Katie Melua Signs With Reservoir

Katie Melua, the Georgia-born British singer, has signed a worldwide publishing deal with Reservoir.

The new pact includes rights to Melua’s future titles, and her newly-released eighth studio album, Album No. 8 (BMG), which is on track for a Top 5 debut when the Official U.K. Albums Chart is published this Friday (Oct. 23).

Melua is recognized as one of the most successful female British singers of the millennium, with all seven of her previous albums charting in the Top 10 in her adopted homeland.

Born in Kutaisi, Georgian SSR, Melua moved to the U.K. at the age of eight — first to Belfast, and then to London in 1999, where she still resides.

With her 2003 debut Call of The Search, her career took flight. Aged just 19, Melua saw the album hit No. 1 in the U.K., as did its followup, 2005’s Piece By Piece, which earned a brace of Brit Award nominations. Both LPs impacted the Billboard 200 chart.

“When I first signed Katie seventeen years ago, she was a very good but quite unassuming songwriter. Over the years she’s developed into one of incredible poise, thoughtfulness and potency,” comments Reservoir U.K. Head of Creative Charlie Pinder. “Her new album is one of the best pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time. It is a genuine thrill to be working with her.”

Melua could bag her best chart position in 13 years with her critically-acclaimed Album No. 8. It’s at No. 3 on the midweek U.K. chart.

J Balvin to Debut New Track With ‘Fortnite’ Performance On Halloween

Reggaeton superstar J Balvin is the latest musician slated to perform within Fortnite with an exclusive set on Halloween, during which he will debut a brand-new song, the video game announced today (Oct. 21).

J Balvin will perform at 9 p.m. ET on Oct. 31 as the headliner for Fortnite’s annual, game-wide “Fortnitemares” event, which kicks off today. The event — which includes new gameplay, challenges, in-game rewards and more, culminating with Balvin’s set during the “Afterlife Party” — takes place inside Party Royale, the weapons-free mode that Fortnite launched in May to host entertainment-related events.

The concert will air simultaneously on Houseparty, the video chat app which Fortnite parent Epic Games acquired last summer.

“This show is going to be incredibly special, and nothing like users have seen so far,” Epic Games head of global partnerships Nate Nanzer said. “J Balvin was the perfect partner to work with to create an unforgettable show as his music appeal is boundless. We are honored to work with him and bring his music to fans worldwide.”

Since its launch in 2017, Fortnite has accumulated more than 350 million registered players worldwide, making the online multiplayer game an opportune space for artists looking to expose their music to both new and old fans — especially with touring on ice due to the global pandemic. While the game itself is free to play, users can purchase virtual merchandise for their avatars such as “skins” (avatar outfits) and “emotes” (the ability to perform expressions, such as dance moves).

Fortnite held its first in-game concert with Marshmello in February 2019, attracting 10.7 million concurrent players worldwide. Travis Scott smashed that record in April with his “Astronomical” in-game concert, which drew 12.3 million concurrent players worldwide at its peak and 27.7 million uniques across five total airings. Since then, Fortnite has continued to step up its concert game — no pun intended — with Party Royale performances from the likes of BTS and Major Lazer. The game introduced its “Spotlight” concert series in September, which has featured Dominic Fike and Anderson .Paak. At the time, Nanzer told Billboard that he aims to turn Fortnite into the equivalent of a “tour stop” for artists, and feature acts from a wide range of genres.

Enter Balvin, who promises to further up the ante by implementing cross reality (XR) technology, LED walls and camera tracking for his set, which was pre-recorded at Fortnite’s Los Angeles studio. As with most performances, his will also include the launch of a new skin, a take on the Party Trooper Outfit, which is available to purchase from the in-game shop for 1,200 “V-bucks” (roughly $12) from now until Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. ET. All gamers who purchase the outfit and attend the “Afterlife Party” will unlock an exclusive J Balvin style for it.

Check out the event flyer, below.

Dolly Parton Talks Pandemic-Themed Music and Identifying as a ‘Songteller’: Watch

“I really think of myself as a songteller, because I write songs, but I tell stories,” said Dolly Parton, explaining the name of her memoir, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, to Stephen Colbert on The Late Show on Tuesday night (Oct. 20).

She added that the book contains a number of stories about how she wrote certain songs and what she was feeling at the time. Parton also talked about how she loves to write and perform, but there’s something about writing songs that is her “personal time with God.” It’s her “quiet time” where she can express herself, sort of like therapy.

She also loves when different people interpret her songs, because the sound and feelings can change so much depending on their arrangement, how they are produced and performed. Parton specifically talked about Whitney Houston’s cover of “I Will Always Love You.” When Parton first heard it, she couldn’t believe it was her song.

Later in the interview, Parton spoke of her mother, who she says was a good singer and would sing songs like “Bury Me Beneath the Willow Tree” acapella at home.

Parton, who has a new album out called A Holly Dolly Christmas, also wrote a pandemic-themed song called “When Life is Good Again.” She told Colbert, “I felt really glad to write that,” noting that it is uplifting with lyrics like, “When life is good again, I’ll be a better friend, a better person.”

“I can’t wait for this year to be over, can you?” Parton exclaimed.

Colbert wouldn’t let Parton leave without naming her top three songs from her own body of work. “The Coat of Many Colors” was Parton’s first pick, with the singer noting that it is about her mother and about family, acceptance, tolerance, and also speaks to bullying.

“All singers like to have a song that you can sing tender and then go big,” said Parton, naming “I Will Always Love You” as the second choice.

And for the last, she summoned the tune “Down From Dover,” a lesser known track about a girl that got pregnant and had to leave home and live on a farm. “Back when they released it [in 1970], they wouldn’t put it on the radio,” said Parton, joking that now you can practically have a baby on television.

Parton concluded, “Most of the songs I love the best are ones no one has ever heard.”

This article originally appeared in THR.com.

IMPALA Publishes 12-Point Diversity and Inclusion Charter for Indie Members

IMPALA, the pan-European independent music companies’ trade body, has adopted a 12-point diversity and inclusion charter.

Published in full today (Oct. 21), the charter sets out a dozen commitments based on European fundamental rights which cover gender, ethnicity, religion, belief, disability, age and sexual orientation, political beliefs and more.

As part of the ongoing process, IMPALA will roll out initiatives and projects intended to make change sustainable longer term, with targets of 5-10 years.

“Not discriminating isn’t enough. We must be anti-discriminatory and consciously inclusive,” reads a statement issued Wednesday morning.

Following today’s big reveal, guidance and training for members, surveys to gauge diversity and other measures will be put in place, the goal of which is to promote inclusion and diversity across the European independent sector.

Those commitments include the mapping and sharing of examples of best practices across Europe; the appointment of a diversity advocate for the lobby body’s board and each of its committees; and the launch of a new program of European and national awards to cast the spotlight on those in the music space working on diversity and inclusion.

IMPALA’s charter was prepared by a diversity task force, with veteran British artist manager and label executive Keith Harris OBE appointed as adviser.

Work on it kicked off in June following a rescheduling of IMPALA’s board meeting to respect #BlackOutTuesday, and pressed on with weekly task force meetings chaired by Eva Karman Reinhold from SOM, the Swedish independents organization, and Paul Pacifico from AIM in the U.K.

“Inspiring change is a vital part of IMPALA’s mission and this is what our charter seeks to achieve,” comments Helen Smith, executive chair of IMPALA. Very much “a European approach,” she continues, “we have focused on fundamental rights within a broad and pragmatic package which can be rolled out on a voluntary basis and adapted to each country. Keith Harris’ input has been invaluable and our ongoing collaboration will help us measure and adjust as we proceed, to ensure we achieve structural and lasting change.”

IMPALA’s membership covers some 30 European countries, all of whom are culturally different. There’s no “one size fits all” solution, notes the trade association, though localized steps can be applied in each market.

National association and company members will be invited to use its charter’s principles in their own work on a voluntary basis and adapt, should they choose.

“We will speak out and use the power of the music sector’s voice as a catalyst for change,” reads an IMPALA statement. “IMPALA wants positive change in terms of our diversity. We believe that this is the right thing to do, and that diversity will grow and strengthen our sector. IMPALA will help make the case that diversity is good for business and creativity.”

According to the organization, 99% of Europe’s music companies are micro, small or medium-sized independent enterprises and self-releasing artists. Collectively they produce more than 80% of all new releases and account for 80% of the sector’s jobs.

Read the charter here.