Music Biz Headlines, Oct. 19, 2020

Two looks back at a milestone Vancouver concert to boost Greenpeace (pictured), a profile of Broken Social Scene’s breakthrough album, and the COC head moves to Paris. Others in the headlines include Electric Circus, the El Mocambo, Justin Bieber, Bill Henderson, Jagged Little Pill, the 519 gala, Laura Fernandez, String Bone, Spotify, Hipgnosis, Billboard Music Awards, BTS, Tom Petty, a yodeling fiasco, Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, Nashville, Fat White Family, toy pianos, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Music Biz Headlines, Oct. 19, 2020

By FYI Staff

Benefit concert launched an international movement 50 years ago

Opinion: Fifty years ago Greenpeace founder Irving Stowe got Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Phil Ochs and Chilliwack to play at the Pacific Coliseum to raise $17,164 to underwrite Greenpeace's first campaign. – Barbara Stowe, The Province

Fifty years ago, a Vancouver benefit concert launched Greenpeace

The four-hour show was headlined by Joni Mitchell and helped create a world-ranging environmental organization. – John Mackie, Vancouver Sun

The history of Electric Circus when it was Toronto's best party

Except maybe PJ Phil on YTV's The Zone or Speakers Corner, Toronto has no greater icon of pure 1990s television culture than Electric Circus, the high energy dance show that aired on Citytv and MuchMusic, 1988 to 2003. For the uninitiated, Electric Circus chronicled 90 minutes in a sweaty television studio full of dancing people - some professional, some randoms off the street - featuring DJs, rappers, established and new artists and a rogues gallery of madcap fashion. – Blog TO


A look back at Broken Social Scene's landmark album

In October of 2002, Broken Social Scene released their sophomore album You Forgot It In People. The record saw the Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning-let band expanding their sound from ambient instrumental music into a full-blown 11-person collective. You Forgot It In People was universally acclaimed, landing at the top of many year-end best-of lists. It was even named one of the best albums of the 2000s by Pitchfork staff. – Chelsea Brimstin Indie88

As the Canadian Opera Company scuttles the rest of its season, its leader is working in Paris

Alexander Neef, the company’s current general director, has left the building. He’s left Canada, even. Neef, who took over the company in 2008, was due to see the COC through the end of its 2020-21 season before starting his new post at the helm of the prestigious Opéra national de Paris. But, with a few days' notice, and with the baffling blessing of the COC board of directors – he announced his new plan to begin at the Paris Opera on Sept. 1, 2020. – Jenna Simeonov, The Globe and Mail


The past and the future of the El Mocambo in Toronto according to owner Michael Wekerle

We all know that major renovations take time and money, but I'm not sure that $30 million over six years is what Canadian entrepreneur Michael Wekerle had in mind when he decided to buy the historic El Mocambo. The former Dragon's Den star purchased the nightclub in November of 2014 for $3.8 million, the night before it was set to close for good. Wekerle says he initially just wanted to acquire the iconic neon palm tree sign, but was talked into taking the attached building as well. – BlogTO

Justin Bieber reflects on being a lonely child star in vulnerable new video

Everyone has their own way of reacting to the global crisis we're in. Many celebrities have opted to make babies, and others, like Justin Bieber (and me) have decided to reflect sombrely on their entire lives leading up to this point. In a new single and music video called "Lonely," produced by Blanco and Finneas (Billie Eilish), Bieber sings about growing up in the spotlight at such a young age. – Natalie Morin, Refinery 29 

Bill Henderson returns to concert action

The BC music great, famous for his work with rock band Chilliwack, has just announced four shows at the Massey Theatre in New Westminster. Due to Covid restrictions, there will be only 50 seats sold for each show, but music's on the rebound and that's awesome news all around. The 75-minute performances take place Nov. 26 - 29 at 7:30 pm, and some Chilliwack classics can be expected. – Georgia Straight 


Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill earns a leading 15 Tony Award nominations

The production based on her hit album tops the noms list. Slave Play, Moulin Rouge!, and The Inheritance all nab double-digit nods. – Mark Kennedy, AP

Elton John, k.d. lang, Kim Cattrall to appear at The 519’s virtual gala

The Toronto queer charity and community centre has put together a star-studded lineup for its online event this year. – Richard Trapunski, NOW

Laura Fernandez on the making of Okay, Alright, her first album in 10 years

You know Laura Fernandez as the host of Café Latino, but you may also know her as an accomplished singer and songwriter. She has just released her third album called Okay, Alright. It arrives a full 10 years after her last release, Un Solo Beso. – Brad Barker, JazzFM


Nine new Canadian albums to listen to right now

We can hear Luka Kuplowsky plus the low-key new music from fellow singer-songwriters Bahamas and Jennifer Castle. All three have released gently uninhibited albums this month that stand out in the quiet. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

String Bone teams with electronic producer Nathan McKay for new single ‘Two Stars Collide’

When veteran singer-songwriter Barry James Payne, aka String Bone, crossed paths with electronic producer Nathan McKay in their shared home base of Stratford, ON, they instantly developed a mutual respect for each other’s musical abilities, disparate though they were. But as they got to know each other better, the idea of collaboration eventually became too tantalizing to resist. – Jason Schneider, Roots Music Canada

'Support the arts and save taxes!', says Quebec's classical music community

A new initiative launched by Alexandre da Costa, violin player and artistic director of the Longueuil Symphonic Orchestra, is designed to remind Quebeckers – and the provincial government –  that artists are essential to the well-being of the society, especially in these chaotic times of the pandemic. – Julie Remy, Radio Canada International


UK government launches inquiry into streaming royalties

Following pressure from the #BrokenRecord campaign, lawmakers will investigate the “economic impact and long-term implications of streaming." – Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork

Meet Canadian Merck Mercuriadis, the man who has spent $1bn on old hits

Did you know that the Church of England is a co-owner of Beyoncé's Single Ladies, Rihanna's Umbrella and Justin Timberlake's SexyBack? It sounds bizarre - but the church is one of hundreds of investors in a company called Hipgnosis, which, for the past three years, has been hungrily snapping up the rights to thousands of hit songs.–   Mark Savage, BBC

No applause needed: Music takes centre stage at Billboard Music Awards at pandemic-era celebration

The music must go on. Nearly seven months after its intended date, the 2020 Billboard Music Awards arrived at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles Wednesday night for an intimate, applause-less, highly unusual but still electrifying party. “A weird time for everybody,” noted singer-songwriter Post Malone, when he accepted the award for top male artist. He was the big winner, taking home nine trophies. – Muri Assuncao, New York Daily News


British music should face the facts: the classic rockers are better than today’s meagre crop 

As John Lennon climbs the charts and Queen sit pretty at the top, why are today’s bright young things not setting the world alight? – Neil McCormick,  The Telegraph

35% of British music fans would pay more for Spotify subscriptions if it actually went to musicians

A new British survey finds that music fans want artists to receive higher royalties — some will even pay more. – Ashley King, Digital Music News

'We have £52 left': the dire future for England's small arts organisations

This week, the UK government announced £257m in emergency arts funding – we hear from some of those who missed out, complaining of baffling applications and a lack of guidance. – Rhi Storer, The Guardian

BTS members receive $15M each from Big Hit’s soaring IPO

Each BTS member of the Korean boy band has become more than $15M  richer thanks to the immense success of Big Hit Entertainment’s IPO. Bang Si-hyuk, founder and co-CEO of the 15-year-old Big Hit agency, had given the seven stars of BTS 68,385 shares apiece ahead of his company’s long-awaited debut on the public market. Shares nearly doubled in value during their first day on the market, as investors rushed to acquire a piece of South Korea’s largest record label. – Dylan Smith, Digital Music News


Switzerland’s yodelers created one of Europe's worst covid hot spots

Two traditional sing-alongs in late September in Switzerland’s Schwyz canton were attended by 600 people who yodelled together and then spread the virus. – Barbie Latza Nadeau, The Daily Beast

How Nashville captured the turbulence of 1970s America

Forty-five years ago, Robert Altman offered a vision of the US centred on the home of country music. It’s a tale of disorder and denial still relevant now. –Christina Newland.  BBC

The raw roots of Tom Petty’s ‘Wildflowers,’ revealed at last

A close-up look at one of the late rocker's classic albums.  – Lindsay Zoladz, The New York Times

When the bankers sent down, they weren't told to retrain. They were bailed out

Fatboy Slim talks to Mixmag about the UK government's disregard of the arts and nightlife. – Seb Wheeler, Mixmag

Demi Lovato's "Commander in Chief" takes down Trump as election looms

Demi Lovato became the Joe Biden campaign's favourite singer after her recent performance at the Billboard Music Awards. She delivered a searing indictment with her new ballad "Commander in Chief". – Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight

How to handle the hate in America’s musical heritage

Lance Ledbetter was buying sweet Georgia peaches near downtown Atlanta on a sweltering June morning when he realized he was about to make a potentially catastrophic mistake: His record label, the Grammy-winning archival bastion Dust-to-Digital, would soon release its first racist songs.– Grayson Haver Currin, New York Times

Idles v Fat White Family: what the indie showdown tells us about class

The two feuding bands have variously clumsy and bracing things to say about class, race and Britain – but they are at least connecting to something bigger than themselves.  – Nathalie Olah, The Guardian

Jerry Lee Lewis is still rocking at 85 years old and plans a blowout livestream celebration

While the 50s rock icon’s birthday was officially on September 29, Lewis is throwing a belated party on October 27th for a virtual livestream event, featuring performances and tributes by Elton John, former President Bill Clinton, Willie Nelson, Lee Ann Womack, Tom Jones, Joe Walsh, and more. Other special guests joining the event include Marty Stuart, The Beach Boy’s Mike Love, Priscilla Presley, and Wink Martindale, among others. – UDiscoverMusic

Musicians are going live from local clubs to ‘Save Our Stages’

For three days, October 16 through 18, artists will come together for a “festival” of individual, distanced performances streamed live from iconic independent venues across the U.S. The goal is to raise awareness and funds for small clubs pushed to the brink of permanent closure due to Covid-19. – Brittany Martin, L.A. Magazine

The company that has a monopoly on ice cream truck music 

How a small, family-owned electronics company came to control 97% of the ice cream truck music market. – Michael Waters, The Hustle

How toy pianos went from child’s play into classical concert halls

A child’s toy may seem like an unlikely candidate for the classical concert hall. Around the world, however, thousands of musicians gather every year for festivals, conferences and concerts dedicated to the toy piano. – Paul Smith, The Conversation

Has Bruce Springsteen written a “Letter to You” to say goodbye?

The Boss turned 71 just last month. Although his fitness, spirit and the actuarial tables would suggest he has plenty of music left in him, it’s hard to miss the valedictory feel and sense of loss that pervades this new album. – David Bauder, AP

Jayda G
David Reiss

Jayda G


Fresh Sounds Canada: New Songs from Jayda G, Claudia Bouvette and More

This week's discovery roundup of new Canadian songs also includes Indigenous songwriter Celeigh Cardinal and Quebec acts KROY and Mon Doux Saigneur.

In Fresh Sounds Canada, Billboard Canada puts you on to the must-hear songs of the week by artists on the rise and those about to break. Here's what's out this week.

Jayda G, “If We Only Knew”

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