Lucille Starr  Wikipedia photo
Lucille Starr Wikipedia photo

Music Biz Headlines, Sept. 14, 2020

Live-music venues came back to life this month — barely — but trouble’s ahead

Despite the financial upheaval that Toronto venues are experiencing during the pandemic, live music is quickly returning to the city. September seems to be the month — despite the jump in Covid numbers over the past few days and the continuing provincial gathering restrictions that allow for crowds of 50 (indoors) and 100 (outdoors) — when venues are rolling the dice and attempting to reopen after the lockdown that was forced upon them in mid-March. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

A tribute to country trailblazer Lucille Starr

She was Canada’s consummate country music queen: petite, buxom and with towering hair to match a voice that could scale heartbreaking heights. Beginning in the late 1950s and early ’60s, Lucille Starr was also a trailblazer, singing in both English and her native French while becoming the first Canadian woman to sell one million records and the first to perform at Nashville’s famous Grand Ole Opry. – Nicholas Jennings, The Globe and Mail

Sneaky Dee's won't be closing after all.

News of a condo development spread rumours of the demise of a music club insutution in Toronto, but  the establishment's owners are assuring patrons not to fear, because it can and will survive anything — even dreaded redevelopment into one of the flavourless condo highrises that seem to be becoming the city's most characteristic feature. – Blog TO

11-year-old Toronto singing sensation headed to finals on ‘America’s Got Talent’

Roberta Battaglia has made the final cut. The 11-year-old singing sensation from Toronto is one step closer to winning the $1-million (U.S.) grand prize on “America’s Got Talent,” broadcast in Canada on Citytv. She performed a heartfelt rendition of Pink’s What About Us to end the first evening of semifinal performances, which included 11 contestants. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

Springsteen's new single Letter To You should be stamped Return to Sender

On Thursday, Bruce Springsteen released his new single Letter to You, the title track to an album due Oct. 23. The song marks a reunion with his long-running backing group, the E Street Band. Before recording the new album, they hadn’t worked together since the River Tour in 2016. It’s not much of a song, though.  – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

Vancouver artist/musician ditches part-time job, sells over 1,500 paintings

Mecca Normal's Jean Smith started selling portraits of women’s faces for $100 US; now they’re in high demand. Smith is also a novelist and painter. – CBC

Lido Pimienta’s bag of tricks: The Colombian-Canadian musician’s mission to amaze

Lido Pimienta is a singer-songwriter who hates reggaeton and had the ovaries to diss Shakira in an interview.  She described herself at the Red Bull Music Academy in the following manner: “I am indigenous. I am black. I am Colombian. I am a mother. I am a Polaris, prize-winning artist. I am a badass bitch.” And the music world has paid close attention.  – Adriana V. Lopez Belatina

International

Music streaming revenues on course to grow by over $1bn in the US in 2020, despite everything

There’s a trend emerging in the global record industry in 2020: streaming-fuelled growth in some of the world’s biggest music markets, in spite of the pandemic. Good news on that front came in from Germany and Spain recently. Last week brought similar good news from the world's biggest recorded music market, the United States. – Murray Stassen, MBW

Hipgnosis becomes a fully-fledged publisher, buying Big Deal Music to form Hipgnosis Songs Group

Hipgnosis Songs Fund founder Merck Mercuriadis doesn't much love the descriptor "music publisher" – his business, he says, instead sees itself in the business of "song management".
 Either way, Hipgnosis has just become a 'proper' music publisher in the traditional sense, with the acquisition of Los Angeles-based Big Deal Music Group for an undisclosed sum. It brings 4,400 copyrights into Hipgnosis – including cuts on hits by the likes of Shawn Mendes, Panic! At The Disco and One Direction. – Tim Ingham, MBW

Hipgnosis snaps up the music catalogue of Chrissie Hynde, leader of The Pretenders

The song fund's latest deal will see it add all 164 of Hynde's published songs, including Brass In Pocket, I'll Stand By You and Don't Get Me Wrong, to its 13,000-strong library of hits.  Hipgnosis, founded by Beyonce's former manager Merck Mercuriadis, buys songs and their copyrights. – This Money

22 singers who have broken multiple world records

In addition to all of the money, fame and power that comes along with being a famous musician, there's also the opportunity to score incredible feats. Whether certified by the Recording Industry Academy of America, Billboard or the Guinness Book of World Records, these 22 singers have broken all different types of records. The Weeknd is amongst those featured. – Amy McCarthy, Yardbarker

Crown Royal records fundraising track with Ari Lennox

Canadian whisky brand Crown Royal has partnered with musicians Ari Lennox and Anthony Ramos to record a song to support venues at risk of closure due to the pandemic. – Owen Bellwood. The Spirits Business

Little Richard takes over the intro song for “Monday Night Football” theme from Hank Jr.

ESPN confirmed a report that Williams’s “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over For Monday Night Football” is being replaced by “Rip It Up.” That song, a hit for Little Richard in 1956, will feature his vocals atop a new instrumental track performed by Virginia-based band Butcher Brown. – Des Bieler, Washington Post

NFL kickoff features Alicia Keys and a new $1B fund to boost black businesses

Alicia Keys will be performed at the NFL’s Kickoff event for its 2020 season Sept. 10, a moment that she tied in with a bigger announcement: The league will be contributing to a new $1 billion endowment fund aimed at supporting black businesses and communities. – Billboard

Why hip-hop’s indie economy has taken off

Hip-hop’s indie economy has damn near exploded. Every few months, there’s a new program launched to make life easy for the DIY artist. Wanna text your fans? Done. There are several apps for that. Need to manage social media? There are more apps for that than there are social networks! Want to distribute music from your phone to all the digital streaming providers? Several companies got you covered. – Dan Runcie, Trapital

Sister Bliss of Faithless: Nightclubs and DJs 'left in the corner to rot'

Sister Bliss from dance act Faithless has said UK nightclubs have been "left to rot in a corner" amid the pandemic. The government says clubs must stay shut "in line with current scientific advice to control the virus". The musician and DJ told BBC Radio 6 Music club culture should be better protected. "There's a lack of leadership at the top which means certain industries have been given support and then others have been completely ignored," she said. – BBC

New music drops every minute. But back-catalogs are driving the industry’s transformation

Amid a pandemic and an abundance of new music, the value of older music catalogs keeps rising — and the investor interest may spark seismic shifts in the record business. – Tim Ingham, Rolling Stone

The best roots albums of August 2020

August delivered a smattering of great rock albums, but now it’s time to turn our attention to folk, country, Americana, bluegrass and all the other subgenres under the “roots” umbrella. We were treated to new releases from veterans like Kathleen Edwards and The Avett Brothers as well as newcomers like Caylee Hammack. – Paste

Taylor Swift to perform at the 2020 ACM Awards

Swift will be playing at the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards on Sept. 16, the Academy of Country Music and dick clark productions announced Sunday. Swift's performance, a world premiere of Betty from new album Folklore, will take place from the Grand Ole Opry House. Her performance will be her first in seven years on the ACM Awards stage. – Billboard

The French government has announced a €2 billion cultural recovery plan.

The aim of the plan is to rebuild cultural organisations and artists impacted by the pandemic. According the French government, the cultural industries represented 2.3 percent of France's GDP in 2018, with 670,000 jobs existing across 80,000 cultural organisations. The €2 billion figure follows an initial €856 million in funds committed earlier this year. – Resident Advisor

Vinyl sales surpass CD revenue, first time since the 1980s

Vinyl records are outselling compact discs in the United States for the first time in more than 30 years, according to an industry report released last week. Music fans dropped $232.1 million on records in the first half of 2020, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, far surpassing the $129.9 million spent on CDs. Vinyl sales contributed 62 percent of total physical music media revenues — which dropped 23 percent year-on-year, a decline the RIAA attributed to the coronavirus pandemic’s shutdown of music venues and stores. – Agence France-Presse

Spike Lee’s American Utopia shows David Byrne in peak electrifying form

The world tour turned Broadway show is now an all-time-great concert film too. It just premiered at TIFF. – Jordan Hoffman,  Vanity Fair

Hate social media? You’ll love this documentary

Interspersed throughout The Social Dilemma are dramatic scenes of a fictional family whose son is being radicalized by YouTube.  As a documentary filmmaker, Jeff Orlowski seems preoccupied with the destruction of the world. His 2012 film Chasing Ice captured the devastating effects of climate change on melting glaciers. In 2017 he documented the erosion of coral reefs in Chasing Coral. His latest film, The Social Dilemma, takes aim at an even greater danger: social media. –Arielle Pardes, Wired

TikTok is paying creators. Not all of them are happy

Users say the platform’s new Creator Fund is opaque and riddled with problems. The company says it’s listening. – Wired 

Why the Rolling Stones' 'Brussels Affair' is essential listening

With the latest Goats Head Soup reissue, the show is finally available in a (somewhat) more accessible physical format. The album was first released digitally in 2011 through Google Play Music and the Rolling Stones Archive website, followed in 2012 by limited-edition vinyl box sets (which cost at least $750) and a 2015 Japanese CD. –  Ryan Reed, Ultimate Classic Rock

If You Miss Concerts, This Article Is For You

With conventional live shows off the table for what looks like it’s going to be awhile, many artists are finding themselves in the position of either finding smart, creative ways to adapt to this new reality, or leave the music industry altogether. Here, we explore some of the ways musicians are successfully innovating in the live music sector. – Fred Jacobs, The Oakland Express

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