Music Biz Headlines, March 9, 2023

Music Biz Headlines, March 9, 2023

By Kerry Doole

Begonia’s bold vulnerability in latest album Powder Blue building a raw connection with fans

Begonia is the stage name of Alexa Dirks, a dynamic Winnipeg singer-songwriter in the business of fancy pop, Feist-meets-Flack balladry and bold expressions of vulnerability. That her intimate confessions are deeply embraced by fans is hard proof that she is not “the only one.” – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival society has 7 new directors. Here’s who they are

If the recent board elections for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival Society amounted to a showdown between competing visions for the festival’s future, the battle ended in a draw. –  Heather Kitching, Roots Music Canada

Joni Mitchell is the first Canadian to be honoured by prestigious Gershwin prize

 Mitchell received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song during a gala ceremony in Washington on March 1. A roster of performers including Annie Lennox, Cyndi Lauper and Brandi Carlile lit up the stage in tribute to Mitchell at DAR Constitution Hall, a historic venue just down the street from the White House. – James McCarten, CP


Junior Boys aren’t junior anymore and neither is their sound

On the latest Junior Boys album, Jeremy Greenspan took Caribou’s advice and stretched out. – Ben Rayner, Toronto Star

Horn virtuoso Guido Basso was known for his sensuously lyrical sound

In 1990, The Tonight Show trumpeter Doc Severinsen flew to Toronto on a matter of urgent business. He was infatuated with a version of Portrait of Jennie, an all-out flugelhorn number performed by Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass. The sublime talent of Guido Basso was showcased on the recording. In short, Mr. Severinsen wanted Mr. Basso’s evocative sound. – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail

How Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ got an accidental Toronto premiere 50 years ago

Four days before the album was to be released worldwide in 1973 DJ David Marsden played it on his CHUM-FM show. –  Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

New documentary 299 Queen Street West tracks how MuchMusic became a star-making machine

When an independent Canadian director sends their film as a blind submission to the annual South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, the chances of getting a premiere there are slim at best. And, yet, the documentary about MuchMusic from Sean Menard is making its bow at SXSW this month, against all odds. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail


​Eight underrated Canadian Dance-Punk bands primed for a comeback

You say party! We say dance-punk is poised for a revival! – Ian Gormely, Exclaim!

Why the Juno Awards matter to artists: Just ask William Prince, Caity Gyorgy or Loud Luxury

Being nominated, winning or just being on the televised awards show can have tangible benefits, but even off-camera moments can have an impact. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

Ukraine’s DakhaBrakha is ready to rejoice in art again

When DakhaBrakha returned to their native Ukraine from a European tour on Feb. 23, 2022, they were scheduled to soon depart for more dates. But, one day later, Russia invaded, and everything changed. The folk-rock band’s twin missions – to entertain and educate – have intensified since that time. – Catherine Kustanczy, Globe and Mail

Avril Lavigne wore a post-breakup statement tee at Paris Fashion Week

Uh huh, life’s like this. Canadian punk singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne, who is fresh off her breakup with ex-fiancé Mod Sun, made a statement at Paris Fashion Week. It’s a fashion statement, but also a pretty explicit statement about the end of her engagement to the American singer. –Glamour

47 SOCAN composers earn Canadian Screen Awards 2023 nominations

Once again this year, SOCAN #ComposersWhoScore have fared very well in nominations at the Canadian Screen Awards. With expanded musical categories this year, 47 of our members have earned nominations, 11 of them have garnered double-noms, and Antonio Naranjo and Jonathan Goldsmith have been honoured with three nods each. – Howard Druckman, Words & Music


Lenka Lichtenberg’s Juno-nominated album brings Holocaust survivor’s poetry to life

A series of poems written in a concentration camp about romantic love, betrayal and hopeful dreams of faraway places is being brought to life in album form, sung in Czech by the author’s granddaughter. – Christian Collington, Canadian Press

The Weeknd responds to Rolling Stone report on ‘disturbing sexual’ content of his HBO show ‘The Idol’

The Toronto pop star responded to the music magazine’s report that the upcoming series has “gone wildly, disgustingly off the rails.” – Richie Assaly, Toronto Star

Meet Norm, Andy Shauf’s new concept album that almost wasn’t

As Andy Shauf started writing again, he kept coming back to the same character: a lonely man he named Norm. He dived in, fleshing out a world with a small cast of players, including a fickle omniscient being, for his eighth full-length album. – Samantha Edwards,  Globe and Mail


Tim Hicks tries to slow down time on new single ‘Talk to Time’

Hicks performs in Hamilton on March 4 during halftime at Toronto Rock game, Graham Rockingham writes. – Hamilton Spectator

Police in Ontario charge eight in Norval Morrisseau art fraud investigation

Police in Ontario are calling it the largest amount of art in a fraud case in history – three separate criminal rings responsible for the “assembly-line” production of thousands of forged Norval Morrisseau paintings worth tens of millions of dollars. Musician Kevin Hearn was a key player in this case. – Patrick White and Willow Fiddler, Globe and Mail

Former Dragons’ Den star Michael Wekerle in legal battle with partner over Waterloo property venture

Wekerle's costly investment in the El Mocambo is a part of this saga. – Globe and Mail

Rock of Ages is back on stage rocking Toronto - more schlocky than ever, for better or worse

I never thought Rock of Ages was for the ages. But here the jukebox musical is, back on a Toronto stage, once again rocking out with its schlock out. The surprisingly enduring Broadway show from the oughts is at the Elgin Theatre through May. – JK Nestruck, Globe and Mail


Scooter Braun and HYBE want to build a 'major' music label.

How will their $300M bet on Quality Control play into that aim? HYBE’s USD $1.05B  acquisition of Braun’s US-based Ithaca Holdings in 2021 brought various successful non-K-pop operations, including Braun’s own management company, SB Projects (home to Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande) into HYBE (via HYBE America). – MBW

HYBE’S SM Entertainment takeover plan falls short

The corporate drama playing out in the music business in South Korea just entered its latest act. South Korean internet giant Kakao Corp. has launched a tender offer to acquire a 35% stake in SM Entertainment as HYBE’s tender offer to purchase another 25% of the K-Pop company fell through. The result of the tender offer means that SM Entertainment’s shareholders are not buying into HYBE’s plan to take control of its rival. – MBW


UMG generated more than $1B per quarter from music subscription streaming in 2022

Universal Music Group is, as things stand, the only major music company to split out its recorded music streaming revenues into two distinct sub-categories within its published fiscal results: (i) Subscription, i.e. paid-for, streaming; and (ii) Other streaming, i.e. ad-supported platforms. UMG has announced its recorded music subscription streaming revenues grew by 10.0% YoY (at constant currency) in 2022, reaching EUR €3.901B. Double digits… just! – Tim Ingham, MBW

6 ways to fix the broken concert ticketing system

Scoring tickets for your favorite artist’s tour seems tougher than ever, but there are practical steps the industry could take to make things better. – Marc Hogan, Pitchfork

Journey’s Neal Schon v. Everyone: Will band members go ‘separate ways’?

The band is fighting over a member's Mar-a-Lago performance, suing over the group's Amex account, and hiring and firing managers. But it's still filling arenas. – Steve Knopper, Billboard

Universal Music Group’s CEO calls for new streaming model

Universal Music Group NV, the world’s largest record label, said quarterly revenue from music streaming surpassed €1-billion ($1.06-billion) for the first time in the fourth quarter. Even as UMG's chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge lauded the sustained growth of streaming and technology’s ability to connect artists with their fans, he used the company’s fourth quarter investor call to advocate for a new economic model. – Dawn Chmielewski, Reuters

Glastonbury’s blokefest of headliners is sloppy, slapdash … and very off-brand

In handing Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses and Elton John the prized slots, the festival has failed to live up to its own ideals. – Barbara Ellen, The Guardian


Kiss reveal final shows of their last tour, ending in New York

The band plans to hang up their platform boots after two shows at Madison Square Garden in New York at the end of 2023. – AP

Roger Waters reveals first music from re-recorded solo Dark Side of the Moon

Controversial former bandleader says he wanted to ‘re-address the political and emotional message’ of album that turns 50 years old this week. – Ben Beaumont-Thomas, The Guardian

Cliches and corny dialogue can’t spoil the ride in Daisy Jones & The Six

Fleetwood Mac-inspired rockumentary a satisfying soap opera of a story. – Michael Hollett, NEXT

‘He was central to music history’: the forgotten legacy of Leon Russell

In an illuminating new book, the incredible highs and devastating lows of the influential musician are remembered. – Jim Farber, The Guardian

Big Boi

Big Boi


CNE Bandshell Gets Big Boi, Sloan, Big Wreck And More For Throwback Summer Concerts

The headliners tie together the Toronto waterfront series' '90s and 2000s revival theme, while contemporary acts like MacKenzie Porter, Ruby Waters, Tynomi Banks and more will keep things current.

Toronto's CNE Bandshell concert series is leaning into big nostalgia this summer, with major '90s and 2000s acts headlining the throwback-themed lineup.

OutKast rapper Big Boi, Canadian-American rock band Big Wreck, and east coasters Sloan are leading the summer music programming at the Canadian National Exhibition, a major entertainment fair that takes over the Exhibition Place grounds every August.

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