Music Biz Headlines, March 18, 2021

The Halifax Pop Explosion is under fire, Daniel Lanois’ new album (pictured) get a rave review, and there is controversy around the Grammys. Also in the headlines are the Brad Turner Quartet, Lido Pimienta, eOne, Golden Feather, Eddie Van Halen, US covid relief bill, Spotify protests, RIAA, SXSW, Sally Grossman, U2, Aphex Twin, H.E.R., Judee Sill, and CSNY.

Music Biz Headlines, March 18, 2021

By Kerry Doole

Toronto’s empty-venue livestream concert series kicks off this week

After a January postponement, City Hall Live Spotlight starts Thursday, March 18, with a free concert by Lido Pimienta from Phoenix Concert Theatre. – NOW

What will it take to fix the Halifax Pop Explosion?

A deep dive into why the venerable music festival’s fourth apology for racism still isn’t right. – Morgan Mullin, The Coast

Brad Turner Quartet livestreams from Cap U on March 20

The BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts at Capilano University has announced that Vancouver jazz group the Brad Turner Quartet will perform a livestreamed show this Saturday (March 20) at 7:30 pm Pacific time. Pianist, trumpeter, drummer, and composer Turner--who has been a member of the jazz studies faculty at Capilano University since 1992--will be joined by a three other players. – Steve Newton, Georgia Straight 


Ontario sings: The future of Ontario choirs

Here’s a question for you. Which is the more popular Canadian pastime: playing hockey or singing in a choir? If you answered “choral singing” you’d be right.  Ontario’s choral music constituency is considerable, with Choirs Ontario estimating there are approximately 1.9 million choristers in the province. Here's a look at their situation. – Li Robbins, Ontario Culture Days

Ottawa concert hopes rapid Covid tests will be ticket to the return of live music

Organizers of an Ottawa concert are hoping that rapid Covid-19 testing will set the stage for live performances to make a comeback, but one expert warns that it may be a while before musicians can safely play for a stadium of screaming fans. The Ontario Festival Industry Taskforce is billing The Long Road Back on March 27 as the first event of its kind in Canada. – Adina Bresge, CP

On Our Radar: Shutting up is the best way to appreciate "Wise Woman" from Twin Kennedy and Mallory Johnson

The duet, released to coincide with Women’s History Month, came about over wine and a backyard hangout. That backyard was presumably in Nashville, where both Twin Kennedy and the Newfoundland-rased Johnson have relocated to in pursuit of their country-career dreams. – Mike Usinger, Georgia Straight

Daniel Lanois surprises with a fusion of gospel and ambient sounds on Heavy Sun

 He can be immensely versatile and can easily reinvent himself, perhaps never as radically as he appears on this project.  But, to him, this sound is closer to his roots than anything he has ever done. – Jim Hynes, Glide


Monster Truck drummer flirts with the Dead

We sometimes gain unexpected benefits through marriage. In the case of Monster Truck drummer Steve Kiely, it was a father-in-law who happened to be one of the biggest Deadheads in the city. By Deadhead, I mean loyal fan of the Grateful Dead. The result is a new project for Kiely, Golden Feather. – Graham Rockingham, Hamilton Spectator


Grammy viewership down by 50% in 2021 in early ratings

Viewership for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards was off sharply from last year, with just 8.8 million viewers tuning in to the three-and-a-half-hour broadcast, according to Nielsen time zone-adjusted fast national ratings for March 14. That’s less than half the viewership for the Grammys in 2020, which was watched by more than 16.5 million fans. – Ian Courtney, Celebrity Access

Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, Taylor Swift dominate this year's Grammys

Megan Thee Stallion, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish were the big winners at the 63rd Grammy Awards on Sunday, after a year of lockdown and protests that rattled artists, fans and the music business. The big four awards were split among some of the top women in music. –August Brown LA Times


National Center on Sexual Exploitation rips Grammys show for ‘glamorizing prostitution and stripping’

Group calls Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion performance one “that could have been cut from a hardcore pornography film” –  Tony Maglio and Jennifer Maas, The Wrap

Hasbro floats sale of eOne music assets, including Lumineers' Label & Death Row Records

Hasbro, the toy company that bought Entertainment One in 2019, has put eOne's music operation on the block and is seeking a $600 million payday, according to sources. eOne's music assets include ownership of the famed Death Row Records rap catalog, Dualtone Records, Canadian label Last Gang Records, the production music operation Audio Network, a small music publishing operation and a digital indie distribution company. – Ed Christman, Billboard

Congress passes $1.9T relief bill: Here’s what’s in it for music workers

The House of Representatives passed a landmark $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill on March 10, including a mixed bag of legislation for the music industry’s hard-hit freelance workforce. Some of the modifications will affect hard-hit freelancers in the music industry in ways both good and bad, though advocates for freelance music workers who were interviewed for this story say they are largely happy with the current version of the legislation. – Chris Eggertsen, Billboard


Musicians organize global protests at Spotify offices

The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers’ “Justice at Spotify” campaign mobilized workers in 31 cities around the world. – Matthew Ismael Ruiz, Pitchfork

Our digitized world hasn’t just changed how we listen to music.

Things quickly began to shift in the 2010s. A mix of generational churn, creativity spawned by the digitization of music production and the dilution of the industry’s top-down structure — paired with the fragmentation of the media and adaptations to the streaming economy — has warped song structures. – New York Times

The RIAA issues DMCA takedown notices targeting Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer

The RIAA has issued DMCA takedown notices to Google for links to music on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and others – despite having strong relationships with (and substantial ownership shares in) leading music streaming services. The surprising move comes as the 69-year-old trade organization remains embroiled in multiple piracy-related courtroom confrontations, and particularly lawsuits involving stream-ripping platforms. – Dylan Smith, Digital Music News

SXSW 2021: Inside the tech strategy for the massive virtual festival

Baptiste Boulard, CEO of virtual event platform Swapcard, teases what attendees can expect at this week's massive online festival. – Claire Hoffman, BizBash

Sally Grossman, Bob Dylan cover icon and wife of manager Albert, dead at 81

Mysterious woman on the cover of Bringing It All Back Home continued her late husband’s projects after his death. – David Browne, Rolling Stone

Eddie Van Halen's son says he's "hurt" by 2021 Grammys tribute to late rocker

Wolfgang Van Halen is expressing his disappointment over the 2021 Grammys tribute to his late father and rock legend, Eddie Van Halen. – Alyssa Morin, eonline

U2 teases the launch of a four-concert broadcast on YouTube

On St. Patrick’s Day, U2 launched The Virtual Road, a series of four concerts that will be available on YouTube. The audio has been remastered and the video has been upscaled to HD. Each concert will also open with new performances four other Irish acts: Dermot Kennedy, Fontaines DC, Carla Morrison, and Feu Chatterton. – Alan Cross, A Journal of Musical Things


Aphex Twin sells NFT artwork for $128,000

Richard D. James has entered the controversial digital marketplace, auctioning a graphic for 72.00 ETH . – Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork

From Billie Eilish to the Bee Gees: Why music documentaries are booming

At the SXSW Film Festival, all three movies headlining are music documentaries, including docs on Demi Lovato and Charli XCX. The films are part of a surge of documentaries centered on notable musicians regardless of genre or generation —  rock or pop, living or dead, archival-based or fly-on-the-wall style, and everything in between. –Brian Welk, The Wrap

Big Music needs to be broken up to save the industry

Decades of bad policy got us here. If enacted and successful, the proposed US legislative changes would rebalance the music industry away from corporate bigness and toward music’s vibrant, crucial middle class. – Ron Knox, Wired

The many lives of Judee Sill

After an abusive childhood and run-ins with the law, she grew into one of the most captivating singer-songwriters of the Seventies. More than 40 years after her death, could the world finally be ready to appreciate her? – Angie Martoccio, Rolling Stone


H.E.R. just got a Grammys-Oscars twofer, says it changed her life

Note to Oscar producers: If you want H.E.R. to perform on the show, all you have to do is ask. – Steve Pond, The Wrap

Crosby, Stills, and Nash detail ‘Deja Vu’ 50th anniversary reissue

In new interviews, members of the supergroup reflect on CSNY’s 1970 masterpiece and what to expect on an upcoming expanded edition. – Angie Martoccio, Rolling Stone 

Vanessa Heins


Music News

Alexisonfire Are Releasing a Live Album from Their Hometown Born & Raised Festival

The St. Catharines, Ontario band are bringing the festival back this summer, and they'll release LIVE Born & Raised 2022, St Catharines ON just in time for fans to hear it first.

After a two year hiatus, Alexisonfire are resurrecting their hometown festival Born & Raised on July 5 and 6 at Montebello Park in St. Catharines, Ontario. Just in time, they're releasing a live album from the last time they held the festival, in 2022.

The album, LIVE Born & Raised 2022, St Catharines ON, captures their career-spanning set from the inaugural edition of the festival. In front of their hometown fans, they played songs from throughout their more-than-two-decades long career.

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