Music Industry Inside Out is a members-based digital resource providing bite-sized video interviews with acclaimed artists and members of the music industry, as well as professional course content on everything from finding a manager to gig etiquette, and a fantastic mentoring program for people looking to break into the Australian music scene. Launched on Tuesday 7th October, the site combines a huge amount of free and members-only information such as how to book gigs, self-management techniques, tips on technology and preparing for national and international tours.
The site is the brainchild of long-time music industry professional Martine Cotton, who has, over the last 25 years, worked as a booker at one of the country’s most iconic venues, a program manager for a key industry body, managed bands, music events, national tours, promoted international touring bands and run her own booking agency and music business services. Natalie O’Driscoll spoke with Martine about this exciting new intiative.
The website has a huge amount of content. How long did it take you to develop from conception to reality?
Conception was January of this year, so basically ten months. However I only started working on it properly in April after I went on a NEIS business course. I did that in March / April and so basically from the end of that course, it’s been absolutely maximum overtime working on the site.
Ten months from idea to reality is incredible. How did you manage to pull together such a diverse bunch of mentors?
They are pretty much all friends, or friends of friends. I think the music industry is just so giving. Everyone has asked questions on their way up and have always been rewarded with very generous support from their peers or mentors. There’s a lovely culture of sharing information, and it’s getting stronger. They are just so passionate about getting information out that they won’t invoice me. It’s a fantastic community.
Do you find that it’s best to match locals with locals, when it comes to information sharing?
Sure, well the circles that you move in are the ones that you are most passionate about. As people’s sphere of work expands to other cities, the. localised support turns into national support. I’m determined to have people from every state. I still haven’t got anyone from South Australia or Western Australia, but I’m working it. So watch this space.
Were your travelling business workshops helpful when it came to developing the content for the website?
Definitely. The questions that people were asking me helped to develop the content. I also remember the questions that I used to ask when I was coming through the industry, the things that bamboozled me. I’m aware of the weak spots in the industry. Right now I think band management is the weakest spot in Australia. There are a lot of band managers out there that have no business acumen or savvy at all, they’re just friends of the band, and they don’t understand the stargeties involved, and that’s where the industy falls down a bit. It’s very management heavy, the site. I’ve asked heaps of the best managers that I know to ask and talk and share their information because that’s the area that needs the most development.
The Savvy Seven Questions are fantastic, so helpful. Who came up with them?
I have a team of interns, very passionate, dedicated volunteers who I couldn’t have done this without. The idea for Savvy Seven was actually developed by Hannah Morrison, (who performs under Hanna Rosa), and she was getting heaps of these little interview questionnaires about silly things and she had to do them herself as part of her act promotion. We were talking about how artists get sent a lot of these questionnaires that don’t mean anything, it’s just entertainment, and we talked about how it would be if they had to answer serious things, that actually mean something and help people. It was a real ‘oh my god’ moment! We could ask them about all this practical stuff, and get the local word on what the best venues are as well as other information, and the response from artists has just been phenomenal.
How do you go about working out a price for a resource like this, and how does membership work?
I want it to be self sustaining eventually. For access to the premium content it’s just $25 for a month, for individuals. Then we’ve got organisational prices. So the more memberships you buy, be it a music school, department, uni library, the cheaper the membership gets. The idea is that money goes back into the business in order for us to develop more content. I’m trying to make sure all the mentors get paid, plus cover the cost of the website. Eventually I would plan to take this on tour, taking mentor workshops across the country. Obviously it won’t make enough to cover that so we’ll have to source more money from somewhere. Many volunteers contribute. The site is very community minded. It’s really exciting to see this movement [of music magazines, websites, help resources] happening, in places like the Gold Coast, Nambour, Gympie, Maroochydore, great little pockets of people who are seizing the day!
Is there a highlight in your career you would like to share with Blank readers?
Probably my proudest moment was while booking The Zoo a long time ago, and Jimmy Little the beautiful indigenous singer, legend, did an album of covers of great Australian classic songs featuring people like the Go-Betweens. He did them with his country croons, lovely songs. He was coming to The Zoo and I thought and wouldn’t it be cool if we could get Ed Kuepper and Grant McLennan from the Go-Betweens to come and perform on their songs on the show with him. I asked Jimmy’s people, they said yes and I asked Ed and Grant and they said “hell yeah”, so we got these incredible legends of Australian music up to perform with Jimmy Little. I have this incredible polaroid from backstage, of three of the most beautiful, finest gentlemen of Australian music. It’s even more poignant for me now because two of them have passed away.
There are a variety of membership options, starting from $25 for individual monthly memberships (or $250 per year), as well as a variety of tiers for small music communities (5-9 members) up to major organisations and universities (70-plus members). To sign up for a membership or for more information, please visit www.musicindustryinsideout.com.au