The Weeknd, Ariana Grande in Crossfire as Canadian Broadcaster Accuses Label of Favoritism

Advertisements

The Weeknd 2015
The
Weeknd attends Diane Von Furstenberg Spring 2016 fashion show during New York
Fashion Week at Spring Studios on Sept. 13, 2015 in New York City. 

A Nov. 6 letter sent by a Rogers
Media executive called for a boycott of all Republic Records artists.

A
dustup between one of Canada’s biggest telecommunications companies and U.S.
label Republic Records ended quickly with no damage to artists caught in the
fray — including The Weeknd
and Ariana Grande. 

A
letter titled “URGENT LETTER TO CANADIAN BROADCASTERS” was sent out via email
on Friday (Nov. 6) by a Rogers Media executive calling for a boycott of all
Republic Records artists (among the acts on the label’s roster are Nicki Minaj,
Florence and
the Machine and Jessie J) by
its fellow broadcasters, such as Corus, Newcap and Cogeco.
At issue: perceived favoritism. Rogers Media claims competitor Bell Media
received exclusive content opportunities — a club show headlined by The
Weeknd and an Ariana Grande special — that sidestepped standard
promotion procedures and bypassed involvement of Universal Music
Canada.

Furthermore,
the letter’s author, Rob Farina, vice president of programming
& content at Rogers, asserts that Bell Media’s new president of
entertainment production and broadcasting, Randy Lennox, formerly
the longtime president of Universal Music Canada, was complicit in such
cronyism.

The
letter called for removal of all Republic artists from radio playlists
by Monday by 5 p.m. and called out chairman and CEO Monte Lipman as
well as executive vice president Charlie Walk by name. But by
Saturday, the matter was resolved.

“It
never went there,” Farina tells Billboard. “The issue was
resolved swiftly. We have no further comment.”

Bell
Media Radio’s VP of programming David Corey, meanwhile, categorically
denies the accusations.

“Everything
that Rob said in his email [letter] is completely incorrect and not the way
that things have gone down,” Corey tells Billboard. “I’m the
one that booked The Weeknd show for Virgin Radio, way before Randy Lennox came
over from Universal. I booked that through Abel [Tesfaye, AKA The
Weeknd] and through [manager TonySal because I have
relationships with them.”

In
fact, Lennox’s appointment to Bell was actually announced the same day The
Weeknd’s concert took place at the Mod Club in Toronto, on Aug. 25. Corey
says he booked that show four months prior and before he knew Lennox was
leaving Universal for Bell.

“The Ariana
Grande special … that was booked through Premiere, a company out of the U.S.
that is owned by iHeartMedia,” adds Corey. “We own Orbyt, which does
shows with Premiere all the time, so that came to us through the
proper channels,” Corey says. “It was not Randy Lennox; it was not Charlie
Walk; it was not Universal Republic.”

Further,
Corey defends, “Knowing that my boss came from Universal, I’ve been going
out of my way to make sure that we don’t just do things with Universal artists
because I don’t want any kind of perception that could be negative towards what
we’re doing on the radio side. We went through Universal Canada just like all
the other radio companies in this country. … So to hear about this
letter, I’m shocked. … It’s a very big mistake on Rob’s part to take
this kind of position.”

Farina
is, however, correct in pointing out a long friendship between Corey and
Walk, who started in radio together in Boston, but considering that Walk’s
jurisdiction does not extend to Canada — and that the global music
industry is a familial bunch — it seems misplaced, say insiders.
“He took it too far,” offers one source. Another points out
what could be perceived as anti-competitive action in calling for a
boycott. Yet another scoffs at the notion of punishing artists for what’s
essentially a behind-the-scenes squabble.

Apologies
have since been offered and accepted, according to multiple
sources. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.