Music Biz Headlines, Dec. 16, 2021

An in-depth look at hitmaker Stephan Moccio (pictured), mavericks Hawksley Workman and Kevin Breit join forces, and high marks for Arkells’ Grey Cup show. Also in the headlines are Amaal, Hawksley Workman, No, It’s Fine., Joe Keithley, Kardinal Offishall, Matt Andersen, MIDEM, Capitol Records, Spotify, Utopia, Rob Stringer, Brad Pitt, Olivia Rodrigo, Springsteen, West Side Story, and Xmas music.

Music Biz Headlines, Dec. 16, 2021

By Kerry Doole


This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Stephan Moccio, artist & songwriter

In a profession not generally known for sensory, cognitive, and emotional breakthroughs, Canadian Stephan Moccio cuts an imposing figure as an artist, composer, pianist, performer, and producer, offering the promise of using music to take people somewhere they haven’t yet been. – Larry LeBlanc, Celebrity Access

Hawksley Workman and Kevin Breit get back to ‘blissful naïveté’ with side project Breit Workman

One of the most enjoyable side project albums released in 2021 probably isn’t on your radar. Local indie rock darling Hawksley Workman and Kevin Breit, leader of the Sisters Euclid, pooled their talents for the dazzling instrumental “Breit Workman” album. How unusual is it? Workman — known over the past 20 years for buoyant and eclectic albums-  plays drums and doesn’t utter a note. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star


Hamilton’s Arkells wow during Grey Cup halftime show

Halftime show glittered, tailgate party and kickoff set also added to a day of great sounds. – Jeff Mahoney, Hamilton Spectator

The top 10 Canadian albums of 2021

Though 2021 isn’t quite done yet, the year-end best-of music lists have already been filed. Critically (as opposed to commercially), the consensus top Canadian album is the Weather Station’s Ignorance. Other Canadian records making high-profile international lists include Allison Russell’s Outside Child and Mustafa’s When Smoke Rises. Those three albums and seven others found their way onto my list. – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail 

This new record marks Amaal’s sonic liberation

Toronto R&B songbird Amaal Nuux is back with her sophomore EP Milly, and this time, she’s wearing armour. Stepping into the role of Milly, Somali-Canadian Amaal channels this ethereal sensuality in her most empowered record yet. – Laura Robinson, NEXT

How Rufus Wainwright wrote a sexy song about nuns that’s now an Oscar contender

It’s a seductive call to go out and be a part of humanity,“ the singer-songwriter says of ”Secret Sister“ from the documentary ”Rebel Hearts.“  – Steve Pond, The Wrap

Record review: Halifax band No, It’s Fine. delivers a golden Promise

The pop-punk-emo act from Halifax, No, It’s Fine., has finally dropped its debut LP of originals, the 12-track I Promise—something fans have been waiting to come ashore since the band became a staple at Gus’ Pub in 2018. – Morgan Mullin, The Coast


CMB’s 21 Best Albums of 2021

The Canadian Music Blog tracked a total of 691 Canadian artist studio albums in 2021 (79 more than last year!). We have settled upon our 21 favourites of these (representing 3.0%) and ranked them, all done regardless of genre, language, region, and popularity of the artist.  – Canadian Music Blog

Further fuelling the argument Joe Keithley is a living legend, D.O.A. founder gets a second AGGRONAUTIX Throbblehead

There’s no one definitive answer to the famous question “What becomes a legend most?”, but here’s a good one: you’re the inspiration for not one, but two, AGGRONAUTIX Throbblehead figurines. Take a bow Joe “Shithead” Keithley because you’re about to be immortalized for the second time. – Mike Usinger, Georgia Straight

From the stage to the executive suite, this is Kardinal Offishall's business

Why Would I do that? You guys are the enemy, Kardinal Offishall thought to himself as he hung out at a friend’s cottage in the summer of 2013. It was a relaxed weekend in Ontario’s posh cottage country for a boat rally to raise money for kids with cancer and, out of the blue, and he’d just been made a surprising offer. – Michael Raine, Canadian Musician

Covid causes Matt Andersen's holiday concert to be cancelled

The omicron variant is downright Grinch-like. Some local live events are cancelling, including Matt Andersen's Snowman's Ball, originally billed for Dec 16 and 17. –The Coast


Frontline workers tribute concert coming to Caesars Windsor

Two legendary Canadian rock bands will be part of a special tribute to frontline workers in March. Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite will bring their high energy shows to the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor on March 3. LiUNA! and Yunity are hosting the concert and union president Rob Petronin says half the ticket sales will be offered to front line and essential staff through their places of employment — raffled off as prizes. – CTVNewsWindsor


MIDEM is finished, sources tell MBW

Midem, the historic annual music industry expo and gathering, will not be returning in 2022 – or for the foreseeable future. That’s according to senior industry sources, who tell MBW that owner Reed Midem has decided to scrap and “permanently mothball” the event. We’re told that a select band of music biz executives were informed of the move on Dec. 14. – Tim Ingham, MBW


Michelle Jubelirer upped to Capitol Music Group Chair and CEO

Jubelirer has been promoted to chair and CEO of Capitol Music Group. She joined the company in 2013 as EVP and was upped to COO in 2015. She succeeds Jeff Vaughn, who leaves the company “to pursue new opportunities,” per a release, and will report to Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge. – Shirley Halperin, Variety

Report: Bruce Springsteen sells publishing catalog to Sony for $500M

Will this lead to “Born To Go To Burger King” or “Hungry Heart For McDonalds?” –Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

How Spotify helped nearly 300 Afghan music students and teachers reach Portugal

The streaming company stepped in after hearing that students and teachers from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music needed a plane to Lisbon. – Steve Knopper, Billboard

Utopia hires Tony Latham as Head of Investor Services

Utopia has hired Tony Latham as Vice President of its ‘Investor Services Business Unit’, which it says will “support catalog acquisition and maximise fund lifecycle monetization opportunities for existing and future Utopia clients”. Latham joined Utopia last month, reporting to COO Roberto Neri, and will be based in London. – MBW

Sony Music Group Chairman Rob Stringer is set to receive the 2022 Grammy Salute To Industry Icons award

Announced Dec. 15 by The Recording Academy, Stringer is being honored “for his leadership, impact and dedication to advancing innovation in the music industry”. He will be celebrated at Clive Davis’ and the Recording Academy’s Pre-Grammy Gala at the Beverly Hilton on Sun, January 30, 2022, the evening preceding the 64th Annual Grammys. – Murray Stassen, MBW

Brad Pitt to rebuild recording studio famous for Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’

The actor is teaming up with music producer Damien Quintard to renovate the historic French studio. – Harper Lambert, The Wrap

Box Office: Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ sings off-key with $10.5M opening

The critically acclaimed film is the latest adult-skewing drama — and musical — to struggle in the pandemic era, but filmmakers hope the movie will gain momentum over the year-end holidays. – Hollywood Reporter


Olivia Rodrigo celebrates sold-out Sour tour, promises fans there'll be more tours

It was brutal out there for fans trying to get their hands on tickets. – Heran Mamo, Billboard 

Bruce Springsteen plays a thrilling electric set with Steve Earle and the Dukes

The charity show at New York’s Town Hall featured “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” ” The Promised Land,” “Glory Days,” and “Pink Cadillac." – Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

Rockin’ around the Christmas streams: Why festive music is bigger than ever

As they chase a wildly lucrative market with their new Christmas albums, Gary Barlow, Jamie Cullum, Leona Lewis and more explain the financial – and emotional – pull of a seasonal hit. – Michael Hann, The Guardian

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla
@anmollium / Anmol Raina

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla

Chart Beat

Karan Aujla & DIVINE Debut in Top 25 on Billboard Canadian Albums Chart

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE land the No. 22 spot on this week's Canadian Albums chart with their new collaborative release, 'Street Dreams.' On the Canadian Hot 100, Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em" ascends to No. 1, while Canadian pop artist Preston Pablo makes a debut.

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE are making moves together on Billboard's Canadian Albums chart this week, with their collaborative project, Street Dreams, debuting in the No. 22 spot.

The seven-track album, released Feb. 16, blends harder hip-hop and smooth R&B pop, the latter shining through especially on the Jonita Gandhi-assisted "Yaad." It's not Aujla's highest spot on the Albums chart — he reached No. 5 in 2023 with Making Memories, his collaboration with Canadian Punjabi artist Ikky — but it gives him some momentum going into his upcoming performance at the Juno Awards on Mar. 24, where he's nominated for TikTok Juno fan choice and breakthrough artist.

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