Witch Prophet  Photo: Brianna Roye
Witch Prophet Photo: Brianna Roye

Music Biz Headlines, Aug. 27, 2020

A profile of 2020 Polaris Prize short-lister Witch Prophet

It’s been nearly a month since the Polaris Music Prize short list reveal, which named DNA Activation by Witch Prophet’s (née Ayo Leilani) in its Top Ten, but Prophet is still in disbelief. “That was a complete shock to my system,” she explains. “I’m slowly getting used to it. It was really, really exciting.” – Chaka V. Grier, SOCAN Words & Music

Album and book review: Scott Cook's Tangle of Souls a call to come together

Opening with a fiddle-driven two-stepper, Scott Cook’s seventh “love letter” to the world is all strings and beauty, a 12-song agnostic endorsement of love over fear. And we’ll get to the music in a second, but Tangle of Souls is also the most extensive set of liner notes I’ve ever encountered in a generation of reviewing music. – Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton Journal

The Iranian immigrant who conquered online video tech

The weekly The Boss series profiles different business leaders from around the world. This week we speak to Shahrzad Rafati, the Canadian founder and boss of internet video technology firm BroadbandTV (BBTV). Shahrzad Rafati arrived in Canada with just one suitcase and little English, but has made a real mark. – Ayhan, Trading U

I saw an Eagles tribute band at a drive-in. Is this the future of live music?

This wasn’t my first outdoor concert. But it was my first outdoor concert at a drive-in. I was desperate for three-dimensional entertainment – (and a chance to get away from Netflix and home renos) - and wondered if I would embrace this new, live music, normal. – Denis Grignon, Toronto Star

Bud O’Byrne’s record store dream will live on … thanks to his friends Jason and Emily

The Cornwall record store owner died in April, age 40, but his friends have stepped in to keep his dream alive. – Mai-Liis Renaud,  Cornwall Seeker

A Toronto bar with ties to The Rolling Stones closes down

Stones Place first opened its doors in October of 2000, and it's one of the last few long-standing bars in the Parkdale area — but not for much longer. – Blog TO

International

BTS's Dynamite topped 12.6M plays on Spotify on day one – but nearly 5M of them were erased from its chart

it’s obviously in the interest of fairness for illegitimate plays, purchased via so-called ‘stream farms’, to be removed from industry charts. Yet what about when an organized army of fans, well, fanatically listens to a track over and over again in a 24 hour period? The issue has arisen with varying tallies for Dynamite, the new single by K-Pop superstars BTS. – Murray Stassen,   MBW

K-pop’s BTS does it again, shattering records with all-English single ‘Dynamite’

It hasn’t felt like much of a summer, but BTS is determined to give us the song of the summer anyway. The K-pop boy band and international sensation dropped its newest song and music video, “Dynamite,” last Thursday at midnight, and fans ate it up: The video smashed YouTube’s premiere record with at least three million concurrent viewers. – Laura Zornosa, Los Angeles Times

Napster sold to MelodyVR in $70M deal, including $44M owed to music companies and other partners

An interesting development in the convergence of concerts-at-home technology and recorded music streaming: UK-based virtual reality music company MelodyVR has acquired US-based Spotify rival Napster in a deal worth $70M.  According to an SEC filing from Napster's previous majority-owner, RealNetworks, it comprises $15M in cash, $11M in Melody VR stock and "assumption by MelodyVR of approximately $44M in payment obligations, primarily to various music industry entities". – Tim Ingham, MBW

Live-streaming is an obvious next move for Spotify. Here's why it makes sense

While investing in spoken-word audio content is Spotify's current No.1 goal, the company must be careful not to miss new opportunities, especially in its 'homeland' of music.
 One obvious opportunity that Spotify is yet to capitalize on is live video streaming, which has boomed in music during Covid quarantine. New evidence suggests SPOT may indeed be working on adding virtual concert-related functionality to its platform. – Murray Stassen, MBW

CTS Eventim achieves “almost balanced” EBITDA

The German live entertainment powerhouse cites stringent cost-cutting for a modest €2.7m loss, despite a 97% drop in revenue. At the beginning of 2020, CTS entered a new joint venture with Michael Cohl, the renowned Canadian promoter. – IQ

Jay-Z's TIDAL makes VR concerts bet, buying $7M in tokens from $100M-backed Sensorium Corporation

 The modern music industry's fraternization with virtual worlds is gathering pace. Today, another intriguing addition to this trend: Jay-Z's music streaming service, TIDAL, has spent $7 million on tokens ('SENSO Tokens') issued by Sensorium Corporation. The tokens are the in-world currency of Sensorium Galaxy, a much-buzzed-about new VR "social metaspace" in which users can attend alternate-world concerts, nightclubs and festivals. – Tim Ingham, MBW

"As soon as you enter the stupid deal business you risk all of your deals becoming stupid"

Denis Ladegaillerie is our erudite Frenchman; the flaws and foibles he points out belong to the UK music industry. Whether or not you’re already leaning towards jingoistic defensiveness, you can’t deny that Ladegaillerie has the kind of global credentials that make him worth listening to. – MBW

Maybe, just maybe, Part 914: Like sand through an hourglass

We had no idea that this pandemic was going to be here to stay, or at least with us for the indefinite future. Now, maximizing our stay-at-home situation is of primary importance as we speed toward Labor Day and beyond. Make daily life better for yourself and your family. Time is moving again. – Lenny Beer, Hits Daily Double

The best dream-pop albums of all time

Dream pop is difficult to define. There’s overlap with genres like shoegaze, indie-pop, indie rock and synth-pop. We went with our gut on this one, but that’s why this list is special. We made sure to take various eras of dream pop into account.  View the full list here. – Paste

Some of the best albums of 2020 to date

Even without the ability to tour, artists have steadily released new music. As the months have passed, a slew of notable musical works has arrived. Here’s a look at some of the “best so far.” –Melissa Ruggieri, New York Times

Can President Trump play any song he wants at a rally, even if the artist despises him?

It’s an issue that comes up every election cycle, and could arise during this week’s Republican National Convention: A musician, usually liberal, cries foul when a politician, usually conservative, selects their song to pump up crowds during appearances and rallies. – Randall Roberts, LA Times

How to sell 1,000 CDs in ten weeks and make a decent profit

Brian Hazard sold 1K CDs in ten weeks using a “free CD plus shipping and handling” offer. He also made over $3,500. Here’s a detailed look at how he did it. – Passive Promotion

How Single Music is giving artists control of their e-commerce and live-stream ticketing

The company’s founder talks about Single Music’s roots, its partnerships, its successes and its future – and why he thinks online D2C, powered by Shopify, is causing an industry revolution. – Dave Roberts, MBW

Justin Townes Earle and the burden of names

Roots troubadour Justin Townes Earle was born beneath the heavyweight of two names. Steve Earle was his father; Townes Van Zandt was Steve’s mentor; together they were two of the greatest American songwriters of the late 20th century. Together they also struggled with drug and alcohol problems from the ‘70s into the ‘90s. – Geoffrey Himes, Paste

Police: Justin Townes Earle died from ‘probable drug overdose’

The songwriter was found dead in his Nashville apartment last weekend during a wellness check, according to a Nashville police spokesperson. – Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone

Musicians urge Cuomo administration to let live, ticketed, advertised music play again

Musicians who depend on the income from live, ticketed indoor shows are urging the Cuomo Administration to lift the COVID-related ban currently keeping them from performing on stage, or telling their followers of upcoming gigs. – WBFO

'We were dancing on cars in the epicentre of porn and filth!' An oral history of Fame, 40 years on

It was the late director Alan Parker’s most enduring hit, capturing what it was to be young and ambitious in the hot, gritty New York of 1980. The cast and crew reflect on the acting, fighting, flirting and fallout.  – The Guardian

Biggie’s crown, Tupac Shakur letters headline Sotheby’s first-ever hip-hop auction

Rivals in life, the rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur are being united for an auction at Sotheby’s, the first-ever dedicated hip-hop auction at a major international auction house. Bidders will be able to vie for the crown worn and signed by the Notorious B.I.G. during a 1997 photoshoot held three days before he was killed in LA. They’ll also get to bid on an archive of 22 autographed love letters written by Shakur at the age of 15-17 to a high school sweetheart. – Mark Kennedy, AP

Record Store Day Ambassador Ross Wilson takes us on a tour of his jukebox

The Daddy Cool, Mondo Rock legend of Oz rock Ross Wilson is the Record Store Day 2020 Ambassador. Ross caught up with Noise11 for RSD to show us through his jukebox and the records he has been collecting for over 60 years. – Paul Cashmere, Noise 11

Van Morrison: ‘Fight the Covid-19 pseudoscience and speak up’

Star calls for musicians to challenge social distancing rules at live events. –  Irish Times

Documentary On the Record gives the music industry its #MeToo moment

When the #MeToo movement against sexual assault came to widespread attention in 2017, it seemed a reckoning was at hand against some of the most powerful men in entertainment and business. Now a new documentary puts Russell Simmons in the spotlight. – Sydney Morning Herald

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