Music Biz Headlines, March 4, 2021

A tribute to Raymond Lévesque, Mo Kenney (pictured) releases a covers album, and Canadian Black music’s early struggle. Also in the headlines are Bell Media cuts, Kaytranada, Jann Arden, Celine, John Beckwith, Strippers Union, Neil Young, Toronto hip-hop, Nice Horse, Soundcloud, Pete Townshend, ACM Awards, Maestro, David Crosby, Phil Collins, Rolling Stones, and Dolly Parton.

Music Biz Headlines, March 4, 2021

By FYI Staff

Chansonnier Raymond Lévesque wrote songs that were ‘mythic’ in Quebec

An actor, humorist, musician, playwright, poet and champion of Quebec independence, Raymond Lévesque was a bridge between classic French chansonniers like Charles Trenet, whom he admired in his youth, and the politically engaged artists of 1960s and 70s Quebec, such as Pauline Julien and Robert Charlebois. Mr. Lévesque died of Covid-19 in Montreal on Feb. 15 at the age of 92. – James Cullingham, Globe and Mail

Bell Media cuts hundreds of jobs, including in radio

At least 210 employees have been laid off according to the Canadian Press, citing numbers from private sector union Unifor, which represents 315,000 workers across Canada, including those with Bell. Bell would not confirm the number. The company attributed the layoffs to a shifting media landscape and the need for a “streamlined operating structure.” – Karen Bliss, Billboard


Mo Kenney’s got this covered: new album offers fresh takes of favourite tunes

Mo Kenney is no stranger to doing other people’s songs.  The Dartmouth singer-songwriter boldly seasoned her self-titled debut with a dreamy version of David Bowie’s Five Years. Two years later, she took Telephones by Nova Scotia indie band Mardeen and made it her own. Now Kenney delves further into the art of interpretation with Covers, an acoustic set of songs that prove tailor-made for her warm, pliable voice. – Stephen Cooke, Chronicle-Herald

Black music’s early Canadian struggle

Despite a storied, pre-Drake history, Black music in Canada has historically had a hard time gaining widespread support. –The Fader

Finally, the rise of a digital DJ

Kaytranada, whose name was first widely known for winning the Polaris Music Prize in 2016, is nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist. Perks of percolating fame for the Montreal artist include TikTok commissioning the premiere of the track “Caution,” and a podcast episode that explains how he ascended. – 12:36

‘Failing is fine’: Jann Arden on TV, her next album and covering Paul McCartney

In conversation with the ever-amusing Canadian entertainer about her colorful singing and acting career. – Paul Sexton, uDiscover Music

Celine Dion shares remastered music video to mark Falling Into You's 25th anniversary

The Canadian superstar's rescheduled run in support of her first English-speaking album in six years, 'Courage', will commence on May 25. She also marks a notable anniversary. – Roanoke Times


‘Unheard of?’ Maybe so — but Toronto composer John Beckwith’s 94th birthday is being celebrated with fanfare

To celebrate he likely listened along with many of his admirers to the John Beckwith Songbook, a two-hour, free virtual concert honouring his 70-year career in music, the first of three such concerts first available on YouTube and thereafter for two weeks on the Confluence channel at – William Littler, Toronto Star

Craig Northey calls his Strippers Union cohort Rob Baker an amazing deejay

The new Strippers Union double album, The Undertaking, is killer. The SU features a couple of guys from two of Canada's best-ever bands, the Tragically Hip and the Odds. Ex-Hip guitarist Rob Baker and Odds singer-songwriter-guitarist Craig Northey are accompanied by the longtime Odds rhythm section of bassist Doug Elliott and drummer Pat Steward. – Steve Newton, Georgia Straight

Neil Young and Crazy Horse get their stage legs back on 'Way Down in the Rust Bucket'

One of the finest rock bands ever, getting their stage legs back before a small audience in a club, ahead of an era-defining arena tour — what a glorious thing. – Vish Khanna, Exclaim!

Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot all once played in Yorkville. Would a museum of its musical past still strike a chord?

One of the men who established the Purple Onion, Barry Witkin, wants a Yorkville Village museum to be incorporated in the mixed-use development slated to go on the corner of Avenue Road and Yorkville Avenue where the Onion opened in late 1960.– Tess Kalinowski, Toronto Star


Robert Connely Farr serves up Country Supper with a deep Bentonia-style blues flavour

When Louisiana slide-guitar wizard Sonny Landreth played the Rio Theatre in August of 2019, those who arrived early enough to see the opening act got a real treat. It was a local Mississippi transplant named Robert Connely Farr, who'd been blowing people away with his album from the previous year, Dirty South Blues. – Steve Newton, Georgia Straight

Canada's content boom sparks a race for shooting space

With no end in sight for the production surge north of the border, facilities from Vancouver to Toronto are scrambling to meet demand.. Shooting in Canada has become so busy, the country's production sector is running out of room. Welcome to the Canadian space race.–  Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter


Serial Joe, Len, soulDecision and other early-2000s Canadian radio staples shine on TikTok

The golden era of chart-topping CanCon — featuring Fefe Dobson, All Saints, the Moffatts and Shawn Desman — is getting a second life on the app thanks to some nostalgia-fuelled creators. – Allie Gregory, Exclaim!

40 at 40: Revisiting the birth of hip-hop in Toronto

In our series of 40 memorable NOW covers from the past 40 years, we revisit a 1982 report on a hot new trend called rap music. –  Richard Trapunski and Michael Hollett, NOW

Why making playlists has become a soothing pandemic habit

More than binge-watching prestige television, more than mastering sourdough, more even than scrubbing my hands raw with industrial-strength soap, my most satisfying and comforting Covid-19 coping strategy is building playlists. It seems I’m not alone. –  Chris Johns, Globe and Mail

Toronto man's 'Quarantunes' led to jamming with a 'Back To The Future' actor 

Mikey Hawdon, a figure in the city's punk scene, has gained over 13,000 subscribers in only nine months with his Mikey and His Uke YouTube series. The videos, some of which feature Hawdon playing alongside members of the Offspring and Sum 41, have garnered thousands of views. But, the clip that reaches peak nostalgia is the guitarist's duet with Harry Waters Jr. from Back To The Future. – Narcity

Nice Horse wins big at 10th annual Country Music Alberta Awards

The 10th Annual Country Music Alberta Awards aired virtually this past weekend and we’ve gotta say, that province is STACKED! The event did a great job of showcasing emerging and established country talent with 22 award categories ranging from Rising Star to Artist of the Year. – Complete Country 


Soundcloud is about to revolutionize streaming payouts, launching user-centric royalties for 100K indie artists

MBW reports: “One of the most hotly-debated concepts in the modern music rights business is user-centric licensing. This model sees streaming royalties paid out based on individual subscriber behavior – with a percentage of each subscriber’s subscription fee being distributed only to the artists/labels they have individually listened to that month.” – Digital Media Wire


The US record industry grew by over $1bn in 2020 – but faces big challenges over streaming's pricing, and its future

The US recorded music industry saw total revenues rise by 9.2% in 2020 to $12.15bn on a retail basis. As previously predicted by MBW, that was up by over $1bn on the $11.13bn the market generated across all formats in 2019. – Tim Ingham, MBW

Independent artists and smaller labels grew fastest In 2020

"The headline is that independents as a whole grew market share in 2020 from 29.7% to 31.1%,” writes MIDiA top analyst Mark Mulligan, and that trend is accelerating. 2020 figures from Spotify confirm the trend. – Hypebot

Congress approved $15 Billion to save entertainment venues – Why has not a penny been spent yet?

Indie cinemas, music venues and museums have waited two months and counting for the Small Business Administration to start sending out grants. – Jeremy Fuster, the Wrap

Maren Morris & Chris Stapleton lead 2021 ACM Awards nominations

Maren Morris and Chris Stapleton lead the nominees for the 56th annual Academy of Country Music Awards with six each. Miranda Lambert follows with five nominations, including her 15th nomination for female artist of the year. Lambert is the most nominated female artist in Academy history with 68 lifetime nominations. – Melissa Newman, Billboard

NetEase and Sony Music join $15m investment in live-streaming platform Maestro

The live-streaming space continues to hot up. After Live Nation acquired Veeps and Universal Music Group invested in Big Hit’s KBYK Live (and its VenewLive platform), now the attention turns to Los Angeles-based live-streaming company Maestro, which has just raised $15 million in a Series B round. Those investing in Maestro include Sony Music Entertainment and Chinese tech giant NetEase, parent of NetEase Cloud Music. – MBW


This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: David Peck, President Reelin’ In The Years 

David Peck may be the most valuable American cultural entrepreneur of our time. The impact of his nonpareil collection of music-related film and TV footage is no less than seismic. With 30K hours of music footage, thousands of hours of in-depth interviews with some of the most important figures in popular culture, and a music photo archive containing over 200K images, Reelin’ In The Years Productions & Photo Archive in San Diego, California has carved out its own particular niche. – Larry LeBlanc, Celebrity Access

David Crosby sells catalog to Irving Azoff's Iconic Artists Group

On March 3, we learned that Crosby has sold his catalog to Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group for an undisclosed sum. Iconic Artists has acquired Crosby’s publishing and recorded music rights, comprising his solo work, as well as his work with The Byrds; Crosby & Nash; Crosby, Stills & Nash; and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. – Murray Stassen, MBW

How do you build an artist brand?

This is what branding and art direction come in. The strategic role branding plays in building an artist’s profile and audience, which assets you need to create, how to go about the creative direction process if you’re a team of one. – Amber Horsburgh, Deep Cuts

Isle of Wight festival moves to September as Download and Primavera cancel

Events originally scheduled for June are postponed and cancelled, as sector continues to press UK government for insurance scheme. – The Guardian

‘Phil Collins Collection Preview’ to debut at The Alamo on Texas Independence Day

In the 1980s, Collins started collecting artifacts and eventually amassed what’s believed to be the world’s largest private collection of Alamo relics. In 2014, he took the treasure trove out of the basement of his home in Switzerland and announced he was donating it to the State of Texas. Now some of the artifacts will be unveiled at the Alamo. – San Antonio News

How Dolly Parton became a secular American saint

Why everyone loves Dolly now. – Constance Grady,Vox

The musicological zest of “Switched On Pop”

The show’s hosts deliver charmingly rigorous dissections of Taylor Swift and Weeknd songs, slipping in a fair amount of music history and theory. – Alex Ross, The New Yorker

 Pete Townshend says ‘Who’ album cost too much 

Pete Townshend said the Who’s most recent album, 2019’s Who, caused resentment because it cost too much to make. The guitarist admitted it left him wondering if he wanted to record any further LPs, although he added he probably would. Who reached No. 2 on the chart and drew mostly critical acclaim, and Roger Daltrey declared it was the best record the band had made since Quadrophenia. – Ultimate Classic Rock

Restore your vinyl with these powerful record cleaning machines

Return vintage albums to their former glory and keep your new LPs from getting dirty. – Brandt Ranj, Rolling Stone

The classic Rolling Stones song that started out as a joke

It says a lot about The Rolling Stones’ 1960s heyday that even their jokes were catapulted to number one during the period.  ‘Paint It Black’ is a very dark song, and that stretched beyond the fact that Mick Jagger yells about wanting everything cast into monochrome. How such a song could be rooted in a joke seems unfathomable, but Keith Richards explained that the origin of the music was lighter than the result. – Farout

Celine Dion
Courtesy Photo

Celine Dion


Celine Dion Battled Extreme Muscle Spasms From Stiff-Person Syndrome With Dangerously High Doses of Valium: ‘It Could Have Been Fatal’

The singer opened up about her decade-long struggle with the rare neurological disorder in Tuesday night's (June 11) primetime NBC special.

Celine Dion was so desperate to alleviate the pain from severe muscle spasms during her secret, nearly two-decade-long battle with the rare neurological and autoimmune disease Stiff-Person Syndrome that she took near-lethal doses of Valium in search of relief. In her one-hour primetime NBC special on Tuesday night (June 11), Dion said she took up to 90 milligrams of the medication used to treat anxiety, seizures and muscle spasms, an amount that is more than twice the recommended daily dose.

“I did not know, honestly, that it could kill me. I would take, for example before a performance, 20 milligrams of Valium, and then just walking from my dressing room to backstage — it was gone,” Dion said of the instant pain relief the medication offered at levels, however that “could have been fatal” if she’d continued at that pace. “At one point, the thing is, that my body got used to it at 20 and 30 and 40 [milligrams] until it went up. And I needed that. It was relaxing my whole body. For two weeks, for a month, the show would go on… but then you get used to [and] it doesn’t work anymore.”

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