Friday, October 12, 2007


In this issue:

* Humphrey & Bruce: The Love Affair Continues.
* Jane Siberry, Please Call Radiohead
* A Look Back At Canadian Albums.
* Produced by k.d. lang.
* Aussie Festivals Ban Teens.


HMV Canada president Humphrey Kadaner is tickled that Bruce Springsteen’s new album “Magic” entered the Neilsen SoundScan Canadian album chart this week at #1.

“This is Springsteen’s first studio recording with the E Street Band in five years and it was well worth the wait,” says Kadaner who has seen The Boss perform throughout North America nearly 100 times.

In an effort to nail down Springsteen’s #1 slot, HMV Canada, with 117 stores nationally, had offered purchasers of the album a full refund if they didn’t fall in love with the album. As well, buyers were offered a free video and ringtone download of its lead-off single, "Radio Nowhere" plus a limited-edition lyric booklet.

HMV Canada also ran a national print campaign with ads in 15 daily newspapers. Managers of two HMV stores with the highest ratio of “”Magic” sales to overall sales in the chain will join Kadaner at the Boss' Oct. 15 show at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

With “Magic,” Springsteen scores his eighth # 1 album on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart selling 335,000 units in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s his best sales start in America since "The Rising" which also reached # 1 there.

Springsteen's other American #1s include: "The River," "Born in the U.S.A.," "Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 1975-1985," "Tunnel of Love," "Greatest Hits" and "Devils & Dust."

This is Springsteen’s second #1 album on SoundScan in Canada. His first was “The Rising” in 2002 which sold 525,000 units in the U.S and 24,727 units in Canada, representing 4.7% of U.S. sales. For "Magic" the Canadian share of U.S. sales represents a robust 7.4%.

“The program was extremely successful in driving sales of ‘Magic,’” claims Kadaner. “To my knowledge we have not taken any returns nor have I been called upon to send out any letters of apology. Not only was ‘Magic’ one of our top selling CD's first week out, but it is my belief that our efforts did contribute to it getting to #1 on the SoundScan charts in Canada. We sold nearly four of every ten units (physical and/or digital) sold in Canada.”

The last time Springsteen had a new studio album was “Devil's and Dust” in 2005. It went to #1 the first week of release in many territories including the United States but in Canada it was beaten out by Il Divo. You might recall that Starbucks declined to sell “Devil's and Dust” in North America due to its political lyrics as well as Springsteen’s turndown of a Starbucks promotional campaign for the album.

With “Magic” hitting the top spot, Kadaner is donating $1,000 to the Daily Bread Food Bank. The donation is being made in memory of Terry Magovern, a friend and working companion of Springsteen who recently died and to whom a song on the album (“Terry’s Song”) is dedicated.

HMV Canada risked that some consumers would buy the Springsteen CD, burn off a copy at home, and then return it saying they were disappointed. That, says Kadaner, didn’t happen. "While there was a possibility that some consumers may have chosen to do that,” he says, “I had faith in my fellow Springsteen fans, and assumed if they liked the CD they would not copy it and return it suggesting they didn’t like it. To paraphrase Bruce, I was showing a little faith that there is 'magic' in the night.”


Last week EMI's new owner and top executive, Terra Firma's Guy Hands, told staff in a memo that record labels have to get more creative with digital opportunities and rely less on CD sales if they are to survive.

Labeling Radiohead’s industry model-busting pay-what-you want digital launch for its new album “In Rainbows” as a "wake-up call" to the music industry, Hands suggested that labels must now act more like venture capitalists. Rather than paying artists huge upfront advances recoupable against future sales, labels should provide funding for recording and touring in return for a share of profits. (Er, wasn’t that EMI’s strategy with Robbie Williams?)

"Rather than embracing digitalization and the opportunities it brings for promotion of product and distribution through multiple channels, the (music) industry has stuck its head in the sand,” he wrote, echoing criticisms made against major labels for over a decade.

Instead of listing a price for the 10-track “In Rainbows,” Radiohead—like Canadian singer/ songwriter Jane Siberry a few years back-- had announced on its website that it was up to fans to pay whatever they wanted for it. Its release, however, may not have set a precedent for challenging the cost of musical product. It may not even be a strong follow-up to the band’s 2003 Parlophone album "Hail to the Thief." But its launch has garnered enormous publicity.

So far, Radiohead hasn’t revealed how many people signed up for its album nor what they have been paying under the band's "honesty box" pricing policy - although sources indicate that customers seem to be choosing to pay $10 for the download edition.

It is not just Radiohead that are intent in moving forward in finding alternative ways to distribute and market music. Prince made headlines recently for being the first artist to agree a give-a-way deal with the Mail on Sunday newspaper which gave copies of his album, “Planet Earth” away with the publication. The agreement proved to be very lucrative for both parties, with the paper selling 2.8 million copies - its second-highest sale in 10 years. However, at the time, HMV's chief executive, Simon Fox, said the deal was "devaluing music.”

Paul Quirk of the Entertainment Retailers Association in Britain added, "It is an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career. It is yet another example of the damaging … culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music."

Meanwhile, the Charlatans have announced a deal with UK radio station Xfm that will allow fans to download their forthcoming new album via the station's website for free. As well, such leading artists as Nine Inch Nails, Jamiroquai and Oasis plan to bypass major labels for such direct Internet distribution.

"I've waited a long time to be able to make the following announcement: As of right now Nine Inch Nails is a totally free agent, free of any recording contract with any label," Trent Reznor recently posted on NIN's website."I have been under recording contracts for 18 years and have watched the business radically mutate from one thing to something inherently very different and it gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a direct relationship with the audience as I see fit and appropriate. Look for some announcements in the near future regarding 2008. Exciting times, indeed."

However, Interscope holds the rights to release a NIN “greatest hits” collection and a remix album "Y34RZ3R0R3MIX3D" is still on the books for release this year.

What is being overlooked by many over Radiohead’s launch is that this is not a business model that can workable across the music industry nor even one that can work repeatedly for an act.

It’s a one-trick pony. It is possible, in fact, only if the act controls both its master and its publishing. Publishers and songwriters not directly affiliated aren’t going to go play along if they have songs represented. Plus it works best primarily with an established act—ironically one that have been exploited by the major label system so scorned—and where there’s a storm of media surrounding the release.

Jane Siberry, oops, Issa, please call home.


The list of great or even good books on Canadian music is woefully short.Each of us have our favourites. Mine are books by Canadian musicians Greg Godovitz, Dave Bidini and anything by Winnipeg historian John Einarson.There are some real stinkaroos in our Canuck library. However, I recommend Bob Mersereau’s "The Top 100 Canadian Albums" (Goose Lane Editions) coming out next week.

After getting an advance copy of this eye-popping $35 coffee table book this week, I haven't been able to put it down. I also won’t reveal any of the listings because it will take the fun away.

When I initially heard of the subject I was skeptical. Lists of favourite albums or best songs of all time are usually subjective and so inside. Everybody has their own favourites to champion often without consideration musical or historical merit.

Culled from lists from 600 industry people, Mersereau’s book will not satisfy everybody. There will be people grumbling about this or that album being left out. For example, I feel, that Canada’s West is far less represented than it should be as well as urban music is largely ignored. Still, what makes this book special is its scope as well as Mersereau's research and his interviews with many of the artists discussing their albums. Plus its superb graphics. As well, there's the novelty of seeing Canadian albums showcased in a world-class context.


With five nominations each, country singer/songwriters Donny Parenteau and Shane Yellowbird lead the list of nominees for the Ninth Annual Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards being held Nov. 30 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.Parenteau’s “What It Takes” CD picked up nominations for top country album and top album. As well, he is nominated in producer and songwriter categories. His song “Father Time” is nominated for top single. Yellowbird’s album “Life is Calling My Name” received nods for top country album and top album. As well, his single “Pick Up Truck” is nominated in single and video categories. As well, he is nominated for top male singer. A full list of nominees is available at:


++Greg Pappas has been named GM at Koch Entertainment Canada. He had been dir. customer marketing at Sony/BMG Music Canada.

++ Nick Meinema has jumped to The Agency Group in Toronto from LiveTourArtists. He retains a strong client list including David Clayton-Thomas, Aaron Lines, Shane Yellowbird, the Wilkinsons, Brad Johner, Bryan White, George Fox, Jason Blaine and John Berry.

++ Montreal-based singer/songwriter François Lamoureux has signed a publishing agreement with Cherry Lane Music Publishing.

++ Bell Mobility has introduced a subscription music service that lets users access music for a flat fee of $15 a month. The subscription service exists alongside the carrier's a la carte pay-per-download service. Customers can upgrade any track from subscription to full-ownership at any time.

++ k.d. lang's first album of new material since "Invincible Summer" in 200l, will be released in North America by Nonesuch Records on Feb. 5, 2008 . "Watershed” will be her first self-produced album ever.

++ Loverboy’s new album “Just Getting Started” will be released in Canada Oct. 23 by RockStar Music Corp., distributed by Koch. The original lineup of Mike Reno (singer), Paul Dean (lead guitar), Matt Frenette (drums), and Doug Johnson (keyboards) has been touring for the two decades performing its ‘80s classics “Turn Me Loose,” “The Kid Is Hot Tonite,” “Working For the Weekend,” and “Hot Girls in Love.” For the past six years, ex-Streetheart bassist Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve has filled in for Scott Smith who was tragically lost at sea in 2000.

++Nine Canadians will be inducted into The Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Nov. 6 at this year’s annual convention in Ottawa. The Hall of Fame recognizes Canadians in private broadcasting or related industries who have achieved outstanding success in helping raise industry standards.

The inductees are:

* Raynald Brière, RNC MEDIA Inc. (Montreal)
* Bruce Hogle, retired (Edmonton)
* Harvey Glatt, retired (Ottawa)
* Fred Latremouille, Rogers Broadcasting (Vancouver)
* Donald Lawrie, Retired, Brechin (Ontario)
* Robert (Bob) Lockhart, Retired (Fredericton)
* Rai Purdy, posthumously
* Paul Reid, posthumously
* Phyllis Yaffe, Alliance Atlantis (Toronto)

++ Organizers of Mackay Folk Festival Springfest, and the Wintermoon Festival in Australia have banned under 25s from attending. Underage drinking has been an on-going problem. First, organizers implored parents not to dump their kids at the festival gates, and also asked teens to camp with their parents (Please, stop laughing!!).

However, drunken teens at the Mackay Festival blasted music at full volume from the back of campers until local police were called. Now all under-25s are banned unless they get permission from organizers.

++ Songwriters seeking covers should subscribe to SongLink International, published by U.K. music veteran David Stark since 1993. It offers song plugging leads in all genres throughout the UK/Europe, USA/Canada, and Australia. Leads are e-mailed monthly with interim updates. Songlink also publishes a bi-monthly magazine as well as a SongLink CD twice a year.

Contact David Stark at: or visit:

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 the co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record; and the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard for 16 years.

To be added to his email list, write:

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