think tank, the Organization for Recorded Culture and Arts (ORCA). The organization launched today (July 17) with a first report, Setting The Stage, laying out the basics of the industry's economy.

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