Music Biz Headlines, May 6, 2021

Drake and Ryan Reynolds invest in Wealthsimple, Americana queen Lucinda Williams (pictured) recovers from a stroke, and the Kitchener Blues Festival is forced to cancel. Also in the headlines are Paul Pigat, Bonny Brent, Tidal, Jack Dorsey, Hipgnosis, Billie Eilish, WMG, Wave, PROs, YouTube, Bright, Bruce Springsteen, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Scroll, Don Cherry, and Robert Palmer.

Music Biz Headlines, May 6, 2021

By Kerry Doole

TIFF planning ‘substantially bigger’ 2021 film festival compared to last year’s hybrid event

The Toronto International Film Festival is ready for its comeback year. Or whatever comeback year that 2021 allows. Last fall, TIFF was forced, like every other arts organization in the world, to rethink and reconfigure itself. This time, it has the benefit of experience – and of a film industry extraordinarily eager to get back to normal. – Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

Wealthsimple announces landmark $750-million financing from investor group including Drake, Ryan Reynolds

Some of Canada’s most famous celebrities have joined a landmark financing for online Canadian bank challenger Wealthsimple Technologies Inc., which announced a $750M deal on Monday, is backed by some of Silicon Valley’s leading venture funds. The transaction sees more than a dozen new venture-capital investors buy an ownership stake in Wealthsimple, The deal includes celebrities such as Drake, Michael J. Fox, Ryan Reynolds, and NHL player Patrick Marleau. – Clare O'Hara and Sean Silcoff, Globe and Mail


Kitchener Blues Festival 2021 is cancelled because of Covid for second year

Organizers of the Kitchener Blues Festival announced Monday the 2021 version will not be held because of the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. – Waterloo Region Record

Deceased Toronto musician sits behind drum kit at his own funeral

Today in going out with a bang, we have Toronto's own Brentnol "Cabbage" McPherson — aka Bonny Brent — a world-renowned Guyanese-Canadian musician who recently "performed" for the last time ever... at his own funeral. – BlogTO

Vancouver guitar great Paul Pigat badly hurt cleaning gutters

Now that spring is here you might be eyeing your gutters and thinking it's time to climb up and clean them out. Just make sure your ladder's in good shape. Acclaimed Vancouver guitarist Paul Pigat learned the hard way what can happen when the routine homeowners' chore goes awry. Yesterday he informed his 5,000 Facebook friends that he broke four ribs in a fall. – Steve Newton, Georgia Straight


Jay-Z finalizes Tidal sale to Jack Dorsey for $350M... as platform boasts of paying '4X more per stream' than rivals

Tidal is now majority-owned by Jack Dorsey's Square, after a deal was reportedly finalized between Dorsey and Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter on April 30. The acquisition was for more money than expected, according to TMZ, which reports that Square paid $350 million to buy an 80% stake in Tidal. – Tim Ingham, MBW


Hipgnosis just spent over $100M on a rock catalog, sources say

After a flurry of huge deal announcements at the start of 2021, there was always going to be periods of relative quiet for Hipgnosis and Merck Mercuriadis.  However, MBW hears Mercuriadis is about to grab music biz headlines yet again, with a major deal worth north of $100 million. Sources say that agreement will see Hipgnosis acquire “one of the most sought-after rock catalogs in Anglo-American music”, and that an announcement is not too far away. – Tim Ingham, MBW

Billie Eilish to co-chair the famed Met Gala

The star power is back. When the Met Gala returns in September, it will feature a heavy-hitting contingent of celebrity co-chairs: Actor Timothée Chalamet, musician Billie Eilish, poet Amanda Gorman and tennis star Naomi Osaka. – AP

Warner Music Group announces groundbreaking partnership with and investment in Wave

Warner Music Group (WMG) has announced a notable new partnership with and investment in Wave, the leader in virtual entertainment. Through this collaboration, Wave will develop virtual performances. –Globe Newswire

What are the most valuable songs in the world? Here’s a breakdown by country

There are many ways to evaluate the worth of a song. S-Money decided to approach the question by analyzing Spotify streams in every country where the service is available. They then ranked everything on estimated earnings from these streams. Ed Sheeran came out on top, while Drake's God's Plan sits at No. 4, with a cool $8.3M (US) earned. – S-Money


Is a reckoning coming to the way collection societies spend songwriters' money?

Understandably, songwriters and music publishers have long raised prickly questions about the expenditure and efficiency of not-for-profit PROs. At the same time, PROs have staunchly defended the chunk of cash they burn – pointing to, amongst other things, the trillions of lines of data they process annually in the modern era. Yet a storm might now be brewing at the heart of this conversation, propelled by two very topical factors. – Tim Ingham, MBW


YouTube is now generating $2bn from ads every month

YouTube‘s advertising business is exploding, according to Alphabet's latest results. They show that YouTube is now generating an average of over $2 billion every month from ads. They also show that YouTube’s ad business materially closed the gap on subscription-based Netflix‘s revenues in Q1. – Tim Ingham, MBW 

Live video platform Bright lets you Zoom with your favorite creators

“What if you could Zoom with your favorite creator and ask them questions?" That’s the promise of Bright, the new live video platform launched this week from co-founders Guy Oseary and early YouTube product manager Michael Powers. – Tech Crunch

Sinclair Broadcast Group aims to sell ads based on impressions

Sinclair Broadcast Group said Tuesday it intends to start selling its linear and digital ad inventory based on a “common impression-based currency,” joining the ranks of other local-station owners moving to change the nature of their transactions with Madison Avenue as technology spurs new ways consumers watch their video favorites.” – Brian Steinberg, Variety

AFM, SAG-AFTRA distributes $70M to rightsholders

The AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund – an income source that most musicians barely know exists – has announced a record $70 million distribution.” – Hypebot

Twitter acquires distraction-free reading service Scroll to beef up its subscription product

Twitter this morning announced it’s acquiring Scroll, a subscription service that offers readers a better way to read through long-form content on the web, by removing ads and other website clutter that can slow down the experience. – Tech Crunch

So good, so good. At SoFi Stadium, fans celebrate a real, live concert and a worthy cause

More than a year after Covid-19 essentially shut down the live-music business, Foo Fighters and a host of other acts stepped carefully but excitedly into the post-pandemic future Sunday night at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, where the international aid group Global Citizen presented “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World.” –  Mikael Wood, LA Times

Lucinda Williams had a stroke last year. She’s ready to sing again

The famed Americana songwriter opens up about a frightening health episode in November that affected the left side of her body. – Joseph Hudak, Rolling Stone


Bruce Springsteen receives this year’s Woody Guthrie Prize

 Bruce Springsteen has won the 2021 Woody Guthrie Prize, which is given to an artist seen as carrying on the spirit of the folk singer whose music focused on the plight of the poor and disenfranchised.  “Woody wrote some of the greatest songs about America’s struggle to live up its ideals in convincing fashion,“ Springsteen said in a statement Tuesday. – AP

A fresh look at the ‘organic music’ of Moki and Don Cherry

For renowned trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist Don Cherry, Europe was where he began sharing an artistic practice with fashion designer and textile artist Moki Karlsson (later Moki Cherry), whose career would become intertwined with his. – Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times

The 15 best songs of April 2021

Featuring duendita, Lucy Dacus, McKinley Dixon and more. – Staff, Paste

The brilliant stupidity of Robert Palmer’s 1986 No. 1 hit, ‘Addicted to Love’

Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” — which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 35 years ago — is best known for its brilliantly idiotic video, which features the singer performing in front of five stunning mannequin-like models bearing vapid facial expressions and holding musical instruments that they’re not even pretending to mime convincingly. They can’t dance either, and only occasionally move in time with the song’s rhythm. It’s utterly ridiculous (Palmer’s face throughout the video shows he knows it, too) and absolutely iconic at the same time. – Jem Aswad Variety


The table Ed Ward built

The pioneering music journalist (1948-2021) wrote rock & roll history. Ed Ward, who died Monday at the age of 72, welcomed me to the table – a table he helped build. – Tim Stegall, Austin Chronicle

Courtesy of Vertigo Live



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Toronto band jackie's "Perfume" and Nova Scotian singer-songwriter Maggie Andrew's "About Us" are also making their way onto radio playlists.

The following are tracks delivered to radio by digital distributor Yangaroo in Canada and broken down into three categories. Top Downloads and Top Canadian Downloads represent the most copied tracks in the week ending June 7. Most Active Indies blends downloads and streams, with the affiliated label and radio promotions company in parentheses.

Top Downloads

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