Music Biz Headlines, Jan. 31, 2022

Neil Young and Joni Mitchell (pictured) head an artists revolt against Spotify, Justin Bieber sets a new streaming record, and Billy Talent make a grand statement. Others in the headlines include Tidal, Maria Callas, Bandcamp, Cirque du Soleil, Drake, Railway Club, Universal Music, WMG, James Blunt, the Beatles, Kanye West, Rihanna, Patti Smith, Inflo, and Alan Jackson.

Music Biz Headlines, Jan. 31, 2022

By Kerry Doole

Concert presenters experiencing long Covid in the form of lagging ticket sales

At the end of the month, music venues in Ontario can reopen to half capacity or 500 seats (whichever is less). Still, music managers and presenters aren’t in a high-fiving mood just yet. Ticket sales are lagging. The sense in the industry is that consumer confidence has been shaken because of repeated cancellations and postponements. – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail

Justin Bieber becomes the first artist with 10 tracks with over a billion Spotify streams. These songs smashed the records

Last year, the artist from Stratford became the first to have seven songs surpass a billion streams on Spotify. Now, he’s first to have 10. – Demar Grant, Toronto Star

Billy Talent is going for it with big statement album ‘Crisis of Faith’

Stalled by the pandemic, the Toronto band just kept making the songs better on their sixth album. But don’t call them a “legacy band.” – Ben Rayner, Toronto Star


#CancelSpotify Trends on Twitter Following Neil Young Spat

Fans and fellow musicians took to Twitter to discus Spotify's decision to remove Young's music, while competitors reminded everyone that they still offer his catalog. – CoS

WHO chief backs Neil Young over Covid misinformation row with Spotify

Singer thanked for ‘standing up against inaccuracies' after the streaming service refused to remove Joe Rogan’s podcast. – Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian

The grifters take one road, and Neil Young takes the other

It’s been more than 50 years since Crosby Stills Nash & Young recorded their fine protest music, but now they’re back, protesting again. Except this time it’s not the war in Vietnam that they’re upset about. It’s the war on truth. – Liz Renzetti, Globe and Mail

Joni Mitchell says she's removing her music from Spotify in solidarity with Neil Young

“Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” she wrote. – Allison Hussey, Pitchfork

Apple Music, Tidal promote Neil Young after Spotify removes his music

US radio station SiriusXM also announced the return of 'Neil Young Radio.' – Daniel Peters, NME

Spotify loses $2 Billion as stock plummets after Neil Young’s Joe Rogan protest

Shares have plummeted around 12% since last week. – Antoinette Siu, The Wrap

Neil Young and Joni Mitchell’s Joe Rogan dispute showcases the struggles of Spotify’s streaming-music business

By forcing Spotify Technology SA to pick between him and its most popular podcast, Canadian music icon Neil Young has revealed a long-simmering tension at the core of streaming music: Even for the biggest subscription audio platform in the world, it’s hard to make money from songs alone. – Josh O'Kane, Globe and Mail


Spotify to add advisories to podcasts discussing Covid-19

Following protests of Spotify kicked off by Neil Young over the spread of Covid-19 vaccine misinformation, the music streaming service said that it will add content advisories before podcasts discussing the virus. In a post Sunday, Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek laid out more transparent platform rules given the backlash stirred by Young. – Jake Coyle, AP

Spotify’s platform rules and approach to Covid-19

You’ve had a lot of questions over the last few days about our platform policies and the lines we have drawn between what is acceptable and what is not. Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it’s become clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time. –  Daniel Ek, Spotify newsroom

From rap to ballads, five new tracks by Ottawa artists that are creating buzz

The pandemic and its restrictions have given time for artists to learn new skills and flex their creativity, resulting in an outpouring of new music. After combing through dozens of the latest offerings from Ottawa musicians, Lynn Saxberg picked five of the hottest new songs, with videos that are adding to the buzz. – Ottawa Citizen


Maria Callas redefined the ideal of an opera singer as a singing actress

By the time her farewell tour reached Toronto’s Massey Hall in 1974, Callas wasn’t quite the same, but she was still an artist. – William Littler, Toronto Star

Indie artists get a much-needed pandemic lifeline as Bandcamp Fridays return until at least May

The indie-oriented streaming platform announced today the return of Bandcamp Fridays starting in February. First launched in March 2020 when the  pandemic exploded into a worldwide thing, the initiative sees Bandcamp waive its normal cut of all purchases so that all sales proceeds go directly to artists. – Mike Usinger, Georgia Straight

Saudi Arabia, Cirque du Soleil reach deal on shows despite past criticism

Saudi Arabia and Cirque du Soleil have reached a deal that could see the struggling circus company perform a slew of shows in the kingdom. The Saudi Ministry of Culture said Friday the agreement means Cirque will “have the potential” to debut at least five of its touring performances including the Blue Man Group and Paw Patrol. – Chris Reynolds, CP


Kitchener Blues Festival organizers planning for return to normal this summer

On Friday, organizers of the Kitchener Blues Festival announced they have begun planning for a full festival for the summer of 2022. “I’m pleased to announce that the KCBI Board of Directors have been working hard with the planning of a return to a full Festival in August of this year,” sponsorship director Mike Reidel stated. – Kevin Nielsen,

Drake shared a hilarious video of his son teaching him how to speak French

It might be time for Drake to dust off those elementary school French skills! the Canadian superstar posted a video of his son teaching him the language and it's hilarious, even if you don't really understand what they're saying. – Lisa Belmonte, Narcity

The storied Vancouver live-music venue once called the Railway Club is up for sale, again

The listing has an asking price of $499,000. The Straight has covered the much-loved establishment, now known as the Railway Stage & Beer Café, through the years. The club has occupied its 579 Dunsmuir Street spot since 1931.  The Railway Stage & Beer Café is one of many locations operated by the Donnelly Group.– Georgia Straight


Britain’s competition regulator launches investigation into music streaming market

Britain’s competition regulator has launched an investigation into the music streaming market to establish whether innovation is being stifled and if any companies hold excessive power. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had said in October that it planned an investigation into a sector dominated by the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and Alphabet-owned YouTube. – Reuters

Universal Music expands relationship with Twitch and Amazon Music

According to the announcement, the agreements will provide customers with enhanced access to some of the world’s most popular music content on Amazon, including live streams, high quality and spatial audio, artist merchandise, and exclusive experiences with UMG’s industry leading roster of artists from around the world.” – Jem Aswad, Variety


Can Crypto and Blockchain gaming change the creator vs corporation narrative?

“Right now, we’re starting to see the emergence of these crypto-native IP franchises that are evergreen, community-driven, and gamer-centric, Matsumura said. It’s becoming part of celebrity and influencer culture, and brands are getting on board, and the crypto world is slowly demystifying.” – Venture Beat

Warner Music Group is launching a metaverse concert hall where you can pay to be its neighbor

WMG will open an outpost in virtual world The Sandbox, and it hopes music buffs will express their fandom by acquiring nearby property. In an announcement, WMG described its new home as a “combination of musical theme park and concert venue.” – The Verge

James Blunt jokingly threatens to release new music unless Spotify removes Joe Rogan's podcast

James Blunt is joining the chorus of musicians speaking out against Joe Rogan... with a rather, well, blunt twist. The "You're Beautiful" singer jokingly threatened to unleash new music on the world unless Spotify removed Rogan's podcast. Blunt's quippy tweet came after both Neil Young and Joni Mitchell pulled their catalogs from Spotify to protest Rogan's promotion of Covid misinformation on his show. – Tyler Aquilina, Yahoo News

Rihanna’s foundation donates $15 million to climate justice

Rihanna is backing her belief that climate change is a social-justice issue by pledging $15 million to the movement through her Clara Lionel Foundation. – AP


Kanye West announces new album Donda 2, executive produced by Future 

The planned release date is February 22. – Alphonse Pierre, Pitchfork

Meet Me in the Bathroom loses its Lower East Side edge

What’s most compelling about the documentary is the archival footage (some previously unseen) of the bands during their first fledgling efforts, though the presence of the tangible music that shot these musicians to stardom remains elusive. Even so, the footage is less of a veritable well than a shallow pond—incredibly limited and revealing little depth. – Natalia Keogan, Paste

Beatles’ ‘Rooftop Performance’ to be released as a streaming audio album

An exhibit with clothing, instruments and written lyrics from the 'Let It Be'/'Get Back' recording sessions is also set to open at Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in March. –Chris Willman, Variety

Australian music industry notable Stephen White spells it out for the PM

Respected music industry figure Stephen White, for the past 45 years a driving force of the Australian music industry, is fed up with the Federal Government’s disdain for the music industry and has spelt out his case in a magnificently worded letter to the Prime Minister and Federal Members. – Noise11

Tig Notaro had a hilarious run-in with Patti Smith, who inspired her character in Am I OK?

Notaro plays a mystical, free-spirited woman in her Sundance feature Am I OK? which she co-directed with Stephanie Allynne. The inspiration for Notaro’s character, Sheila, was none other than the rock n’ roll poetess Patti Smith — and Notaro got a chance to tell her that when she ran into Smith at a party recently. – Margeaux Sippell, MovieMaker

Brit awards 2022: Inflo is first non-white winner of producer of the year

Sault co-founder, who has worked with Adele and Little Simz, thanks ‘all the Black producers before me – I am you’ – The Guardian

Alan Jackson on the sad state of country music: “I feel like it's getting further and further away”

Mr. Alan Jackson released a fantastic album in 2021, one affectionately titled, Where Have You Gone. What’s the something that’s missing in that title? Classic country music. – Wes Langeler, Whiskey Riff

The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024
Marc Thususka Photography

The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024


The Beaches, Charlotte Cardin, Allison Russell Make the 2024 Polaris Music Prize Long List

The 40-album long list for the Polaris Prize, which awards $50,000 to the best Canadian record of the year features up-and-comers like punk group NOBRO and producer Bambii, plus rapper TOBi, and legends like Quebec group Karkwa and previous Heritage Prize winner Beverly Glenn-Copeland.

Some of the country's biggest breakthrough artists are in contention for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.

The 40-album long list was revealed today (June 11) at Sonic Boom record store in downtown Toronto. It features some of the buzziest names in Canadian music, from The Beaches — who were recently awarded Billboard Canada Women in Music's inaugural Group of the Year award — to Grammy-winner Allison Russell, to Canadian Hot 100 charting acts like Charlotte Cardin and Talk, to underground mainstays like Cindy Lee, who had an organic breakthrough this year with Diamond Jubilee.

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