GWNtertainment #37 by Jaimie Vernon

This week fabled Canadian folkie/rocker/hippie/activist Neil Young had a showdown with streaming service Spotify over the tech giant’s decision to fund and stream controversial American actor/counter-activist Joe Rogan’s podcasts of misinformation concerning,  among other things – vaccines. Neil threatened to remove his music from  the streaming platform if Rogan’s podcast wasn’t removed. Spotify doubled down and let Young’s music go – continuing their backing of Rogan and his content. Social media erupted. Neil Young supporters, in turn, cancelled subscriptions to the Spotify streaming service not only to get behind Young, but as a statement against a longer running controversy – Spotify’s poor track record in paying music artists for use of their songs on the streaming platform.

For the laymen who are passive users of the service, it’s important that you have some context in this issue. Spotify are a distribution machine using devalued, leveraged music as its  resource. With few exceptions musicians cannot make a direct deal with Spotify. Thereby, Spotify does not pay artists directly. There is always a middle man. To do what Spotify does means partnering in ass-to-mouth symbiotic relationships  with record labels and third party aggregates who have whored out the catalogues of hardworking, and usually, indentured artists. Any artist with existing unrecouped debt [the money that was spent producing their music] will not see a dime from their label. This is the part of the equation that  Peter Frampton failed to disclose a few years ago when he bitched about getting very little money from Spotify for the song  “Baby, I Love  Your Way.” A & M Records/Universal Music Group owns his ass even to this day. Meanwhile, indie artists who don’t have a label are paid by Spotify via third party aggregates – The Orchard, Distrokid, CD Baby, etc. They are paid quarterly after Spotify splits profits with those aggregates (as they do with the major labels). Spotify is the delivery system. The criminals here in absentia are the labels and aggregates for undervaluing catalogues and offering droplets of “trickle down” royalty sharing to those creating the music itself. This doesn’t excuse Spotify, but the labels are doing nothing to equalize payments from the millions they’re getting from Spotify. It’s not a coincidence that many major record labels own shares in Spotify. This same nonsense also exists between labels/aggregates with all the other streaming services like Deezer, Pandora, Amazon, etc. Spotify is merely the highest profile streaming platform taking the hit in the media right now. The tech industry has usurped the music business in slow, hostile takeover. The labels and aggregates laid down their weapons and surrendered to it….without fighting on behalf of the artists they represent.

You should expect that over the next three to five years Spotify, like Apple, will start dumping music altogether for customized content like podcasts. They’ll move to a model that’s the audio equivalent to Netflix. It’s a classic bait and switch – grab music to lure in the Boomers and then dump the content as that audience ages out. Music will be devalued to the point that no one will be bothered in distributing it at all. It might be time to do what Tidal has done – and create an artist co-op that overseas and pays artists on a dedicated streaming platform. Until then we recommend checking out Bandcamp where consumers can both stream and pay to download music by independent acts. The artist get paid direct from this and Bandcamp even waves its own fees the first Friday of every month to help the artists even further. Check out the story about Fee-Waive days from 2020:

Toronto’s Annual Winterfolk Blues and Roots Festival has announced it’s 20th annual roster: Sue Foley, Shari Ulrich, Lucy Kaplansky, Mean Mary, Jack de Keyzer Band, Robert Priest, Jerome Tucker Band, Suzie Vinnick, Ori Dagan, Taylor Abrahamse, Ken Whiteley and the Belua Band, Josh Ritchie, David Storey Band, Donne Roberts Band, and Julian Taylor. Winterfolk XX is set to be streamed online free February 18 – 20, 2022.

* Lowest of the Low fans will be pleased to know that there is a documentary on  its way about the band entitled “Subversives: The History Of Lowest Of the Low.” Coming Fall 2022.

* Celebrated Canadian musician Julian Taylor has been nominated for five 2022 Native American Music Awards (aka “The Nammys”). Taylor has earned recognition in the categories of Best Debut Artist, Country Recording, Folk Recording (both for his highly acclaimed 2020 album The Ridge), Male Vocalist, and Country Video (for the title track).

* Victoria’s Aidan Knight is performing in an online streaming session February 6 and all the proceeds are going to Community Fridge Victoria.

* GWN’s been given a sneak peek audio blast of the upcoming Betty Moon release ‘Undercover.’ Expect another eclectic mix of pop, rock, and dancable tracks – this time in cover tune form. The first single  is slated to be The Royal Blood song “Boilermaker.” Review coming soon

* A rare piece of 1960s 8mm film footage has been restored and released as a video featuring Ottawa fold act 3’s A Crowd. Inspired by the Beatles movie “Help”, artist Mary McNeil, Peter Edgar & King Anderson, with two 8mm movie cameras, a reel to reel tape deck with microphones, filmed & recorded musical friends including the folk trio 3’s A Crowd in Vancouver’s Stanley Park in August 1965.  This rough & ready  music video was cobbled together from film clips to go with the song entitled “That’s the Way It’s Gonna Be” written by Phil Ochs & Bob Gibson.

This is the second piece of found footage featuring 3’s A Crowd in recent years. GWN’s Jaimie Vernon alsouncovered a performance by the band at Expo 67 when they performed at the fair’s Garden of the Stars Pavillion.

* Singer-songwriter Emm Gryner is working on a new solo album of contemporary soul/jazz/pop with producer Fred Mollin and she’s looking for help in raising the capital to get it off the ground. Check out her Kickstarter campaign here:

* Steve Schijns offers us a surfer’s delight with “Trans-Pacific Beach Bum”

* “Move Me” is the new single from Lisa Froment following her debut “Bye Bye Covid.”

* Chart topping Canadian crooner Micah Barnes is getting 2022 started with the new single/video “Welcome To The Club” from his hit jazz album ‘Vegas Breeze.’

* Moist‘s long anticipated album ‘End of the Ocean’ is finally available and the new single is “Ammunition.”

* Toronto-based electro post-punkers AUS!Funkt get you up and grooving with the release of their new dark, danceable single and video, “Information YEAH!”

* Montrealer, singer, songwriter, producer Paul Cargnello has a new album entitled ‘Lies’ and a lead-off single called “Innocence.”

* The superlative voice of  Matt Anderson returns with a sneak peek single called  “Other Side of Goodbye” from  the forthcoming album “House To House.”

* Sonny Keyes (The Kings) gives us a new track with “Still In  Love.”

* JUNO Award winning Digging Roots has released their new single “Skoden.”

*  Rockwood, Ontario’s Woody Woodburn has a new tune/video called “I Am Enough.”

* Hugh Sully brings us “Precious Time.”

* Leanne Pearson brings us an ode to maternity with “Little Man.” [and all the best to momma and the new baby!]

* Alison Solo brings us a new arrangement of her song “Tear Me Down” originally found on her ‘Sakaita’ album.

[Len Mizzoni]

* Len Mizzoni brings us his fifth album in five years with ‘I Know Who I Am’. The lead-off single is “Make You Mine.”

* The Megacity Swing Band is back with a new original tune entitled “Albuquerque Vindaloo.”

* Oyama, British Columbia’s Sean Waters brings us “Money.” Warning: explicit lyrics.

* Billy Talent brings their latest “Judged.”

* Erroll Blackwood brings us a moving home streamed version of “House Of The Rising Son.”

* The Canadian Cover Crew are  at it again, this time Rik Emmett takes the lead on The Beatle’ “Eleanor Rigby.”

* Conner Boden gives us a one-man-band reading of The Good Brothers’ “The Rabbit.”

* Our perennial favourite covers master Don Norman takes us back to the earl 1960s with a version of the Roy C. Bennett & Syd Tepper slow dance classic “When The Girl In Your Arms”.

* Not only are Canadian ’90s alt-rockers Sven Gali back…they’ve got a cover of Triumph’s “Spellbound” up their sleeves.

* Apparently The Heymacs were “Born Under A Bad Sign.”

This issue was brought to you by: Songsmith – A Vague Job Description For Someone That’s Never  Written A Song.

Send us your news, views, and all manner of CANADIAN musical releases to promote and wave a flag for. Join the GWN Facebook page and drop us a message:

Keep up the fight!
Jaimie Vernon, 2022


Jaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 41 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 24 years. He is also the author of The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and editor of “Sunny Days: The Skip Prokop Story.” Available through Amazon.

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