We all love to see artists perform live at venues. It’s the lifeblood of the music industry and is more and more the financial backbone of an artist’s livelihood. Hearing a song on radio, streaming service or record, is the trigger for a fan to see the act live and where the artist can really showcase their work. Australia’s illustrious history of producing domestic and international artists success stories have often been built on live performance. Just think AC/DC, The Rubens, Hilltop Hoods, Midnight Oil, INXS and The Jezabels to name a few. Their reputations are all built on solid touring and relentless gigging. For many of us attending local shows is a fundamental part of our cultural and social lives.
Maintaining a healthy and sustainable venue based live music scene is essential to a healthy music industry. Over the past few years, venues have been under extreme pressure and we have seen closures in both regional and metropolitan areas. Fortunately it’s not all bad news, as there have been new venues opening too.
The Live Music Office was established in 2013 to support the growth of the venue-based live music sector in Australia. Supported by funding partners the Federal Government, the Australia Council for the Arts and APRA AMCOS, it has two main aims; to increase live music performance opportunities and to support live music audience and sector development. Policy Director John Wardle and Audience and Sector Development Director Damian Cunningham work to provide the vision and strategic direction.
Essential to policy development and regulatory reform is identifying the local needs and issues facing the sector. The Live Music Office has seen good results in bringing together representatives from the local industries involved with live music to host open forums for venues, performers, arts organisations and regulatory agencies. These forums identify issues and form the basis of strategic planning for live music in that region.
Key issues identified nationally include:
- Strategic Planning and Capacity Building.
- Better Regulation and Built Environment Policy.
- Reducing Land Use Conflict.
- Ensuring Sustainable Venues – Regional, Outer Metropolitan and Metropolitan.
- Venue Best Practice – Business Practices, Publicity and Marketing Guidance.
Building capacity through live music strategic planning at both state and local levels support the deployment of sector development strategies like best practice resources and the Live and Local precinct model. It’s crucial to the development of live music across the country that we also include representative organisations such as AHA and Clubs Australia and the broader hospitality sector into supporting new and existing live music venues.
Initiatives developed by the Live Music Office underpin best practice and aid these venues to approach programming live music in an effective and sustainable way.
The Live Music Office has developed the Live and Local precinct model, which is a grassroots endeavour that promotes live music in communities. It brings together venues, local businesses, musicians and the public for an event in their community that creates opportunities for employment and cultural development. Established live music venues, showcase local artists and aligned to an already established “ host” event. Retail outlets, cafes and restaurants in addition to regular venues are transformed into temporary live music spaces. The ancillary industries to live music such as local providers of sound and lighting equipment are also engaged within the event. It’s also a chance for the public to experience what their local live music scene has to offer and develop a narrative with the venues, while businesses can witness first-hand the impact live music has on their revenue. And for musicians, it’s a well-paid gig that can lead to future opportunities. The IGNITE event series is an example of this model. In Nov 2014, 44 artists performed live at over 10 venues in Kings Cross in conjunction with ARIA week. The positive feedback from venues, performers, attendees and the local community has resulted in planning for a 2015 event.
Live music can seem like a complex business, so to ensure the Live and Local precinct model is effective, the Live Music Office have put together assets and guides on ways to bring shows into all types of venues including Cafes, Restaurants, Clubs, Bars and Hotels. A venue may have one show a month or seven shows a week, but building a plan for presenting live music and knowing the process involved is essential to a successful gig. There is advice on the processes involved for both venues and artists, along with examples and templates of key documents that are commonly used to ensure the successful delivery of live music events. Assistance to venues is covered with topics such as how to book artists, working with artists and managing shows. While artists have access to information on finding and playing shows, dealing with venues, marketing and budgeting, Media, ticketing and touring.
Through initiatives like these we have developed the foundations to building a more sustainable live music practice and to up skill and educate all involved in the business of live music.
More information can be found at the Live Music Office website