Music Biz Headlines, Feb. 2, 2023

By Kerry Doole

A talk with Merck Mercuriadis, the Canadian spending billions on acquiring song catalogues

Merck Mercuriadis is pretty relaxed for a guy who just made the biggest deal of his career. Twenty-four hours after acquiring Justin Bieber’s song catalogue for a rumoured US$200 million — his most expensive deal to date — his biggest concern is moving house. – Alan Cross, Global News

Jazz singer loves her mobility scooter, and she's finally ready to change her tune

'Asking for help is helpful, go figure,' Kellylee Evans tells CBC with a laugh. – CBC

Shania Twain says she feels ‘time crunch’ to record more albums while she has a voice

Shania Twain says she worries her singing voice “may not last forever” and wants to “hurry up and make more records” while she still can. – David Friend, CP

Why are music festivals facing so many challenges on the West Coast?

An indefinitely cancelled Folk Fest would mark the end of an era—and an enormous loss for the community. – Yasmine Shemesh, Georgia Straight


Historical rock opera remounts as unplugged concert experience in Edmonton

A theatre company is remounting its production of a musical tragedy, based on a true story of Irish immigrants finding solace in Canada, in an unplugged concert experience. Jonathan Christenson, who wrote, directed and scored the music for Vigilante, says the stripped-down version allows the audience to centre on the story and the music. – Angela Amato, CP 

Rosalía, Yaeji, City and Colour, Maisie Peters and more tracks you need to hear this weekend

This week’s Star Tracks playlist also includes new music from The National, Fall Out Boy, Bonobo and a Caroline Polachek remix featuring Charli XCX. – Toronto Star

DVSN’s Daniel Daley talks R&B, thoughts on cheating, and more

Daniel Daley, lead singer of DVSN, sat down with Now Toronto’s Brandon Gonez to discuss music, his success, and fan tattoos. – NOW

MorMor carves his own path: How the Toronto indie pop artist crafted his debut album 'Semblance'

MorMor is set to perform a hometown gig at The Axis Club in Toronto on Thursday. – Richie Assaly, Toronto Star

Maestro Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra into Toronto for the final time as music director

Renowned conductor Riccardo Muti is leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on an international tour for the last time as its music director, a position the Naples native has held since 2010. – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail

The kids are alright. But they’d be much better with more financial support and cultural infrastructure  

Community is the beating heart of Vancouver’s music scene. Emerging from the thick of the pandemic, that sense of community drives what feels like an invigorating time for local music. But a scene is an ecosystem and, like any ecosystem, it needs more than one strong element to be healthy. – Yasmine Shemesh, Georgia Straight


What do you get when you combine contemporary music, Bach and theatre? Alisa Weilerstein’s ‘Fragments’

The world-renowned American cellist brought her epically groundbreaking project to Toronto’s Koerner Hall on Jan. 28. – Michael Crabb, Toronto Star

Six new releases we can't wait to hear in 2023

Halifax music scene favourites like Kye Clayton, Kim Harris, Jackson Fairfax-Perry and more announce new projects. – Morgan Mullin, The Coast

10 Vancouver tour dates announced this week

This year is already shaping up to be a stacked one for concerts. From Big Thief to Madonna, here are some upcoming Vancouver stops that were announced this week. Yasmine Shemesh, Georgia Straight 

Edmonton Airport to compensate performers after VISSIA sparks public outcry

"You're a corporation. Not a street corner." The Edmonton International Airport (EIA) has announced that it will begin compensating the performers that take part in its music program after local alt-pop artist VISSIA brought the issue to light on social media. – Megan LaPierre, Exclaim!

Chris Spedding has played with just about everyone, including Roxy Music & The Sex Pistols

English guitarist brings more than 50 years of rock and roll to Hamilton’s Corktown Pub on Feb. 4, Graham Rockingham writes. – Hamilton Spectator


Universal partners with TIDAL to develop 'more artist and fan-friendly' streaming model

UMG has announced an interesting alliance with TIDAL that will see the two companies work together to explore what they call "an innovative new economic model for music streaming that might better reward the value provided by artists."  – MBW


U.S. Senate panel grills Live Nation head after Taylor Swift ticketing fiasco

U.S. senators slammed Live Nation’s lack of transparency and inability to block bot purchases of tickets, in a hearing called after a major fiasco involving ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s upcoming concert.  – Diane Bartz, Moira Warburton, Reuters

Joint statement on Ticketmaster/Live Nation

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently hosted a hearing on the topic of “Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment.” The following groups and associations comprising diverse musicians and independent record labels have submitted the below statement for the record. – FutureOfMusic


Nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class of 2023 have been announced

This year's list includes eight first-time nominees: Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, Joy Division/New Order, Cyndi Lauper, George Michael, Willie Nelson, the White Stripes and Warren Zevon. Returning nominees Kate Bush, Iron Maiden, Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, the Spinners and A Tribe Called Quest also made the list.  –Ultimate Classic Rock

Universal Music UK’s EMI Records launches new label, EMI North, led by Clive Cawley

Universal Music UK-owned EMI Records is launching a new label in the northern British city of Leeds, in Yorkshire, called EMI North. The company claims that in launching EMI North, it becomes the first major label to open a physical space outside of London. – Murray Stassen, MBW

Hipgnosis is in buying mode again, as company snaps up song catalog of British hitmakers TMS

Hipgnosis Song Management has today (February 1) announced its second acquisition in as many weeks. After a major Justin Bieber deal, the company has now also acquired a song catalog from TMS, the British songwriting and record production trio of Tom ‘Froe’ Barnes, Benjamin Kohn and Pete ‘Merf’ Kelleher for an undisclosed fee. – Murray Stassen, MBW

Elle King settles in Nashville as a mom and country singer

Singer Elle King has never fit neatly into any one box. Her early years were split between Ohio, New York City and Los Angeles and her rock music was always banjo-based, with elements of bluegrass, rockabilly and country pulling at the seams. – Kristin M. Hall, AP

Famed drummer Carmine Appice says 'there's no money in songwriting anymore'

"The only way to make any money today is if you get a song on Netflix or you get a song in a movie." – Ultimate Guitar 

The Rolling Stones celebrate 50 years with special guests on 'GRRR Live!'

On Feb. 10, The Rolling Stones will release GRRR Live!, recorded during their 50 & Counting Tour. On Dec. 15, 2012, the band took the stage at Newark’s Prudential Center for the final of four shows in the New York area. It featured guest appearances by The Black Keys,  Gary Clark Jr & John Mayer, Lady Gaga, Mick Taylor, and hometown hero Bruce Springsteen. – NME


Elton John's Auckland shows cancelled by bad weather

UK music legend Sir Elton John has revealed he was “absolutely heartbroken that tonight’s show in Auckland couldn’t go ahead”. Two Auckland shows at Mt Smart Stadium were cancelled at the last minute due to extreme weather conditions affecting the venue and much of the city. – NZ Herald

Chris Stapleton to sing national anthem at Super Bowl; Babyface to perform ‘America the Beautiful’

Country music star Chris Stapleton will hit next month’s Super Bowl stage to sing the national anthem, while R&B legend Babyface will perform “America the Beautiful.” The performances will take place Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, before the championship matchup and halftime show featuring Rihanna. The performances will air on Fox. – J Landrum Jr., AP 

Two German festivals drop Pantera from lineups after other artists express concerns 

 Right now, Pantera’s touring plans include a whole lot of rock festivals and a stint opening for Metallica in stadiums. But two German rock festivals just dropped the Pantera reunion from their lineups, presumably over the incident where frontman Phil Anselmo yelled “white power” at a 2016 concert. – Tom Breihan, Stereogum

A quiet genius: Mark Hollis and Talk Talk's experimental masterpieces

The self-titled solo album by the former frontman of the British band Talk Talk, released this week in 1998, would be the last listeners would hear. After its unveiling, Hollis would retire from the music industry altogether to raise his family in Wimbledon, hardly ever resurfacing before his death from cancer in 2019 at the age of 64. – Nick Zanca, Reverb


For the Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster, the beat goes on despite ‘The Situation’

Robert Forster lost his best friend and Go-Betweens co-founder Grant McLennan to the occupational hazards of rock ‘n’ roll. Now the love of his life, Karin Bäumler, has cancer. Their creative response has produced his riskiest album yet. – Lech Blaine, Sydney Morning Herald

Candi Staton: ‘I was a pistol-packing mama’

The disco diva and singer-songwriter, 82, on forming her first gospel trio, her five husbands and correspondence with Elvis. – Rich Pelley, 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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