Jessie Reyez, Instagram
Jessie Reyez, Instagram

Music Biz Headlines, Aug. 20, 2020

The Weeknd airs his remix of a Lana Del Rey track

The Weeknd aired the most recent episode of his Memento Mori radio show on Apple Music last week, with a tracklist that featured previously unreleased demos and outtakes from his Kiss Land era. One of those tracks was a remix of Lana Del Rey’s Money Power Glory, a song from her 2014 album Ultraviolence. – Noah Yoo, Pitchfork

Raptors took 'O Canada' to new heights on Monday with Jessie Reyez 

The Toronto Raptors started their playoff run with a powerful moment from Toronto-born artist Jessie Reyez. Using the CN Tower EdgeWalk to stay suspended high above the city, Reyez sang the national anthem to open Game 1 for the Raptors against the Brooklyn Nets. – 680 News

Live music, with a crowd and everything, returns to Toronto

Jazz Bistro is an upscale venue with a red-topped Steinway and newly installed Plexiglas in front of the bandstand and bar, as per Covid-19 health regulations. My tall glass of beer came with a small plastic bottle of hand sanitizer. This is either the new normal or the new boilermaker. The bistro reopened on Friday, with club co-owner Colin Hunter fronting a quartet led by the Juno-winning pianist Joe Sealy. – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail

Serena Ryder releases album exploring her mental health struggles

Juno Award-winning artist Serena Ryder just released her new song ‘Candy.’ The musician talks to Lindsay Dunn about her new album and how it explores her struggles with mental health. – CityNews Edmonton

Famed booking agent Bernie Fiedler can’t get a date

With the live music industry more or less shut down these days, you would think a semi-retired booking agent who only has one client wouldn’t have much to do. You would be wrong, though. Bernie Fiedler, who has been handling concert arrangements for Gordon Lightfoot for longer than they’ve been putting men on the moon, is busier than he’d rather be, scrambling to get concert dates. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

Live performances have returned, as Firehall Arts Centre hosts Music in the Courtyard concerts

Those missing live concerts in Vancouver can finally get their socially distanced fix as the Firehall Arts Centre and Hard Rubber New Music announce their Music in the Courtyard series. Running on weekends through August and September, performances will take place Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. –  Janet Smith, Georgia Straight

Donovan Woods has announced plans for his new album, Without People.

The Canadian singer-songwriter’s follow-up to 2018’s Both Ways, the full-length project will be released November 6th. Recorded remotely by Woods and backing musicians during quarantine, Without People shows Woods exploring various aspects of human connection. – Rolling Stone

Broadcaster Syd Smith announces his retirement

After 35 years in the industry, 630 CHED and Global News Radio 880 Edmonton director of talk and talent Syd Smith has announced his retirement from the radio industry. “It was always my dream to work in major market radio but I could never have imagined a career so varied and fulfilling,” Smith said on Tuesday. Smith joined 630 CHED in September 1996, hosting the Edmonton Oilers broadcasts. The following year, his role grew to include a daily sports talk show. – Global News

Look inside deadmau5's intimate Toronto drive-in rave

Flanked by the glittering Toronto skyline, deadmau5 hosted an intimate and safe show for his fans amid the ongoing pandemic. –  Jason Heffler, EDM
 

Old Strathcona loses its Empress and with it a beloved cultural nexus

The mindless coronavirus has claimed another personalized piece of the Edmonton arts community, another legendary venue, vanished in the vacuum of too much space. the Empress wasn’t so much a bar as a creative support network, kindly employing an amazing number of local musicians and artists to work the taps, doors and visuals. –  Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton Journal

Clinton’s Tavern is back under new management

After abruptly closing shortly before the pandemic, the 83-year-old bar and music venue has been bought and reopened by Echo Karaoke. –  Richard Trapunski, NOW

Unleash the Archers dive into the Abyss

Fronted by powerhouse singer Brittney Slayes, Vancouver metal crew Unleash the Archers continues an epic musical journey. – Stuart Derdeyn, Vancouver Sun

Toronto’s Harris Institute has the highest percentage of award-winning faculty of any school, with over 50% having won awards for what they teach. “The old saying, ‘those who can’t, teach’, is still true today”, says president John Harris. “At Harris Institute, ‘those who can, teach’. The institute has resumed classes now.  –  EIN Presswire

International

TikTok inks deal with UnitedMasters that lets users distribute music to streaming platforms directly from ByteDance's app

Amidst Beijing-based ByteDance’s looming deadline to sell TikTok in the US, the hit short form-video app is still making a lot of music business-related noise in the market. On Aug. 17, TikTok announced a new deal with independent artist distribution platform UnitedMasters that will see a full integration between both services directly through the TikTok app. – Murray Stassen, MBW

Pop stars sign an open letter supporting police reform legislation in California

Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, Megan Thee Stallion, Shawn Mendes and Rihanna are among the hundreds of celebrity signatories of an open letter from the music, entertainment and sport industries supporting police reform legislation in California. The statement, released Wednesday, urges the governor and state legislature to approve two bills addressing police accountability. – Variety

Concord Music Publishing buys Imagine Dragons catalogue in $100m+ deal

CMP has struck another industry-shaking, nine-figure deal, we can reveal. Seven months on from buying a majority stake in publisher PULSE Music Group, Concord has acquired the back catalog of multi-platinum and Grammy-winning pop/rock band Imagine Dragons. Sources close to a highly competitive industry pursuit for the Imagine Dragons catalogue tell MBW that the price definitely went above $100m before Concord locked the deal down. – Tim Ingham, MBW

Concord raises another $600m via J.P. Morgan-placed debt offering

Concord recently completed its second $100m+ deal of 2020, with the acquisition of the Imagine Dragons catalogue. That followed a deal in January which saw Concord acquire a majority stake in LA-based pop publisher, PULSE Music Group. Proceeds from the new debt offering will be used to partially pay down Concord's revolving credit facility, allowing for significant additional capital available for future acquisitions and working capital. – MBW

The music industry’s sideways: Top execs often hold down separate gigs simultaneously

It's not uncommon for a music exec to hold down a top label or publishing job while also maintaining a distinct manager or producer gig. For power players, it signifies prestige as well as an abundance of creativity... but on lower rungs, double-duty can also be a result of a single salary not cutting it. – Chris Willman, Variety

NME Asia: British music brand launches in Asia

Famed UK music brand NME has launched in Asia, even as the entertainment industry is hit by the coronavirus. NME says its new Singapore-based website will deliver a fresh approach to the South East Asian music scene. The company says it will initially focus on Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines and has plans to rapidly expand in the region. – BBC

Hundreds of artists are now earning $100K per year via Kobalt's AWAL

On Aug. 19,  AWAL reported that “hundreds” of its artists each generated over $100,000 in annual streaming revenue over the last year (to end of June 2020). This figure was up 40% year-on-year, says AWAL. –  MBW

The perfect storm: Inside the UK's only live shows

It’s taken four times more toilets and a space 15 times the normal size. Meet the team who pulled off the UK’s only working arena. – iQ

A Japanese company creates face masks for musicians

Instruments like the saxophone, trumpet, flute, clarinet, or even the humble recorder all require unobstructed access to a human mouth to produce sound. So how can you get your lips near your instrument while wearing a mask? By using a new made-for-musicians mask from Japanese company Shimamura Music. – Oona McGee, Sora News

Tencent Music hatches deal with Thailand’s GMM Grammy

China’s Tencent Music Entertainment has entered into a strategic cooperation agreement with Thailand’s GMM Grammy. – Variety 

BTS label Big Hit saw revenues rocket to $249m in H1 2020 – partly thanks to live-streamed concerts

The first half of 2020 wasn't an easy ride for the major music companies. It was a different story, however, for South Korea's Big Hit Entertainment – home of K-Pop superstars BTS . Big Hit, led by CEO Bang Si-Hyuk, has revealed its financial results for the H1 2020 period, in which it generated revenues of 294bn South Korean Won ($249m at current exchange rates). That was significantly up on the same period of last year (H1 2019), when Big Hit posted half-year revenues of 200.1bn Won ($166m). – MBW

The overlooked influence of Creem magazine

A new documentary makes the case for “America’s only rock ’n’ roll magazine.” –  Jim DeRogatis, The New Yorker

Cardi B and Megan the Stallion break big with WAP

“WAP” is a verified rainmaker. The delightfully raunchy hip-hop single by rappers Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion racked up 93 million streams in the United States in the week after its release on Aug. 7 — the most ever recorded for an opening seven-day period, according to Nielsen Music, and more than enough for the song to enter Billboard’s Hot 100 at No. 1. – Mikael Wood, LA Times

Bad Religion's Greg Graffin on cramming 40 years of punk-rock chaos into one book

Do What You Want: The Story of Bad Religion explores the band's founding and rise to fame and dropped Tuesday. – Ben Trivett, People

Two men have been indicted in the 2002 unsolved murder of Jam Master Jay, the D.J. for the rap group Run-DMC

Jason Mizell was murdered in Hollis, Queens, on October 30, 2002, shot at point-blank range with a .40-caliber handgun. Federal prosecutors in New York City have announced indictments now. – ABC7

The secret weapon behind ‘I May Destroy You’s’ greatness? The coolest music on TV

One sign that its soundtrack — a mix of oldies and current hip-hop, R&B and electronic music — is connecting? Musicians have applauded the show as passionately as critics have. On Instagram recently, Adele called the series “the best thing I’ve seen on British TV for yeaaaarssss” and said it “makes you ask your girls things you haven’t before.”– LA Times

Robert Wyatt: A life studded by tragedy and delight

On June 1, 1973, Wyatt fell from a fourth-floor window at a party, and was paralysed from the waist down. His drumming career over, he created the masterpiece that is Rock Bottom. – John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald

Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart to join Country Hall of Fame

Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart and songwriter Dean Dillon are the newest inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Announced by the Country Music Association, Williams, who often is referred to as Hank Jr. or the nickname Bocephus, will join his father, country legend Hank Williams Sr., in the Hall of Fame’s rotunda.–  Kristin M. Hall, AP

The Budos Band & the Holy Hive: Life after Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley

Suppose you have built your career around writing songs for a gifted singer and playing in that artist’s band. What do you do when that vocalist suddenly disappears? Guitarist Tommy Brenneck and drummer Homer Steinweiss were best known for contributing songwriting and playing to two of this century’s greatest soul singers: Daptone Records’ Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley. Both singers have passed, but Brenneck and Steinweiss rebounded this year with impressive albums from their current projects. –  Geoffrey Himes, American Songwriter

Rolling Stones album art: The stories behind 26 famous LP covers

The band's narrative could often be broadly understood from the vantage point of any local music-store shelf.  – UCR

A blind musician can feel a conductor's movements, thanks to a high-tech baton

Two years ago, blind percussionist Kyungho Jeon met Vahakn Matossian and his father, Rolf Gehlhaar, the founders of Human Instruments, an organization that designs musical technology in collaboration with people with physical disabilities. Together, they created the "haptic baton." Jeon is now a virtuoso percussionist based in Seoul, and with the help of this new technology, he finally has the opportunity to play with an ensemble. – CNN

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