Aussie Music Set To Shine As International Acts Remain Blocked Out – Pollstar

Michael Chugg

With tours by Aussie acts expecting to restart by last quarter of 2020 as part of Australia’s COVID-19 recovery, promoters are already negotiating with major and emerging names to get them back on the road.

A golden period for local music is forecast as domestic acts will be the only option for at least six months for starved crowds.

Their international counterparts are not expected here until June 2021 at least, with strict border rules for tourists expected to last until then.

“Many of the touring artists come from the countries most hit by the infection,” said Michael Chugg, head of Sydney-based Chugg Entertainment.

“Why would any international act want to come to Australia and spend two weeks in quarantine?”

TEG chief executive Geoff Jones does not expect to tour international names until late 2021.

The same Aussie-only strategy applies to music festivals, although it’s still unclear when they can return.

Falls Festival

But Secret Sounds fired the first shot for summer when it announced May 6 plans for a limited edition all-Australian lineup for Falls Festival in December/ January.

There was no detail on how “limited” the events would be and if plans are to cover the festival’s four sites at Byron Bay, Lorne outside Melbourne, Marion Bay in Tasmania and Fremantle in Western Australia.

The four dates draw an estimated 75,000 and Falls, like most Australian festivals, rely on international names to boost crowd numbers.

Last summer’s bill included, among others, Hasley, Weekend Vampire and Disclosure.

Secret Sounds’ Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco announced, “We have some of the most exciting acts in the world and this special ‘home grown’ edition of Falls will ensure that money stays in our local economy, providing maximum financial benefit for the Australian music community – artists, management, crew, agents, roadies, production etc – as well as the thousands of contractors and suppliers who rely on our events for their income.”

Falls will fund-raise for music biz charity Support Act, which since March was inundated with a record requests for financial and mental heath aid from out-of-work performers and workers.

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Chugg is at this stage also considering all-Aussie bills for January’s alt-rock Laneway and March’s country & roots CMC Rocks.

The multi-city Laneway drew 75,000 in Australia with a further 5,000 in New Zealand.

CMC Rocks in Queensland drew 60,000 over three days. Cancelling the latter this year caused a loss of over $1 million (US$653, 979), Chugg previously said.
“There are so many unknowns at the moment. What are the guidelines going to say about camping?

“Music venues might initially not allow audiences standing up, how will that necessarily apply to festivals, if at all?”

Chugg’s take on local music is: “In much of the northern hemisphere, acts are going on hiatus until this thing blows over.

“In Australia, though, they’ve never been busier. There’s a boom, there’s more quality local music now than there’s been for quite a time.

“We’re in a honeymoon period, and Australian music is going to mean more than it has ever meant.”

Livestreaming concerts and festivals are notching up strong figures.

via FacebookCasey Barnes

Emerging country singer songwriter Casey Barnes, whom Chugg manages, drew 100,000 viewers to his album launch. A mid-week stream with his wife and baby, brought in 87,000.

Another client, Brisbane band Sheppard, set up a series of livestream events to set up their new single ‘Thank You’, an ode to mothers.

Each drew an average of 40,000. Helped by Mother’s Day (May 10), the track got radio airplay in 21 countries, and within four days stirred chart action in Asia and

Europe.

The increased appetite for Australian music is generated by the myriad of successful livestreaming festivals which have sprung up since late March’s close-

down.

Their mix of the established and the new makes them discovery models for captive audiences.

Isol-Aid, which stared out as a one-off to raise funds for Support Act, celebrated its eighth episode May 9 and 10.

While it has featured household names Missy Higgins, John Butler, Courtney Barnett and Josh Pyke, its work to put the spotlight on emerging acts is regarded

as impeccable by the biz.

Episode 8 saw lineups curated by innovative youth development program FReeZA, indie labels Daily Nightly and the USA’s Saddle Creek Records, while

The Area and City of Parramatta delivered a slice of multicultural West Sydney hip-hop to mainstream tastes.

Long-time band booker Emily Uhlman, co-founder of Isol-Aid, said mid-tier acts like singer songwriters Julia Jacklin and Stella Donnelly get up to 3,000 viewers.

“Each act name-tags the one after, so there is a continuity and discovery in the

show,” she noted.
Livestreaming, Uhlman added, makes fans consume music differently, and is important for music patrons who have issues with physical access, crowds and loud noises.

Isol-Aid

Delivered Live, a 10-episode festival on YouTube financed by the Victorian government to stream music to regional areas, had by its sixth episode raised $320,000, which was shared by 141 musicians, plus comedians, crew members, agents, managers, backline companies and venues.

On May 17, Delivered Live presents the Discharged Festival, with five-camera venue and studio performances from Tones And I, Missy Higgins, Pierce Brothers, The Jezabels, The Black Sorrows and Archie Roach, among others.

It partners with Victoria’s farming community with a “tour” of fresh food markets where local producers offer items for sale (and home delvery fees picked up by the government) and a chef offering meal ideas from these produces.

Kate Ceberano and Friends is based on the soul singer’s 1994 TV show and features six acts each week, charging a donation to raise money for Support Act.

Digital studio ED is launching At Yours, to help festivals, venues and artists sell tickets online and plans to continue the service post-pandemic.

Festival promoters agree the sector must show authorities it will ensure events safety before these are allowed back as early as possible.

One way is to make it compulsory for attendees to have had checks and downloaded the COVIDsafe app which allows authorities to warn users they were in close contact with a carrier.

In an open letter to the industry, Big Day Out founder Ken West suggested, “The best chance a major festival would have to get a green light would be as a test event.

“It might require everyone entering to be registered, COVID tested and have the app to see if it works on a large scale.

“Governments love tests and PM (Scott Morrison) openly wants everyone, especially cynical young people, to download the COVID app” and West goes on to state that “anything this side of 2020 will battle to get clearance,” which might “not a bad thing for now.”
“Pubs, clubs and theatres have been struggling for years from a glut of events and festivals,” he said.

“They employ a lot of people, cater for locals and desperately need support to stay in business. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt festivals to have a break from the market

as well.”

Live Nation Australasia chief executive Roger Field told the Sydney Morning Herald, “this is a time to be working together and helping the government to

determine a plan for our events to come back.

“We aren’t going to be able to do that without ensuring the safety, wellbeing and health of our audiences, staff and artists. That has to be the absolute focus.”