Music Biz Headlines, Feb. 1, 2021

The Weeknd attracts pre-Superbowl hype, Justin and Hailey steam up the screen, and Greg Godovitz delivers a second memoir. Others in the headlines include 54-40, Drake, CONTACT fest, Kennedy Rd., Bif Naked, Tencent, UMG, John Branca, Coachella, Marilyn Laverty, Twitter, Live Nation, Big Hit, Aaron Neville, Rod Stewart, and Yma Sumac.

Music Biz Headlines, Feb. 1, 2021

By Kerry Doole

When it came to the Super Bowl vs. The Grammys, The Weeknd made the right call

The Recording Academy is making enemies of the wrong Canadians, and no one is exactly sure why. Drake has been hurt by perceived award snubs of the past, and when the 2021 Grammy nominations were announced in November, the big shock was the absence of any nominations for the Weeknd. Abel gets his revenge with a prime Superbowl slot. –  Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

The Weeknd on the crew that boosted him from 'basically homeless' to the Super Bowl

How did pop’s leading man dominate the charts (and screens) in 2020? The same way he always has: with a tight-knit group of day ones unafraid to trust their scrappy instincts — or fight alongside him when needed. – Katie Bain, Billboard


The Weeknd spending $7M of his own money on Super Bowl halftime show

Singer The Weeknd told Billboard that he is spending $7 million of his own money on this year’s Super Bowl halftime show. The Super Bowl usually pays the bill for the production costs, but The Weeknd says “we’ve been really focusing on dialing in on the fans at home and making performances a cinematic experience, and we want to do that with the Super Bowl.” – Today

Guitar stolen in 2018 from rock band 54-40 found during police raid in Surrey, B.C.

A raid of an apartment in BC has solved a two-year-old mystery about a valuable guitar belonging to a member of Canadian rock band 54-40. Chilliwack RCMP say an investigation of a break-in in that city led them to Surrey and a suite where a Gibson Dove guitar was among the many items recovered. The vintage instrument was one of seven stolen from 54-40 in Oct. 2018 when their parked van was targeted by thieves in Vancouver. – CP

Drake pays off Toronto man's debt and doubles his entire savings

Drizzy came across a post from BucksInDaCut and left a comment, “Yo what’s this mans PayPal I’m doubling that for my guy Bucks B." Sure enough, the 6 God himself got in touch and stuck to his word, doubling  BucksInDaCut's savings while also paying off his student loans as an extra gift. Drizzy also followed the man on Instagram. – Hot New Hip-Hop


Rock School teacher in Port Coquitlam calls for petition signatures to help struggling musicians

Terry Fox secondary music teacher Steve Sainas gets help from MP Ron McKinnon with his federal government petition. –The Tri-City News

More Canadian rock’n’roll memories in a new book from Goddo’s Greg Godovitz

Greg Godovitz, the guitarist/singer of Goddo is a helluva character. He’s also a good writer as demonstrated by his new memoir, his second.  – Alan Cross, A Journal of Musical Things

Festival fallout: Full steam ahead

HITS identifies Canada and Australia as likely locations for festivals to proceed as scheduled as international agents note the relevance of population, isolation and vaccine distribution. As one Canadian agent pointed out, "There are only 35m people in the entire country and most are concentrated in three or four areas. If we can get vaccines done properly, and keep tracing and testing maximized, we very well could open up more quickly than our neighbors to the south.” – Hits Daily Double

Live Nation has announced that the annual CONTACT Winter Music Festival has found a new location for 2021.

It's the roof of BC Place. On Feb. 6, local EDM acts Vanic, Tails, Juelz, Nostalgix, and Poni will perform from on top of the downtown stadium. "This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop," reads the Live Nation press release. "Fans worldwide will be able to access the free-to-stream broadcast on Monstercat’s Twitch channel." – Steve Newton, Georgia Straight


Kennedy Rd. on her new album, ‘Still Luv,’ being vulnerable and finding her way to music

Kennedy Rd. makes the type of music that you could lay back in your car and jam out to with a friend on a cool summer night. Her soft vocals, the reverberating bass and the beautiful (sometimes sampled) melodies pull you in and centre you in a peaceful energy. – Cheyenne Bholla, Toronto Star

Women From Space is Toronto’s first hologram music festival

The experimental music festival will beam performances to you via the Holobox Theatre, a hologram device you assemble at home. – Richard Trapunski, NOW

In a new tune, the creators of ‘Come From Away’ sing the praises of Canada

The Canadian government recently extended its ban on nonessential travel from the United States through at least Feb. 21. While waiting for the gates to reopen, you can bide your time watching old episodes of Schitt’s Creek and cranking up the latest heartwarming ditty by the Canadian creators of the Broadway musical Come From Away. – Andrea Sachs, Washington Post


The Biebers show their love for each other in Anyone music video

Justin Bieber shows his love for wife Hailey in the steamy new music video for the track Anyone. The pop superstar shows off his heavily tattooed torso in the video, which includes black-and-white footage from the couple’s travels. – Keiran Southern, Breaking News

Still the Champion, an ever-busy Bif Naked returns to action with "Broke Into Your Car"

Canadian alt queen Bif Naked has evidently had zero problem filling her days. In no particular order, she’s occupied herself over the past year with launching an all-hemp organic CBD line called MonaLisa Healing, working on a podcast series called New Riot Girls, and working on a book which hopes to guide folks through the scariness that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Naked has also been busy at what’s made her a Canadian icon: writing songs. So busy, in fact, that she’s come up with an album’s worth of them. – Mike Usinger, Georgia Straight

Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra bring concert to Victoria audiences

If the pandemic hadn’t come crashing down on his plans, saxman Ted Nash would have been busy during the past year — both on his own as a bandleader and with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. With gatherings cancelled, however, his performance schedule was whittled down to almost nothing over the summer, but a late September concert recording will be presented Tuesday by the Victoria Jazz Society. – Mike Devlin, Times Colonist

Vancouver jazz history book swings with stories

Starting with vaudeville, author Bradford Critchley's book documents Vancouver's bopping jazz history. – Stuart Derdeyn, Vancouver Sun


UMG IPO coming "early 2022" at the latest. Tencent acquires a further 10% in UMG

A Tencent-led consortium has completed its acquisition of an additional 10% in Universal Music Group, both Tencent and UMG parent Vivendi announced on Jan. 29. The Tencent consortium has acquired the shares in UMG for €3 billion based on a €30 billion enterprise valuation of the music company. The acquisition takes Tencent’s holding in UMG from 10% to 20%. Vivendi also suggested that that the proposed ‘spin-out’ IPO of UMG could happen this year. – Tim Ingham, MBW


As live-streaming goes mainstream, it could be survival of the biggest

Startups raised the curtain for online concerts during the pandemic. Now Live Nation and other corporate giants want in — and touring is coming back. –Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard

Equitable remuneration, artist income and unintended consequences

The UK Parliament’s inquiry on the economics of streaming appears to be building a case for equitable remuneration (ER). There are many iterations of what ER can mean, but a simplified description of what is in play here is: a share of streaming revenue being paid directly by the DSPs to an entity which then distributes directly to artists, thus bypassing the whole ‘do labels pay artists enough’ debate. – Mark Mulligan Music Industry Blog

John Branca: Artists need to pay attention to their legacy

A superstar manager, Branca is nevertheless best known in industry circles as a lawyer – more specifically, a lawyer with a reputation for a super-sharp mind, and a habit of wrestling the best possible deal for artists away from the music industry’s largest institutions.  "Things have changed substantially over the years in the business so far as artist rights are concerned. People tend to forget there was a time where everything was weighted in the favor of the record companies and publishers," he notes. – Tim Ingham, MBW


Coachella music festival cancelled due to the pandemic

The Coachella music festival set to take place in Southern California in April has been cancelled due to the pandemic, according to a local public health official. The annual event – one of the world’s largest and best-known music festivals – was scheduled to go ahead over two weekends in April. However Dr Cameron Kaiser, the public health officer for Riverside County, said it was cancelled, blaming the dire Covid-19 situation in the region. – Breaking News

YouTube says music artists' income could fall if it must pay more for streams

Platform claims proposed legislation could be so difficult to adhere to that it may have to block music contentMark Sweney, The Guardian

Sherrese Clarke Soares, CEO of $1B-backed acquisition fund Tempo Music Investments, exits company

The CEO of a billion-dollar player in the acquisitive music fund space just left the building. MBW has learned that Sherrese Clarke Soares is exiting her role as CEO of Tempo Music Investments, a heavily-financed rival to the likes of Hipgnosis, Round Hill Music, and Primary Wave. Soares says she is departing Tempo to launch her own venture. – MBW

Twitter's UGC may be the key to music's next licensing battle

On one hand UGC helps a video and song go viral and generate additional revenue. On the other, it’s a form of piracy and takes resources to protect against. Luckily, major social platforms usually have a built-in process to deal with unlicensed UGC, except for Twitter. – Bobby Owsinski, Forbes

This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Marilyn Laverty, founder, and president, Shore Fire Media.

Marilyn Laverty is an amazing woman who has led an amazing life. Over an extensive career on both sides of the media game—as a journalist, and as an eloquent public relations advocator, working at major labels, and on her own—and with unwavering faith in her clients’ talents, and their ideals, Laverty has helped change the face of American music publicity. Here is an in-depth interview. – Larry LeBlanc, Celebrity Access

BTS label Big Hit is buying a $63m stake in rival K-Pop company YG

Big Hit Entertainment, the K-Pop powerhouse behind BTS, has revealed its intention to invest 70 billion won (approximately $63m) in rival K-Pop company YG Entertainment. Seoul-based YG Entertainment has worked with K Pop superstars like BLACKPINK, BIGBANG, 2NE1, and Psy.  As reported by Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, the deal will see Big Hit and its subsidiary beNX, invest 30bn won and 40bn won respectively in YG’s merch and distribution affiliate, YG Plus.  – MBW

At 80, singer Aaron Neville is still telling it like it is: 'I feel more 40ish'

Aaron Neville turned 80 years old a week ago, the first of three New Orleans rhythm & blues legends hitting that milestone in 2021. Neville’s life has taken the most dramatic swings, from the substance abuse and crime of his youth to the global success of the Neville Brothers, his pop hits on his own and with Linda Ronstadt, and his finely crafted late-career albums. – Keith Spera,

Rod Stewart reaches plea deal for Florida altercation

Rock star Rod Stewart and his son have reached a plea deal to settle misdemeanour battery charges stemming from an altercation with a security guard at a posh Florida hotel. Prosecutors and defence attorneys announced Friday that Stewart and his son, Sean, would not be going to trial for the altercation at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach on Jan. 1, 2020. Terms were not released. – AP

The return of Yma Sumac: label to showcase singer to new generation

The Peruvian vocalist’s album will be first in a series of reissues by a Madrid-based label aiming to highlight female singers from Latin America. Few popular singers have boasted a five-octave range. Even fewer have claimed they were descended from the last Inca emperor and schooled in song by “the creatures of the forest”. – Sam Jones, The Guardian

Spotify's Former Data Alchemist Gives Every Song a Genre
Photo by Sumeet B on Unsplash

Spotify's Former Data Alchemist Gives Every Song a Genre

Glenn McDonald, the mastermind behind thousands of music microgenres at Every Noise At Once, was let go in the streaming company's recent layoffs, but he's still digging into the data to share his insights on how streaming changes music.

Spotify wrapped 2023 with some bad news: a layoff of about 1,500 employees.

One of those employees was Glenn McDonald, a guy responsible for one of the most extraordinary sites on the internet, one with an uncertain future. You may not know his name, but if you’ve used Spotify, you know his work.

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