The BMG team: (l-r) Philippe Hamelin, Andreas Katsambas, Bethany Ward and Matt Smallwood
The BMG team: (l-r) Philippe Hamelin, Andreas Katsambas, Bethany Ward and Matt Smallwood

Music News Digest, Jan. 15, 2020

On Monday night, the elite of the Toronto music industry convened downtown to help christen the new BMG International branch office. Located in the same building as Penguin/Random House, it houses a staff of two, Senior Director Matthew Smallwood and Co-ordinator Beth Ward. Flying in for the event were BMG's Andreas Katsambas, the company's NYC-based EVP, Latin America and Canada, and Philippe Hamelin, head of a new Montreal branch. Those spied enjoying the soiree included publishers Frank Davies, Jodie Ferneyhough, and Vince Digiorgio, SOCAN's Eric Baptiste and Michael McCarty, Allan Reid, Steve Kane, Jack Ross, Margaret McGuffin, Jeff Rogers, Quentin Burgess (Music Canada), Yvonne Matsell, Jill Snell, CMRRA's Rebecca Webster and Paul Shaver, and publicists Cristina Fernandes, Anya Wilson, and Beth Cavanagh.

Outlining his new gig to FYI, Smallwood notes that "when Andreas and I first met, I wanted to be sure there was an appetite to sign and develop Canadian talent and bring it to the world. That's firmly part of our mandate for BMG Canada. We also wanted to have a dedicated BMG team here for all the international repertoire." Of note: This branch is not affiliated with Sony Music Canada.

— The late Rush drummer Neil Peart grew up in the Port Dalhousie area of St. Catharines, ON, and area residents/fans are lobbying for this to be recognised with the erection of a statue of the one-time resident in Lakeside Park. A petition launched on by local resident Tony McLaughlin and aimed at local Mayor Walter Sendzik has quickly attracted 12,000 signatures. St. Catharines' realtor/Rush fan Jerry Hendriks has committed $1,000 toward the potential project. A song entitled Lakeside Park appears on the 1975  Rush album, Caress of Steel. Source: St. Catharines Standard

— CBC Music's Searchlight contest is now accepting submissions of original songs. The winner of Searchlight 2020 is decided through a combination of public votes, a Canadian music industry panel and celeb judges. As part of the grand prize, the winner will take part in Canada’s premiere artist development program: the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class. The winner will be announced on March 5. Enter here

— After a long absence, Seattle rock heavyweights Pearl Jam release a new album, Gigaton, on March 27. it's accompanied by touring that includes four Canadian dates: March 18, Toronto (Scotiabank Arena), March 20, Ottawa (Canadian Tire Centre), March 22, Quebec City (Videotron Centre), and Hamilton, March 24 (FirstOntario Centre). Gigaton, s the group's first album of new material since 2013's Lightning Bolt.

— Highlighting outstanding contributions to the Toronto jazz scene by local artists, Toronto Downtown Jazz (TDJ) has announced the four projects chosen for support through the TD Discovery Series Special Projects initiative: the Dennis Kwok Jazz Orchestra, celebrating the release of their debut album; original soul-jazz organ trio, Donnybrook, teaming up with the world-renowned saxophonist Ian Hendrickson-Smith; Pete Johnston's See Through 4 album release; and Lenka Lichtenberg's multi-media presentation The Thieves of Dreams

— Vinyl remains a successful sales format, but recent stats show it to be heavily dependent on legacy releases. Nielsen’s 2019 Year-End Report includes end-of-decade data on the top-selling vinyl records, and it shows the Beatles’ Abbey Road sold more vinyl copies (558,000) than any other album of the last decade, by far. The second-best-selling LP was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, with Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1, placing third. Only one other album released in the last decade made the top 10, Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die (No. 10).

— Internationally acclaimed conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, philanthropists James and Louise Temerty, and musician Chilly Gonzales have been named Honorary Fellows of The Royal Conservatory of Music, one of the largest and most respected music and arts education institutions in the world.

— Artist applications across multiple genres for Halifax Pop Explosion‏  2020are now open. Early-bird applications ($20) end March 31. Regular applications ($25) close May 15. Submit here 

— Over the holiday period, some of London, ON's best bands held a benefit concert in honour of the late area favourite Teddy Triebner (UIC, Positively Stompin’). Those performing at Richmond Tavern included UIC, Myrtle Earl, Bath Salts, and 63 Monroe, and $1,000 was raised for CHRW Radio Western.

— Co-founders of the Harris Alumni Awards Dan Broome and Jamie Porter recently presented awards for excellence at Harris Institute’s 30th Anniversary celebration at The Berkeley Church in Toronto. Winners included Phil Demetro, Allyssa Rawes, Mike Denney, Norm Beaver, Martin Pilchner and Yuri Gorbachow.

— Great news for Headstones rocker turned actor Hugh Dillon is just in. THR reports that the Paramount Network has handed out a straight-to-series order for scripted drama Mayor of Kingstown. Taylor Sheridan and Hugh Dillon (Yellowstone) co-created the series and will exec produce alongside David Glasser and 101 Studios. A premiere date for Mayor of Kingstown is TBA.

— Creative Manitoba is accepting applications for its The Art of Managing Your Career spring program. The course is headed by acclaimed singer/songwriter Heather Bishop and features 13 scheduled sessions from March 3 - May 26. The deadline is Feb. 14. More info here 

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