Rachel Beck  Photo: Denis Duquette
Rachel Beck Photo: Denis Duquette

Music Biz Headlines, July 16, 2020

Canadian vinyl sales are down in 2020 — and it's not just because of covid-19

One of the biggest music industry stories of the past decade-plus has been the resurgence of vinyl, as sales have steadily climbed year after year. Now, it looks as if the bubble might have finally burst, since vinyl sales in Canada are down in 2020 — and it's not just because of coronavirus lockdowns. According to a new report from Nielsen Music/MRC Data, vinyl sales in Canada were down 8 percent through March 12, year over year. All told, Canada saw 311,000 vinyl sales in the first half of 2020, compared to 420,000 in the first half of 2019. –– Alex Hudson, Exclaim!

Calls for transparency come after women account for small percentage of ECMA winners

This year's East Coast Music Awards were unusual in many ways amid a global pandemic, but the small number of women who actually won brought up long-standing conversations around gender parity in the Atlantic music scene. 4 of 27 music category awards went to women or bands with women in them. –– Haley Ryan, CBC News 

Tory Lanez just picked up a felony - but Twitter can't stop talking about his height

The Toronto rapper was arrested in LA for carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle, a felony, but all the social media chatter is about how short he is. –– HipHopDX

Open to offers: P.E.I. musician trades CDs, merch from cancelled concerts

'It brings me a lot of joy to share my music and to have these beautiful gifts coming back my way,' says Rachel Beck.  –– Sara Fraser, CBC News

Punk: Pretty, sometimes vacant history of a significant subculture

Punk (Crave) is a four-part docu-series that first aired on the Epix channel in the United States last year. The executive producers are fashion designer John Varvatos and music legend Iggy Pop. Keep that in mind about this often brilliant and illuminating but sometimes vacillating series. Both Varvatos and Pop are from Detroit and their answer to gnarly questions about the place-origins of Punk is, of course, Detroit. –– John Doyle, The Globe and Mail

Shotto Guapo: On the road to freedom

Shotto Guapo suddenly gets very emotional. We’ve just asked who for whom his song “Rose” is written. It’s a very vulnerable piano-voice ballad that closes Âme, the first part of his first solo album, Âme Nesia. Imagine Alexandra Streliski or Cœur de pirate as an accompanist to a grief-stricken rapper. –– Dominic Tardif, Words & Music

Violinist Ida Haendel had a tone as large as life

The internationally-acclaimed Polish-born violinist who passed away recently lived in Montreal from 1952 to 1989. ––Arthur Kaptainis, Montreal Gazette 
 

A dozen artists to perform for virtual Home County Music and Art Festival

The Home County Music and Art Festival that’s occupied Victoria Park annually for 46 years is offering up a virtual version, Stay Home County 46.5, featuring a dozen acts from London, across the country and beyond on July 16 and 17. –– Joe Belanger, London Free Press

Hear It Live: Justin LaBrash sings 'Stars' under drive-ins' open skies

Hear “See You In the Stars” when Justin LaBrash performs at drive-in concerts in communities across Saskatchewan. –– Ashley Martin, Regina Leader-Post

International

It's Facebook vs YouTube: Official music videos are coming to FB in August

For years, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been telling investors of a strategy to transform his company into a “video first” organization. Starting next month, official (as in, officially licensed) music videos are coming to Facebook in the US – and the social media giant is busy trying to convince artists to opt-in. –– Tim Ingham, MBW

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino unveils $10 million initiative to promote greater diversity

The Live Nation head promised greater diversity at the company, with a $10 million effort to develop promote and hire minorities. –– Jem Aswad, Variety

SiriusXM confirms a deal to acquire Stitcher for $325m

As expected, SiriusXM has acquired podcasting platform Stitcher. But it’s done so for even more money than predicted. Last week, the WSJ got the scoop that Sirius was set to buy Stitcher from media company E.W Scripps, for a price in the region of $300m. SiriusXM has now confirmed the deal. It has agreed to make a cash payment of $265 million to Scripps, along with a potential $60 million in additional contingent payments based on Stitcher achieving certain financial metrics in 2020 and 2021. –– Jim Meyer, MBW

Billboard announces new chart rules: No more merch and ticket bundles

Billboard is changing the rules to its Billboard 200, Hot 100 and other album and song charts. The announcement comes in an effort to rectify how sales are counted with respect to album bundles with merchandise and concert tickets, as well as instant digital sales attached to purchases for physical albums delivered at a later date. It has also changed how sales are counted for not-yet-manufactured physical albums delivered at a later date. –– Chris Eggertsen, Billboard

Google invests $4.5bn in JioSaavn parent Jio Platforms for 7.7% stake

On Monday (July 13), Google CEO Sundar Pichai promised to invest $10 billion in India over the next 5-7 years via the new Google for India Digitization Fund. On July 15, the technology giant has revealed the recipient of almost half of that fund:  ₹33,737 crore (approximately $4.5 billion), is being invested by Google into Reliance Industries-owned Jio Platforms for a 7.73% equity stake in the company.  –– MBW

Sony sells Syco TV formats to Simon Cowell, but retains the music catalog

Simon Cowell has bought out Sony Music Entertainment’s stake in their joint venture talent and production company, which owns TV formats Got Talent and The X Factor, both created by Cowell and launched in 2006 and 2004 respectively. As part of the agreement, Sony Music will retain Syco’s music assets, including its roster of current artists and back catalog. Acts to have graduated through Got Talent and The X Factor over the years have included the likes of Fifth Harmony (and Camila Cabello), One Direction, Little Mix, Leona Lewis, and Susan Boyle. ––MBW

'Cancel culture' doesn't stifle debate, but it does challenge the old order

Speech is only free when everyone has a voice – that’s why young people are angry. –– Billy Bragg, The Guardian

Linkin Park T-shirts are all the rage in China

Linkin Park is the world’s most famous rap-rock band—a genre that hit its mainstream peak in the late '90s and early '00s. Now ignored elsewhere, in China, the name Linkin Park, at least on T-shirts, persists.––Wired

This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Jake Szufnarowski, owner, Rocks Off.

Jake Szufnarowski is off the grid. This modern-day counterculture Neal Cassady—reference On The Road and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test –is currently off on a motorcycle tour of America.  Until the current pandemic, Szufnarowski’s company, Rocks Off, had been one of Manhattan’s leading event promoters. –– Larry LeBlanc, Celebrity Access

35 years into a career, The Jayhawks remain Americana’s most underappreciated band

The Minneapolis group has influenced everyone from Uncle Tupelo to Hiss Golden Messenger, yet they still fly under the radar. And they’re OK with that. –– Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone 

Bob Geldof says 'Live Aid' ruined his life

The Boomtown Rats singer’s Live Aid heroics cost him his marriage to the late Paula Yates and his career. Dubbed Saint Bob for putting together the global music event 35 years ago on Monday with Ultravox frontman Midge Ure, he admits Live Aid took a huge toll on his life. –– WENN

Ellie Goulding likes her ’90s rock political and her social media inspiring

She’s eager to bring fans “Brightest Blue,” an album that shows Goulding’s range, bouncing between feature-laden pop-radio fodder and softer, more inward-facing ballads. Even more varied is her list of 10 cultural must-haves, which brings together mementos from her grunge days with recent film festival darlings and, of course, Kate Bush. –– Olivia Horn, The New York Times

Great White played a concert last week in North Dakota with no social distance or masking. 

The band made headlines in 2003 when they played a small club in Rhode Island and brought arena-level pyrotechnics, setting the place on fire, resulting in the death of 100 people. This same band decided it was a great idea to play a show with no social distancing restrictions in place. –– Robert Pasbani, Metal Injection

Jason Isbell: 'Sometimes I just break down in tears because I miss playing rock & roll with my band'

With music venues and studios shuttered, artists are finding new ways to get their music to fans. Troubadour Jason Isbell discusses parenting amid a pandemic and the loss of his mentor John Prine. ––  NPR

Sara Bareilles shelved a song to please execs. 15 years later, it became a TV show

Apple TV+'s “Little Voice” is named after a song that came to Sara Bareilles in a dream. She woke up and wrote down the lyrics in her journal, with an urgency and purpose she’d never felt before. “It felt like my mission statement to myself about my first record: ‘I am here to listen to this little voice,’” said the Grammy winner. ––Ashley Lee,  LA Times

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