Music Biz Headlines, Oct. 15, 2020

Two looks at the new posthumous album from Gord Downie (pictured), Windsor's 89X boosted CanRock in Detroit, new songs from Stevie Wonder, and Tunecore shells out the shekels.  Also in the headlines are the Cameron House, Darcy James Argue, Garth Brooks, UK festivals, Guy Moot, Stevie Wonder, BTS, Dolly Parton, Dawes, Hal Willner, and T. Rex.

Music Biz Headlines, Oct. 15, 2020

By FYI Staff

New Gord Downie collaboration ‘Away Is Mine’ is anything but a ‘downer’

Away Is Mine, the Tragically Hip singer’s final album, was recorded three and a half months before he died. But Downie album collaborator Josh Finlayson, co-founder of Skydiggers, who helped set the project in motion, says “Away Is Mine” is anything but a “downer.” “There’s a lot of humour and a lot of joy musically and lyrically,” he says. –  Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

Gord Downie's new solo album won't be his last posthumous release

It’s the latest chapter in a long, eloquent farewell that raises questions surrounding posthumous albums in general. Do they continue the legacy of the artist or do they exploit their memory? –Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail


Darcy James Argue, for whom the paranoia tolls

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society knows the sound of dread. Steeped in the disquieting cadences of creeping paranoia, the 18-piece jazz orchestra’s Real Enemies album draws energy from the thrumming rumors of conspiracy haunting American society. The Canadian-born composer, arranger, and conductor started writing Real Enemies long before a reality TV star descended on his golden Fifth Avenue escalator straight into the nation’s id. – Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Classical Voice

A barber shop opens at Toronto music hub The Cameron House

Cameron House is a historic music venue and bar located at 408 Queen St. West, and now the location is also home to a brand new barber shop on the second floor. Cameron House Barbers, run by women,  officially opened its doors to the public last week in the same building as the venue, which has been a fixture in the Toronto music scene for years. – Blog TO

Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Cold Shot" video inspired Scott Smith to pick up the guitar

Scott Smith is one of Vancouver's most accomplished guitar players. He's won followers with stints in the Bughouse Five, the Surfdusters, Bottleneck, the Blue Rich Rangers, Rock 'n' Roll Circus, and Terminal Station. As well as delving into rockabilly, surf, and blues-rock, Smith's wide-open approach to music currently has him backing Canadian country star Aaron Pritchett. – Steve Newton, Georgia Straight


Parallel Play: The story of how '90s CanRock blew up in Detroit

Windsor's 89X turned a host of Canadian indie bands into regional stars south of the border. – Daniel SylvesterExclaim!


Tunecore is now paying indie artists over $400M per year

DIY distribution platform TuneCore has confirmed that it has surpassed the milestone of paying $2 billion in total to independent artists since it was founded 15 years ago. The firm says that, presumably boosted by rapid growth during the quarantine period, it’s now paying an average of $1.2m in royalties a day to indie artists. That’s a run rate of $438m per year, or over $100m per quarter. – Tim Ingham, MBW

Music industry issues official advice on how festivals can go ahead next summer

Festival-goers could be forced to wear masks to next year's events. – Nick Reilly, NME

Garth Brooks on receiving the Icon award at the Billboard Music Awards

Brooks will break out of his pandemic bubble to receive the coveted Icon Award in Los Angeles at the Billboard Music Awards this week. He joins such past recipients as Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez. –Billboard

Guy Moot on music publishing's place in music's food chain

As a welder, the 18-year-old Moot would traipse through the town, peering into the windows of offices, marvelling at “just how clean everyone was”. There was no career plan, no intricately mapped-out route to becoming one of the highest-ranked executives in the global music industry. (That trajectory would be kickstarted later, by selling vinyl to local DJs.) – Tim Ingham, MBW


33 musicians on why they're voting in the 2020 election

David Byrne, Billie Eilish, Tinashe, Kim Gordon, and many more on the candidates and issues that matter most to them right now. – Marc Hogan, Pitchfork

Stevie Wonder releases two songs at the same time in a bid ‘for the world to get better’

He also reveals good health news. In the first public acknowledgment that he had experienced kidney transplant surgery since he announced his intention to undergo the knife last July, the Detroit-born Motown legend said during a virtual news conference from LA Tuesday afternoon that he was feeling fine and in good postsurgery health. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

Korean boy band BTS faces uproar in China over war comments

Chinese nationalists erupted in anger at South Korean boy band BTS after its leader thanked Korean War veterans for their sacrifices. The singer, who goes by RM, made the remark in a recorded acceptance speech for an award from the Korea Society for promoting U.S.-Korean relations. – Juwon Park, AP


The United States of Dolly Parton

A voice for working-class women and an icon for all kinds of women, Parton has maintained her star power throughout life phases and political cycles. – Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker

Give it up for Dawes: Taylor Goldsmith on the record

The Dawes leader and wife Mandy Moore are expecting their first child, a son, in early 2021. They often co-write together, as on the missus’ new Silver Landings comeback, her first album in 11 years, and Goldsmith, 35, has spent the rest of his free time perfecting the Dave-Cobb-produced Good Luck With Whatever, the seventh effort from his folk-rock quartet Dawes, and its first for legendary imprint Rounder. – Tom Lanham, Paste

“AngelHeaded Hipster”: Hal Willner does T. Rex

Hal Willner, the music producer, who died in April of complications from Covid-19, at the age of sixty-four, was perhaps best known and loved as a congregator of diverse talent, the ever-expanding stable of artists who shared, or soon came to share, his ardent enthusiasms. His last homage, released posthumously this fall, is “AngelHeaded Hipster,” with a wide range of covers of the songs of Marc Bolan, the T. Rex front man, who died in a car crash in 1977. – Nick Paumgarten, New Yorker

Universal Music Group announces a new luxury hotel chain called UMUSIC Hotels

The first three locations for the music-focused hotel partnership with Dakia U-Ventures are Atlanta, Orlando, and Biloxi, Mississippi. – Jeff Beer, Fast Company

 Kathy Smardak, co-founder of Outback Concerts, has died at age 60

She passed on Oct. 11. She and husband Michael Smardak launched Outback Concerts, a successful, independent Nashville-based concert promotion company, in 1997. – Celebrity Access

The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024
Marc Thususka Photography

The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024


The Beaches, Charlotte Cardin, Allison Russell Make the 2024 Polaris Music Prize Long List

The 40-album long list for the Polaris Prize, which awards $50,000 to the best Canadian record of the year features up-and-comers like punk group NOBRO and producer Bambii, plus rapper TOBi, and legends like Quebec group Karkwa and previous Heritage Prize winner Beverly Glenn-Copeland.

Some of the country's biggest breakthrough artists are in contention for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.

The 40-album long list was revealed today (June 11) at Sonic Boom record store in downtown Toronto. It features some of the buzziest names in Canadian music, from The Beaches — who were recently awarded Billboard Canada Women in Music's inaugural Group of the Year award — to Grammy-winner Allison Russell, to Canadian Hot 100 charting acts like Charlotte Cardin and Talk, to underground mainstays like Cindy Lee, who had an organic breakthrough this year with Diamond Jubilee.

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