Music Biz Headlines, Jan. 18, 2021

A profile of Merck Mercuriadis, Cory Weeds (pictured) is on a roll with Cellar Music Group, and Sebastian Bach ruffles feathers. Also in the headlines are the Hamilton scene, CRA, Blue Jays theme, the Guess Who, Grievous Angels, Spotify, Bandcamp, Neil Jacobson, video games, Marianne Faithfull, One Night in Miami, and Barry Gibb.

Music Biz Headlines, Jan. 18, 2021

By FYI Staff

Who is Merck Mercuriadis and why did he just pay $150 million for a half stake in Neil Young’s song catalogue?

The Canadian is the face and co-founder (with Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers) of Hipgnosis Songs Fund, a publicly traded British music investment and song management company at the vanguard of music catalogue mega sales. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

This Vancouver jazz label is thriving during the pandemic

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Cellar Music Group begins its biggest year yet, says label owner Cory Weeds. – Robert Rowat, CBC Music

Canada Revenue Agency targets artists for possible repayment of emergency benefits

Artists across the country are facing demands from the Canada Revenue Agency that they repay emergency coronavirus benefits, even as some struggle to pay basic expenses after their incomes collapsed under the weight of the pandemic. The government agency is also insisting that some artists are not eligible for payments under new income supports, leaving them to wonder why they have been excluded. – Marsha Lederman and Patrick Brethour, Globe and Mail


Sebastian Bach sparks a metal war over his comments on Trump's insurrection

It was in the Heavy Metal Parking Lot of yesteryear where the real action was taking place. And the hair farmer standing on the hood of a 1985 Camaro with a bullhorn was one-time Skid Row screecher Sebastian Bach. The Bahamas-born frontman once known as Sebastian Philip Bierk is no stranger to making bold political statements. – Mike Usinger, Georgia Straight

New TV series ‘This is the Thing’ is all about Hamilton’s music and comedy scenes

Inspired by a city so rich with stories, Hamilton comedian Mike Mitchell has created a hilarious and endearing television series that was shot right here in the Hammer. – Michael Kras, Urbanicity

The never-ending hits in my head

Contributor Paul Corby explores his fave songs of 2020. – Roots Music Canada

The history of the Blue Jays' stretch song

If you catch a game at an American League East ballpark, chances are you’ll need to sit through some song and dance. At Fenway Park, it’s the tradition of singing “Sweet Caroline.” And at Rogers Centre, “OK, Blue Jays” is all the rage. First released in 1983, “OK, Blue Jays” was written by Jack Lenz and Tony Kosinec. Singer Keith Hampshire was brought in for the vocals, and he might be a familiar name to Blue Jays fans who were around for the club’s inaugural season in '77. – Keegan Matheson,


Hamilton’s live music venues struggle to stay alive amid pandemic

The past year has been devastating for Hamilton’s independent live music venues and 2021 doesn’t look much better. This Ain’t Hollywood closed its doors for good in August, while other clubs are desperately struggling to find creative ways to pay the bills while under lockdown. Both The Casbah and Club Absinthe have launched online GoFundMe campaigns to help pay the rent. – Graham Rockingham, Hamilton Spectator

Exceptions to the rule that non-natives can't make art that matters to us

Told from an Indigenous perspective, Iron Maiden's Run To The Hills is a heavy metal opus to the evils of colonization that can be heard loud and proud blaring from cars on most First Nations in this country, without an ounce of guilt.–  Drew Hayden Taylor, The Globe and Mail

Entertainment Music Group (EMG) opens new branch division in British Columbia

The Toronto-based, globally active music industry company has opened a new division of the diversified group and it will be headed up by Jo-Anne Beharrell as Executive Director, a title she is currently holding for the Ontario-based offices. – Sandy Graham, Cashbox Canada

Sure, the Guess Who deserves to be in the Rock Hall, but what about BTO and Mahogany Rush?

Yesterday a group based in Winnipeg called Guess Who 4 the Hall launched a campaign to get the legendary Canadian rock band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The organization has set up a petition at that as of noon today had garnered over 6600 signatures. – Steve Newton, Georgia Straight 


NDP MP Charlie Angus' songwriting remains potent on Grievous Angels' 'Summer Before the Storm'

Ontario folk veterans Grievous Angels are back with new material after a seven-year-long hiatus, attributed to the fact that the band's principal songwriter, Charlie Angus, has a day job as the NDP MP for the Timmins—James Bay riding. Summer Before the Storm confirms that Angus' songwriting remains potent.  – Kerry Doole, Exclaim


Shaun Verreault raves about Vancouver's Ryan Dahle, Mother Mother, Cobra Ramone, Odds, and Keith Scott

I recently spent half an hour on the phone with Vancouver guitar ace, singer, and songwriter Shaun Verreault, of Wide Mouth Mason fame, getting the scoop on what he's been up to. He also discussed some of his fave Van peers. – Steve Newton, Georgia Straight

Robbie Robertson lists 'sleek and chic' house for $4.2 Million 

The former Band guitarist is selling the Beverly Hills house he used as a writing sanctuary for US$4.195 million. The listing reads: “Nestled up high on North Beverly Drive across from Franklin Canyon Park, one of Beverly Hills’ best kept secrets, this ultra-private getaway boasts an incredibly scenic landscape while remaining six minutes from the Beverly Hills Hotel.” – Ultimate Classic Rock


Spotify, worth $67B, has seen its share price triple in 10 months

Spotify’s share price hit an all-time high on Jan. 8, rising 7% at the bell on the New York Stock Exchange to end the day at $353.11. This jump translated into a market cap valuation of $66.94bn, according to YCharts. That share price – and that market cap – were both more than three times bigger than Spotify’s value back in mid-March 2020. – Tim Ingham, MBW

Bandcamp will make vinyl records for you

Bandcamp’s new program opens up a vinyl pressing service to 10,000 indie artists, offering musicians a path into the physical format that is defying the trends of the streaming era. – Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone

Shake-up in leadership ranks at RCA Records

New York-headquartered RCA Records, one of Sony Music’s biggest frontline label groups, has made major changes to its leadership structure in the US. Mark Pitts has been promoted to the role of President of RCA, with John Fleckenstein upped from his current role as co-President to Chief Operating Officer. Both execs will continue to report to Peter Edge, Chairman & CEO, RCA Records. – Tim Ingham, MBW

IATSE calls for live venues to become Covid vaccination sites using union labor

As entertainment venues including Broadway theaters, dance centers, arenas and concert halls lie empty across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, IATSE, the union that represents the workers behind-the-scenes at those venues tweeted earlier this week, “Turn live venues into Covid vaccination sites and use union labor to set it up.” – Jazz Tangcay, Variety


Stat Of The Week: Ex-Geffen head Neil Jacobson plots $200m IPO in the US to buy music rights, tech startups

Neil Jacobson was the long-time President of Geffen Records in Los Angeles, before exiting the UMG label in 2019 and establishing his own songwriter/producer management firm.That firm, now known as Hallwood Media, has been at the forefront of some notable rights acquisitions stories over the past two years. – MBW

Video games have replaced music as the most important aspect of youth culture

The global video gaming industry took in an estimated $180bn in 2020 – more than sports and movies worldwide.  – Sean Monahan, The Guardian

Instant replay: how the pandemic gave albums time to breathe

The absence of gigs last year has given new albums a longer shelf life in the attention-deficit age of streaming. – Owen Myers, The Guardian

Biden inauguration lineup to feature Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez performances

President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will feature performances by Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, organizers announced Thursday, making the traditional swearing-in ceremony a celebrity-filled affair once again despite ongoing security concerns. Lady Gaga will perform the National Anthem, while Lopez will deliver a separate musical performance during the ceremony. – Alison Durkee, Forbes

Marianne Faithfull: 'I was in a dark place. Presumably it was death'

After battling Covid-19 for three weeks in hospital, Faithfull went on to finish her 21st solo album – and possibly her last. She reflects on how she might never sing again, her hatred of being a 60s muse and why she still believes in miracles. – Alexis Petridis, The Guardian


One Night in Miami star Leslie Odom Jr. talks about Sam Cooke and changes to come

One of the opening scenes in the new film One Night in Miami has the pioneering sixties soul singer Sam Cooke bombing in front of a white audience at New York’s Copacabana nightclub. The emcee suggests the crowd offer Cooke a “warm welcome,” but they give him the frozen mitt instead. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

Lose the earbuds. Ditch the phone. How to get the most out of your music

In fact, after watching psyche-testing sorrow and reality-denying anti-mask ignorance on TVs and phones, vanishing into extended therapeutic sessions with Nina Simone, Madlib or Kid Cudi felt like the only rational response. – Randall Roberts, LA Times

One Night In Miami: Four '60s black legends bare souls in a passionate new film

Regina King's directorial debut restages-on-film Kemp Powers' theatrical production One Night in Miami. Powers’ play imagines what happened when four iconic men — American football hero Jim Brown, crooner Sam Cooke, Malcolm X, and the legendary Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) — convene at the Hampton Hotel at the height of the civil rights movement. – Thom Ernst, Original-Cin

Side hustles for artists, cooks, gardeners and writers

There are a handful of side hustles that can feed the soul — they allow you to immerse yourself in the tactile and beautiful and take a break from the challenges of the outside world.  And while they’re not the highest-earning jobs, most enable you to feed your passions while padding your pocketbook. – Los Angeles Times

Barry Gibb: Greenfields – The Gibb Brothers' Songbook Vol 1 review – a spin in the country

With subtle, beautiful arrangements, this foray into country-pop with covers by the likes of Dolly Parton, Jason Isbell and Gillian Welch is testament to the Bee Gees’ greatness. – Alexis Petridis, The Guardian

The Beaches
Meg Moon
The Beaches

'When I'm Back in Toronto': The Beaches Put Their Spin on Djo's 'End of Beginning'

The Canadian quartet turn the viral alt-rock song into a Springsteen-esque '80s ballad for Australian broadcaster Triple J's Like a Version series.

Canadian pop rockers The Beaches stopped by the Triple J studio in Sydney, Australia to record their take on a viral hit.

For the popular cover series Like a Version the band decided to try on "End of Beginning" by Djo, a nostalgic alt rock tune that hit No. 1 on the Billboard TikTok Top 50 in February. They bring their reverb-heavy '80s sound to the track, giving it a more anthemic edge. On the bridge, lead singer Jordan Miller taps into a Springsteen-ian energy as she sings the refrain: "you take the man out of the city / not the city out the man."

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