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Music Industry

Ever hear a song and wonder what it means? What inspired its lyrics? Why the artist chose to work with certain collaborators, and what they were doing in the studio when they recorded it?

It’s this kind of curiosity that drove Spotify to team up with Genius, the world’s largest collection of song lyrics and crowdsourced musical knowledge, giving you a chance to more deeply connect with the artists and songs you love.

Today, Spotify introduced a brand new playlist, Behind the Lyrics (Hip Hop), followed by Behind the Lyrics (HITS) in the coming week. These playlists, curated by Spotify and Genius, will allow you to go Behind the Lyrics of your favorite hip hop tunes.

Tracks on these playlists will include lyrical excerpts, fun facts, annotations, and stories straight from the artists and from the Genius community, all of which are frequently updated. Simply hit ‘Play’ on this Genius-powered playlist to learn more about your favorite artists and songs.

To kick things off, three of today’s biggest artists — Pusha T, Tinashe, and Diplo — will take you Behind the Lyrics and share their personal take on some of their favorite tracks.

“I’ve partnered with Genius and Spotify to take you ‘Behind The Lyrics’ of my greatest songs because every word that I write means something to me,” says Pusha T. “Together we’ve found a way to bring my fans a deeper listening experience and raise the bar for songwriters.”

“Spotify and Genius are creating a really cool connection between me and my fans on another level than I normally can connect with them,” says Tinashe. “Not only are they able to hear the music and see the lyrics, but they are also able to understand where I was coming from when I wrote them and kind of get inside my head, which is really cool.”

“Being a producer and writer, I really love to see how some songs resonate with fans from the feeling / meaning or just sound of the records,” says Diplo. “I have always been a person that dissects music and studies it. I was a sample spotter and I learned how to make music by listening to it. Genius and Spotify are working together to break down music to the bare bones and get deeper into its true core.”

Rolling out today, the new Spotify and Genius Behind the Lyrics experience is available to all Spotify iPhone users with the exception of iPhone 4/s.

Young musicians are praising the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, which announced Friday that underage performers will now be allowed to play in bars and lounges throughout the province.

“I’ve been fighting for this since I was nine years old,” said Olivia Rose Leaf, a 17-year-old Alberta musician, adding that the change will mean a lot to the young performers she knows.

The previous policy, which prohibited underage performers from playing in bars and lounges had been in place since March 2007, when it was instituted out of a concern for public safety. But a consultation with musicians, venue owners, and promoters, led by MLA David Shepherd and Thom Bennett of the Edmonton Live Music Initiative, prompted the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (ALGC) to reconsider.

According to Bill Robinson, president of the AGLC, the change is the result of changing attitudes in the industry. He also suggested that the training of staff has improved the overall safety in bars, making the policy shift possible.

The change is not a complete reversal. Bars and lounges will be required to request approval from the AGLC to permit minors to enter their premises as entertainers, and the approval process is expected to take up to a few days.

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The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, was in Toronto Friday to announce The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall as a recipient of the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. The Government of Canada will provide $8,330,00 to assist with the revitalization of the legendary Massey Hall, which will improve its accessibility, technical infrastructure and presentation environment.

“We are thrilled that the Government of Canada is investing in Massey Hall’s future through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund,” said Deane Cameron, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Corporation of Massey Hall & Roy Thomson Hall. “This funding will help set the stage for the completion of the Massey Hall Revitalization Project to ensure that Massey Hall remains a home to showcase and cultivate our future leaders in arts, culture and beyond.”

The Canada Cultural Spaces Fund launched in 2001 and receives an average of 137 applications each year. As of March 31, 2016, the fund has invested approximately $410 million in 1,381 projects in every province and territory.

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Deezer, one of the world’s leading global music streaming services, is announcing the launch of Deezer Next, a newly created programme aimed at identifying and championing emerging talent and providing an avenue for exposure to new audiences on the Deezer platform.

Deezer Next will focus on up to 12 developing artists per country across territories and genres that have been hand-selected by Deezer. Of the 12, three of the chosen artists will be supported at a global level, with up to a further 9 artists championed in local markets, including the US, UK, Germany, France and Latin America, based on their unique talent, passion, and potential. Deezer will work directly with the artists, record labels and managers to cultivate and develop their profile through playlisting and the creation of individual content and campaigns with editorial and marketing support across all channels, including video, podcast, social and/or interactive. To further demonstrate Deezer’s commitment, music from one of the global priority artists will feature in an upcoming Deezer TV advertising campaign.

“One of the biggest challenges in the music industry is developing and breaking new artists but, as streaming is becoming the preferred choice for music fans, we now have an exciting and meaningful way of introducing and developing emerging artists on a global scale” said Sulinna Ong, Vice President, Artist Marketing, Deezer “Deezer is committed to supporting emerging artists and being an important part of the journey in developing artist careers.”

“Breaking new acts is the lifeblood of the music industry and we welcome this supportive new initiative from Deezer”, said Mark Mitchell, General Manager Atlantic Records UK.

The first three global artists confirmed to participate in the Deezer Next program are: Rag’n’Bone Man, Maggie Rogers and Anne-Marie. Rag’n’Bone Man is a British singer/songwriter who recently released the first single, “Human”, from his forthcoming debut album, Maggie Rogers is an American singer/songwriter who caught the attention of Pharrell Williams with her song “Alaska”, and Anne-Marie is an English singer/songwriter whose track “Alarm” has been attracting the ears of music fans.

“It’s so amazing and such a lovely start to the year to be considered as one of the top 3 global emerging artists by Deezer”, said Anne-Marie. This is echoed by Rag’n’Bone Man who commented, “Cheers Deezer for making me one of your Global Priorities. Pretty massive!”

Local markets will begin to announce their artists from 17th January with the UK kicking off with its list, followed by other countries throughout the rest of January.

Toronto’s Paper Bag Records is excited to announce the launch of Paper Bag Vintage, a new label that will showcase and preserve great Canadian albums that have yet to be pressed on vinyl or haven’t been reissued in recent years.

Paper Bag Vintage’s first release will be a reissue of The Dears’ acclaimed debut album End Of A Hollywood Bedtime Story for the first time on vinyl on April 21st, 2017. Pre-order here. Art Bergmann’s seminal album Remember Her Name will be issued on vinyl for the first time on May 12th, 2017. Pre-order here.

For more than fifteen-years Paper Bag Records has helped to cultivate international vinyl culture by producing limited edition vinyl for all Paper Bag Records releases. This emphasis on unique and striking physical albums will be extended to the Paper Bag Vintage imprint, giving fans the opportunity to finally own these special limited edition releases.

Other confirmed releases include a Great Lake Swimmers’ box set consisting of the band’s first three releases, Born Ruffians first self-titled EP, Tokyo Police Club, Torngat and The Acorn’s Glory Hope Mountain. More details will be announced soon.

2017 is shaping up to be “The Year of Sire” as the legendary label marks its 50th anniversary with a string of events in the upcoming months. Founded by Seymour Stein – who remains at the helm today – and Richard Gotterher, Sire was launched as a full-fledged independent label in 1967. By the mid-‘70s, the company had become a champion of the emerging punk and New Wave scene with such groundbreaking signings as the Ramones and Talking Heads. In 1976, Sire joined the Warner Music Group family, growing into one of the world’s most influential record labels and a groundbreaking cultural force, with a roster that expanded to include iconic performers such as Madonna, the Pretenders, the Smiths, Depeche Mode, the Cure, k.d. lang, the Cult, the Replacements, Ice-T, and dozens more.

The Sire 50th celebration kicks off on February 6th, when the Recording Academy hosts a special Grammy Week event with Seymour Stein at the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live. The intimate evening will feature a panel discussion with Stein and special guests Billy Duffy of the Cult, director/producer Brett Ratner, and Martin Mills, Chairman of the Beggars Group, moderated by Scott Goldman, Vice President of the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares.

A highlight of Sire’s anniversary year will be the fall publication of Stein’s long-awaited autobiography, written by Stein and noted author Gareth Murphy. Other events planned include: a talk with Stein and special guests at the 92nd Street Y in New York City (date TBD); the launch of a new Sire Records website on February 3rd, along with a Sire 50 playlist campaign across multiple streaming services; a special limited edition vinyl box set release; a number of high-profile media stories; and more to be announced. In addition, a documentary film on Seymour Stein and Sire is currently being planned by Stein’s daughter, Mandy.

At the same time that Sire is celebrating its rich history, the label is moving into its sixth decade with upcoming releases from a slate of exciting new signings, including Ethan Gruska, Alvarez Kings, Sugarmen, The Lottery Winners, Cold Fronts, and Residual Kid. In addition, Stein has recently overseen new Sire album projects for Cyndi Lauper and Paul Shaffer, released via WMG’s Rhino Entertainment. Alongside his work at Sire, Stein also works closely with ADA, the independent services arm of WMG, in seeking out new talent and fresh business opportunities around the world.

“Seymour has been a pillar of our Warner Bros. family for the past four decades,” noted Warner Bros. Records Chairman & CEO Cameron Strang. “The roster of artists he has brought to WBR over the years is nothing short of astounding, and the Sire catalog is a gem filled with revolutionary, culture-shifting music. The brilliance of Sire is a direct reflection of Seymour’s unbridled passion for artists and their songs, his encyclopedic musical knowledge, his insatiable curiosity, and his uncanny ability to recognize original, compelling talent. The range and diversity of artists he has championed is extraordinary, and he changed the landscape of our company and modern music forever. I am thrilled to congratulate him on the 50th anniversary of the great Sire label.”

“Seymour’s love of music and dedication to this business are unparalleled, and his influence on the course of contemporary music and culture cannot be overestimated,” said Warner Music Group CEO Steve Cooper. “He is a pioneering figure in the history of our industry, and has played an irreplaceable role in the evolution of WMG as a home for the most innovative and original artists in modern music. Today, Seymour continues to be a vital force in the business, through his work at both Sire and ADA – as he travels the globe in search of cutting edge label partners and the next generation of musical genius. Seymour defines what it means to be a music man and a global citizen. All of us at WMG are honored and deeply proud to call him one of our own.”

“It’s impossible to believe that it’s been a half century since Richard Gotterher and I decided to turn our little production company into a proper record label,” said Seymour Stein. “I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by so many, many great artists. I always tried to get in on the ground floor and see artists before anybody else, and I believe that great music will always prevail, sooner or later. The one constant is that it all begins with the song, and that’s the most important thing. Recorded music is 140 years old, but there’s been a music business for hundreds of years, and I love being part of that continuum as much now as I did when I started out over 60 years ago. I also want to thank my colleagues at WMG for giving Sire such a welcoming home for the past four decades, and my many great team members at Sire over the years for their invaluable contributions.”

Seymour Stein is co-founder and Chairman of Sire Records, and has been its driving visionary and creative force for the past half century. Stein’s unique ability to anticipate musical trends, and to discover and sign the greatest artists within those movements, has left an indelible mark on contemporary culture. In 2005, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he co-founded in 1983 with Ahmet Ertegun, Jann Wenner, Jerry Wexler, Bob Krasnow, and Allen Grubman. In 2012, he was the first recipient of Billboard’s Icon Award, presented at MIDEM, and in 2016, he was honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Over the years, Sire’s roster has included cutting-edge artists such as Ramones, Talking Heads, The Pretenders, Madonna, Tom Tom Club, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, Erasure, The Cult, The Undertones, Madness, The Replacements, Ice-T, k.d. lang, Seal, Everything But The Girl, Aztec Camera, Dinosaur Jr., Wilco, My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, Aphex Twin, Spacehog, Regina Spektor, Tegan & Sara, and many more.

2015 marked Stein’s 60th year in the music business. It was in 1955, when he was just 13 years old, that Stein was granted access to the Billboard archives, where he painstakingly wrote down two decades of charts, while developing his encyclopedic memory of songs. Following his high school graduation, Stein became a full-time member of the Billboard staff, mentored by Paul Ackerman and Tom Noonan. In 1961, he moved to Cincinnati, where he worked for King Records founder Syd Nathan, getting his first experience on the label side of the business. Stein returned to New York two years later to work with George Goldner, who had joined forces with legendary songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to form Red Bird Records, headquartered in the Brill Building.

In 1966, Stein co-founded Sire Productions with producer Richard Gottehrer, and Sire Records was officially launched the following year. Stein had been a devotee of the English music scene since the 1950s, and in its early days Sire released albums by British acts like Climax Blues Band, Renaissance, and Barclay James Harvest, as well as Holland’s Focus, who put Sire on the map with their hit, “Hocus Pocus.” Stein also forged an association with British producer Mike Vernon’s Blue Horizon Records, home to Peter Green’s original Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack, featuring Christine McVie.

Stein first saw the Ramones in 1975, and as he said, “It was like sticking my hand in a live electric light socket.” The band’s first album was released by Sire in 1976, and four decades later, it remains one of the seminal recordings in rock and roll history. That same year, Sire struck a distribution pact with Warner Bros. Records, and in 1980, Warner Music Group acquired Sire, with Stein becoming an official member of the company’s senior management team.

Stein put New Wave music – a term he coined – on the mainstream map with the likes of Talking Heads and the Pretenders. And in a moment that has become a permanent part of music industry lore, Stein signed a young artist named Madonna while he was in the hospital recuperating from a heart infection. At the same time, Sire released classic pop singles like M’s “Pop Muzik,” Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” and Modern English’s “I Melt With You.”

The life of Seymour Stein and the story of Sire – past and present – form an extraordinary, game-changing chapter in the history of music in the 20th and 21st centuries.

HMV Canada, the entertainment retail chain based in Etobicoke, Ontario, has today petitioned for the appointment of Richter LLP as Receivers to the business. As a result it is anticipated that all 102 stores across the country will close in the coming weeks. The main HMV business in the U.K. is not affected by today’s filing and continues to trade normally following another year of strong profitability in 2016.

Nick Williams, President & CEO, HMV Canada said “Despite a number of weeks of detailed negotiations with our key suppliers, we have been unable to obtain the assurances that we need in order to continue to operate the business. Therefore, we have had no choice but to take the difficult step of appointing Receivers. This is a hugely disappointing day for the HMV Canada business, our hard-working and dedicated employees, and all our loyal customers. This outcome will have a major detrimental effect on the future of the entertainment retail sector.”

The market for CDs & DVDs in Canada has experienced more significant declines in each of the last two years than has been seen in most other major markets. HMV Canada, however, with over 220 million in sales, had outperformed the market particularly in the sale of back catalogue titles, which were the clear strength of its retail offering. HMV Canada has also been central to the growth of Blu-Ray movies and Vinyl records in the market.

Williams concluded, “Since 2011, the business has enjoyed a mutually beneficial partnership with each of its major entertainment suppliers. In those six years, the business has defied the declines in the retail market, performing better than the rest of the entertainment sector in Canada and delivering a retail experience that is unique in the country. Such an amazing performance has only been possible thanks to the magnificent efforts of all of our employees and the continued support of the HMV Canada customers.”

And now some genuinely great news in the music industry: every aspect of Bandcamp’s business was up in 2016. Digital album sales grew 20%, tracks 23%, and merch 34%. Growth in physical sales was led by vinyl, which was up 48%, and further boosted by CDs (up 14%) and cassettes (up 58%). Every single one of these numbers represents an acceleration over last year’s growth. Hundreds of thousands of artists joined Bandcamp in 2016, more than 2,000 independent labels came on board (like Dischord, Merge, and Dualtone), and the rate of fan signups tripled. Fans have now paid artists nearly $200 million using Bandcamp, and they buy a record every three seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The record business overall did not fare as well. According to Nielsen, it grew 3% in the U.S. in 2016, while sales of digital albums fell 20%, tracks were down 25%, and physical albums dropped 14%. These declines are not at all surprising given the industry-wide push toward subscription music rental offerings, and indeed as the year came to a close, those services reached a combined 100 million paying subscribers.

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