Wednesday 6 September
10:00 – Stay Woke, Stay Punk, Stay Relevant, JWC, Freya
Punk music and hard rock often dance along a line of questionable intent. With more than a few acts proffering lyrics which engage in a racist, misogynistic and hateful dialogue, it seemed high time that the experts in the area took their opinions to the roundtable at Stay Woke, Stay Punk, Stay Relevant and hashed it out. The panelists included Emily Kelly founder of Deathproof, Hayley Connelly Founder of PR Agency Little Press, Janine Morcos Head of Publicity at Cooking Vinyl Australia, Roy Amar of the band Jericco and Founder of Bear Parts Records, and Tom Taafe of The Agency Group.
Drawing examples such as that from the relatively recent The Dickies sexist heckling controversy in Denver, the panel brought to light where labels and PR should draw the line, what they are capable of standing by and supporting, and where they are obliged on a professional and moral level to drop the artist from their roster.
The intent and meaning of punk and hard rock were called into question: what does punk mean in today’s context? While sexism and hate might have slipped under the radar in the ’80s, is there space for that side of the conversation for music? And if so, who makes the call? A really great seminar, especially for someone who had not previously been privy to the discourse surrounding punk music.
11:20 – 2017 HQ, JWC, Freya
2017 HQ touched upon the sales and movement within the music industry on a global scale. With a word from Brett Cottle CEO of APRA AMCOS, Alison Wenham CEO of Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), Chris Scadden of ABC Radio, Dan Rosen CEO of ARIA and PPCA and Jane Abernathy of 4AD. Speakers weighed in on their understanding of the transitioning market and where focuses should be. Touching on Spotify and the role of YouTube advertising and copyright, this was a really enlightening discussion. It called to question exactly where artists are being paid and how much, where artists should be focussing their attention and what responsibility corporations like Google and Spotify have when it comes to actively supporting artists, as opposed to chasing the dollar. Moderated by Paul Barclay from ABC Radio National, the tone and viewpoint of each speaker
Touching on Spotify and the role of YouTube advertising and copyright, this was a really enlightening discussion. It called to question exactly where artists are being paid and how much, where artists should be focussing their attention and what responsibility corporations like Google and Spotify have when it comes to actively supporting artists, as opposed to chasing the dollar. Moderated by Paul Barclay from ABC Radio National, the tone and viewpoint of each speaker was balanced across the board, from an industry and an international perspective.
11:20 – Making It Last, Cloudland, Brynn
The self-acknowledged panel of white dudes began by discussing how they were addressing diversity in their workspaces.
A brief moment of silence, a few exchanged looks left and right as to who would speak first. Sullivan Patten opened up about identifying as non-conforming, and how they don’t work with “bands that are all cis white straight men.” Nic Warnock of R.I.P. Society Records came down hard on artists who cold-email him demos, saying that he has never been sent anything that he felt compelled to release. He also said that he wasn’t interested in seeing many bands at BIGSOUND because he doesn’t believe the ones with true talent have these kinds of events on their radar. Finally, he suggested that a blessing of being in Sydney is that your dreams are immediately crushed and you’ll never amount to anything. Harsh words eliciting a lot of laughter from the room.
Ric Leichtung joked about his tough experiences as an independent promoter, working in events at AdHoc Presents. He suggested that to get the artists that he really wants to work with, he has to work with a lot of musicians he doesn’t like or doesn’t believe will get any traction, dubbing it a “tax” on the indie promoter. He lamented the freedom of choice that larger promoters have in working with the acts they desire, and how the little guy gets over charged and dealt the “bottom of the barrel”. We wrapped up with a “What have you learned that you wish you knew when you started?” question, answered with a resounding “nothing” from the table.
A pretty apt way to describe the panel as a whole – more a conversation between speakers than an engaging discussion directed at benefiting the audience with tips and lessons about keeping our indie arts businesses afloat.
14:00 – Every Space Should Be A Safe Space, JWC, Brynn
Following on from a confronting year of sexual assaults, overdoses, stampedes and general ill behavior on the part of crowds at events and festivals, we addressed a pertinent topic that sparked much debate. Stacey Piggott of Secret Service PR talked broadly about the events at Falls festival and others which lead to Your Choice, raising that individual accountability and responsibility goes out the window at major events, and we need to change the dialogue from blaming organising bodies, turning it back onto the perpetrators.
Elspeth Scrine talked about the “massive cultural underpinnings” of violence, with the panel discussing security guard training in cultural sensitivity to decrease the number of security-driven conflicts. We segway here into signage, “What the fuck does ‘antisocial behavior’ even mean?” Elspeth questions, and we all cheer as she rattles off the specified language on signs at Cool Room in Melbourne: “No sexism; no racism; no ableism; no homophobia; no queerphobia; no transphobia; no fatshaming; no slutshaming.”
Discussion arose during question time, with a woman from the audience raising the issue of artist boycotts at venues who draw aggressive or violent crowds. Conversation circulated between audience and panelists about the importance of bands using the opportunity to communicate the message of inclusivity with their fans in a proactive approach, rather than boycotting the venue. On the flip side, Elspeth and another audience member argued that if that decision is coming from a place of concern for personal safety or past trauma and experience, artists should exercise their right to boycott freely. Udaravi Widanapathirana from Mellum PR had contributed hard-hitting truths throughout the hour, leaving us with the final message of inclusivity moving forward: Every individual has different boundaries. Getting people to reflect on how their actions impact on others is just as important as having a zero tolerance policy.
15:35 – AIM Presents: Alternative Release & Marketing Strategies
The Australian Institute of Music is bound to host a fantastic panel discussion, and the Alternate Release Strategies and Marketing seminar did not disappoint. Hosted by Head of School Rob Cannon, the panel included Andrew Jervis Chief Curator of Bandcamp, Ben Godding Head of Marketing at Kobalt Music Recordings, Carl Young Head of Music and Talent at Vevo, Charles Kirby Welsh Founder of Kartel Ltd, Matt Fielder CEO of Vinyl Me Please and Zena White Managing Director of Partisan Records.
A diverse and multi skilled team, they brought their all in addressing the alternate ways artists and managers alike can address international marketing. From social media to physical vs digital sales, the panel came together to break down the key issues faced by artists looking to expand their market outside of Australia. Raising questions such as ‘Do I sign with an international label? If so how do I make that happen?’ ‘Is online streaming and release going to serve me well financially in the future?’ ‘How much money does launching an artist actually cost? And where do I get those funds?’
An enlightening and eloquent conversation on all facets of the seminar, with a focus on asking as many questions as possible and believing in the work that you are selling and representing. The main issue that kept coming up was fan bases, the importance of working closely with your fans to ensure strong and lasting relationships and loyalty to your act.
15:45 – Gender In Music: Quotas & Bridging The Confidence Gap, JWC, Brynn
We’re all sick to tears of having this conversation, but sadly – like quotas – it’s still necessary until we achieve widespread cultural change.
At a panel which discussed bridging the gender gap and the importance of working together, sadly, men were considerably underrepresented. There was also supposed to be a male on the panel, but Bob Van Heur of Le Guess Who? didn’t make his flight. It would have been great to see a more balanced representation.
Triana Hernandez of Mellum PR brought home the issue of the discussion itself, stating that “As a Latin woman I want to be seen for my work, not because I’m not white. If you want to know who I am, read my work.” When interviewing artists, we’re reminded to ask them what they would like the focus to be – whether they want to talk about their experiences with discrimination and inequality, of if they’d like it to be elsewhere.
Elspeth Scrine, now mediating, defined intersectionality for us: just because we all occupy one position as women, doesn’t mean we are all oppressed equally. Triana added: “At the end of the day you could be a woman of colour and working against women.”
There was far more camaraderie in the room this afternoon, everyone a little looser, a little more quick to participate. Ash Kerley from music camp Girls Rock! received the biggest cheer of the day, telling us how they’re changing negative internal dialogue by having everyone yell ‘YOU ROCK’ whenever someone apologises for themselves unnecessarily. Hilariously, when Elspeth did exactly this later in the hour, the entire room yelled “YOU ROCK” with much applause.
Sullivan Patten brought humour to a difficult experience, saying that “It’s really hard to feel safe in a male bathroom, and also not vilified in a female bathroom. I just want to pee.”
While these panels can make us all feel a bit ‘ugh’ going over the same issues over and over again, question time ultimately confirmed the panel’s importance, with a woman from the audience thanking the speakers for educating her about female oppression and intersectionality, of which she had previously been unaware. Even on an individual level, education, awareness, and respect move us one step closer to achieving equality.