Kenshi Yonezu is First Japanese Artist to Hit 5M YouTube Subscribers

J-pop singer-songwriter Kenshi Yonezu recently added another accomplishment to his ever-growing list of accolades: hitting 5 million subscribers on YouTube.

No other Japanese artist has as many subscribers on their official channel. His music videos have been viewed over 2.8 billion times in all, with “Lemon” leading the pack with 580 million views, another No. 1 record for a Japanese artist.

Including “Lemon,” the hitmaker currently has 12 videos surpassing 100 million views: his collaborative single with DAOKO, “Uchiage Hanabi,” follows with 360 million views; and his 2014 single “Eine Kleine” is in third place with 250 million views.

Yonezu’s new single, “Kanden,” is now available for download, and his highly anticipated new album, STRAY SHEEP, is due Aug. 5.

Japan’s Mrs. GREEN APPLE Celebrates 5th Anniversary With ‘Animal Crossing’ Island & Greatest Hits CD

J-pop band Mrs. GREEN APPLE recently celebrated its fifth anniversary with fans in a very 2020 way: They created a special band-themed island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the popular Nintendo Switch game keeping players around the world busy during this period of social distancing.

To commemorate the fifth anniversary of Mrs. GREEN APPLE’s major-label debut on Wednesday (July 8), the five-member band’s team set up a virtual “Mrs. Island” with five houses packed full of memorabilia and decorations looking back on the band’s history since its formation seven years ago, referred to as “Phase 1″ by the band.

The release of Mrs. GREEN APPLE’s first greatest hits collection, simply called 5, on Wednesday (July 8) marks the end of “Phase 1″ of the band’s career.

Over 10,000 fans applied for a chance to become one of the 30 visitors allowed to explore Mrs. Island for a limited time. The lucky players were able to check out the CD jackets of all of the band’s releases as well as the members’ apparel from the official photos from each era, tucked into each house designed to match those photos.

The island also offered a photo-op location featuring the likeness of the band’s most recent photo linked to their upcoming best-of album, a scenic point with all of their past CDs on display, plus an outdoor stage where the visitor could pretend to be part of the band. And of course, there were plenty of apple trees and apples peppered throughout the island.

For the majority of fans who couldn’t visit Mrs. Island, the band has released the custom design download codes for a limited-edition T-shirt with the cover art for 5, the 25 different fashion designs on display, and the CD jacket for the 5 COMPLETE BOX.


Emmanuel Kelly Talks ‘American Idol’ Full-Circle Moment, Performs ‘Never Alone’ on ‘The Kelly Clarkson Show’

Pop singer-songwriter Emmanuel Kelly appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show today (July 8) to share with host Kelly Clarkson his full-circle American Idol moment.

Kelly’s story about becoming the “first differently-abled pop star” has touched many. He was abandoned in a box as an infant in his war-torn birthplace of Iraq before nuns from a Mother Teresa orphanage brought him in. They raised him with Ahmed, another boy who was also born with “severely underdeveloped limbs due to the chemical warfare in the community” and whom he considers to be his brother. Humanitarian Moria Kelly flew them to Australia for a series of life-changing surgeries before eventually adopting them both. But he let Clarkson know her story touched him, too.

“I remember one day I was watching a TV show, and that TV show was American Idol…. And I see this woman and I’m thinking, ‘Now, she’s got one hell of a voice!’ Right? And it was you!” he expressed to the shocked TV show host. “And so that day, I realized that, ‘You know what? If she can do it, I can as well. And I’m going to push on and fight.'”

Kelly named her as one of his three main musical inspirations alongside Andrea Bocelli and Coldplay, whose frontman Chris Martin serves as Kelly’s longtime mentor and appears in his music video for his latest single “Never Alone.” “I love that I made Andrea Bocelli and Coldplay’s list!” Clarkson replied joyfully.

Before performing his motivational jam in an isolated recording studio, he dished to inaugural Idol alum that his appearance on her show was his “first American national and worldwide talk show.”

Watch Kelly’s interview and performance below.

Watch the Trailer for Kid Cudi’s HBO Series ‘We Are Who We Are’

The trailer for the upcoming HBO series We Are Who We Are starring Kid Cudi premiered yesterday (July 7).

We Are Who We Are, directed by Luca Guadagnino who’s popular for his work on Call Me By Your Name, follows two teenagers living with their families on a U.S. military base in Italy in the coming-of-age story. The eight-part series will land on HBO sometime in September on an unconfirmed date.

The “Leader Of The Delinquents” rapper (real name Scott Mescudi) stars alongside Chloë Sevigny, Jack Dylan Grazer, Alice Braga, Jordan Kristine Seamón, Spence Moore II, Faith Alabi, Beatrice Barichella, Francesca Scorsese, Corey Knight, Vittoria Bottin, Tom Mercier, Benjamin L. Taylor II, and Sebastiano Pigazzi. Blood Orange composed the mini-drama series’ score.

Cudi made his HBO debut a decade ago when the 36-year-old star played Domingo Brown for two seasons of How To Make It In America from 2010-11. His modern-day return to television includes his own animated Netflix series Entergalactic that he’ll executive produce with Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and How to Make It in America creator Ian Edelman and record an accompanying album. Cudi’s also been cooking up an animated TV series with his Kids See Ghosts other half Kanye West by the same name as the duo.

Watch the official We Are Who We Are trailer below.

Live Nation UK & MelodyVR Partner for Virtual Reality Concert Series Live From O2 Academy Brixton

Earlier this month, Live Nation U.K. and the virtual reality company MelodyVR partnered on Wireless Connect, a virtual version of London’s long-running Wireless Festival that featured 360-degree VR performances from 70 artists out of London and L.A., drawing over 132,000 fans from more than 34 countries. Now, the companies have announced an expansion of that partnership with Live From O2 Academy Brixton, a new experience that will allow artists to connect with fans via one-off VR concerts.

Live From O2 Academy Brixton will deliver live artist performances from the London venue using MelodyVR technology, with audiences able to choose the vantage point from which they’d like to watch the show. Each concert — which is fully customizable for artists — will be available in 360-degree and virtual reality on the MelodyVR app for anyone with a smartphone or Oculus VR device in the U.K., U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Greece and Belgium. Individual fans will be able to purchase access via Ticketmaster.

“We look forward to partnering with MelodyVR and presenting Live From O2 Academy Brixton which will connect artists with fans globally through the latest and exciting 360° VR technology, direct from a purpose-built studio set within this iconic and world-famous venue,” said Live Nation U.K. chairman Denis Desmond in a statement.

“MelodyVR’s mission is to use our innovative technology to make sure artists can keep staging amazing shows and fans can continue to experience and enjoy the live music that they love,” added MelodyVR CEO Anthony Matchett. “We’ve helped to take Wireless virtual this weekend, co-creating the successful Wireless Connect, and Live From O2 Academy Brixton is another exciting venture in partnership with Live Nation. Virtual shows are here to complement and support live entertainment, and we are proud to be working with the rest of the industry to ensure that live music doesn’t stop.”

Neumos in Seattle, in a Pandemic: ‘This Crisis Has Barely Begun’

As co-owner of Seattle’s popular independent venue Neumos in Capitol Hill, Steven Severin has been a staple in the Seattle music industry for more than 20 years. Roughly 10 years ago, he helped create the Seattle Nightlife and Music Association to bring together the area’s live event insiders, and for the past 16 years has helped run Neumos with its sister club Barboza and the accompanying Runaway bar.

As part of Billboard’s efforts to best cover the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts on the music industry, we will be speaking with Severin every two weeks to chronicle his experience throughout the crisis. (Read the last installment here and see the full series here.)

What has changed for you in the past couple weeks?

We are opening [his bar/restaurant] Life On Mars for takeout tomorrow, which is super exciting. We have been working on it for a long time now. It is amazing how much time it takes to reopen a place. Right now we could go to 50% in-house dining. We’re not doing that. Once Seattle hit that phase, we talked and said, “Let’s look at going and doing take out.” We watched how take out was going for months. We watched to see how you could do it safely and if it was safe. All of the reporting is that it is safe. You can do it with almost no contact. You order online and you get a text saying when your food is ready, so we don’t have people waiting around. We’re going to start selling records again. It used to be set up that we had 12-15 titles always on sale. And you get a free cookie when you buy a meal.

In the U.K. they awarded the arts nearly $2 billion in government funding. Does the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) still have hopes for U.S. federal government help?

We are getting with NIVA and [The Washington Nightlife Music Association] to start lobbying the government again for the RESTART Act, which is probably going to be our last big hurrah to go out and get help from the government. I am hearing locally that the federal government is not going to do a special session, which is crazy because I don’t know what they think we are supposed to do if we are not still getting money. The RESTART Act is the one that could help us out the most and it is finally getting the momentum that it needed. It has been in the Senate where it started, but now there is a House version. Until you have a Senate and House version you are getting nowhere. Now we got both! So we are going to do another big campaign where we ask every single person who cares about music to ask congress to support the RESTART Act. Tomorrow we will start emailing people the details.

What happens if the RESTART Act does not get passed this summer?

Without the RESTART Act, I don’t know how businesses are going to survive. It’s not just a music venue thing, it is small businesses in general. We are in the middle of the first wave and we’ve tried to open back up and it smacked the living shit out of us. That stimulus, that $600 ends at the end of this month. I don’t know how people are not going to become homeless and starve. It is so much money to take from people. It is my only income.

Are other industry professionals you speak with feeling a similar sense of desperation?

I talk to people and they tell me not to be so doom and gloom. How? All of this is always in the front of my mind. I got this bracelet made for myself to remind myself that I need to get out of the funk. The last couple weeks have been pretty hard and depressing. My world has slowed down a little bit since we formed a board of directors [for his non-profit] and there is more support there. I can’t do anything on the campaign because I am not on the board so it gave me more time to think and when you get time to think, you can get depressed. So I got this bracelet that says “Rise Above” to remind myself that this is the new normal. We wear masks. We don’t go to shows. We buy sneeze guards made of plexiglass to separate things. That’s just what it is and being depressed about it isn’t changing anything. So I have to have that reminder which is not always easy.

This crisis has barely begun. We’re just getting started. Nobody wants to admit that because the reality sucks. Then you are doom and gloom and you’re bumming people out. People won’t want to help you if you are bumming them out or if they think it is hopeless. Right now there are more cases. We’ve hit more than 50,000 cases a day multiple days in a row.

Has the local King County officials been able to distribute the $750,000 they set aside for music venues yet?

We can start applying in three days for that money. It is open for two weeks. We have no idea how much it is going to be because we don’t know how many people are going to submit. We don’t know the criteria. We know it is not a huge chunk of money so it is not going to save anything, but it might help people get down the road a little further.


Bandsintown + Billboard Touring Indexes Adapt to Chart Livestream Activity

After launching four multi-tiered, transnational touring indexes in 2019, the Bandsintown + Billboard touring indices are adapting to the livestream climate of 2020 by tracking online activity as fans seek out their favorite artists’ digital live performances.

Bandsintown has recorded over 35,000 livestreams by over 12,000 artists since March 25. Now live on, there are three new charts, all based on global online data.

Via the charts menu, one can view rankings for Top Livestream Artists, Rising Livestream Artists, and Buzzing Livestream Artists. These three tiers are broken out by the number of trackers (Bandsintown’s version of a fan, or follower) an artist has on their profile.

The Top chart is for artists with 250,001 or more trackers, the Rising chart is for artists with 10,001-250,000 trackers, and the Buzzing chart reviews artists with 10,000 or fewer trackers. The rankings are determined by a blending of event RSVPs and direct-to-platform ‘Watch Live’ clicks.

The July 11-dated charts reflect data for the tracking week of June 26-July 2.

Multi-artist, charity-minded initiatives have been overwhelmingly popular since COVID-19 sent musicians and fans into a global lockdown. Global Citizen held Global Goal: Unite for Our Future – The Concert on June 27, featuring a wide array of A-list acts. The stream achieved millions of streams and encouraged engagement online that dominates the inaugural Bandsintown x Billboard livestream charts.

Coldplay (5.9 million trackers) reigns over the Top Livestream Artists ranking, fueled by a performance of “Paradise” on the Global Citizen event. Further, event performances by Justin Bieber (No. 9), Shakira (No. 11), and Miley Cyrus (No. 23) scatter throughout the chart.

Anti-Flag (231,000 trackers) launches atop the Rising Livestream Artists, following their Quarantine Sucks, Let’s Party digital tour. The punk rockers streamed a series of past concerts between June 26-30 (plus a bonus stream on July 1 for fans who purchased an “All Access” package) via Veeps and added a chat function for band members to interact with fans as they watched.

Finally, the Buzzing Livestream Artists ranking is headed up by Germein (2,893 trackers), fueled by a June 26 performance from the Red Rover Virtual Tour. The show was a make-up performance for their previously announced concert tour that was put on hold due to the pandemic. The Australian sister trio streamed worldwide, powered by Live Nation’s Live From Home platform.