Music Biz Headlines, Sept. 21, 2020

Ivan Doroschuk (pictured) reflects upon a Men Without Hats hit, The Weeknd explains his life in quarantine, and a look at Powfu’s international smash. Others in the headlines include WondaGurl, Denis Shapovalov, Bobby Gimby, endangered clubs, Reflector, The Horseshoe, WMG, Paradigm, Enya, Van Morrison, Twisted Sister, Elvis Costello, Kanye West, Steve Earle, Blur, Tyler Childers, and Lady Gaga.

Music Biz Headlines, Sept. 21, 2020

By FYI Staff

Men Without Hats’ Ivan Doroschuk on the strange timeliness of their hit song The Safety Dance in a pandemic

Ivan Doroschuk wrote The Safety Dance, an international hit for the Montreal synth-pop robots Men Without Hats in 1982. The song, along with the group’s Pop Goes the World, was recently inducted in the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Safety Dance is about nonconformity.  “Men Without Hats come from a punk background,” says the band’s singer and chief songwriter. “The song is about the resisting of blandly following the pack, and to follow your own inner voice.” – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail

The Weeknd's endless summer

He just made the hit album of his dreams. All that’s missing is a chance to leave his home and enjoy it. In this interview, The Weeknd promises he hasn’t baked any bread during quarantine, unlike every other bored millennial on Instagram. – Brittany Spanos, Rolling Stone


How the song happened: Powfu’s  “death bed (coffee for your head)

Two months ago, the family of Isaiah Faber (aka Powfu) moved from Mission, B.C., to a new house in Chilliwack. The place is going to need a trophy room to display all the platinum plaques the 21-year-old singer/songwriter/producer is amassing for the international success of his blockbuster hit track “death bed (coffee for your head).” – Kerry Doole, Words & Music

Toronto’s Ebony ‘WondaGurl’ Oshunrinde looking to reveal her own sound

WondaGurl is on a roll. Seven years after she contributed to Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” album on the track “The Crown,” while still a teenager, Toronto’s Ebony “WondaGurl” Oshunrinde has quickly ascended the heights of respectability as the pre-eminent female hip-hop producer in the business. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

Self-Cut Bangs blast through quarantine blues with debut album

When Shawn Petsche and Cayley O’Neill set out to create music together under the name Self-Cut Bangs during the early months of the pandemic, the Calgary couple had only one rule to guide them. While it was recorded in quarantine, it would not sound like music recorded in quarantine. – Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald


Canadian tennis player Denis Shapovalov turns to music to express himself

Struggling to express what it’s like to be a professional tennis player, Canada’s Denis Shapovalov has found his voice in music. The Ontarian had his second rap single come out on Friday, a track in French and English featuring fellow ATP Tour player Corentin Moutet called “Drip.” It follows “Night Train,” a song about life on the road that Shapovalov released on Aug. 3. – John Chidley-Hill, CP

Legacy of Canadian songwriter who wrote Malaysia’s ‘unofficial national anthem’ in 1963 lives on 

When Malaysia was established 57 years ago on September 16, a string of patriotic songs followed suit to commemorate the birth of a new nation. One of those songs was the happy sing-along folk tune Malaysia Forever, written by the Canadian orchestra leader, trumpeter, and singer-songwriter Bobby Gimby. – Melanie Chalil, Malay Mail

Performing arts and music webinar to address Covid-19 risks and health precautions

The need to incorporate health precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 has significantly disrupted the performing arts. An upcoming presentation can help those in the arts to understand how to implement health measures in order to minimize risk of transmission.  – Craig Takeuchi, Georgia Straight

The fate of one of Toronto's best live music venues, The Dakota Tavern, is uncertain following issues with insurance. 

On Friday, owner Stephen Reid took to Facebook to outline problems he's been facing with his insurance company that is refusing to renew his policy. "The insurance industry is not, with very few exceptions, renewing policies for bars and restaurants. They have been happy to take our money whilst we were closed with no rebates or adjustments," the Facebook post stated. – Blog TO


Musicians hold second fundraiser at the Ironwood Bar & Grill

Proceeds will go to other Calgary music venues hit hard by the pandemic. –  Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald

Bandai Namco acquires Montreal game developer Reflector

The Hollywood Reporter reports: “The deal to buy the company behind the ‘Unknown 9’ franchise continues the Japanese gaming giant’s strategy of developing half its content outside of its home market.” – Digital Media Wire

Review: New Hermitage Unearths some magic 

The experimental classical quartet's 2020 LP leaves the garden path for the forest. –  Sam Gillett, The Coast


The Horseshoe Tavern is throwing in-person concerts again

The historic Toronto music venue is reopening its storied backroom concert space, initially to local bands.  – Richard Trapunski, NOW


Music piracy hasn't gone away, it has just changed shape

Spotify’s apparent ability to decimate the popularity of online piracy has long been held up as a key B2B benefit of the platform – as well as a repeated justification for the continuation of its free tier across the world. But has music piracy really disappeared in the Spotify age? A new report suggests not. – MBW

Paradigm has permanently laid off 180 employees

180 out of 600 employees are gone,, six months after those agency staffers were temporarily laid off due to the Covid pandemic. Paradigm chairman and CEO Sam Gores announced the move in a memo to staff. – Variety

5 things we learned from Warner Music Group boss Steve Cooper at his Goldman Sachs interview

Steve Cooper's had some interesting years running businesses over the course of his career – but we'd wager nothing could ever top 2020. The Warner Music Group CEO has had to steer his company through a global pandemic, for one thing, with a worldwide workforce mainly working from home. (WMG's US offices, including its New York HQ, look unlikely to return to professional normality in this regard till 2021.)  – Murray Stassen, MBW

CloudBounce’s desktop app lets you master your music in mere minutes

Deploy reference-based mastering, genre-style mastering and target loudness. –  Sam Willings, Music Tech

TIDAL partners with Facebook for Virtual Reality concerts

Music streaming platform TIDAL announced a partnership with Facebook's virtual reality platform Oculus. – Celebrity Access

 Enya is everywhere

How the unlikely star became a phenomenon hidden in pop-cultural plain sight, influencing a generation of groundbreaking artists. – Jenn Pelly, Pitchfork

Van Morrison to release lockdown protest songs

Sir Van Morrison has accused the government of "taking our freedom" in three new songs that protest against the coronavirus lockdown. In the lyrics, he claims scientists are "making up crooked facts" to justify measures that "enslave" the population. – Mark Savage, BBC 

Van Morrison could be stripped of Freedom of Belfast award over anti-lockdown songs

Belfast City Council may revoke Van Morrison’s freedom of the city following the musician’s decision to release three new anti-lockdown songs.  The  singer has sparked controversy and criticism after taking aim at the UK government in a series of tracks protesting coronavirus restrictions.  On one song, Van Morrison can be heard claiming scientists as “making up crooked facts” while another sees him brand the authorities “fascist bullies”.  The songs have been condemned by Northern Ireland’s health minister Robin Swann. Irish Post


Twisted Sister singer to anti-maskers: Don’t use ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ for your ‘moronic cause’

Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider took to social media to condemn anti-maskers who went into a Florida Target store blaring the group’s hit We’re Not Gonna Take It while ripping off their masks. Snider said the group doesn’t have his “permission or blessing to use my song for their moronic cause.“  – AP

Rock's drugged-up puppet master: how William S Burroughs transformed music

How the Beatles, David Bowie, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones all fell under the spell of the notorious Beat junkie. – Casey Rae, The Telegraph

Country singer Mickey Guyton is the first black woman to perform at ACM Awards

"Let me tell you, it has been a long time coming," the rising star states. – Essence

Pre-US election, Elvis Costello launches a new song series

In addition to gearing up to release the new album Hey Clockface, Elvis Costello has launched “50 Songs For 50 Days," which is a "a-song-a-day rollout of 50 songs and couplets (mostly) from his catalogue leading up to and including Tuesday, 11/3 (Election Day)." He introduced the series last Tuesday (9/15) – Brooklyn Vegan


Kanye West already owns some of his masters, Universal contracts show

 Kanye West has said publicly for years that he deserves to own the rights to his music even though he knowingly signed contracts with Universal Music Group and Sony/ATV Music Publishing, with top attorneys present, that adhere to music industry standards whereby the company is the owner. He even sued both companies over the matter last year; while the Universal suit is ongoing, sources say he settled with Sony/ATV last fall. – Geoff Mayfield, Variety

Blur’s The Great Escape turns 25: Their final Britpop hurrah

The final album in Blur's "Life Trilogy" was a pivotal moment in their career.  – Lexi Lane, Paste

Steve Earle will record an album of Justin Townes Earle’s songs

The father will honour his son, who died in August, with a record due in January. – Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone

Seattle’s Anita ‘Lady A’ White files lawsuit to block country stars’ use of name

The legal fight between Seattle blues singer Lady A and the country stars using the same name has taken a new twist. The Seattle singer filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the country stars formerly known as Lady Antebellum. The complaint, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, aims to prevent the band from using the name Lady A — a moniker it adopted in June after dropping the word “antebellum” from its name amid national conversations around systemic racism. – Michael Rietmulder, Seattle Times

Joan Osborne gets political on her new album

Joan Osborne’s new album, Trouble and Strife, out Friday, tackles today’s social and political ills head-on via topical songs. We asked her to talk about her process of getting political, and why shutting up and singing isn’t an option. – No Depression

Tyler Childers to fans: ‘Stop being so taken aback by Black Lives Matter’

Kentucky singer-songwriter releases surprise album with a six-minute video message to his “white rural listeners”  – Joseph Hudak, Rolling Stone

At 70, Billy Ocean returns with an album to ‘lift you up’

Billy Ocean is angry. But you won’t hear it in his music. Now 70, he’s frustrated by structural racism and by Black people being shot by police. He’s fed up with hatred and thinks society is often going backward. Yet none of that is unleashed in his mix of soul, reggae, R&B and pop infused with the warmth of the Caribbean. – Mark Kennedy, AP

Lady Gaga speaks on albums, activism and America in 2020: 'All music is Black music'

An interview with Lady Gaga posted Thursday saw the superstar touching on a variety of topics, from wearing masks to making music in a year defined by Covid-19 and racial injustice in America. – Huffington Post

Chloe x Halle: ‘People said our music was too complex for the average ear’

For most people, working from home entails some combination of bad posture, unwashed hair and laundry-based procrastination. For Chloe and Halle Bailey, it involves neon leotards, drone-mounted cameras and, if this interview on Zoom is anything to go by. – Rachel Aroesti, The Guardian

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Music News

Japan’s MILLENNIUM PARADE Coming to Toronto on 2024 Global Tour: See the Schedule

The band, led by Daiki Tsuneta of King Gnu, will kick off the trek on Nov. 2 in Mexico City.

MILLENNIUM PARADE is set to launch its first-ever global tour called the WHO AND HOW TOUR 2024 in November, traveling to nine cities around the world for 10 shows.

The band, led by Daiki Tsuneta of King Gnu, will kick off the trek in Mexico City, then hit Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Berlin, Paris, London, Utrecht, and Tokyo. The Tokyo shows will take place at Tokyo Garden Theater on Dec. 19 and 20. The tour will mark the first time in three years that the band performs live.

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