Music Biz Headlines, Oct. 1, 2020

A Canadian connection for Macy Gray (pictured), Vancouver launches a new arts grant program, and the use of avatars in pop. Also in the headlines are Brett Kissel, Holly Ellsworth-Clark, Shakers Roadhouse, Jim Byrnes, Pete Ganbarg, Napster, Prince, Twitch, Austin venues, BTS, Vin Diesel, Noel Gallagher, Lizzo, Bob Dylan, Shy Carter, Panic! at the Disco, Eric Clapton, and John Lennon.

Music Biz Headlines, Oct. 1, 2020

By FYI Staff

Macy Gray on her rough voice and concern for America

Why would pop star Macy Gray ever want to smooth over her trademark vocal rasp? Turns out it’s a Canadian’s fault. She was featured on the single Out of Love this summer by the soulful Montreal-based collective Busty and the Bass, and is particularly enamoured with the silky sound of Busty singer Nick Ferraro. “He has one of the prettiest voices I’ve ever heard,” says Gray, speaking from LA. “It was a pleasure to do a duet with him, but it was weird because my voice is so rough, I felt inferior. So I tried to smooth it out.” – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail


Cancountry star Brett Kissel helped kick off the CCMAs

Brett Kissel helped kick off the CCMA Awards on Sunday night by tipping his hat to the healing power of song. The Drink About Me singer from Flat Lake, Alta., performed his hit single before pausing to recognize that this year’s awards show was unfolding in the most difficult of times. – David Friend, CP

Bluegrass band split by Canadian border meets on international bridge for a jam session

It was the first time since the pandemic started that the band members were able to reunite, at the Maine/NB border. – WMTW

Covid-19: As Vancouver arts and culture organizations face major revenue losses, city launches new grant program

In addition to grants, a new civic funding program to support Vancouver-based arts and cultural nonprofit organizations can provide access to Vancouver Civic Theatre venues, such as the Annex, for live-streaming or recording events. According to the City of Vancouver, arts and cultural groups are expecting to lose over $90 million through the pandemic. – Craig Takeuchi, Georgia Straight

A posthumous release is coming from singer/songwriter Holly Ellsworth-Clark

On Friday, an EP called Holly Clark, Live at Crystal Beach will be released under the artist name Deep Bight, which is what Holly called her Ontario-based trio. The recordings spring from raucous, live-off-the-floor sessions held in 2019 at a studio in Crystal Beach,  not far from her adopted home of Hamilton. – Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald


Debonair singer Jay Jackson co-fronted R&B group the Majestics

Jay Jackson, singer, television host and effervescent ringleader, died Sept. 15 of congestive heart failure. He was 78. Along with his sister Shawne Jackson, Mr. Jackson fronted the Majestics, a 13-piece local R&B band that was part of the “Toronto Sound” of the late 1960s. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

Shakers' mark: Shakers Roadhouse revives rock with Darkened Skies, The Humpday Jammers, Filthy Sinner

Fusion is most simply described as the process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity. Rock and roll, for instance. Or, more recently, bands looking for a place to play and a venue capable of hosting them. Thankfully Shakers Roadhouse has found a winning formula, hosting AHS-approved shows with strict adherence to COVID guidelines and taking a healthy lead as Edmonton’s top spot to get rocked. – Ryan Garner, Edmonton Journal

Vancouver blues great Jim Byrnes will chat with Fiona Black on Backstage at CapU

Local musician and actor Jim Byrnes will make two upcoming appearances on the Backstage at CapU conversation series. On October 7 and 14 the blues great will chat with Capilano University's Fiona Black. He might talk about the blues; perhaps he'll chat about acting. Maybe he'll even play a tune or two. You'll have to tune in to the event's Facebook page at 7:30 pm to find out. – Steve Newton Georgia Straight


23 essential fall festivals, concerts and events

From a drive-in symphony to live-streamed dance shows, the season is full of cultural events – online and a few in-person. – Staff, NOW


Will pop music of the future rely on actual musicians or avatars?

The pandemic has sped up the use of digital lookalikes.  –The New York Times

This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc:  Pete Ganbarg, president of A&R, Atlantic Records, & president, ATCO Records.

Pete Ganbarg is a music man. In time, he will be placed alongside such gifted and admired label executives in music history.  Ganbarg is renowned for bringing out the best in artists, songwriters, and producers. He has a legendary ability to identify, and fix musical problems, and a knack for successfully connecting creative people. Who else but Ganbarg would Atlantic Records tap last year to reactivate its storied ATCO imprint? – Larry LeBlanc, Celebrity Access


Twitch, still unlicensed by majors, launches rights-cleared music via deals with indie distributors and labels

Remember when Jeff Bezos was asked if Amazon-owned live-streaming platform Twitch was licensed for recorded music – and he didn’t know? Well, it’s licensed now… but not by the major record companies. Instead, Twitch has struck licensing deals with a clutch of global distributors that work with indie artists, in addition to a handful of indie labels from around the world. – Murray Stassen, MBW

Independent artist creativity and innovation in the age of Covid

The pandemic has turned the music industry upside down in many ways but among the direct artists' community there have also been signs of resilience and creativity in the face of adversity. Self-releasing artists are not bound by industry promotional cycles, and in many cases, today’s artists must not just create their music but ‘sell it’ as well. If you have the drive to create music there is very little stopping you from writing, recording, producing and indeed releasing that music. All the tools and platforms are available. – Music Industry Blog

'If you steal music, you aren't a real music fan'

Music piracy costs the UK economy £9bn a year, according to a 2019 report by the government's Intellectual Property Office. And while illegal downloading has been around for the past two decades, the nature of the crime continues to change. – Nell Mackenzie, BBC

A Napster moment for online video and music platforms in India as piracy soars in lockdown

Online video and music on-demand platforms, which saw a huge jump in viewership during the lockdown, are seeing their thunder stolen by rampant piracy, especially on encrypted messaging platforms like Telegram and WhatsApp, and the deep dark web. – Economic Times

When Prince got ‘Black for real’: The radical ambition of ‘Sign O’ the Times’

Prince needed only a few minutes to paint an indelible picture of the moment when he opened his landmark 1987 album, “Sign O’ the Times,” with a haunting title track about AIDS, crack and Ronald Reagan. – Mikael Wood, LA Times


Austin groups rally to save the city's music venues

A rally to save live music venues sounded off in front of Austin City Hall on Monday morning. The non-profit advocacy group Austin Texas Musicians joined forces with the Amplified Sound Coalition to demand a Music Venue Preservation Fund. Local musicians say they’re concerned that the culture of Austin will be changed forever without this funding. So they’re now coming forward to make their voices heard. – KXAN

BTS announces new album slated for November release

K-pop stars BTS will drop their fifth full-length album, “BE (Deluxe Edition),” on Nov. 20, the band’s label, Big Hit Entertainment, said on Sunday. BTS contributed to the album’s concept, composition and design so it “contains the most ‘BTS’ music,” read the announcement. “It is an album that conveys consolation to fans and the world, starting with the story of BTS." – Sonaiya Kelley, LA Times

Noel Gallagher calls Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran ‘s***’ and bemoans lack of ‘proper rock stars’

‘Now the biggest thing in the world is f***ing Taylor Swift? What? F*** off,' said the musician, who made the disparaging comments when he appeared on Matt Morgan’s podcast Funny How?.– Annabel Nugent, The Independent

Vin Diesel is the unexpected pop singer 2020 didn’t know it needed

In what can only be interpreted as another sign of the apocalypse, this inexplicable year has somehow made action star Vin Diesel a singer. Yes, really. He has released a debut single, “Feel Like I Do,” on Spotify and streaming platforms. The clubby love song is a collaboration with Norwegian music producer Kygo and was released on the EDM star’s label, Palm Tree Records. – Nardine Saad, LA Times 


Panic At The Disco's flourishes were real theatre, not just dramatic

15 years ago, a mysterious top-hatted figure and a parade of circus performers interrupted a wedding in a music video with an unconventional soundtrack: an energetic pop-punk song with a bouncy, carnivalesque cello opening. This is how Panic! at the Disco announced itself in the “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” video, the first from its 2005 debut album, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.” The band remains closely associated with its original esthetic.  – New York Times

Lizzo triumphs in Vogue: ‘If someone like you hasn’t done it yet — BE THE FIRST’

Grammy winner Lizzo triumphed Thursday in being the first big, Black woman to be on the cover of Vogue — a good-as-hell career highlight that came just a day after she lamented the Kentucky grand jury decision not to charge any officers in the death of Breonna Taylor. – Nardine Saad, LA Times

Bob Dylan is back with his Theme Time Radio Hour,

Bob Dylan has revived his Theme Time Radio Hour, a SiriusXM show that ran from 2006 to 2009. It was beloved by music nerds and favoured by critics for its curious content of thematically curated old tunes, offbeat musicology, folksy life lessons, celebrity call-ins and other playful diversions. As a host, Dylan was old-timey, melodious and highly informative – a well-practised raconteur. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

After writing hits for Charlie Puth and Kane Brown, Shy Carter paves his own lane in country music

Shy Carter is the man behind pop and country hits by Charlie Puth (One Call Away), Meghan Trainor (Mr. Almost), Kane Brown (Heaven) and Sugarland (Stuck Like Glue). After more than a decade behind the scenes, the songwriter is introducing himself as an artist with his uplifting debut single Good Love.– Annie Reuter Forbes

Things I'd tell people contemplating starting a record label

My first advice to anyone telling me they want a life in music is to say “It’s hard, don’t do it.” If they take that advice, they don’t want it enough. If they persist, they might have a shot. – Alec Hanley Bemis, The Creative Independent

The best debut album lead-off tracks

In the industry, the first song in the tracklisting on an artist’s debut LP is often called a “lead-off” track. But, whatever you call them, these songs are often a listener’s first introduction to a particular artist. Imagine the first time you got a hold of Patti Smith’s Horses or Weezer’s Blue Album: “Gloria” or “My Name Is Jonas” were probably the first songs you heard. We ranked our favourite lead-off tracks from across generations and genres—rap, soul, R&B, rock, pop, folk and beyond—and listed them below. – Paste Staff

Eric Clapton backs Van Morrison's Save Live Music campaign

Eric Clapton has backed Van Morrison's campaign to Save Live Music. Clapton, the 75-year-old musician recently launched the campaign to dispute the way the government has handled the coronavirus pandemic and the impact on the music industry. – Irish News

A NYC apartment John Lennon lived in is up for sale

In the early 1970s, while married to Yoko Ono, John Lennon lived in a New York City apartment with his lover May Pang; Lennon called it his “Lost Weekend.” The Manhattan penthouse where Lennon and Pang lived is now for sale and featured here.  –TopTenRealEstateDeals

Sabrina Carpenter
Bryce Anderson

Sabrina Carpenter


Sabrina Carpenter is Coming to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver on 2024 Short N’ Sweet North American Arena Tour

The singer will also fill-in for Tyler, The Creator at the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco following the rapper's announcement that he's dropped off the bill.

Sabrina Carpenter announced the dates for her upcoming fall 2024 North American headlining arena tour on Thursday (June 20), with the Short n’ Sweet outing slated to kick off on Sept. 23 in Columbus, Ohio followed by Sept. 25 at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena. The 29-date tour will travel across the U.S. and Canada from September through mid-November, with stops in Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Montreal, Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, Dallas, Vancouver, Seattle, San Diego and Phoenix before winding down on Nov. 15 at Arena in Los Angeles.

Support acts on the tour include Amaarae, Griff and Declan McKenna, with the singer partnering with PLUS1 to launch the Sabrina Carpenter Fund to support the well-being of people and animals to provide support for mental health, animal welfare and the LGBTQ+ community on the swing.

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