Music Biz Headlines, Nov. 26, 2020

The Grammys snub of The Weeknd sparks major controversy, Avril Lavigne goes to Malibu (pictured), and Anne Murray is happy staying in the Maritimes. Also in the headlines are Bob Moses, Call the Office, Staircase Theatre, SoundCloud, Def Jam, The Killers, Warner, the AMAs, Blood, Sweat & Tears, John Belushi, Frank Zappa, Courtney Barnett, Elton John, Trevor Noah, Taylor Swift, and drinking songs.

Music Biz Headlines, Nov. 26, 2020

By Kerry Doole

The Weeknd shockingly shut out of Grammy nominations

The annual nominations for the Grammy Awards are always full of surprises. But in our many collective decades of Grammy watching, we have never witnessed an omission on the level of the one that the Recording Academy committees who decide the nominees have given to The Weeknd this year. He’s even playing the Super Bowl halftime show the Sunday after the Grammys. He led nearly all of the expert-predictions lists for the past several months. And yet, his total number of Grammy nominations for the year that he dominated is zero. – Jem Aswad, Variety

Why did the 2021 Grammys snub The Weeknd?

Zero nominations for After Hours is a shocker — plus four more glaring omissions from the new nominations. – Rolling Stone


Bob Moses comes to you with a live album and a sage message 

Stop and consider for a second how deeply scary it is to uproot yourself from the familiar to pursue a dream. And then admire how former Vancouver boys Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance not only did that but found that sometimes everything falls perfectly into place. – Mike Usinger Georgia Straight

Avril Lavigne buys ocean-view Malibu contemporary

Although she famously crooned “No, no, no” in her globally successful debut single — 2002’s anthem “Complicated” — Canadian pop/rocker Avril Lavigne is saying “yes, yes, yes,” to a seriously snazzy house in the celebrity-beloved seaside city of Malibu, CA. Records reveal the 36-year-old has paid $7.8 million for a very private estate that’s close to Lady Gaga’s $23 million compound. – James McClain, Variety

No longer a snowbird, Anne Murray settles into Nova Scotia life

Anne Murray says she won't be among the Canadian snowbirds migrating south this winter. While the celebrated singer has made a tradition out of packing her suitcase and setting forth to the Florida sun each year, in the midst of the pandemic she's staying put inside her new Halifax home. “If you have to be isolated, I'm in a great spot,” the 75-year-old said in an interview over her iPad. – David Friend, CP


Future uncertain for Call The Office as music venue closes indefinitely

London’s landmark music venue Call the Office is closing its doors indefinitely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the owner of the downtown bar says. It’s a decision that could be a big blow to London’s already dwindling live music scene, an industry observer says. – Jonathan Juha, London Free Press

Here’s how Toronto is getting ready for the return of live shows

Masks, social distancing, no-frills productions, timed entry and exits – it's all outlined in the new #Lights-On reopening guide.  – Richard Trapunski, NOW

Hamilton arts venue The Staircase Theatre is saved by new buyers

Artists and arts advocates woke up to some happy news recently: Hamilton’s enduring arts venue and heritage space, The Staircase Theatre, has been purchased by a trio of local business people who intend to continue preserving the building as a community-focused arts incubator. – Urbanicity

Kensington Market music venue The Boat says goodbye

A Portuguese restaurant since 1976, the Toronto bar has thrived since the mid-2000s as a kitschy party spot and live music venue. – Richard Trapunski, NOW


Bertelsmann to acquire Simon & Schuster for over $2B

German media group Bertelsmann will acquire U.S. publisher Simon & Schuster from ViacomCBS for more than $2 billion, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. Bertelsmann, the owner of Penguin Random House, outbid Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for the publisher of authors Dan Brown, Hillary Clinton and Stephen King that Viacom put up for sale earlier this year. – Reuters


SoundCloud's revenues jumped 37% to $166M in 2019 – and it just posted its first-ever profitable quarter

SoundCloud has confirmed it achieved its first-ever profitable quarter on an EBITDA basis in Q3 this year. Fresh company filings reveal that SoundCloud posted €147.6m (US$165.7m) in revenues in calendar 2019, up 37% year-over-year. That represented significantly faster growth than the prior year: in 2018, SoundCloud posted a YoY revenue increase of 19%. SoundCloud’s 2019 revenue growth accelerated as the year went on: the firm says its quarterly revenues were up 17% YoY in Q1; in Q4, they were up by 43% YoY. – Tim Ingham, MBW


Alec and Alex Boateng named Co-Presidents of new 0207 Def Jam label at Universal Music UK

Def Jam is twinning. Ghanaian London-born twin brothers Alec and Alex Boateng have officially been unveiled as co-Presidents of a newly-launched frontline Universal Music UK label: 0207 Def Jam. Alec Boateng joins 0207 Def Jam after seven years at Warner Music, while Alex Boateng has spent the past decade at Universal Music UK, most recently as President of Island Records’ first Urban Division. – Tim Ingham, MBW

The Killers turn Grammy nomination snub into Donald Trump-trolling gold

The rock band's tweet is worthy of its own prize. – Lee Moran, HuffPost US

Warner is signing double the number of artists via AI-driven A&R tool

The label is doubling its signing of artists over last year, thanks to an AI-driven A&R tool, Sodatone. Now, it's hired a global head of Data Science. – Murray Stassen, MBW

American Music Awards sink to record-low ratings

The 2020 American Music Awards (AMAs), hosted by Taraji P. Henson, were the latest victims of the coronavirus pandemic — and of TV ratings trends in general. Sunday’s AMAs on ABC sunk to record-low ratings and nearly halved last year’s overall television audience. The annual awards show’s previous low in the key demo came last year. In terms of total viewers, the prior AMAs low was 2018. – Tony Maglio, The Wrap

John Belushi in focus: What a new film gets right and what it misses

After Bob Woodward’s “Wired” focused too much on the comic’s death, this documentary looks fondly at the star’s life. But his comic genius deserves more. – New York Times

'What the hell happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears'? A new documentary will have answers

The John Scheinfeld-directed film will feature never-released footage from their 1970 tour behind the Iron Curtain. Bolstered by David Clayton-Thomas’ soulful vocals and a boisterous horn section, Blood, Sweat & Tears landed such hits as “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel” and “And When I Die” on the pop charts in the late ‘60s. – Melinda Newman, Billboard

This upcoming benefit concert shines a spotlight on the struggling live event industry

Next month's Live Events Lift Up Festival will raise funds for the industry and highlight the many people it takes to produce a live gathering. – Claire Hoffman, BizBash


Courtney Barnett to stream concert from Melbourne in cinemas globally

The Aussie star will perform from the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne for a global event that will stream live to cinemas all over the world on 17 December. – Paul Cashmere, Noise11

Q&A: Zappa director Alex Winter on why the doc is more about the man than the music

Alex Winter might be best known and loved as Bill in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and its two sequels opposite his longtime pal Keanu Reeves, but he is also a very gifted documentarian.  Winter has directed several critically acclaimed documentaries. His latest is a clear labour of love. ZAPPA takes an in-depth look into the life and work of musician Frank Zappa. – Bonnie Laufer, Original-Cin

Elton John, TikTok team up to educate about the AIDS epidemic

The Elton John AIDS Foundation and TikTok are teaming up to raise awareness about the disease through a campaign and live event for World AIDS Day. John’s foundation and the social networking service announced their collaboration recently for a live show on Dec. 1. The event will air on John’s TikTok channel featuring the singer and performances by Sam Smith, Sam Fender and Rina Sawayama. –  AP

“The Daily Show” host and comedian Trevor Noah has been tapped to host the 2021 Grammy Awards

The Recording Academy made the announcement hours before the nominees for the upcoming show are revealed. It would mark Noah’s first time hosting the Grammys, which will be held Jan. 31. Earlier this year, Noah competed for his first Grammy Award: The 36-year-old Emmy winner was nominated for best comedy album with “Son of Patricia,“ but lost to Dave Chappelle. – Mesfin Fekadu, AP


A concert film featuring Taylor Swift performing songs from her new album is coming to Disney+

The singer announced Tuesday that “folklore: the long pond studio sessions” will premiere on the streaming platform this week. The concert film will include guest appearances from Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver — acts who all appear on Swift’s “folklore“ album. In the film, Swift will reveal stories and secrets behind the 17 songs on the album, which topped the Billboard 200 albums chart this year.  – AP

Country's songwriters grapple with alcohol's abundance

Listen to the radio and you might think the genre has a drinking problem. Country fans might not see all the world through "Whiskey Glasses," but they're definitely hearing it through alcoholic earbuds. Thirteen of the top 20 songs reference beer, whiskey, wine, bars or drinking in the verses, as do 25 of the top 40 singles. – Tom Roland, Billboard

Buju Banton

Buju Banton


Legendary Jamaican Artist Buju Banton Coming To Toronto On North American Arena Tour

The show will come as part of the reggae artist's first U.S. tour in 13 years. Don Toliver and Snotty Nose Rez Kids have also revealed upcoming Canadian dates.

A legendary Jamaican artist is making a major return to Canada.

Grammy-winning reggae and dancehall musician Buju Banton will perform at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on October 13, for his first Canadian show in over fifteen years.

keep readingShow less