How the Huge Coronavirus Relief Package Helps Artists, Roadies & Other Out-of-Work Music Professionals

The $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus package that passed in the Republican-led Senate on Wednesday night (March 25) includes some good news for the music industry’s self-employed workforce. Songwriters, musicians, road crews, sound and light techs, producers and the industry’s many other independent contractors will be eligible for loans and grants from the bill’s $300 million small-business portion.

The bill still needs to pass the Democrat-controlled House and be signed by President Donald Trump before it can become law, but when that happens the small business financial resources segment will be overseen by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

According to Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) executive director Bart Herbison, music industry trade groups like the Songwriters of North America (SONA), the National Music Publishers Association and other industry entities came together to work with Congressional leaders to ensure the wording in the sections entitled the Paycheck Protection Program and Emergency Economic Industry Disaster Loan Grants of the bill can apply to songwriters, musicians, audio tech people and others who are self-employed or contractors.

The music trade groups and legislators’ effort widened the bill’s terminology to include the terms “independent contractors” and “sole proprietors” so the funding could apply to such self-employed music industry professionals.

SONA said in a statement that the language included in this bill is essential for the survival of the music community. “We are grateful to members of Congress for understanding that songwriters, composers and many others who make a living within the music industry are small business owners,” SONA co-founder Michelle Lewis said in a statement. “This will make much-needed relief in the form of small business loans and grants available to all who need it…. Our songwriters are the ultimate small business owners and need this help right now.”

SONA noted the coronavirus pandemic is crippling every aspect of the economy and that songwriters also need continued support to make it through the current crisis.

“Many music industry professionals are not eligible for traditional unemployment benefits because they are self-employed,” said NSAI’s Herbison. “That’s why is was imperative that the federal stimulus package contain language that made them eligible for relief. Now they will be able to apply for immediate financial help for any income they’ve lost over the past few weeks and income they will lose throughout the rest of this year.”

In order to be eligible, the Small Business Administration will work out the guidelines as the rules in how that work is loosely defined in the bill, according to Herbison. But the framework is anyone making under $100,000 and showing loss of income can apply the funds. NSAI, which says it will help out by voluntarily acting as a clearinghouse for information — and other music industry trade groups likely will help too — on how to apply for federal grants and loans, added there are other important provisions in the bill that will also help the industry.

“We will be making details available over the next few days on specifics of the various programs contained in the legislation,” Herbison added. “NSAI will help direct those eligible to the appropriate resources for relief. In some circumstances relief funds won’t have to be repaid.”

It will take a little while for all the regulations and procedures to be announced, but industry executives say they expect money to flow within a few weeks.

According to Herbison, who said funds could start flowing to songwriters as early as April, legislators like Rep. Ted Deutch (R-FL), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. John Kennedy (D-LA) all stepped up to look out for the music industry.

According to the NSAI, Rep. Deutch, chairman of the House “Songwriter’s Caucus” began a conversation with NSAI about this dilemma last week. Sen. Blackburn authored the essential language.

“It was a good team effort to get this done,” said NMPA CEO and president David Israelite, who thanked Blackburn, Hoyer, Deutch, NSAI and SONA. “Every industry was trying to get their people covered so for us, as one of the smaller industries to get some of this language in the bill was a really big win.”

“Right now, everyone in music is suffering as we all find ways of coping with the effects of Coronavirus,” Israelite continued. “We are greatly relieved that songwriters, composers and musicians across the country will be helped by the emergency stimulus package passed by the Senate today. From paycheck protection and stimulus checks to grants that help with rent and mortgage payments, the legislation will help the creative community – particularly those who qualify as independent contractors, sole proprietors and self-employed – who have been hit hard by this pandemic.”

SONA board member and music industry lawyer Dina LaPolt noted that the United States represents 33% of the global music industry worldwide. “We need laws that protect creators and ensure that they are protected from economic destruction,” LaPolt said in a statement.

“We cannot overstate the importance of federal relief now being available for the music industry professionals who have already been devastated by the results of the coronavirus,” Herbison said in a statement. While the crisis’ impact has been most pronounced on the live music industry, it has also hit studio musicians, producers, and others whose income has been affected.

Sen. Blackburn noted in a statement supplied to Billboard by NSAI that Nashville was “not built by high-powered businessmen, but by a fiercely talented community of independent singers, songwriters, and musicians who are now struggling to keep their heads above water. In this time of fear and uncertainty, it is important that we do not abandon these creators. With that in mind, I led a bipartisan team of advocates to ensure that all music industry professionals will benefit from the provisions of this rescue package.”

Rep. Deutch said in a statement, also via NSAI, that with Congress looking for ways to help Americans struggling due to the pandemic, “we have to acknowledge the different ways Americans will be impacted. People in the music industry are often gig workers, independent contractors, sole-proprietors, or self-employed. That’s why I worked with my colleagues and the creative community to ensure we include language in the next economic stimulus package to help these people weather the storm and qualify for relief. Music is helping so many of us cope right now; we need to help the people who create it.”

Coronavirus


Will Smith ‘Humbled’ by Rapper’s Tribute Music Video

Will Smith says he was “humbled and honored” after rapper Joyner Lucas released a tribute song honoring his career work.

Lucas released the music video for his track “Will” on Monday. In the video, the rapper paid homage to Smith through a reenactment of the actor’s biggest projects including the “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Bad Boys,” “Men in Black” and “Pursuit of Happyness.”

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Tag @willsmith (MUSIC VIDEO LINK IN BIO)

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Smith on Wednesday shared a clip of “Will” with his nearly 44 million followers on Instagram.

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WOW!!! That’s Crazy!  #Humbled @joynerlucas

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He personally thanked Lucas in a separate video on social media, calling the rapper’s song “creative.”Smith also said he hopes to meet Lucas one day.

In a post, Lucas said he needed to “take a cold shower and wake up. I’m dreaming right now.”

“Will” is a single from Lucas’ debut studio album “ADHD,” which releases on Friday.


Big Sean Announces His Fifth Album ‘Detroit 2′

For his 32nd birthday, Big Sean gifted his fans with a huge announcement: Detroit 2 is on the way.

In a two-minute trailer, Sean speaks on his evolution while roaming through his hometown of Detroit. “What’s crazy is the things that I thought would destroy me came full-circle to fuel me,” he says.

The trailer also showcases Sean in the studio with Young Thug while explaining his city’s impact. “I’ve been going back and listening to music that impacted me growing up,” he says. “You know, songs that I heard on the radio every day, but I didn’t even realize it was popping in Detroit.”

Sean’s acclaimed mixtape Detroit came out in 2012 and included features from J. Cole, Meek Mill, Wiz Khalifa, Jhene Aiko and more. Last year, Sean kept fans fed with the release of “Single Again” and “Berzerk,” featuring A$AP Ferg.

Watch the trailer below.

The Weeknd’s ‘After Hours’ Set for Smashing No. 1 Debut on Billboard 200 Chart

The Weeknd is on course for his fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as industry forecasters suggest his latest release, After Hours, should make a splashy debut atop next week’s tally.

Those in the know indicate the album could bow with more than 425,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending March 26. If the set starts with over 425,000, it would mark a career-high week for the artist and 2020’s largest week for any album.

After Hours was released March 20 via XO/Republic Records. It’s The Weeknd’s first release since the six-song EP My Dear Melancholy in 2018 and his first full-length effort since 2016’s Starboy. Both albums debuted at No. 1.

The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The top 10 of the April 4-dated Billboard 200 chart (where After Hours may debut at No. 1) is scheduled to be revealed on Billboard’s website on Sunday, March 29.

With After Hours on track to likely earn over 425,000 units in its first week, that would top The Weeknd’s current high-water mark, tallied when 2015’s Beauty Behind the Madness bowed at No. 1 with 411,000 units earned in its first week, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. Beauty also marked his first No. 1 on the chart.

Further, if After Hours begins with 425,000-plus, it would surpass 2020’s current record holder for the biggest week: the debut frame of BTS’ Map of the Soul: 7. The latter started with 422,000 units earned and bowed at No. 1 on the chart dated March 7.

After Hours’ first-week units will be bolstered by both a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer (with The Weeknd’s upcoming tour, scheduled to kick off in June) and more than 80 different merchandise/album bundles sold via his official web store.

Other albums on course for notable chart arrivals next week include: Conan Gray’s Kid Krow (with perhaps 45,000 units), Childish Gambino’s surprise release 3.15.20 (maybe 30,000 to 40,000 units), the late Kenny Rogers’ 2018 greatest-hits set The Best of Kenny Rogers: Through the Years (maybe 30,000), Kelsea Ballerini’s kelsea (25,000 or more) and J Balvin’s Colores (over 20,000).


T-Rex Talks ‘Masked Singer’ Extinction: ‘I Had to Really Make Sure I Had That T-Rex Energy’

[Spoiler alert: This story contains the identity of the eliminated contestant on Wednesday night’s (March 25) The Masked Singer.]

The Masked Singer did it again this week, serving up exactly the kind of guilty-pleasure entertainment we need as the world continues its COVID-19 lockdown. And for once, at least half the panel was dead-on when it came to their guesses about who was behind some very high-energy performances of Salt N Pepa’s “Push It,” P!nk’s “So What” and “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire.

Was the latter a bit of kissing up considering it featured judge Nicole Scherzinger’s group Pussycat Dolls? Sure. But considering the child star behind the mega-raptor knows a thing or two about making good TV, dancing and putting on a dazzling show, it’s no surprise she did a little extra to work the judges like a boss.

Plus, she had to hoof extra hard to grab the spotlight after the last two weeks’ eliminations, which featured Swan Bella Thorne and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin rapping in a Bear suit. Scherzinger and Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg were both pretty on point with their guesses, while guest judge Will Arnett swung wildly from The Office star Ellie Kemper to gymnast Gabby Douglas.

And, in a shocking turns of events, never-right Ken Jeong was actually in the ballpark when he guessed reality TV star Honey Boo Boo. But being close doesn’t really count for anything, since the real face behind the not-so-terrifying Rex mask was 16-year-old actress/singer/YouTube star and hair-bow entrepreneur JoJo Siwa. The former Dance Moms star and “Boomerang” singer spoke to Billboard before her elimination, breaking down the surprisingly complicated physics behind doing high kicks in an 18-layer costume with a tail that has a mind of its own.

You’ve released a couple of singles and toured all over the world. How did performing on Masked Singer compare to those accomplishments?

It was so crazy because my thing is I perform… that’s what I do for a living! I am onstage, I go on world tours, I release music. That’s what I do. But this was doing that and nobody knew that it was me. So actually I’m not gonna lie, it was quite difficult. I was talking to one of my best friends about it who knew that I was on the show and I would have her watch me rehearse and she was like, “It’s so weird watching you do it with the mask on and with the mask off because your face is like what makes your performance.”  So I had to figure out how to make my performance without… me. It’s crazy.

You’re right, because so much of your style and attitude is your face and your smile, and of course your hair bows. So how did you make that come through without all the stuff people are used to?

I had to make sure that my performance was high-energy, and I used my dancing to my advantage. I actually had a troubled time with rehearsals because we had dance rehearsals to learn the choreography but I actually flew in from Australia and I landed at like 9 a.m. and I was on set immediately, I didn’t even go home. I went straight to set. So I missed my rehearsals and I practiced 24/7 at home, I have so many videos of me just practicing at home. But I had to make sure all my energy was correct in my body. I had to really make sure I had that T-Rex energy.

You’ve done some reality TV in the past, of course. How did this show compare when it wasn’t so much about you, but about what you’re doing anonymously?

It’s so weird because I get really close and attached to people. Like I love whenever I do a new project like the crew I’m working with or the set people that I’m working with. I love all my cast, I love my crew, everything. But for this, nobody could know who I was, so it was like… the crew that knew who I was I got really, really, really close to and we created some really special friendships. But like the other people in the other masks, we have no idea who we are. So I don’t know who Astronaut is, but that person and I really hang out. We would hang out backstage and give each other high fives and just look at each other but we don’t know who each other is. It’s crazy!

I bet it is weird to create a relationship with someone who is totally anonymous…

You literally don’t know who it is, but at the same time I’m a kid, so I love celebrities, I love people and I think that’s so cool, so I’m like, “Wait a minute, this could be somebody that I really love and look up to.”

Who do you think Astronaut is?

Listen, if I knew… it’s crazy we don’t know anything. And you’re not allowed to see anyone else perform, so I also haven’t seen anyone else’s clue packages besides what I’ve been watching on TV. But on set you’re not allowed to hear anything because they don’t want anyone to know.

Why the T-Rex? What appealed to you about that costume and what was the hardest part of performing in it?

I didn’t know how it was gonna work. I didn’t know if I was going to have to tell them what I wanted to be or if they were going to tell me and I told my mom, “My ideal thing that I would want to be is a dinosaur.” And she was like, “Really?” And I said, “Yeah. Because I don’t want to be something where it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s JoJo Siwa.'” Where it’s something bright and colorful. I wanted to be something dark, like a dinosaur. And they presented me with three different options and one of the things was a T-Rex and I was like, “Oh my God, that’s exactly what I wanted!”

The hardest thing about performing in it… there were three things that were really hard. Number one is  you cannot breathe. It is SO hard to breathe in that mask! If you were just standing there and singing it would be totally fine. But because I move around so much and use so much energy in my performances it made it really, really difficult. And my costume was heavy. I counted, I had 18 layers of clothing on. It’s intense. You can’t really see either. You have to look down to see, which was really odd. But one thing for me that was specifically hard is that one of the dancers on The Masked Singer is one of my actual backup dancers in real life. So I could see her but she couldn’t see me. So I was like, “Oh my God I just want to give you a big hug!” I can’t wait to text her tonight and be like, “It was me!”

You really don’t think she recognized you?

I don’t know because we performed together for a year straight. So I feel like she had to have some guesses but you never really know for sure.

Jenny and Nicole actually guessed it was you. Were you surprised they were able to figure it out?

They did! I love a surprise, because after hearing my clue packages obviously I think it’s me because it was me. But they guessed it I guess. That’s crazy!

But Will Arnett, on the other hand, was way off with his guesses of Zoe Kravitz and Gabby Douglas. What was that Lego clue you gave him and how did he miss it so badly?

Honestly, the Lego clue was really confusing and so minor. He’s obviously Lego Batman and I was at the Lego Batman movie premiere.

Did you meet him there?

Yes.

What was the North West clue that made them think it was Maddie Ziegler?

I don’t know what made them think it was Maddie Ziegler. Maddie is obviously a great friend of mine, we worked together for three years [on Dance Moms]. I love, love her so much I’ve known her for… oh wow, I’m 16, I’ve known her for six years! That’s crazy. But the North West clue is I have a little friendship with Kim and Kanye and of course little Northy, who is a JoJo fan. I’ve babysat her and lots of fun little stuff. That’s obviously where the North West clue came from, but I don’t know where they would have gotten Maddie from that. I think when you think dancer, you go straight to Maddie for Sia in all those music videos, and she was a favorite on Dance Moms.

You said you stayed up past midnight to rehearse, so is it safe to assume that’s the only time you had in your busy schedule?

Yeah, it’s insane. During The Masked Singer, I was also having rehearsals for my tour, so I would be at Masked all day and tour stuff all night or vice versa. So literally the only time I had to make sure my Masked performances were perfect was from 10 to midnight.

“So What” by P!nk is a tough one to sing, but you really worked hard to belt it out. Was that one hard to do while doing all those high kicks?

I love that song and I love P!nk. It was tough, but I’m used to it. So I have that giant tail and how the tail is attached was around my stomach on a belt-type situation. For the tail to be steady it had to be super tight, so I had a really hard time moving around and a really hard time breathing. They were like, “You don’t have to move around so much.” So in soundcheck I would not move around so much, but then when I hit the stage they were like, “What did you just do?” I’m sorry, I have to go full-out. I have performer instincts. When I hear my song and when the lights are down… I know it sounds cheesy, but when it’s lights, audience, go, once the music comes on I have an alter ego named Jeddie, which is a mix of JoJo and Freddie Mercury, because Freddie Mercury is my favorite, my king of life. I am Jeddie, she just comes out and takes over and lives her best life.

You were talking about the tail — you really shook it a lot for that one. Did it throw you off at all?

I made sure that I did all my rehearsals on set in the tail, so that way I got used to it. You’ll see in “Jai Ho,” in “Jai ho.. oh, oh oh [sings],” I do this move and it was so hard to do in the tail, but I kind of realized that I’m the body and the tail is the accessory and it has to listen to me. At first I was letting the tail control me but then I was like, “No, I have to control the tail.” I figured out that when I move up and down, the tail actually moves sideways, and when I move sideways, the tail moves up and down. Once I figured that out I was like, “Oh, that’s easy!”

Did anyone figure out it was you? I saw people were definitely speculating it was you online.

Oh, so many people figured it out! And the hard thing is I have to be quiet about it. Obviously I want to be quiet about it because I don’t want to ruin the fun. All my friends too… you can tell the people that you need to tell, your certain close people. But all the people that you need to tell have to sign an NDA. So for me the only people that knew were my family and my best friend, and I would talk to her about it 24/7 and I was like, “You just have to deal with me talking about it because I can’t talk to anyone else about it.” It would be so hard because my other close friends would text me and be like, “C’mon T-Rex!” And you just don’t respond because you can’t say yes but you also don’t want to lie to them so you can’t say no.

Weren’t you born like 20 years after “Push It” was released? Were you familiar with the song before your performance?

Yes! I love it. Oh my gosh, I love it so much! I did a solo to a Salt N Pepa song when I was little and I just love them. That style of music… “Push It” was actually my favorite number that I did. That style is so easy to perform full out like I like to perform. “So What” I had to really concentrate on singing, “Jai Ho” I really had to concentrate on the singing, but “Push It”… the singing coach on the show, I was like, “Listen, girl. ‘Push It’ I got.” Once I know these lyrics it’s so simple because it’s just speaking essentially.

You sang “Jai Ho (You re My Destiny)” from Slumdog Millionaire, which features Nicole and the Pussycat Dolls. Were you kissing up to Nicole a bit?

I honestly just like the song. It took me a second to even put it together that it was Nicole’s song. I love “Jai Ho” — who doesn’t?


Cardi B’s ‘Coronavirus’ Rant Remix Lands on the Billboard Charts

Brooklyn DJ iMarkkeyz capitalizes on Cardi B’s viral Instagram video about Coronavirus to score his first Billboard chart entry.

As preliminary reports indicated, the remixed tune “Coronavirus” sold 3,000 copies in the week ending March 19, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. The sales total prompts a No. 9 debut on Billboard’s Rap Digital Song Sales and a No. 13 start on the R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Song Sales charts dated March 28.

In addition, “Coronavirus” picked up 626,000 U.S. on-demand streams in the same period.

“Coronavirus” began as an Instagram rant from Cardi B on March 10 about the pandemic disease and its global repercussions. Within days, iMarkeeyz — known for turning other viral moments into musical remixes — chopped the clip’s audio and repackaged it with a hip-hop beat, with special attention given to the rapper’s delivery of the disease as “Corona-VIRUS!” and an off-the-cuff “sh– is getting real” for the remixed song’s refrain.

On Twitter, both the Brooklyn DJ and Bronx-bred superstar confirmed their plans to donate the “Coronavirus” proceeds to assist families affected by the pandemic.

Coronavirus

Courteney Cox’s Daughter Does it Again, Sings ‘Burn’ From ‘Hamilton’

Did you know Courteney Cox’s daughter is an incredible singer?

The Friends star took to Instagram while in quarantine on Wednesday (March 25) to share a video of 15-year-old Coco Arquette impressively belting “Burn” from Hamilton. “Coco and I were pretty embarrassed by our last attempt at this song when talking to @theellenshow…So we had to redeem ourselves,” Cox wrote in the caption.

“You win Quarantine ! Go Coco!” Reese Witherspoon commented on the post.

Earlier this month, the actress shared another video of her daughter flawlessly delivering Demi Lovato’s “Anyone.”

“When you have a teenager you barely get to see them. So much negotiating. Coco traded me one song if I let her go to a party. I took it,” Cox hilariously captioned. See it here.