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To celebrate the launch of Windows10, Microsoft is launching a really exciting campaign, #UpgradeYourWorld. I’m really excited to have my very first guest blog post on this site – my 12-year-old daughter Hannah Alper has been asked to help spread the word because everything about #UpgradeYourWorld fits with my, and her, vision of changing the world.

Here it is, and take it away, Hannah.

My blog and everything that has grown out of it, is founded on the idea that we can all make a difference every single day and that all of the things that we can do – big and small – add up make a difference in the world. Through my work with Free The Children and We Day, I have grown to understand that change is urgent locally and globally. When we come together as a community to share and celebrate the change that we are making, we inspire others to join us in their own way. These things are all part of Microsoft’s #UpgradeYourWorld.

#UpgradeYourWorld is a new year-long initiative to celebrate those who inspire and empower others, led by Microsoft’s vision to help people achieve more through technology and in celebration of the Windows 10 launch.

The #UpgradeYourWorld initiative has a few different components and ways for you to get involved and share the ways in which you are taking action to #UpgradeYourWorld.

1. Social Media

Share what you are doing to make a difference in the world – locally or globally – on social media. Remember – everything makes a difference and no act is too small to share. Are you working with an organization that helps people? Do you do random acts of kindness daily? Share them and don’t forget to use the #UpgradeYourWorld hashtag and tell @WindowsCanada  so that all of our actions add up. Microsoft will bring a few of these ideas to life in the coming months.

2. Help choose #10

Microsoft is investing ten million dollars to support global non-profit organizations. They have selected 9: CARE, Code.org, Keep a Child Alive, Malala Fund, Pencils of Promise, Save the Children, Special Olympics, The Global Poverty Project, and The Nature Conservancy. They are looking to us to choose #10.  Starting July 29th, you can vote for the 10th non-profit to receive $500,000 in funding from Microsoft here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/upgradeyourworld/

3. Go Local

In addition to these global non-profits, starting in September, Microsoft will be crowdsourcing nominations for 10 non-profits in each of the following 10 countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. The 100 local winners will each receive a cash investment to support their work to upgrade the world. Stay tuned and share your pick to receive this generous help.

This is a great video from Microsoft to launch #UpgradeYourWorld. I love this: Making our neighbourhoods, communities…there has never been a better time to make a difference. #UpgradeYourWorld

 

Cool fact: Around the world, tens of thousands of Microsoft employees will participate in the Upgrade Your World initiative by taking a day off to volunteer to upgrade their community, many of them on July 29, in celebration of the Windows 10 launch.

I’m a big user of Windows for school and for my blog, presentations and speeches and I’m excited about the new Windows 10. There are a lot of cool new features and the upgrades are based on feedback and input that they have collected from more than 5 million Windows Insiders. It’s a free upgrade if you’re already using Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Phone here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/windows/features

 

 

This week, the world’s largest reggae label and distrubutor VP Records holds the No. 1, 2 and 3 spot on the U.S. Billboard Reggae Album Chart. Their annual compilation Reggae Gold debuts at the top spot with Jah Cure’s new album The Cure landing the second position (from No. 1 last week) and Soca Gold 2015 coming in closely at No. 3 on the chart.

“We’re pleased with the opening week results for Reggae Gold this year” says Randy Chin, President of VP Records. The compilation which first appeared in 1993 has long been a staple release for VP Records and reggae fans internationally.

REGGAE GOLD 2015

For over 20 years, the world’s #1 Caribbean music compilation Reggae Gold brings the genre’s top hits into one must-have collection for the masses. 2015’s installment is filled with the season’s freshest sounds in roots, dancehall, lover’s rock and pop-fused reggae from a diverse group of talent. From the Canadian pop supergroup Magic’s #1 Billboard single “Rude” to comedian/actor/singer Eddie Murphy’s return to reggae on his latest single “Oh Jah Jah,” – there is no shortage of crossover appeal on Reggae Gold 2015. This year’s installation features a multitude female artists reigning in reggae today – from emerging stars like Jah 9, Toian and Ikaya to Jamaica’s leading ladies like Spice, Etana and Queen Ifrica. The set also delves into new music from the island’s top male artists like Jah Cure, Beres Hammond, Inner Circle & Chronixx, Christopher Martin, Gully Bop, Busy Signal, Romain Virgo, Gyptian and more.  Purchase Reggae Gold 2015 on iTunes now: smarturl.it/RG2015.

JAH CURE – THE CURE

Jah Cure – described by NPR as “a voice that sounds as if he’s wringing out passion from every note” and by Los Angeles Times as “a brilliant crooner of Bob Marley-esque love-and-peace reggae” – effortlessly blends street poetry and sufferer’s tales with beautiful love ballads on his new album The Cure. The 13-track set is a return to roots reggae and lover’s rock with R&B and pop-fused elements. The Jamaican born singer co-produced the entire album with the help of reggae producers like Christopher “Sketch” Carey, Clive Hunt, Llamar “Riff Raff” Brown, Justin “Jus Bus” Nation and Trevor “Baby G” James. The Cure features recent hits like his #1 reggae chart-topping John Legend cover “All of Me” (which received over 5 million YouTube views), “Rasta,” “That Girl” and “Life We Live” as well as brand new singles including “Show Love,” “No Friend of Mine,” “Made In California,” “I Surrender” and more. Jah Cure’s multi-faceted story of struggle and love is intertwined into The Cure. “My struggles made me who I am today. That’s why I sing with feelings, it comes from my heart cause I feel the pain. Who feels it knows it,”  he states. Purchase The Cure on iTunes now: http://smarturl.it/JCTheCure.

SOCA GOLD 2015

For over two decades, Soca Gold has been has been the ultimate Carnival soundtrack from the Caribbean islands and beyond.  This year’s edition of annual top-selling compilation delivers the genre’s top anthems. Soca Gold 2015 features the Grammy winning singer-songwriter Angela Hunte & soca champion Machel Montano on the EDM-influenced collab “Party Done,” the “Viking of Soca” Bunji Garlin on his uplifting anthem “Our Time,” Trinidadian superstar Fay Ann Lyons on her latest crowd pleaser “Raze” and Lead Pipe & Saddis on the smash hit “Ah Feeling” (which brought them to the finals of the International Groovy Soca Monarch Competition in Trinidad this year).  The 18-track set is accompanied with a DVD featuring music videos and exclusive performance and party footage that captures the vivacious energy from 2015 T&T Carnival. Purchase Soca Gold 2015 on iTunes now: smarturl.it/SG2015.

The Stones’ Zip Code Tour of stadiums was just getting underway during the period covered by the Billboard Boxscore midyear recap (Nov. 12, 2014 to June 2, 2015). But the half-dozen shows reported to Boxscore make the Stones the fifth-highest-grossing act for the period, averaging $6.3 million per night.

Via Billboard

ielsen, the music industry’s leading data information provider, announced the 2015 Canada Music mid-year report for the six-month period of Dec. 29, 2014 through June 28, 2015.

Streaming volume continues to grow, with over 10.5 billion songs streamed on-demand through audio and video platforms in the first six months of 2015. Digital album sales are also showing a significant increase over last year, up nearly 10%, while digital track sales are down 10% over mid-year 2014. Combining digital albums and track equivalent albums, we see overall digital sales up 3.2%. CD sales are down nearly 9%, but vinyl LP sales remain strong, up 40%.

“The biggest story of the year continues to be the growth of streaming,” said David Bakula, SVP Industry Insights, Nielsen. “With over 10.5 billion on-demand streams in the first six months of the year, streaming is becoming the primary choice of consumption for many music fans.”

BILLBOARD’S TOP CHARTS FOR MID-YEAR 2015
COMPILED BY NIELSEN MUSIC
2015 Top Albums + TEA
Artist Album Sales

1 TAYLOR SWIFT 1989 172,000
2 ED SHEERAN X 170,000
3 SOUNDTRACK FIFTY SHADES OF GREY 134,000
4 SAM SMITH IN THE LONELY HOUR 132,000
5 YOAN * YOAN 101,000
6 HOZIER HOZIER 101,000
7 DRAKE * IF YOU’RE READING THIS… 101,000
8 MAROON 5 V 92,000
9 MEGHAN TRAINOR TITLE 86,000
10 MUMFORD & SONS WILDER MIND 84,000

2015 Top Albums
Artist Album Sales

1 ED SHEERAN X 117,000
2 TAYLOR SWIFT 1989 111,000
3 SAM SMITH IN THE LONELY HOUR 105,000
4 YOAN * YOAN 100,000
5 SOUNDTRACK FIFTY SHADES OF GREY 89,000
6 DRAKE * IF YOU’RE READING THIS, 89,000
7 JEAN LELOUP * PARADIS CITY 76,000
8 MUMFORD & SONS WILDER MIND 74,000
9 HOZIER HOZIER 68,000
10 IMAGINE DRAGONS SMOKE + MIRRORS 66,000

2015 Top Digital Albums
Artist Album Sales

1 DRAKE * IF YOU’RE READING THIS… 77,000
2 ED SHEERAN X 63,000
3 TAYLOR SWIFT 1989 56,000
4 SOUNDTRACK FIFTY SHADES OF GREY 52,000
5 SAM SMITH IN THE LONELY HOUR 47,000
6 MUMFORD & SONS WILDER MIND 46,000
7 HOZIER HOZIER 40,000
8 KENDRICK LAMAR TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY 36,000
9 IMAGINE DRAGONS SMOKE + MIRRORS 33,000
10 SOUNDTRACK GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 33,000

*Indicates Canadian artist

2015 Top On-Demand Streams
Artist Album Streams

1 MARK RONSON FEAT. BRUNO MARS UPTOWN FUNK! 38,000,000
2 ED SHEERAN THINKING OUT LOUT 25,000,000
3 WIZ KHALIFA FEAT. CHARLIE PUTH SEE YOU AGAIN 23,000,000
4 MAROON 5 SUGAR 20,000,000
5 TAYLOR SWIFT BLANK SPACE 18,000,000
6 TAYLOR SWIFT SHAKE IT OFF 18,000,000
7 HOZIER TAKE ME TO CHURCH 18,000,000
8 ELLIE GOULDING LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO 17,000,000
9 SIA ELASTIC HEART 13,000,000
10 OMI CHEERLEADER 13,000,000

2015 Top On-Demand Streams
Artist Album Streams

1 MARK RONSON FEAT. BRUNO MARS UPTOWN FUNK! 38,000,000
2 ED SHEERAN THINKING OUT LOUT 25,000,000
3 WIZ KHALIFA FEAT. CHARLIE PUTH SEE YOU AGAIN 23,000,000
4 MAROON 5 SUGAR 20,000,000
5 TAYLOR SWIFT BLANK SPACE 18,000,000
6 TAYLOR SWIFT SHAKE IT OFF 18,000,000
7 HOZIER TAKE ME TO CHURCH 18,000,000
8 ELLIE GOULDING LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO 17,000,000
9 SIA ELASTIC HEART 13,000,000
10 OMI CHEERLEADER 13,000,000

2015 Top Audio On-Demand
Streams
Artist Album Streams

1 MARK RONSON FEAT. BRUNO MARS UPTOWN FUNK! 4,800,000
2 ED SHEERAN THINKING OUT LOUD 4,100,000
3 HOZIER TAKE ME TO CHURCH 4,000,000
4 WIZ KHALIFA FEAT. CHARLIE PUTH SEE YOU AGAIN 3,900,000
5 ELLIE GOULDING LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO 3,800,000
6 MAROON 5 SUGAR 3,700,000
7 FLO RIDA FEAT. SAGE THE GEMINI G.D.F.R. 3,500,000
8 OMI CHEERLEADER 3,500,000
9 MAJOR LAZER FEAT. DJ SNAKE LEAN ON 3,400,000
10 WEEKND * EARNED IT 3,100,000
*Indicates Canadian artist

2015 Top Video On-Demand
Streams
Artist Album Streams

1 MARK RONSON FEAT. BRUNO MARS UPTOWN FUNK! 33,600,000
2 ED SHEERAN THINKING OUT LOUD 20,800,000
3 WIZ KHALIFA FEAT. CHARLIE PUTH SEE YOU AGAIN 19,100,000
4 TAYLOR SWIFT BLANK SPACE 18,000,000
5 TAYLOR SWIFT SHAKE IT OFF 17,800,000
6 MAROON 5 SUGAR 16,100,000
7 HOZIER TAKE ME TO CHURCH 13,700,000
8 ELLIE GOULDING LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO 13,000,000
9 PSY GANGNAM STYLE 12,000,000
10 MEGHAN TRAINOR ALL ABOUT THAT BASS 11,500,000

2015 Top Digital Songs
Artist Album Sales

1 MARK RONSON FEAT. BRUNO MARS UPTOWN FUNK! 526,000
2 ED SHEERAN THINKING OUT LOUD 346,000
3 WIZ KHALIFA FEAT. CHARLIE PUTH SEE YOU AGAIN 315,000
4 MAROON 5 SUGAR 289,000
5 RIHANNA/KANYE WEST/PAUL MCCARTNEY FOURFIVESECONDS 289,000
6 HOZIER TAKE ME TO CHURCH 279,000
7 ELLIE GOULDING LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO 245,000
8 OMI CHEERLEADER 242,000
9 ANDY GRAMMER HONEY, I’M GOOD 204,000
10 WALK THE MOON SHUT UP AND DANCE 200,000

2015 Radio Songs
Artist Album Plays

1 MARK RONSON FEAT. BRUNO MARS UPTOWN FUNK! 69,000
2 ED SHEERAN THINKING OUT LOUD 65,000
3 MAROON 5 SUGAR 65,000
4 TAYLOR SWIFT STYLE 61,000
5 ELLIE GOULDING LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO 56,000
6 HOZIER TAKE ME TO CHURCH 54,000
7 SHAWN MENDES * SOMETHING BIG 51,000
8 TAYLOR SWIFT BLANK SPACE 48,000
9 WALK THE MOON SHUT UP AND DANCE 46,000
10 WEEKND * EARNED IT 43,000
Based on plays at all Canadian Formats

Among lead acts, here’s an updated list of those that have kept it the shortest and sweetest at No. 1 on the Hot 100 for all-time, counting total characters in an artist’s name (including punctuation, so, sorry, acts like T.I., B.o.B and a-ha). OMI joins eight other acts in trailing only M and U2 for the quirky honor:

Artist, Title, Year Reached No. 1
M, “Pop Muzik,” 1979 (one character)

U2, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “With or Without You,” 1987 (two characters)

OMI, “Cheerleader,” 2015 (three characters)
D4L, “Laffy Taffy,” 2006
Mya, “Lady Marmalade,” 2001 (with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim & P!nk)
Joe, “Stutter,” 2001 (featuring Mystikal)
TLC, “Unpretty,” “No Scrubs,” 1999; “Waterfalls,” “Creep,” 1995
SWV, “Weak,” 1993
EMF, “Unbelievable,” 1991

Via Billboard

OMI’s “Cheerleader” crowns the Billboard Hot 100, rising 2-1. The buoyant reggae/pop song replaces Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again,” featuring Charlie Puth, after 12 weeks, leaving the latter song tied for the longest run at No. 1 ever for a rap single.

“Cheerleader” joins the elite club of reggae hits that have crossed over to the Hot 100’s top spot. Notable others:

Johnny Nash, “I Can See Clearly Now” (No. 1, four weeks, 1972)
Eric Clapton, “I Shot the Sheriff” (one week, 1974) (written by Bob Marley)
Two by UB40: “Red Red Wine” (one week, 1988) and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (seven weeks, 1993)
Ini Kamoze,” Here Comes the Hotstepper,” (two weeks, 1994)
Two by Shaggy: “It Wasn’t Me” (two weeks) and “Angel” (one week), both in 2001
Sean Paul, “Get Busy” (three weeks, 2003)
Sean Kingston, “Beautiful Girls” (four weeks, 2007)
And, MAGIC!, “Rude” (six weeks, 2014) … making it back-to-back summers that a reggae hit has splashed its way to the top of the Hot 100

Via Billboard

While the biggest seller in vinyl in the US is Taylor Swift’s 1989, Noel Gallagher is dominating 2015 overseas. One of my fave albums, Chasing Yesterday is topping both the vinyl sales chart and vinyl singles of 2015 so far. The highest-placed album by a woman, or an act including women, is Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, at No 18.

The top 10 vinyl albums of 2015 so far
1 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday
2 Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti
3 The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
4 Blur – The Magic Whip
5 Royal Blood – Royal Blood
6 Arctic Monkeys – AM
7 Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
8 Led Zeppelin – IV
9 Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
10 Public Service Broadcasting – The Race for Space

The top 10 vinyl singles of 2015 so far
1 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Riverman
2 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Ballad of the Mighty I
3 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – the Dying of the Light
4 Blur – Y’All Doomed
5 David Bowie – Changes
6 David Bowie – Young Americans
7 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – In the Heat of the Moment
8 Paul Weller – Saturn’s Pattern
9 Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk
10 David Bowie/Tom Verlaine – Side by Side/Kingdom Come

Continued growth in streaming and a softening decline in CD and download sales helped lift UK music sales in the first six months of 2015, according to new figures released by British labels trade body BPI.

Using the Album Equivalent Sales (AES) metric, which measures physical, digital album and single sales alongside audio streams, overall consumption of recorded music rose by 4 percent year to date, compared to the same period in 2014, to total 54.8 million units.

Mainstream adoption of streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer has undoubtedly fuelled some of the reported growth, with the first 26 weeks of 2015 seeing 11.5 billion tracks streamed in the U.K. Compare that to the total number of tracks streamed in all of 2014: 14.8 billion. That was, in turn, double 2013’s yearly figure.

Via Billboard

Canadian consumers love music, and they’re spending more time with it in more ways. This is particularly the case with Canadian teens. According to Nielsen’s Music 360 Canada report, consumers in Canada report listening to 20% more music than they did in 2013. For teens, the lift is even higher at 40%. What’s driving the surge? Music consumption on tablets and smartphones, which is at an all-time high, and growth in streaming.

While 90% of Canadians report listening to 24 hours of music a week, 95% of Canadian teens listen to an average of 31 hours. Most Canadians listen to music in the background while doing other activities, especially teens, who spend one-third of their music time doing other things, like playing video games, reading and surfing the Internet.

As they are everywhere, technological shifts are affecting music consumption in Canada. For example, streaming volume is up 94% since Nielsen began tracking streaming activity in July 2014. The number of Canadians who report streaming music in the past year has grown to 71%, with teens spending twice as much time streaming music as the general Canadian population. However, Francophone Canadians generally stream less than the overall population.

Both teens and Millennials value the social aspects of streaming services, and teens are especially inclined to discover music through friends or relatives. Free video streaming is the key driver to how teens discover new music, although on the whole, radio remains the top format for discovery, as two-thirds of Canadians use radio to discover new music.

Among music listeners, at least half of all smartphone and computer owners use a digital music service on their device. Seventy-four percent of Canadian teens own a smartphone, and they’re more likely to use these devices to listen to music than other generational groups. And what are they listening to? While most music listeners in Canada select rock or pop, Canadian teens are listening to dance, hip hop and rap.

The Nielsen Music 360 Canada Study is a comprehensive in-depth study of consumer interaction with music in Canada. Data for the study was collected April 12-27, 2015 among 3,500 consumers ages 13+. Surveys were conducted online using a third party panel and data was weighted to the Canadian census population based on age, gender, race, education and household size.

The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada announced complete financial results for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014. The announcement of final official results followed the organization’s preview of financial figures on February 10, 2015, and coincided with SOCAN’s annual general meeting, held this year in Toronto.

Highlights:
* A record year for total revenue – $299.5-million brought in for members, an increase of approximately 8.4 per cent over 2013.
* Record international revenue of $55.5-million, an increase of 8.3 per cent over 2013.
* Internet streaming revenues of $21.3-million – up from $3.4-million in 2013.
* A record-low Corporate Net Expense Ratio of 9.5 percent – a 2.5-point improvement over 2014, making SOCAN one of the most cost-effective major music rights organizations in the world.
* $241-million distributed to members.

SOCAN continues to improve efficiencies and services, benefitting from technology advances, a more streamlined organization, and strategic departmental adjustments.

“SOCAN is one of the Canadian music ecosystem’s greatest success stories,” said CEO Eric Baptiste. “We’re fighting for our members’ rights every minute of every day, and uncovering more places where their music is performed in public in Canada and worldwide, ensuring that every penny a music creator and music publisher has fairly earned ends up in his or her pocket. Our 2014 results are testament to our success working for our songwriter, composer and music publisher members.”

SOCAN also reported that on June 15, 2015, the total number of the organization’s members surpassed 130,000 – an increase of more than 5,000 since this time last year.

For full financial statements and a complete overview of 2014, please visit www.socanannualreport.ca.