Today I’d like to start with a disclaimer: I don’t invent Aussie music industry news, trends and developments I report on here myself. Generally, it’s hard to write about something when you’re miles away from the source due to a natural disaster, like COVID-19. And I’m currently stuck in Europe.
Luckily, the 21st-century-technology has made it feasible to stay in touch with the shenanigans of the music biz Down Under in other ways. They’re called resources. Today I want to share some I rely on with you.
PART 49 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE
Back in April, I wrote about the good things the (then) self-isolation in Australia taught the local music industry. (You can read the full post here. ) It was just the beginning of this epic mess we still find ourselves in. But the Aussies weren’t having it then, they’re not having it now, and they’re quite vocal about it.
Because the music industry Down Under never sleeps. No matter how hard it’s been hit by the pandemic (which it has, it’s not an exaggeration), it always manages to step up its game, in tune with the frequently changing circumstances. But at the same time, it manages to preserve its unique identity.
(For instance, Australia was one of the first markets in the world to normalize monetizing virtual gigs whilst in many countries this is still a taboo topic.)
The Aussies also nailed their industry resources, both in the context of people working in the business and fans who consume the final product = music.
So, here’s a selection of the assets and materials I find most informative, interesting and useful to help you stay in the loop about the developments in the music Down Under. No matter which side of the music barrier you’re on.
INDUSTRY BODIES: GUIDELINES & RECOMMENDATIONS
I won’t bore you with the full list but I need you to understand the basics.
- Every state in Australia has its own regional institution, such as Music Victoria or WAM [West Australian Music].
- There are national bodies that represent specific groups within the industry as well, i.e. APRA AMCOS – the copyright management organization or AIR – the Australian Independent Record Labels Association.
- The government has its own arts/culture-oriented departments, like Australia Council for the Arts.
- There’s a newly established “taskforce to steer the arts to recovery” that’ll definitely shed some more light on how to help Aussie music biz survive this pandemic.
All those institutions offer a plethora of resources, mostly for artists and creators, from a gig checklist to legal contract knowledge workshop. What I particularly find valuable is that even a layperson can appreciate that musos really don’t have it easy these days. Check out these Guidelines for COVID Safe Auditions, Rehearsals and Performances issued by Live Performance Australia, for instance.
What weighs 180 grams and is related to music? A collector’s edition vinyl record.
That’s why this name seemed particularly suitable for a podcast presenting stories behind select albums from your fave Aussie acts. If this doesn’t seem encouraging enough, The Teskey Brothers’ Run Home Slow is the subject of the first six episodes. The anecdotes are told by everyone involved: the band, their staff, management, the producers, distributors and overseas agents. And – as it turns out – the rode to this album wasn’t exactly a bed of roses.
180 Grams is Mushroom Group‘s baby, presented by the funniest journo Mikey Cahill. It’s actually a 360-degree look at the whole process of creating and releasing a record. I’m not sure what album will be deconstructed next on the podcast but I’m already looking forward to all the juice.
In the times defined by COVID-19 webinars have fully substituted meetings, conferences and workshops. There are plenty of topics in the music biz still waiting to be covered as we all learn to navigate this new world that’s deprived us of live performances.
One of the projects I follow is called Sound Advice and it’s spearheaded by Music NSW. It’s a discussion panel touching on various things musos deal with every day and an inclusive platform where all parties involved can share their opinions. Sometimes, however, those topics are not easy to talk about, like mental health. But they do offer more light-hearted chats, like “5 TikTik tips for musicians”, too.
APRA AMCOS also try to hook musos up with relevant topics. Their “Masterclass” series so far has focused on storytelling and producing. And they always invite interesting guest speakers that have honed their skills with some of the Aussie music biggest names.
I get a daily news portion delivered straight to my mailbox, thanks to The Brag Media subscription. Their music branch – Tone Deaf – is dedicated to bringing you the wackiest and loudest developments in the business, also from overseas. There’s nothing I read with more regularity in my life 🙂 Not even the statements from my bank account. Primarily because The Brag’s style of delivering news cracks me up.
And let’s not forget that Rolling Stone came back to Australia after years of absence. What I dig the most in their case is the extensive interviews with iconic musos, like this one with the revered Aboriginal musician Kev Carmody.
Speaking of interviews, Australian Musician has a cool series called “Musicians in Isolation”. But it’s not your usual chit-chat. The publication is focused on instruments, so it primarily invites artists to question them about their gear. Which normally leads them to wider music industry discussions.
If you’re into the latest gadgets and devices, you can’t miss these talks.
Time Out is a completely different story. It’s more lifestyle-oriented but it always serves a fresh dose of music-related ideas. They have a separate section for that, Music & Nightlife (in this case I’m redirecting you to the Melbourne edition but you can easily navigate to other cities, too).
If you’re familiar with the brand, you’ll probably get the above image. Time Out in Australia embraced the COVID situation in a clever way, temporarily rebranding to Time In. Which didn’t stop them from sharing suggestions on how to keep being entertained responsibly in the current, socially distanced and locked down circumstances.
They’ve nicely explained it in their own Time Out for Business podcast. The host, Michael Rodrigues, presents ways in which different industries (amongst them music) needed to pivot to survive. There’s a cool interview with Aussie artist Josh Pyke there.
Playlists are an awesome way to stay in the loop. Especially when they’re frequently updated. I follow (too) many, but I find the two below particularly worth recommending.
The first one has to do with the best in Aboriginal music. And if it wasn’t for this playlist, I wouldn’t even know most of these talented artists exist.
It’s curated by Emily Nicol, a radio and podcast producer from Sydney. And let me tell you, she’s done a stellar job of introducing Indigenous artists to the wider music community. All that since 2017 when the playlist was first established.
The second playlist shines a light on unsigned Aussie acts, thanks to triple j Unearthed. (I wrote about the platform in this post.) This is sometimes your only chance to hear musos that, otherwise, wouldn’t be able to submit their music to the streaming platforms.
Thankfully, Aussie artists are prolific in creating every music genre you can think of. And you also get a chance to review their music if you register on the platform.
TRIPLE J APP
If you’re missing the “j” group banter, you can still tune in from overseas. The “j app” works just fine (personally tested!).
Additionally, if you fancy a change, the app allows you to switch between triple j, triple j Unearthed and double j. So you can listen to what’s hip, what’s coming and what older generations listen to in Oz.
This is one of the most entertaining ways to keep up with all the music gossip from Down Under since the “j” group hosts are known for their wit and (very special) sense of humour.
TV & CINEMA
I’m assuming you might not be in Oz at the moment either. Or you might be in lockdown in Melbourne right now. So you wouldn’t be able to casually stroll into a cinema. But if anything changes soon (fingers crossed), consider checking out this movie. It should be in Aussie cinemas in a couple of months (and maybe elsewhere in the world, too).
Why should you care? Because it partially talks about music. And Julia Stone was in charge of its soundtrack.
Additionally, if you’re a magician with access to Aussie TV (iview) from afar (VPN maybe?), here’s my recommendation of a live music show to follow (season 1 is wrapping up soon).
The Sound airs on ABC on Sundays at 5.30 AEST (Melbourne/Sydney time). Individual performances are sometimes made available on YouTube as well.
COURSES & LEARNING
Fancy learning something new music-related in the pandemic? No problem. Music Industry Inside Out has you covered. From music management and press kits to record labels and networking tips.
The only obstacle is you need to be a paying member to avail of the offers. But if you’re bored at home looking to upskill and use your time productively, maybe it’s worth the investment.
When it comes to being up-to-date with music news from Down Under, stalking my Aussie friends on socials has proven a goldmine. Especially when they’re creatives or musos themselves.
That way, for example, I found out about a dope initiative, Live In Ya Lounge, which is another virtual gig series. Here’s an episode with Citizen Kay and Kirklandd (I interviewed the latter some time ago for the blog here).
You’re probably following your fave bands on their socials already. So I don’t need to remind you that it’s the primary source of news for the majority of the publications and orgs I mentioned above, right?
On a side note: eavesdropping is my favourite technique to get the juice. Too bad it’s not scientifically or journalistically accepted. I could share some outrageous industry gossip with you. Maybe one day 🙂