West Coast indie rockers Said The Whale have just signed with prestigious Toronto label Arts & Crafts and will release a sixth record in early 2019. A&C President Kieran Roy says he is "elated" at the signing. "We've been fans of their incredible music for years and are excited to work with them well into the future. The new album is spectacular, and we can't wait to share it with the world." The Juno-winning group plays SickKids GetLoud at Fort York in Toronto, Sept. 29, and Cicada Music & Arts in St. Catharines, Oct. 13.
– Canadian pop hero Shawn Mendes will be honoured by Billboard with its inaugural Artist of the Year award. This recognizes the success of his Illuminate world tour and his upcoming arena tour off the back of his recently released third, self-titled album. Mendes and his manager Andrew Gertler, of AG Artists, will sit down for an interview during the Live Music Summit with Billboard's West Coast Editor, Melinda Newman, discussing how artists can build a deep connection with fans by combining online interactions with real-life experiences. The Summit takes place Nov. 13-14 at the Montage in Beverly Hills, CA.
– Musician website platform Bandzoogle has promoted Stacey Bedford to CEO. An 11-year veteran of the company and its third hire, Bedford is based out of Ottawa. She has also overseen Bandzoogle partnerships with SOCAN, SoundScan, Mixcloud, Airbit, and Audiomack.
Currently approaching its 15th year, Bandzoogle currently powers 36,000+ websites for musicians who have sold more than $36M in music and merch commission-free through the platform. Founder Chris Vinson will continue in his role as Chairman.
– The Prince Estate, in partnership with Warner Bros. Records, has just released a new video for “Mary Don’t You Weep,” a rare recording of the 19th Century spiritual that is featured on Piano & A Microphone 1983, out today (Sept. 21). This is the first original Prince video to be released posthumously. Directed by filmmaker, Salomon Ligthelm through Stink Films, and shot in New York City, the video makes an emotive statement around gun violence and its continued devastating impact on youth in America. The messaging in the video links thematically to Prince ’s activist work in Baltimore in 2015 around the death of Freddie Gray and the resulting riots that ensued in the city and beyond.
– The Toronto Audio Engineering Society is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special two-day long seminar, featuring presentations and interactive panel discussions that will highlight the state of the audio industry in Toronto. It runs Sept. 23-24 at SIRT at Pinewood Toronto Studios (225 Commissioners Street). Panelists and moderators include such top engineers (including many Juno-winners) as Jeff Wolpert, Richard Chycki, Riley Bell, Jason Dufour, Alf Annibalini, Hayward Parrott, and Glenn Fricker. More info here
– Billboard reports that Spotify has just launched a new feature which will enable independent artists to upload tracks to the service directly – without any requirement for a third-party aggregator or record label. The feature currently remains in invite-only beta mode – with a few hundred US artists being ushered in – but Spotify says that, in the future, it will “bring upload to even more artists, labels, and teams”. Artists will be able to access the upload function via the Spotify For Artists platform, which counted more than 200,000 verified acts amongst its monthly user base at the end of June.
– Award-winning Canadian jazz guitarist Rob Tardik plays the Wreckhouse Jazz Festival in St. John's, Newfoundland, tonight (Sept. 21). Other notables performing include Mike Murley, Florian Hoefner, Heather Bambrick, and Mark Bragg. Tardik tells FYI that "I’m also hosting a workshop for young budding musicians and artistic entrepreneurs to help them get started in the music business." Here's a new video taken from his current album, Synergy.
– Joel Couture will be leaving Manitoba Music for new opportunities after the Rame à la rencontre event in November. Couture started with MM in 2013 to coordinate its newly-launched Francophone music development activities. He has helped many artists build their business, access new music markets, and connect with key industry players and with their peers across Western Canada.