Hell F*ck Yeah: The Future of Australian Music – BIGSOUND 2014

Titling a conference from one of the most beloved lines in Australian music right now was a bold move. An even bolder move was to name it Hell F*ck Yeah: The Future of Australian Music. The panel hosts a mix of PR consultants, band managers, label owners and festival owners; the collective brains of Bossy Music, Future Classic, Chugg Entertainment and Splendour in the Grass, just to name a few.

Mentioned in Will Page’s mini-keynote speech earlier in the morning, was the hot topic of music piracy and streaming services in Australia, which was first point of discussion in this panel. Interestingly, as none of the panelists have line of work in any of these mediums, the discussion moved to physical music sales supposedly soon being extinct. One of the panelists posed the most interesting question; “What’s going to replace the CD? Are we going to use our iPhones to scan a code and then we have the digital files?” It’s pretty obvious to say physical music forms will become niche markets, but are we trying to delay the inevitable?

Discussion moved to how Australian music festivals are now coping with the loss one of the industries finest, Big Day Out, and the battle for international headliners. In a flurry of confusion and a long winded demise, the Big Day Out collapsed with new owners, no financial gain by the hand’s of the “most important figure in Australian music” AJ, best known for their with work with Soundwave and Harvest Festival. Jessica Ducrou pointed out Big Day Out became complacent and lost touch with its audience in its later years. Jessica related that to her experiences with Splendour in the Grass saying  she’s achieved back to back sell out years and solid festival headliners because of consumer feedback, continuous market research and surveys. Big Day Out instead relied on their infamous history to pull them through the overcrowded market.

Keeping on Australian music festivals, the discussion swerved to how important playing these AAA festivals – Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival – is for upcoming bands. Although for bands to attend these festivals, and even to score a spot on the bottom of the bill, they would need to jump through some hoops in their career (hitting 800+ capacity venues, solid radio, Spotify, Shazam coverage, etc.)

So where does radio play a part is this? Technology may still have its tentacles firmly in music distribution, but there will also be a place for radio – whether that be digital, online, community or commercial. Australian radio is viewed as a leader of the pack; it’s what shapes our festival lineups and controls our Spotify playlists. So while there may be a slump, because of the death of Big Day Out, Australian music continues to stay strong to Australians, and our export pals across the seas. Yet we sit in an interesting moment for Australian music, more and more international punters are looking to us for the next big thing – Courtney Barnett, Gotye – but is Australia up to the challenge?


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