Music Biz Headlines, May 10, 2021

The Damn Truth (pictured) get a glowing hometown review, Skye Sweetnam has gone from pop to metal, and Jerry Levitan teams up with Sean Ono Lennon. Others in the headlines include Michel Louvain, The Tenors, Ronnie Williams, Spotify, Live Nation, RCM, WMG, Ledo, Broadway, Tencent, Kurt Cobain, Daniel Ek, and Childish Gambino.

Music Biz Headlines, May 10, 2021

By Kerry Doole

Veteran Quebec crooner Michel Louvain was a teen idol in the 1950s

Michel Louvain, Quebec’s first teen idol of the television age, died in Montreal on April 14 at the age of 83 of cancer of the esophagus, which was diagnosed in the weeks prior to his death. In a career spanning six decades, Mr. Louvain recorded more than 30 albums, toured frequently and hosted De bonne humeur, a daily variety show on the TVA network, for five years and Louvain à la carte, a daily show on Radio-Canada, for two years. – James Cullingham, Globe and Mail

Why festivals will be key to Canada's post-Covid economic recovery

Virtually every Canadian city has a big event like Ottawa's Bluesfest, whether it’s the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Edmonton Folk Festival, the Calgary Stampede or Quebec City’s Festival d’été. Each one is part of an ecosystem that supports everything from audio-visual services to security to catering companies. – Lynn Saxberg, Ottawa Citizen


It's Now or Nowhere for Montreal rockers The Damn Truth

Mostly produced by Bob Rock, the band's third full-length album, Now or Nowhere, is all about meaty power chords and intense bluesy vocals. – Brendan Kelly, Montreal Gazette

Former Hamilton pop princess reborn as heavy metal mistress

Skye Sweetnam has spent the last few years in an old converted church near Binbrook, making the transformation from teen pop star to mistress of heavy metal. The transition is now complete with the recent signing of her band, Sumo Cyco, to the international metal label Napalm Records and the May 7 release of their new album “Initiation.” – Graham Rockingham, Hamilton Spectator

How a Toronto teen got an exclusive interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1969

Nearly 52 years after Torontonian Jerry Levitan conducted an impromptu interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the King Edward Hotel, it’s the gift that has kept giving. Now Sean One Lennon is involved in a project around it. – Nick Krewen, The Star

Toronto Comic Arts Festival breaks barriers between music and visual art with Loop Sessions

Going virtual is allowing organizers to expand its scope beyond the page. From May 8-15, you can enjoy a robust online marketplace, workshops, gaming demos, guests from all over the world and events that could never have happened in a regular year. It’s expanded, more accessible than ever before and it’s all free. – NOW


The Tenors mark their second pandemic Mother’s Day: ‘We owe everything to our moms’

The heartfelt songs of Canadian operatic-pop trio the Tenors have long been a pillar in the lives of their fans as they go through key life moments. So it’s no surprise that the group, comprised of Victor Micallef, Clifton Murray and Fraser Walters, penned a song about the power of motherhood, called “Mother,” and released it ahead of Mother’s Day in April of last year. – Kristen Vinakmens, Toronto Star

Unheralded reggae pioneer Ronnie Williams helped define the genre

He was one of the early architects of Jamaican music – a guitarist, bass player, songwriter, arranger and producer whose contributions to hundreds of recordings helped to shape reggae and popularize it around the world. He played with Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Johnny Nash and Toots and the Maytals, and worked for such famous studio owners as Duke Reid, Bunny Lee and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Yet the name Ronnie (Bop) Williams is barely known outside of reggae circles. He passed away last month. – Nicholas Jennings, Globe and Mail

The Royal Conservatory’s Music of My Life: Mervon Mehta and Peter Simon get famous people to spill their musical beans

As it happens, the Daniel Barenboim interview is atypical. The rationale for the series is to have people engaged in other pursuits talk about how classical music has influenced their lives. – William Littler, Toronto Star



Warner Music streaming revenues leap 20% YoY in Calendar Q1

Warner Music Group had a flat year in calendar 2020 – but the company’s 2021 is already off to a flyer. On May 4, WMG announced its fiscal results for the three months to end of March (its fiscal Q2, but calendar Q1). Quarterly recorded music revenues – including streaming, digital and physical sales, and ancillary income – surged above a billion dollars at $1.059bn, up 16.8% . This figure includes $722 million from streaming, a number which was up by 23.2% YoY in comparison to calendar Q1 2020. – Tim Ingham, MBW


Musicians frustrated with streaming services’ paltry payouts are fighting back

The gulf between music’s haves and have-nots has been exacerbated by the payout model streaming services use. Will pressure from artists force a change? – Ben Sisario, New York Times

DIY distribution platform Ledo, launched by Spinnin' Records co-founder, files for bankruptcy

It was supposed to be a revolutionary new force in the world of independent artist distribution – founded by the man who sold Spinnin' Records to Warner Music for more than $100 million in 2017. But Netherlands-based Ledo has this week filed for bankruptcy, just two months after its public launch. Ledo was founded by Eelko van Kooten – the former co-owner of Spinnin' Records – alongside a fellow Dutch music industry veteran. – Sarah Hildering. MBW

Live Nation events now selling out faster than ever before

In the full year of 2020 Live Nation‘s revenues fell 84% as its concerts business’s annual revenues tumbled by nearly $9 billion due to the pandemic. But after a gloomy year for the live music industry, the company now says that it is “seeing the effects of significant pent-up demand” – as successful vaccination programs in the UK and US in particular start to translate into the easing of Covid restrictions and the return of live music. – Murray Stassen, MBW

Broadway to light up again in September when shows are set to return

Live Broadway shows will return to the stage starting Sept. 14 after an 18-month hiatus to fight the coronavirus pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week. Tickets are on sale and theaters will be allowed to fill 100% of capacity, Cuomo said. Broadway theaters are among New York’s biggest tourist attractions. – Lisa Richwine, Reuters

SoundCloud partners with Triller on playlist integration

Music streaming service SoundCloud has partnered with US-based TikTok rival Triller to integrate a Soundcloud-curated playlist feature into the short-form video platform’s app. – Jack Needham, MBW

Bitski raises $19 million from a16z to become the ‘Shopify for NFTs’

For every crypto-skeptic that see NFTs as yet another hype bubble, there’s an acolyte who sees NFTs as the key to unlocking the future of the creative web. – TechCrunch


Tencent in talks with US Committee to retain Epic and Riot stakes

The CFIUS is investigating whether user data handled by the two studios could constitute a "national security risk" because they are Chinese-owned. – Games Industry Biz

New initiative calling for music industry to donate percentage of income to tackle climate change

Earth Percent is aiming to raise tens of millions. – Planet Radio

The FBI's just-released file on Kurt Cobain's death is filled with weirdness

A strange week for fans of the Nirvana frontman continues. – Spin

Childish Gambino sued by rapper who alleges “This Is America” copyright infringement

Florida rapper Kidd Wes says the Grammy-winning single has “substantial similarities” to his 2016 track “Made in America.” – Matthew Strauss, Pitchfork

Music Industry In Ireland – Mary Coughlan: "Some musicians I know were living on €35 a week" 

As part of our special feature on the impact of Covid-19 on the Irish music industry, renowned singer-songwriter Mary Coughlan shares her experiences. – Hot Press

After revolutionising music industry, Spotify's Daniel Ek sets sights on Arsenal

Spotify's billionaire CEO Daniel Ek, who revolutionised on-demand music listening for millions of people, is a resilient entrepreneur who now aims to buy famed football club Arsenal. – The Citizen

I want my mutually assured destruction

How 1980s MTV helped my students understand the Cold War. – Tom Nichols, The Atlantic

The new longest song in the world lasts for 48 hours

The Guinness Book of World Records people will have to consider “Song for First Contact” by the Pocket Gods, a British band that previously released about 6K songs that are around 30 seconds long (Guinness has recognized them in a number of categories for their short songs). The new composition ticks along for 48 hours, cut into 16 sections of three hours each. “Song for First Contact”–and yes, it’s inspired by the possibilities of finally coming face-to-face with aliens–will be officially released at the end of the month. – Alan Cross, A Journal of Musical Things 


Soleil Launière
Jaime Antonio Luna Quezada

Soleil Launière


Soleil Launière wins the Francouvertes: “It means a lot to me as an Indigenous artist”

Meet the Innu artist, big winner of the 2024 edition of the showcase-competition, who is the first Indigenous artist to win since the Quebec music competition started allowing submissions in Indigenous languages.

Soleil Launière has won the 28th edition of Francouvertes, becoming the first Indigenous artist to win the Quebec-based music competition.

The multidisciplinary Innu artist from Mashteuiatsh, Quebec won the grand final of the musical showcase on Monday, May 13. The Montreal-based artist edged out rapper Sensei H and maximalist rock singer-songwriter Loïc Lafrance.

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