Island founder Chris Blackwell, from CMW interview screenshot.
Island founder Chris Blackwell, from CMW interview screenshot.

The FYI News Bulletin

Next Wednesday, May 19, between 4-5 pm, CMW puts the spotlighting on Chris Blackwell in an affectionate interview with historical footage and music clips that capture the life and times of the Island Records’ founder, from his beginnings in a rough-hewn Jamaican studio to discovering Millie Small, Spencer Davis, Cat Stevens, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Grace Jones, and U2 in the UK.

The conversation, filmed at GoldenEye, his Jamaican home, is refreshingly free of hyperbole and lets the subject tell us what it was that first attracted him to a stable of artists who were then unknowns, ending with how he helped support U2 artistically and financially and how the band returned the favour by helping save Island from financial ruin. Rather than bore us with minutiae and rapid-fire facts, this is a broad brushstroke about artistic highlights told first hand without embellishment. Blackwell has been notoriously reluctant to do interviews, preferring instead to be the man behind the scenes.

The interview was conducted by Jamaican record producer and broadcaster Wayne Jobson. For CMW president Neill Dixon, pulling this tribute together with all the obstacles brought on by the virus, and  getting rights clearances, held special significance. As he explains: "I am happy Chris got to tell his own story but there was so much more we couldn’t cover. We never had the documentary budget to tackle that, but we ended up with a great tribute to the industry pioneer that inspired Steve (Propas) and I to start Solid Gold Records, so it was a personal triumph."

Now well into his golden years at age 84, it is the story of a man who lived in the shadow of the public spotlight, earned a reputation as a brilliant businessman with an ear for discovering talent and who chased greatness rather than trends. His lasting legacy is in creating a catalogue of music that lives on decades later. You can register to watch this virtual interview here.

–  Anthem Entertainment has announced three executive promotions. Industry veteran Al Pedecine is elevated to Executive VP & CFO, Jason Klein to GM, Canada and Sr. VP, Legal & Business Affairs, and Jennifer Meldrum to VP, IT.

Pedecine’s resume includes tenures at Arista, Def Jam, Polygram, and EMI, as well rights management agencies such as Harry Fox and Price Waterhouse.

Klein joined Anthem as Sr. VP Legal Affairs in 2016, In his expanded role, he will assist CEO Helen Murphy (pictured) in expanding the company’s Canadian business and will continue to oversee Anthem’s legal and business affairs as per global music publishing, recorded music, production music and audio-visual secondary rights businesses.

The Weeknd won the Brit Award in the International Male Solo Artist category on Tuesday and performed Save Your Tears from his After Hours album remotely, accompanied by Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never who appears on the album and was MD of the singer’s Super Bowl performance.

– Artist manager William Tenn and ArtHaus Media have combined forces to produce a glorious-sounding nine-part podcast series billed as The Skinny Spinner presents The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Skinny hosts and recounts stories with the first edition including tracks by Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Jimmie Rogers, Hank Williams, Big Joe Turner, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, Dale Hawkins, Isley Brothers, Huey "Piano" Smith, The Coasters, Jimmy Reed, The Silhouettes, and Wynonie Harris. 

 – JJ Wilde sprung to prominence in 2020 with The Rush, a multi-format No. 1 single in Canada. She returns May 14 with Wilde, an EP that gets big support with a Jim Beam presents, Live Nation concert from Toronto’s Danforth Music Hal on June 12 and a rebroadcast on June 13. Ticket info and news about other virtual shows by Blue Rodeo and Walk off the Earth here.

The Weeknd with Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars & Anderson. Paak (Silk Sonic), Dan + Shay and Doja Cat are announced to perform at the Usher-hosted 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards at LA’s Dolby Theatre. Elton John is named to receive the Icon Award, presented to him by Chris Martin and Lil Nas X. Fox has the live feed.

Jann Arden has been busy since time stopped still, recording a new album, a song for Paul McCartney’s next album, promoting a second memoir, and shooting the third season of her CTV comedy series, Jann. On May 20, she debuts a pre-taped, big production online concert. Tickets and details here.

– Well established music biz entrepreneurs Steve Warden and Peter Diemer have founded  Gigr Entertainment & Technologies to establish a slice of the fast-growing NFT entertainment business. The duo has teamed up with Dapper Labs, a consumer-focused platform that is home to Top Shot, the NBA NFT blockbuster that has reportedly pulled in $500M in sales since launching in Oct. 2020. Details: jessica@gigrlive.com.

 

– The success of the above-mentioned NBA Top Shots hasn’t escaped notice by Live Nations global CEO Michael Rapino who see NFTs as a golden opportunity to “engage with fans” and “change how Ticketmaster handles its ticketing business.”

– The May 30 Jim Beam Indie Awards stream includes performances by Sam Roberts Band, Half Moon Run and Monowhales, with Walk off the Earth, JJ Wilde, Notifi, Iskwē and Tom Wilson guesting. On the 27th, July Talk offers a pre-recorded El Mo concert. The band is in the race with 2 noms. All shows via SessionsLive platform.

– The picturesque town (population 7K) of Baie-Saint-Paul on the north shore of the St. Lawrence in Quebec was the birth place for Cirque du Soleil in the early 1980s and promises now to be one of the first places in the country to host a major outdoor festival. Organizers of The Festif! have announced 50 performers set to appear on stages around the town between July 21 and 25, including Coeur de Pirate, Michel Rivard, The Barr Brothers, and Haviah Mighty. Sponsors named include SiriusXM, Loto Quebec, Hydro Quebec, Radio Canada, Bell, Desjardin, musiaction, and the Government of Canada.

Last year, the Festif! hosted a reduced version of the festival called La Petite Affaire.

MIDiA analyst Mark Mulligan posits that pure music streaming platforms could see a slowdown in pure music streaming growth here in North America. Future revenue growth is more likely to come from gaming, live streaming and social platforms like TikTok.  Mulligan speaks from CMW’s virtual stage next Wednesday, 19th, between 13:30 an 14:00.

Broadway reopens Sept. 14, with such hits as Hamilton, and The Lion King,. Following shortly after are Jagged Little Pill and Come From Away.

– American singer Lula Wiles has released a Smithsonian Folkways single teasing her May 21 Shame & Sedition album. Oh My God pillories Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos with lines that include “I’ll admit that you’ve done pretty well so far / Did you think that you would end up where you are? / Do you think that you’re a god now, in your fancy cars? / Stepping over bodies, grinning like a movie star…”

– Online daily music mag Flypaper’s Janette Barrios guest posts 8 Ways Musicians Can Make More Money that can be viewed on Hypebot.

Spotify is facing a tough battle in convincing Africa’s 1B population to abandon Audiomack, a native streaming service that offers a freemium ad-supported option that allows users to download songs and listen offline. Bloomberg News has the story.

– It just might be the wildest real estate investment in Toronto since Sir William Pellatt financed the building of Casa Loma in 1914. I’m talking about Michael Wekerle’s purchase of the El Mocambo in 2014. After dropping a reported $30M on gutting and refurbishing the Spadina Street club, he opened it up for a media walkthrough on March 4 of last year, announcing the Elmo would reopen for regular business in the following month. Well, how was anyone to know what came next? Like Pellatt, Wekerle looked on his investment as an act of love, in his case a love of music and the memories that the club’s vaunted history kindled in him. There have been a number of live-streamed shows since the batshit virus struck, but sunny days still appear to be as elusive as the phantom of the opera. Oh, and by the way, Pellatt was able to live in his castle for about ten years before the depression forced him to give up his dream. 

Leave a comment