Music Biz Headlines, Dec. 14, 2020

The fascinating career of Emm Gryner (pictured) is profiled, Canadian hip-hop reflects our diversity, and Neil Young gives his fans a Xmas present. Others in the headlines include Robert Michaels, Yo-Yo Ma, Andre Gagnon, The Weeknd, Denise Jones, Shawn Mendes, Merkules, Dolly Parton, Bloodshot Records, Taylor Swift, Frank Sinatra, BTS, The Bee Gees, and Jimmy Page.

Music Biz Headlines, Dec. 14, 2020

By FYI Staff

Canadian indie music won’t recover from Covid until 2023: study

A new music sector report recommends the government create a CERB-like financial aid program specifically for cultural workers. – Richard Trapunski, NOW

The man who wrote the CERB hold music hopes it puts people in 'a happy place'

Canadian musician Robert Michaels had no idea his song was playing for those applying for Covid-19 benefits. – CBC Radio · 

What Canadian hip-hop can teach us about being Canadian

There is a plethora of artists across Canada whose music doesn’t break streaming records, but speaks truth and tells us something fresh and interesting about being Canadian. In Canada, hip-hop music and culture reflects, refracts and responds to the various ways this country both imagines itself and desires to be imagined on the world stage. We just need to listen. – Charity Marsh and Mark Campbell,  Globe and Mail


When the pandemic hit, it left Yo-Yo Ma wondering ‘What is music for?’

The classical music star's album ‘Songs of Comfort and Hope’ provides one answer. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

Neil Young Archives is now free for the holidays

The holidays have come early for Neil Young fans, now that the artist has announced plans to waive his monthly Neil Young Archives subscription fee for the rest of December. "We are doing well here and feeling good," Young wrote in an Archives post. – Exclaim!

Celebrated Quebec pianist André Gagnon melded pop and classical music

Mr. Gagnon had a remarkable career as a pianist, composer, conductor and pop-music idol, both in Canada and abroad. He died in Montreal on Dec. 3 at 84 after a long struggle with Lewy body dementia, a devastating degenerative disease. – Alan Freeman, The Globe and Mail

The Weeknd still singing the blues in Hidden Hills

The Grammys didn’t come calling this year, but The Weeknd is still looking for a win in guard-gated Hidden Hills, Calif., where he owns a 12,500-square-foot mansion. Abel Tesfaye has been trying to sell the place for six long months, initially with a too optimistic price of nearly $25 million. The ask has now been slashed to just a hair under $22 million, still significantly above the $18.2 million he paid for the 2.9-acre estate in July 2017. – James McClain, Dirt


Denise Jones, 64: A role model and mentor who championed Black lives her entire life

A look at the career of the late groundbreaking music promoter and artist manager. – Jim Rankin, Toronto Star

Shawn Mendes says he came 'extremely close' to quitting his music career

Shawn Mendes came “extremely close” to quitting music this year. The 22-year-old singer “burnt out” and suffered a “meltdown” but ultimately realized he was putting too much pressure on himself to always be successful. – WENN

Daniel Caesar, Dwayne Gretzky announce New Year’s livestreams

A pair of virtual concert options from two favourite Toronto acts. – Richard Trapunski, NOW

How Handel’s Messiah became a ‘Canadian’ Messiah: by inviting Indigenous and BIPOC soloists to make it their own

“Messiah” hasn’t been stagnant throughout history; this centuries-old work is in a constant state of reinvention and reinterpretation. Which brings us to 2020, when a pandemic, technology, and a nationwide reckoning with BIPOC representation and accessibility demanded a vastly different version of this holiday classic; it even required a new name. – Carly Maga, Toronto Star

Brent Butt and Craig Northey get animated on "Everyone Can Sing at Christmas"

Corner Gas star Brent Butt tweeted about how the official video for "Everyone Can Sing at Christmas"--a song he came up with along with Vancouver pop-rock great Craig Northey from Odds--has got a "helluva lot of views" on YouTube. – Steve Newton, Georgia Straight

Big-hearted B.C. rapper Merkules forges emotional bonds with fans through his confessional lyrics

Merkules is one of Canada’s best-kept hip-hop secrets – and also highly in demand as a shoulder to cry on. The Surrey, B.C.-bred rapper – born Cole Stevenson – is forthright about his struggles with depression, anxiety and substance abuse, and the unguarded humanity and vulnerability in Merkules’s crowded discography have played as a big a part in his slow rise as his nimble wordplay and dogged work ethic. – Ben Rayner, The Globe and Mail


On Our Radar: Ranj Singh's "Restless Nights" finds the right balance while paying tribute to a fallen loved one

Singh’s new “Restless Nights” is one of those rare cases where a video is as moving as the song it was created for. You want a line that pretty much sums up what most of us will likely remember as the worst year of our lives? That's delivered right off the top with “It’s been too damn long to be without your embrace”. – Mike Usinger, Georgia Straight


Belleville’s concert of the year with Tom Cochrane set for Friday, Dec. 18

The Empire Theatre in downtown Belleville will be hosting an intimate live event as Tom Cochrane and Red Rider are set to perform on Dec. 18th. The in-person event will host 50 VIPs for Tom Cochrane with Red Rider’s only performance of 2020. – Belleville Intelligencer

CMB’s 25 Best Albums of 2020

The Canadian Music Blog tracked a total of 612 Canadian artist studio albums in 2020 (24 more than last year). We have settled upon our 25 favourites of these (representing 4.1%) and ranked them, all done regardless of genre, language, region, and popularity of the artist. – Shawnpt, Canadian Music Blog

Emm Gryner: A musical journey from pop to jazz

She sang back-up for David Bowie, collaborated with an astronaut, and has enjoyed her own success as a singer-songwriter. Emm Gryner discusses her career in music and her shift from pop to jazz. –  Steve Paikin, TVO


The global live events industry lost more than $30 billion in 2020

The huge loss, due to the global pandemic, includes $9.7 billion at the box office, according to the year-end report by live-entertainment industry trade publication Pollstar. At the top of the year, the industry was projected to hit a record-setting $12.2B at the box office in 2020, but instead incurred $9.7B in Boxoffice losses after the industry effectively shut down completely in March. – Jem Aswad, Variety

8 of the most notorious music rights battles of all time

When a court decides a musician has crossed a line, it can result in an ugly legal battle and cost millions of dollars. Here’s a look at some of the most notorious music rights battles in pop music history. –Yahoo Finance

Dolly Parton says she may sell her entire back catalogue of songs

Parton says she has often thought about the selling catalogue, but would ‘still have some control.'  – Mark Sweney, The Guardian

The acquisition of a major piece of music catalogue from the late Songwriters Hall of Famer Bob Crewe contains hits such as Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons' My Eyes Adored You, Walk Like A Man, and Big Girls Don’t Cry. – Ian Courtney, Celebrity Access

'Right now, hit songwriters are driving Ubers'

The songwriters behind some of the UK's biggest hit singles "are driving Ubers" to make ends meet, MPs have been told. Fiona Bevan, who has written songs for One Direction, Steps and Lewis Capaldi, said many writers were struggling because of the way streaming services pay royalties. –  Mark Savage, BBC 


Will Bloodshot Records stay in the saddle? 

Internal strife, unpaid royalties, and the looming possibility of a sale have forced the venerable Chicago indie label to a crossroads. – Chicago Reader

Songs for Europe: what music did Bowie and Iggy listen to in 1970s Berlin?

A new compilation, named after one of Bowie’s local haunts Cafe Exil, offers a speculative guide to the pair’s soundtrack favourites. – Peter Watts, The Guardian

Taylor Swift slips out ninth album, Evermore

The pop superstar has released a surprise new album ‘Evermore’, her second album this year. ‘Evermore’ came from Swift’s frustration from staying home in Covid’s 2020. She worked with Bon Iver, Haim and the National to rush ‘Evermore’ out to fans pre-Christmas. – Paul Cashmere, Noise11

The real stories of musical 'muses' – podcast of the week

About a Girl tells the stories of the women behind David Bowie, Bob Marley and more. – The Guardian

The secret Jewish history of Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra was arguably the most famous Italian-American Catholic of the 20th century. The skinny kid from Hoboken, N.J. — who was born 105 years ago, Dec. 12, 1915 — grew up to become synonymous with the so-called Great American Songbook. That songbook, however, was largely written by Jewish-Americans, including immigrants and children of immigrants. – Seth Rogovoy, Forward


Steve Perry: What's the Journey man been up to?

The small-town boy talks about walking away from music and finding the muse again. – Tom Lanham, Paste

The raw sounds of Rico Nasty

Primal therapy is well past its cultural relevance, but Rico Nasty, an eccentric young rapper from Maryland, has drawn from Janov’s work. Although she never formally partook in primal therapy, Rico recorded a collaborative mixtape with the producer Kenny Beats, in 2019, that was inspired by their shared interest in its teachings. – Carrie Battan, New Yorker

BTS named Time Magazine's 'Entertainer of the Year'

K-pop superstars BTS have been crowned Time magazine’s 2020 Entertainer of the Year. The Dynamite hitmakers have been hailed for their chart domination across the world during a tough year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled the live entertainment industry. – WENN

Nowadays, disco and the Bee Gees are widely beloved. But that sure wasn’t the case 40 years ago

Any retelling of the 1970s disco boom has to reckon with Disco Demolition Night, a shameful promotional event staged by Chicago shock-jock DJ Steve Dahl between games of a White Sox doubleheader on July 12, 1979. This violent debacle is a convenient summary of the backlash disco faced and is often cited as the music’s terminus, which it wasn’t. – Rob Tannenbaum, LA Times

Jimmy Page demands fair pay for musicians from streaming companies

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page asks streaming companies to re-examine the royalty rates paid to musicians. – Paul Brannigan, Loudersound

No, I'm not getting rid of my thousands of CDs

Our chief classical music critic writes in praise of going to a shelf, pulling out a recording and sitting down to listen. – Javier Jaen, New York Times 

53 fascinating albums turning 25 in 2021

With the onslaught of grunge having ushered in the alt-rock revolution, 1996 featured an abundance of pivotal releases from many legendary acts. Many classic rockers added notable releases to their already impressive resumes, including Tom Petty and ZZ Top.– Ultimate Classic Rock

Shaq’s Classic Song ‘You Can’t Stop the Reign’ Featuring Biggie Is Finally on Streaming Services
Rb Hip Hop

Shaq’s Classic Song ‘You Can’t Stop the Reign’ Featuring Biggie Is Finally on Streaming Services

There's a more explicit Biggie verse in the vault, according to the NBA legend.

Shaq’s classic with Biggie is finally available on streaming services. The news was broken by FakeShoreDrive on X earlier this week, and the Hall of Fame big man confirmed the news Thursday afternoon (June 13).

The year is 1996 and Shaquille O’Neal and the Notorious B.I.G. are two of the biggest figures in their respective fields. Shaq was entering the last year of his deal with the Orlando Magic before he headed west to the Los Angeles Lakers at the end of the 1995-1996 season. Biggie was getting ready to release his sophomore album, Life After Death, while in the throws of a beef with 2Pac. Big name-dropped the NBA player on the song “Gimme the Loot” off his debut album, Ready to Die, and the two had a mutual respect for each other ever since.

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