Music Biz Headlines, Dec. 9, 2021

Neil Young’s Barn (pictured) comes out in album and movie form this week, Justin Bieber draws flak for playing Saudi Arabia, and Carl Newman looks back. Others in the headlines include Joni Mitchell, Alan Zweig, Mike Tod, Drake, Kandle, Alice Cooper, Get Back, Live Nation, West Side Story, Jim Peterik, Spotify, Courtney Love, Lana Del Rey, vinyl, Primal Scream, Harry Chapin, Nick Cave, Shonen Knife, and Johnny Cash.

Music Biz Headlines, Dec. 9, 2021

By Kerry Doole

Neil Young can’t get enough Barn, or too much Canada

Out Dec. 10, Barn is Young’s 18th studio album with his electric cohorts Crazy Horse. A doc of the same name screens at Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto on Dec. 11. The album rocks corrosively on the environmentally concerned Human Race (”Who’s gonna save the human race/ where are all the children gonna run and hide?”) and on Heading West, a barre-chord reminiscence about his teenage years in Winnipeg: “Mommy got me my first guitar.” – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

Justin Bieber plays Saudi Arabia concert after calls to boycott

Human rights campaigners and activists had called on Bieber to cancel his performance to protest the kingdom's arrests and crackdown of critics. – AP


Why Joni Mitchell hated living next to Frank Zappa

To many listeners over the years, hearing Ladies of the Canyon brought to mind a paradise of sun, poetry, and love. The hippie dream, in other words. But the reality of the matter was that Mitchell was living right next door to a notorious hippie-hater. – Frank Zappa. FarOut

Carl Newman ponders the New Pornographers’ success 21 years after that first ‘really big’ album

When the New Pornographers’ Carl Newman thinks of Toronto, he often recalls the day he knew his fortunes were due for a change. It happened in the fall of 2000, while the Vancouverite was visiting the city for a TIFF event. At the time, the group had just finished the two-year process that led to the release of their debut album, “Mass Romantic,” and review copies started making their way to critics. – Jonathan Dekel, Toronto Star

Drake punts

Blame Neil Portnow. Or to use the words of a man sorely ignored by the Grammy organization in his initial heyday, “He not busy being born is busy dying.” Drake isn’t pulling his Grammy nominations because of what was done yesterday, but what was done over the past two decades. – Bob Lefsetz, Celebrity Access

Alan Zweig’s latest documentary Records revisits his long journey to find life’s harmony

More than 20 years after his acclaimed documentary Vinyl, the Toronto  film-maker has made Records, a film he describes as a “sort-of sequel” that updates his own personal journey, while looking once again at the eccentricities of people who are extra passionate about LPs. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail


Rural life helps musician find new passion for old-time songs

The fact that Mike Tod  somehow ended up working on a sheep farm on Vancouver Island for over a year makes the story even better, particularly because it seems so fitting for Tod. The musician, historian and podcaster conveys an old-school Woody Guthrie vibe that makes him seem the perfect candidate to embrace a rudderless life of manual labour in the middle of nowhere. – Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald

Kandle's captivating "Cathedral" taps into the reality that church can be an epically strange place

The captivating thing about Kandle’s “Cathedral” is the way that it leans into the weirdness. Things start out like a thinking-person’s horror film—imagine walking into a room of folks dead-focussed, silently, on a priest, only to have them whipsaw their heads around the second the door shuts behind you. – Mike Usinger, Georgia Straight

Shock rocker Alice Cooper to play Calgary

He’s no longer Eighteen, like the hit song that started it all, but shock rocker Alice Cooper is bringing his hit-heavy show to Calgary’s WinSport Arena in April 2022. – Calgary Herald

Toronto musician raises money for B.C. flood victims with signed guitar

Greg Godovitz, of ‘70s Toronto power rock trio Goddo, couldn’t just watch the devastating images of B.C. towns and cities affected by the recent flooding, he had to do something about it. – Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun


Rant Maggie Rant returns to Stratford and London with annual Frost and Fire Christmas Concert

Stratford Celtic-roots band Rant Maggie Rant will perform live with special guests in London and Stratford over the next two weekends in the band's annual Frost & Fire Christmas Concert Series. – Galen Simmons, Stratford Beacon-Herald


Live Nation buys 51% stake in OCESA, world's third largest concert promoter, for $416m

It was a mega-money deal that was last year thrown off course by the pandemic, and the uncertainty surrounding live music concerts in general. On Dec. 6, Live Nation finally closed the acquisition of a 51% stake in Mexico-headquartered OCESA Entretenimiento. Live Nation says OCESA is the world's third largest concert promoter. – Tim Ingham, MBW


Anthony Martini exits role as CEO of Royalty Exchange, joins Slip.Stream

Music industry veteran Martini has exited his role as CEO of US-based online music rights marketplace Royalty Exchange after 9 months and joined music licensing startup, as Chief Music Officer and Partner. Royalty Exchange has paid out over $90M to artists, according to the statement announcing Martini’s appointment at – Murray Stassen, MBW

Can ‘West Side Story’ break the box office curse for big-screen musicals?

Steven Spielberg’s remake has advantages that ”In the Heights“ and ”Dear Evan Hansen“ didn’t… but will that be enough? – Jeremy Fuster, The Wrap

Travis Scott denies legal liability in Astroworld tragedy, according to court documents

Scott denies allegations, including negligence, in the multiple lawsuits that have been filed against him for the Astroworld Festival tragedy, CNN states, citing court documents filed by Scott’s attorneys. Nearly 150 lawsuits have been filed in the Nov. 5 tragedy, in which 10 people died after the crowd rampaged during Scott’s headlining set at the festival. Most of the suits allege the defendants were negligent. – Jem Aswad, Variety

Travis Scott is facing nearly 3,000 plaintiffs after a Houston attorney filed a $10 billion lawsuit

Brent Coon, founder of Brent Coon & Associates, is seeking $10 billion dollars for a resolution of all cases. The law firm currently represents 1,500 concert attendees, bringing the total number of plaintiffs to 2,800 – so far. The law firm has been investigating NRG Park where the tragedy occurred, filing preservation orders with the court and municipal agencies.   – Digital Music News

Primary Wave inks $20M catalog deal with Jim Peterik

The company has struck yet another big deal, this time with Jim Peterik – a band member of Survivor, The Ides of March, and 38 Special, and the co-writer/producer of Eye Of The Tiger. Sources suggest that the transaction was worth approximately $20 million. – Murray Stassen, MBW

The Beatles: Get Back - Part One

It’s boring. At least the first half to two-thirds. That’s what they don’t tell you in the endless hosannas about this miniseries, that if you’re not a dyed-in-the-wool Beatles fan, you’re gonna have a hard time sitting through it. – Bob Lefsetz, Celebrity Access


The Beatles’ ‘Get Back’ and the genesis of genius

I consumed Peter Jackson’s epic documentary “Get Back” voraciously. The nine hours flew by, and, even in our attention-deficit-disordered world, I can’t understand the post-release whinging from some that it was too long. Too long? Too long are the 50 years that we’ve gone with nary a new piece of footage of the group. – Andrew Berthoff, Toronto Star

Could Spotify face $100M plus lawsuits over comedy album faux pas?

Spotify has suddenly removed comedy albums by stand-ups ranging from Kevin Hart to Tiffany Haddish, Jim Segura and Robin Williams – as Jim King accuses the streaming company of knowing “they don’t have all the rights in place to serve this content”. – MBW

Courtney Love calls out Elon Musk, urges him to pay his “fair share” of tax

“Capitalism & the American dream has been good to you. Be good to it." – Will Lavin, NME

How did a NYT journalist end up collecting royalties from hundreds of musicians?

This is an interesting and heartbreaking story. The full thing runs about 20 minutes, but the lessons contained therein are important. – Alan Cross, Journal of Musical Things 

The Kansas City school that became a stop for R&B performers

In the nineteen-sixties, artists such as Bo Diddley and the Ike & Tina Turner Revue played the prom at Pembroke-Country Day. – David Owen, New Yorker


The Vinyl Renaissance: Take those old records off the shelf

If listeners today can stream just about any song they want, why are so many music aficionados still buying records? Ryan Raffaelli and Gold Rush Vinyl CEO Caren Kelleher discuss the resurgence of vinyl. – Christine Pazzanese, Harvard Gazette

Lana Del Rey recalls horrendous early label deal in emotional awards speech

The singer thanked her management for getting her "out of a deal I made for 11 records for nine grand while I was working at a restaurant and living in a trailer park." – Will Lavin, NME

Ever-cool Kim Gordon gives Cascadians a cause to rally round Roe vs. Wade flag with the for-charity Grass Jeans

s an agent for social and cultural change, Gordon’s been on the frontlines since her days as the bassist for the legendary—and much-missed—Sonic Youth. She continues the fight with the new single, Grass Jeans,  proceeds from which will go towards Fund Texas Choice, a nonprofit that pays for women in the Lonestar State to travel to abortion clinics. – Georgia Straight

Harry Chapin: When In Doubt, Do Something celebrates a life worth celebrating

It’s laudatory almost to the point of banality. Yet as the documentary Harry Chapin: When In Doubt, Do Something makes clear, Harry Chapin was kind of exquisite, accomplishing more in his tragically fleet 38 years than most do in twice that amount of time without, apparently, offending a soul. –  Kim Hughes, OriginalCin

Nick Cave gave me the chance to hear my dad’s voice one last time

As my tears swelled with the orchestra’s strings, and the crowd’s applause escalated, I encountered something miraculous. – Nick Buckley, The Guardian

Primal Scream hit at out at government’s new drug proposals

New plans aim to come down tougher on "lifestyle drug users." – Damian Jones, NME

40 years of Japanese rockers Shonen Knife: ‘Nirvana looked wild – I was so scared!’

With songs about jellybeans and feline transformations, the Osaka band brought joy and fun to a serious punk-rock scene. After decades of cult hits, frontwoman Naoko Yamano explains why she wants to end up the world’s oldest rock star. – Daniel Robson The Guardian

The impossible politics of Johnny Cash

He was beloved by Americans who could agree on little else. Was he too eager to please? – Stephen Metcalf, The Atlantic

The Black Keys
Jim Herrington

The Black Keys

Music News

The Black Keys Cancel North American Leg of International Players Tour

The rock duo's 31-date arena trek was scheduled to launch in September and included a date at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena on Oct. 11, 2024.

The Black Keys have abruptly canceled their upcoming North American tour.

The 31-date arena trek — which was scheduled to launch Sept. 17 in Tulsa, Okla., and wrap Nov. 12 in Detroit — quietly disappeared from Ticketmaster’s website without explanation on Friday (May 24).

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