No, this is not a typo in the blog’s title. And I’m not talking about bands that play before headliners, either.
What I mean is that, if you’re an Aussie music fan, you should familiarise yourself with Support Act’s work. Because they do an amazing job helping those in the music industry going through a rough patch.
The upcoming #ausmusictshirtday that I’m currently fundraising for is also Support Act’s doing.
Before anything else, please bear in mind that, in this post, I’ll be talking about the not-so-happy things. Because working in the music biz, sadly, has its downsides as well.
For many, it sounds like a dream, though. After all, artists get their music heard. Event companies get to organise festivals for hundreds of thousands of fans. And record labels and streaming services execs just get richer and richer year after year.
But it’s not always a bed of roses. Especially when the album is a total flop, the band’s manager turns out to be a greedy dickhead or a pandemic paralyses the whole live performance sector.
Not everybody who works in the biz is aware of it from the very beginning. And not everyone knows how to deal with all those obstacles and uncertainties. That’s where Support Act comes in.
I’ve mentioned this noble organisation numerous times on my blog already. But they deserve a special feature, especially in the post-pandemic times. It’s “Australia’s only charity delivering crisis relief services to artists, artist managers, crew and music workers as a result of ill health, injury, a mental health problem, or some other crisis that impacts on their ability to work in music”. And they’ve been doing it successfully since 1997.
There’s no point in boring you with Support Act’s long and illustrious history, though. Their actions speak louder than words. I’d rather briefly present some campaigns they’ve been tirelessly running for years. Because many people working in the music industry in Oz still don’t know about them. And some are also ashamed to ask for help.
But let’s start with the basics.
If you need financial help, you can check whether you’re eligible in the “FAQ” section. And you definitely should since some criteria need to be met to qualify. Like having worked in the music biz for three years or being able to provide two professional referees.
The good news is, Support Act recognises that hardships come in all shapes and. forms. For instance, “the passing of a loved one is always difficult”, so there’s help available to farewell them. Covid-19 is another reason why you can request a crisis relief grant. And it isn’t only about getting the money you need. There is also coaching available in terms of managing your finances.
One thing I’m really happy to see is that Support Act highlights the importance of roadies and all the staff behind the scenes through their partnerships with other orgs dedicated to those professions specifically. Because when we talk about the music biz, we sometimes forget that artists are not the only profession that makes the show go on.
When it comes to different projects, I’d like to highlight five of them for you.
TUNE INTO TUNE-UPS
There’s nothing that convinces me more about the need to take care of my own mental health than real people’s stories. And that’s exactly what the “Tune Ups” videos are all about.
Know that overwhelming feeling of guilt mixed with not feeling good with yourself? Yeah, it’s probably how many of us have felt at some stage in our lives. But it’s much worse when you’re in the spotlight or in a job which (let’s face it) is a money-making machine as well.
Let’s not forget this industry is not exactly a “Monday to Friday, 9 to 5” kind of gig. An act might be appearing at festivals around the world for half a year successfully. But then, one of the band members might be unwell, and unable to record or perform at all for the next six months.
As a result, the whole world tour might go down the drain. And that muso will feel shitty about it for sure as well. Trust me, no artist on Earth wants to provide their fans with a mediocre experience or call off a show five minutes before opening the venue doors.
Something similar happened to Brendon Love from The Teskey Brothers. Apart from him, quite a few other people connected to the music industry have opened up about their struggles in the “Tune Ups” series. Amongst them, fellow artists (like the country star, Fanny Lumsden), crew members (i.e. Howard Freeman from CrewCare) or music agencies reps (e.g. Stephen Wade from Select Music).
GET WELL WITH THE WELLBEING HELPLINE
The music industry is quite unpredictable at the best of times. It means heaps of hustling, too. At the end of the day, your music and brand are both products. Awesome, for sure. But the competition is stiff. So if they don’t sell, you can go out of business faster than you think.
At the same time, the entertainment biz can be a dark place at times. Sexual harassment (I’ll just mention the #MeToo movement) or workplace bullying (the Sony Music Australia case) are just two topics we’ve been hearing about way too often in recent years.
And it can be quite challenging and depressing to deal with all that on your own. Maybe you’re also far away from home or have nobody to turn to. Or maybe you don’t even know how to talk about that burden. That’s why the Wellbeing Helpline was established.
It’s free of charge, available 24 hours a day, all year round, and completely confidential. Most importantly, however, the counsellors you call “understand the challenges of working in music and the arts”.
FIRST NATIONS COME FIRST
The same goes for the First Nations artists, crew and music workers. The difficulties they face are frequently of a different nature and might be accidentally overlooked by the industry that is still primarily dominated by the “white” Australia. So Support Act has ensured there is a dedicated support line for them, too.
Additionally, all applications for grants and crisis relief are handled by a specially appointed Community Engagement / Social Worker. Cerisa Grant is a proud Walpiri, Jawoyn and Gurrindji woman from Katherine, NT (Northern Territory).
There’s a great event coming up at the end of November as well called “Yarning Strong – Mental Health and Traditional/Cultural Healing“. It will give some advice on the tools that can be used when one “can’t get to a culturally safe space” being on tour.
IT’S EASY TO “HELP A MATE”
Fortunately, there’s a different side to Support Act. The one where any- and everybody can lend a helping hand. The organisation gives you a few ideas of how to do that.
Choose your preferred way: through an individual pre-tax contribution, making a bequest, opting for a simple donation or setting up an employer’s workplace giving scheme. Becoming a permanent member of the organisation is welcome as well.
Fundraising is another form of contribution. And if you have someone in particular in mind, the “Help A Mate” campaign is the right one for you. They can be a friend, colleague or family member – as long as their job has something to do with the music industry.
This is also a good choice if the person needing help doesn’t like, want to or can’t ask for it, regardless of the reason. The current appeal on Support Act’s page, for instance, raises funds for a kidney treatment for Louis Tillett who is a versatile artist with four decades of experience in the Sydney music scene.
Last but not least, the Support Act’s annual campaign, the Ausmusic T-Shirt Day, organised in cooperation with triple j (an influential youth-oriented radio station) and ARIA (the Australian Recording Industry Awards), is happening this coming Friday, 19 November. It’s one of the longer-running projects that gets the attention of the whole industry Down Under and the music fans alike. And it’s also probably one of the most fulfilling social activism campaigns I’ve come across in the whole music biz.
The idea is pretty straightforward: sign up on their website, start a fundraiser, wear your fave act’s T-shirt on the day, and have fun whilst doing all of it. Naturally, the money you collect goes to Support Act. Easy, right? I wrote about it here in more detail.
Which brings me to a personal topic. I’ve been meaning to participate in the #ausmusictshirtday for years. And, finally, in 2021, I’ve kicked off my own fundraiser (fanfare!!!). But I’m not very good at asking for money. So I still need your help to reach my humble goal of AUD 200. I even recorded a video advertising it.
Can you help me help Support Act? Pretty please 🙂
And thank you!
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Here are more posts about the marriage of music and social activism:
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