Shania Twain at the Stagecoach fest on the weekend
Shania Twain at the Stagecoach fest on the weekend

Music News Digest: May 1, 2017

After 15 years of talking about a new album, Shania Twain has slipped a date. A teaser single, “Life’s About To Get Good,” will be released in June followed by a new album in September. In a press release, the singer, with a net worth of about C$480M, explained that she wanted to create a tune that both celebrated the negative and positive aspects of life.

 “I was at home looking out at the ocean and I said to myself, ‘Here I am stuck in this past of negativity, but it’s so beautiful out. I'm not in the mood to write a 'feeling-sorry-for-myself' song.... You can't have the good without the bad. And that's what the song ended up being about,” the 51-year-old singer-songwriter who put Timmins, ON on the map said. Universal Nashville has the undated, as yet untitled album.

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has had a love affair with jazz forever and over the years has recorded several albums satiating his passion for its various genres. His latest with the Danish Radio Big Band was recorded in Copenhagen in 2010 and includes a Bossa Nova-inspired take on the Stones' "Satisfaction," renditions of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Paint It Black" and a version of Watts' 2000 piece with the Jim Keltner Project, "Elvin Suite." Impulse Records has the release. Below, Charlie talks about his love of jazz.

— Jack White has signed his first-ever multi-year global agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group, which will administer his entire song catalogue as a solo artist and as a member of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather.

Spotify has acquired Mediachain Labs, the core team behind the open source Mediachain protocol, to develop a decentralized blockchain network for sharing data necessary to track and pay songwriters royalties.   

— Sony Music operations produced a 15.8%  gain in operating income gain in its 2016 Q4. For its recorded-music operation for the year, physical sales accounted for 33.7% or US$1.21B; streaming for 36.2% of revenue, or $1.3B; downloads $548.1M; and other, 14.9% of revenue, or $534.5M. Overall, digital now accounts for 51.5% of revenue, as reported by Billboard

Jake Thomas, a filmmaker and son of Ian Thomas, is a 44-year-old father of four and longtime resident of Bracebridge, ON, who lost the use of his legs after severing his spinal cord in a snowmobile accident near his home on Jan. 7 this year. Two fundraising concerts are being held on Thomas’s behalf. The first is on Saturday, May 6 at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre; the second is on May 12 in Bracebridge.

Performing is the Lunch at Allen’s band consisting of Murray McLauchlan, Ian Thomas, Cindy Church and Marc Jordan. 

The 13th annual Music Monday program, created by the Coalition for Music Education in Canada, has a national showcase concert in Ottawa today at the NAC with a massed choir performing "Sing It Together." The new anthem was co-written by Marc Jordan and Ian Thomas. The event is hosted by Soprano Measha Brueggergosman and Seamus O'Regan, MP and includes performances by the Ottawa Junior Youth Orchestra, the Métis Fiddle Quartet, singer-songwriter Mimi O'Bonsawin, and others. Simultaneously, performances have been organized in major centres across the country.

 Toronto-based jazz vocalist Monica Chapman has released Small World, on LME Records, comprised of songs from Hollywood movies. The blues and jazz singer has a bright and versatile voice, and it is superbly complemented by an all-star instrumental cast on this, her third album, including Reg Schwager, Dave Young, Mike Murley, Bill King, Kevin Turcotte and Mark Kelso. King produced and arranged. Chapman performs at Toronto’s Jazz Bistro on June 4.

— Congrats to Mary Ann Farrell on her appointment as Vice President, Marketing & Communications at Civic Theatres Toronto. Remaining in her position as Director of Marketing with the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Mary Ann has worked in the commercial sector of theatre and concerts as well as the not-for-profit sector for events featured in venues internationally as well as festivals overseeing communications, strategic planning and arts management for the past 20 years. Previous posts have included working for or holding senior consulting positions with Madison Square Garden (Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Radio City Rockettes), Matthew Bourne's North American tour of Swan Lake and Edward Scissorhands and Live Nation's tour featuring Sting and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

She has also held senior management positions with Clear Channel Entertainment (Theatrical Division) from 2000 - 2004 working in Canada, the US and the UK overseeing the marketing for the Canadian Broadway Series and the marketing teams in 22 theatres across the UK.

— Best wishes to Mavis Harris who leave her post as Communications Manager at Universal Music Canada to start a new life and career in Nelson, BC. Communicate at  

Record Store Day sales in Canada were nothing to write home about because the initiative has no national organization behind it and the general lack of online reporting participation by the several hundred independent record stores coast-to-coast. In the US the program has fully blossomed and has a large survey sample reporting to data aggregator BuzzAngle. The top seller on both sides of the border was P.N.E. Garden Auditorium, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 7/29/66 by Grateful Dead. Total album sales in the US were up 6%, the aggregator reports. Vinyl album sales were up 14%. Tellingly, no sales figures are proffered.   

— The New York Post's Page Six today reports Barbra Streisand stating sexism denied her Oscar nominations for Yentl and The Prince Of Tides. “There were a lot of older people,” Babs told her interlocutor Robert Rodriguez during a Q&A at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday. “They don’t want to see a woman director.”  

— In conjunction with Grant Lawrence's new book of tour memoirs, Dirty Windshields, Mint Records is releasing a digital download companion soundtrack, which features the "best" of The Smugglers catalogue from 1988-2004.

The Onion reports that Canada's pin-up PM has unveiled a health care plan catering to aging prog-rockers. Rush, Triumph, Harmonium, the Guess Who and Voivod are named in the satirical piece.

– Expect troubled waters at the CRTC with the re-appointment of Ontario's commissioner Raj Shoan. Rumour has it a new Chair could already be prescribed by the powers that be.

— The widening divergence between Internet regulations in Canada and the United States may threaten investment in Canadian innovation, warns one of U.S. President Donald Trump’s telecommunications advisers.

“My biggest concern for Canada is that you continue to add regulation that deters the incentive to invest,” Roslyn Layton, one of three experts appointed to Donald Trump’s transition team for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), tells The Globe and Mail. The ruling was a major blow to the practice of “zero-rating” – where Internet providers offer exclusive content for free, by exempting it from data charges. Critics argue the practice violates net-neutrality principles by creating two-tiered Internet that offers a “fast lane” for some while disadvantaging smaller content providers and lower-income Internet subscribers.

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