Bill King  Photo: Daniel Ehrenworth
Bill King Photo: Daniel Ehrenworth

Music Biz Headlines, Dec. 28, 2020

This Toronto musician’s carefree wandering through the ’60s saw him working with Janis Joplin and Linda Ronstadt 

You may know him as the artistic director of the currently paused Beaches International Jazz Festival or hear him on one of the three radio programs he hosts or co-hosts in the city. But did you know that Bill King, a three-time Juno nominee, also served as music director for Janis Joplin, Linda Ronstadt, the Pointer Sisters, Martha Reeves and Craig Russell?  King is considered among his peers a renaissance man, as the number of careers he’s embarked on over the years — and still largely retains — at the age of 74, is impressive. – Nick Krewen, Toronto Star

Record label executive Doug Chappell had a knack for spotting hits

Mr. Chappell’s taste for crazy promotion schemes and flashy sports cars never waned. After his group disbanded, he moved into the record business and became known as a fabulously coiffured executive with a knack for not only hearing hits, but knowing how to market them. For the next quarter of a century, he presided over four different record companies and helped shape the careers of some of Canada’s biggest stars, from Gino Vannelli and Bryan Adams to Rita MacNeil and Shania Twain. – Nicholas Jennings, The Globe and Mail

CBC Music's top 100 Canadian songs of 2020

Charlotte Cardin, William Prince, Kaytranada, Jayda G and more soundtracked this year. – CBC Music

The Band's classic third album gets the reissue treatment

On February 12th, Capitol/UMe will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stage Fright, with a suite of newly remixed, remastered and expanded packages, including a multi-format Super Deluxe 2 CD/Blu-ray/1 LP/7-inch vinyl box set photo booklet; digital, 2 CD, 180-gram black vinyl, and limited edition 180-gram color vinyl packages. All the Anniversary Edition releases were overseen by Robbie Robertson and boast a new stereo mix by Bob Clearmountain from the original multi-track masters. – Buddy Iahn, The Music Universe

This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc:  Brian Edwards, CEO/President, Rocklands Entertainment Inc.

If there was a Mount Rushmore honouring Canadian musical artists, perhaps in the Canadian Rockies, it’d feature the legendary Canadian country performers Hank Snow, Wilf Carter, Tommy Hunter, Rita MacNeil, Stompin’ Tom Connors, and Carroll Baker. All booked for decades in Canada by Brian Edwards of Rocklands Entertainment based in Peterborough, a speck of a city in Central Ontario. He has now published a fascinating memoir. – Larry LeBlanc, Celebrity Access

The song doesn’t remain the same: How record stores adapted to a challenging year

2020 could be described as a difficult year for record store owners, and not just because of a global pandemic. However, record stores persevered, and by adapting their sales practices, and retaining the support of loyal customers, have managed to make the most of 2020, while looking ahead to 2021. – Charles Lefebvre, CTV News

Island kids win prizes in CBC national music-class challenge

Three Vancouver Island music programs have won their respective age categories in the annual Canadian Music Class Challenge, with several others placing among the top finishers in the national CBC competition. – Mike Devlin, Times Colonist

Canadian country music stars to perform live from the Commodore Ballroom

The Live from Inside series presented by Jim Beam Bourbon highlights live shows broadcast from popular music venues across Canada. On January 14, Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Award nominees JoJo Mason, Shawn Austin, and special guest Kristin Carter will be performing live from the Commodore Ballroom on Granville Street, Vancouver. – Daily Hive

Dynamic music promoter Denise Jones was a vital force in the Jamaican-Canadian community

Denise Jones wore many hats: actress, dancer, artist manager, concert presenter, festival producer, event planner and mother of two. A pillar, along with her husband, Allan, of the Jamaican-Canadian community, she worked tirelessly throughout her career to promote Caribbean culture – first through plays and pantomimes and then through reggae concerts and arts festivals – to increasingly larger audiences. – Nicholas Jennings, The Globe and Mail

New Canadian musical Grow releases a music video for title tune

"Grow” from the musical comedy of the same name features 70 singers and musicians from across the globe. When Grow was postponed ten days before starting rehearsals due to the Covid crisis, the creative team put out a call for submissions to anyone who wanted to participate in a virtual performance of the show's title track. – Broadway World

Spotify’s list of your top songs of the year shines a light on the real you

For the past few days, I’ve been going through the list of the songs I listened to most on Spotify this year. Not the songs I think I’ve listened to most, but the ones I actually have. Spotify does that for (or rather, to) you. Among the many uncomfortable things the algorithm has done to us, this one may be the most jarring. It shows you the difference between the person you think you are, and the person you actually are. – Cathal Kelly, The Globe and Mail

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, a new Juno statuette has been created.

A gold version will be awarded to Juno Award winners, a silver version to special award recipients and a gold and silver version for Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees. – Paul Grein, Billboard

Treble Makers make a prize-winning music video together

Outstanding vocals backed by well-orchestrated instrumentation carried the Chemainus Elementary School’s Treble Makers to second place in the Elementary Vocal (Grades 4-6) category in the CBC Canadian Music Class Challenge. – Don Bodger, Ladysmith Chronicle

Fifteen music books that struck a chord in 2020

One part of the music industry that didn’t shut down this year was the publishing of books on music and musicians, including everything from a Mariah Carey tell-some (but not all) to an erudite exploration of German composer Richard Wagner’s impact on the modern world. What follows is a list of memorable music books that hit the right note in 2020.  – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

Bluegrass beyond borders: The Slocan Ramblers play bluegrass Toronto style

Bluegrass contributes to a common US and Canada bond, and nowhere is that better expressed than in the music of The Slocan Ramblers. Having formed in 2011, The Toronto-based band has released three albums over the course of the past nine years.  In addition, they’ve toured the US, opened for Jerry Douglas at the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, performed at the IBMA, and headlined the Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival in British Columbia. – Lee Zimmerman, Bluegrass Today

Blinker the Star's Jordon Zadorozny reflects on a career that's come full-circle

Since reviving Blinker The Star as a solo vehicle earlier this decade, Zadorozny has been on something of a hot streak, approaching his own music with a renewed vigour that's resulted in three new full-length releases since 2017. – Saby Kulkani, PopMatters

On Stage: Sellersville returns to live streaming-only concerts due to Covid

The Sellersville show on December 18 was officially billed as “Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy Present: A Celtic Family Christmas At Home.” This concert did not take place in the theater. Instead, it was performed at MacMaster & Leahy’s home in Nova Scotia. – The Unionville Times

International

Stimulus offers $15 billion in relief for struggling arts venues

The coronavirus relief package that Congressional leaders agreed to this week includes grant money that many small proprietors described as a last hope for survival. – New York Times

This man is betting $1.7 billion on the rights to your favourite songs

Merck Mercuriadis thinks songwriters deserve more credit — starting with blockbuster paydays for their catalogues. But not all artists want to sell out. – Ben Sisario, NYT

Tencent-led consortium buys an additional 10% stake in Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group parent Vivendi has confirmed that a Tencent-led consortium decided on Dec. 17 to buy an additional 10% stake in UMG. The transaction, which will take place during the first half of 2021 subject to regulatory approvals, will take the Tencent-led consortium's total holding in UMG to 20%. – MBW

Concord and Universal Music Group renew global distribution agreement

Concord has renewed its global distribution agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG), continuing a B2B partnership that has spanned more than 15 years. Under the new contract, UMG will continue to physically and digitally distribute releases from Concord’s frontline labels, led by Chief Label Executive Tom Whalley, and catalogue projects led by Chief Catalog Executive Sig Sigworth. – Tim Ingham, MBW

A ‘great cultural depression’ looms for legions of unemployed performers

With theaters and concert halls shuttered, unemployment in the arts has cut deeper than in restaurants and other hard-hit industries. – Patricia Cohen, NYT

Top music stories of 2020 

From Taylor Swift’s “folklore” album to the "Verzuz" series and surprised divorces, here are some of 2020’s biggest stories in music.– Yahoo News Canada

Bad Bunny is at the top of 2020's streaming class

This year’s global Spotify streaming champion is Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican rapper whose hit album YHLQMDLG reads like a suggested password reset. The streaming explosion represents both his worldwide ascent and the growing power of Hispanic music overall. Never before has a musician who completely ignored English topped the year-end list. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

Paul McCartney expects Glastonbury 2021 to be cancelled

‘Talk about super-spreader’ says ex-Beatles star as Emily Eavis admits no guarantees can be made for a 200,000-person event. – Laura Snapes, The Guardian

Billie Eilish reveals the Michael Buble song that inspired her

Billie Eilish has revealed that she used to listen to the song Just Haven’t Met You Yet’ by Michael Bublé when she was “really depressed” as a teenager because it provided her with hope about the future. – Music News

Iggy Pop shares Covid-19 Song “Dirty Little Virus”

“If there was still a Man of the Year, it would be the virus, so I wrote the lyric." – Matthew Strauss, Pitchfork

Taylor Swift is faring much better on the Canadian Hot 100 than on the U.S. edition

Many media outlets have reported at length about how Taylor Swift dominates the U.S. music charts this week with her new album Evermore and the songs featured on it. The singer-songwriter is having a fantastic frame on Billboard’s Hot 100 in America, but what hasn’t been covered nearly enough is the fact that her new tunes are performing even better up north, in Canada. – Hugh McIntyre, Forbes

Every Paul McCartney single ranked

Paul McCartney is such a preternaturally gifted songwriter that he could probably write a song in his sleep — and given his productivity over the last half a century, there’s a chance that at some point he did. Here's a look at his solo work - the good, the band, and the ugly. – Mikael Wood, LA Times

Watch London production of David Bowie’s ‘Lazarus’ in honor of icon’s birthday

Filmed live on stage in 2016, live streams will run from January 8th, 2021 (Bowie’s 74th birthday) to January 10th (the fifth anniversary of his death). – Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone

With Covid stimulus in sight, L.A.’s desperate nightclub owners hope it’s not too little, too late

In the same week that Covid-19 vaccines began to be distributed, a second reason for hope emerged. Save Our Stages, which seemed like another victim of Republican resistance to the stimulus measure, might actually make it into the final sprint as part of a $900-billion economic aid package. – August Brown, LA Times

From blue to new – how the blues invented a century of music, in 20 songs and albums

We begin with Robert Johnson and Crossroad Blues (1937). It popularised Johnson’s great creation myth – that his fame was the result of a deal made with the Devil at a rural crossroads. What came next: Johnson died at 27, cementing his Faustian pact in rock history, crystallising the idea that rock ‘n’ roll is the Devil’s music and founding the so-called ‘27 Club’ of genius musicians lost far, far too young. – NME

The 50th anniversary of “Feliz Navidad,” the simplest song ever written

Writing a Christmas hit can be mind-blowingly lucrative, and also a little annoying. José Feliciano has no ambivalence about “Feliz Navidad,” his bilingual earworm from 1970. He is celebrating its 50th  anniversary with a live-streamed concert, a children’s book, a line of branded Teddy bears, and re-recording featuring artists such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Michael Bolton. “I’m probably going to hear a lot of ka-ching!” he said recently.  – Michael Schulman, The New Yorker

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