The LeBlanc Report: Canadian Music News, North Of The Border
Posted: February 7, 2008
Canadian nominees include: Loreena McKennitt (World Music Recording); John Wort Hannam (Traditional Artist); Twilight Hotel (Emerging Artist); Mike Regenstreif (Broadcaster); Edmonton Folk Festival and Ottawa Folk Festival (Folk Festival); and Toronto’s Hugh's Room (Small Folk Venue).
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
POTENTIAL MOVERS AND SHAKERS
Answer: Israel. Where the Beatles nor its members have ever performed.
Over 44 years after being barred from Israel, Beatle members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were recently asked by the country to participate in a concert celebrating its 60th birthday.
However, Israel has yet to apologize for its refusal to let the Beatles perform in the country in 1964.
In 1964, Israeli promoter Yacov Ori, knowing that the Beatles had a Jewish manager, discovered Brian Epstein had relatives in Israel. He persuaded Epstein to bring the Beatles to Israel. But Israel, being short of foreign currency, had a restrictions on any currency leaving the country. A governmental committee ruled that the band didn't stand on a high enough cultural or artistic level to let them perform. It was also feared that the British band was a bad influence on Israeli youth.
Since then, no Beatle member has ever performed in Israel. In 1979, Sir Paul McCartney’s band Wings accepted an invitation for several concerts but the dates were canceled due to scheduling problems.
"Israel missed a chance to learn from the most influential musicians of the decade, and the Beatles missed an opportunity to reach out to one of the most passionate audiences in the world," Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor said in a letter addressed to McCartney. "On our 60th anniversary, we would like to take the opportunity to offer you a second chance to play in Israel."
Meanwhile, Starr will be returning to Canada in June to rehearse for his latest All-Starr tour in support of his recently released album, “Liverpool 8.”
In further Beatle-related news Josh Ruskin’s Bravo! FACT-funded short film “I Met the Walrus” is nominated in the Best Animated Short Film category of the 80th Annual Academy Awards.
CTV HIJACKS THE JUNOS FOR ANOTHER YEAR
Let’s cut to the chase.
The Juno’s real power broker is CTV. Not the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS).
That CTV makes many of the decisions with the annual Junos is again evidenced this year.
Firstly, on Jan. 29 just after 7 P.M EST—about 10 minutes after CTV’s “Eh Talk” began airing with the news (and too late for the days news cycle for most media), CTV and the CARAS announced via email to national media that Feist, Finger Eleven and Michael Buble are slated to perform on the 2008 Juno Awards being held April 6 from Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome.
It has since been announced that Avril Lavigne, Measha Brueggergosman and Anne Murray will also perform. Murray, in particular, insures a strong viewing audience for the Juno broadcast.
Secondly, the Juno nominees were announced at a press conference held in Toronto on February 5th, at the media witching hour of 8:30 A.M. EST
Why the early announcement time which is unprecedented for a Juno media gathering?
Well, a portion of the Juno nominee media conference was broadcast live on “Canada AM” on CTV and CTV Newsnet, on the CTV Broadband Network at CTV.ca and for a 30-minute special on “Star!” starting at 8:30 EST.
Couldn’t everyone in Toronto’s music and media communities, you ask, stay home, sip a morning coffee, and watch the press conference live on CTV’s program platforms?
Certainly, few artists, booking agents, or managers were on hand for the 8:30 A.M. roll-out but there was an impressive turnout of media, a handful still muttering about being scooped by CTV’s morning programs.
Few major label personnel turned up….other than label publicists. Most label executives have been skipping the Juno nominee press conference in recent years. It isn’t exactly a hot ticket being that its entertainment value is on par with karaoke night in Wawa, Ontario.
Thirdly, the juxtaposition of credits on the Juno press releases is revealing.
CTV gets top bill in all of the releases….with credits in the body of releases’ text and with all quotes.
To its credit, CTV has greatly refreshed the Juno franchise since taking it over in 2000. It had suffered almost a decade of neglect with public broadcaster CBC-TV which rarely seemed to boost the show.
However, there is growing concern with many that CTV uses the Junos to overly benefit its entertainment properties.
CARAS should be more vigilant of the media optics surrounding the Junos. It is not only a CTV program; it is the Canadian music industry’s major event of the year. CARAS is the guardian of the awards; CTV is the hired help.
How many people can name CBS as the broadcaster of “The Grammy Awards Television Show?” That’s because The Grammy Awards are well-branded; its broadcast partner secondary.
CTV seems to have also been behind a string of nutty Juno calls in recent years.
These include having “Corner Gas” star Brent Butt as well as Canadian pin-up Pamela Anderson host the show (Anderson’s grotesque performance was an all- time Juno low); as well as last year’s beach-ball-styled screw-up of Juno air time to fit CTV program scheduling which was later reversed.
Of course, CTV’s “Canadian Idol” tie-ins with the Junos have long been criticized by Canada’s media though such criticism may be more of a knee-jerk reaction.
Comedian Russell Peters will host this year’s Juno televised broadcast. The Brampton, Ontario native—surely a trivial question for most Canadians—appeared in a “CTV Comedy Now!” special in 2003 that gained him international popularity after being posted on the internet
With Celine Dion, receiving 6 nominations, and Feist, Avril Lavigne and Michael Bublé each receiving 5 nominations, Juno surprises aren’t likely to come in the major categories.
Scattered through the Juno’s nominees list are dozens of emerging artists including jazz singer Emile-Claire Barlow; country singers Shane Yellowbird and Donny Parenteau; and Saskatchewan blues songbird, Little Miss Higgins.
There’s also a healthy number of Quebec-based French-speaking artists nominated this year, including Dion, Claude Dubois, Pascale Picard, and Corneille.
Also look to the top new artist category with the nominees being Belly, Jeremy Fisher, Justin Nozuka, Serena Ryder, and Suzie McNeil; to the top new group category in which Dragonette, Faber Drive, illScarlett, State of Shock, and Wintersleep will compete; and the top alternative album category with releases by Arcade Fire, Holy Fuck, Patrick Watson, Tegan and Sara, and Wintersleep being nominated.
In the “It-Helps-To-Be-From-Toronto” category: Former arena rockers Triumph— Rick Emmett, Mike Levine and Gil Moore will be indicted this year into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
While Toronto-based Triumph, which is reforming for gigs this summer, certainly deserves the Hall of Fame nod, why have such veteran acts as Trooper, Prism, and Chilliwack from Vancouver; April Wine (Montreal), Five Man Electrical Band (Ottawa) arguably all more popular in their heydays, been overlooked by CARAS over the years?
Bachman-Turner Overdrive has yet to be inducted as well, but the reason is wrangles between members of the band’s best-known line-up. The band was offered the honour a few years back but things got messy behind the scene and the offer was withdrawn.
CBC-TV ELBOWS THE EAST COAST MUSIC AWARDS
While CBC Radio will be nationally toasting the 2008 East Coast Music Awards, Festival & Conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick this week (Feb. 7-10) with an array of live broadcasts (including on national programs “Q,” “Shift,” and “Canada Live”) the event is little more than a backdrop at CBC Television for a special hosted by Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies to air on March 2.
After CBC Television decided to drop live coverage of the awards show itself this year, executives came up with idea of a one-hour wrap-up of ECMA activities “Barenaked East Coast Music” to be hosted by Toronto-based Page.
Presumably, a high-powered host from the Atlantic Canada able to meet CBC-TV’s high standards couldn’t be found to introduce viewers to musical performances at bars, clubs and main stages during the four-day event.
Bejesus, Canadians might welcome a pub crawl around Fredericton with Maritime talents Gordie Sampson, Jimmy Rankin, Alan Doyle (of Great Big Sea), and Bruce Guthro. Doyle might even have invited his actor buddy Russell Crowe along.
WHITE STRIPES EN FRANCAIS
Seven years after its release, former Radio-Canada host Dominique Payette discovered the White Stripes’ “Jumble, Jumble.” She then noticed that a 10-second clip of her interview with a girl between 6-12 was used for the track’s intro.
Now she is suing the band, demanding $70,000 in damages and the removal of the band’s second album "De Stijl" from retail shelves.
The former host of Radio-Canada’s “275-Allo/Ados-Radio” program is now a lecturer at Universite de Laval in Quebec City. She says she never gave permission to use the excerpt and that the band violated her privacy under Quebec law.
The song begins with Payette and a little girl talking in French about something the child has experienced "for the first time." Payette says the band used her interview out of context, giving the conversation a lewd overtone.
"This is a prepubescent child, and I don't like that allusion," states Payette.
CRTC TRIES TO HOLD DOWN THE FORT
After green-lighting a host of major media mergers in 2007, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is now imposing restrictions to govern how big media companies grow in the future. The new rules resulted from the federal broadcast regulator's "diversity of voices" hearings last fall, called in the wake of a slew of media mega-mergers in recent years.
The changes announced Jan. 15 are:
"With these new policies, we have developed a clear approach to guide us in assessing future transactions in the broadcasting industry," says CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein. “It is an approach that will preserve the plurality of editorial voices and the diversity of programming available to Canadians, both locally and nationally, while allowing for a strong and competitive industry."
The revamped rules, however, will have little impact on Canada's highly concentrated media industry. Since they are not retroactive, they have no impact on the major deals the federal government commission recently approved.
Lise Lareau, pres. of the Canadian Media Guild, said the commission "is preserving the current unacceptable levels of concentration and is not even adopting meaningful measures to stop it from getting worse."
ONLINE MUSIC SALES GROW
Global sales of music online rose by 40 percent in 2007, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
Overall, digital music sales now account for around 15 percent of the global music industry, according to the IFPI’s recently released annual report.
Online sales of music totaled $2.9 billion last year, according to the IFPI, compared to $2.1 billion dollars in 2006.
"A revolution is sweeping the music industry as record companies adapt to a new digital marketplace," says John Kennedy, chairman/CEO, IFPI.
The most-downloaded track in 2007 was Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend,” IFPI says, followed by Utada Hikaru's "Flavor of Life" and Rihanna's "Umbrella.”
Meanwhile, while speaking at this year's MIDEM conference in France, Jean-Bernard Levy, chairman of the management board of Vivendi, expressed his positive feelings about the state of the music industry.
He contends that the woes facing the recorded music business are overblown and, that while the transition into a digital medium has been turbulent, he still sees a viable market. He also said that the shelf-life for the CD is far from over.
“If we (have the right creative policy) and if we understand the technology well and the consumer, digital entertainment will continue to expand and will be very successful… People for many years will still buy physical products from shelves. We understand that there is a decline but I believe there will be sales of physical products still for many years.”
Paris-based Vivendi saw revenues rise 8 percent in 2007. Revenues reached $32.06 billion, up from $29.85 billion in 2006. In 2007, however, revenue from Universal Music Group dipped 1.7 percent to $7.25 billion.
According to Nielsen SoundScan, Universal Music Group retained its top label ranking in Canada in 2007 with its piece of the marketplace growing to 38.2% from 35.7% in 2006.
Journalist/broadcaster/researcher Larry LeBlanc has been a leading figure in Canadian music for four decades.
He has been a regular music commentator on CTV’s “Canada A.M” for 35 years, and has been featured on numerous CBC-TV, CTV, YTV, Bravo! MuchMusic, MusiMax, and Newsworld programs in Canada; VH-1, and EEntertainment in the U.S.; and BBC in the U.K.
Larry was a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record; and, most recently, the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard for 16 years.
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