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CEO report February 2012

6 Mar 2012

Greetings Music Victoria members and subscribers 

Music fans from all over the country celebrated our vibrant live music scene at about 140 small venues for inaugural National SLAM Day last week   in the biggest nationally coordinated celebration of music since the Sound Relief concerts in 2009.

Visiting a number of venues on the night was a chance to fully appreciate how lucky music fans are, particularly in Victoria, and to appreciate the intimacy and sense of community in our small venues. Federation Square promoted the event on its big screen and the day received mass media coverage around the country.

And it seems the growth of Melbourne’s live scene holds no bounds. North Melbourne Institute of Technology’s recently released its annual The State of Play report 2010-2011 found that the scene grew 3.2 per cent in 2011, and more than $210 million was spent in advertising and promoting these shows.

Yet problems continue to threaten our venues, and this was highlighted with news that electronic music venue Miss Libertine was sadly closing its doors to live performances.

But it seems that councils are listening. The City of Yarra Live Music Working Group, which includes Music Victoria board member Jon Perring, has recommended that it review existing regulatory practices to ensure that pressures on live music operators and residents are reflected in policy, procedures and practices, including the application of the Agent of Change principle which puts the onus of responsibility on the new venue or resident.

Over in the City of Port Phillip, councillor Serge Thomann is making the review of the existing live music and entertainment precincts a priority in the upcoming elections.

And in the City of Melbourne, Councillor Cathy Oke is investigating initiatives that encourage and protect cultural spaces in the City of Melbourne, including looking at how the Agent of Change principle can be incorporated into the Melbourne planning scheme. Last month Melbourne City Council approved two structure plans for the inner north that backed creating a cultural infrastructure plan to support spaces including art studios, theatres and live music venues.

Music Victoria is working with the City of Melbourne council exploring parking passes which would allow bands to park closer to venues in the CBD.

On a state level, the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Michael O’Brien, confirmed to Music Victoria that the Premier’s Live Music Roundtable, which will include members of peak bodies such as Music Victoria, the AHA (Australian Hotels Association) and Victoria Police to investigate issues such as the Agent of Change principle and underage gigs, will be set up in the near future.

With the help of our student committee, Music Victoria is investigating impediments to the underage scene. Unlike NSW, where the scene continues to thrive, over 18’s are not allowed to attend under age gigs here, and Victorian promoters have to pay a $178 de-licensing fee, which is not refunded if the tour is postponed or cancelled.

Promoters have told Music Victoria that the fee and red tape is discouraging many venues and promoters from putting on under age gigs, which are a vital catalyst in attracting lifetime fans and workers in the music industry.

Music Victoria also arranged a meeting with the Department of Justice  to discuss industry concerns about recent amendments to the Liquor Reform Act 1988. Under the new Section 3AA amenity has been re-classified so that venue operators are responsible for behaviour inside their premises that could detract from the amenity of the area. In theory, this means that venues could be fined if a performer swears on stage. A representative for the Victoria Police, which will enforce the provision, assured us that they were not about to start prosecuting people for swearing. We will monitor the situation, but please let us know if you have any problems.

Music Victorian members will also be able to save more in excess baggage fees after Qantas announced a new arrangement to support touring musicians. Musicians flying Qantas will now be able to pre-book an additional baggage allowance of one piece weighing up to 23 kilograms free of charge, meaning they can double their baggage allowance to 46 kilograms. See our website for details. Music Victoria members can already benefit from Virgin Australia’s offer to check in up to three bags weighing up to 32 kilograms, and pool their luggage between band members.

In a good sign for recorded music, it appears that the recorded music industry slide may have bottomed out. ARIA’s latest wholesale figures for recorded music declined just 0.34 per cent in 2011, and it seems the rise in digital sales is starting to offset the decline in physical sales.

This is pertinent timing as it’s going to be a massive year for Victorian artists, here and overseas. Leading the way is Mornington Peninsula’s favourite son, Gotye, who recently became the sixth Australian-based artist to top the UK charts and continues to storm charts overseas.

If you are interested in learning more about how social media can help your act, or want to brush up on your financial knowledge and find out exactly what you can claim in your tax returns on 30th June, make sure you get along to our panels at the Brunswick Festival on 19th and 20th March.

And for our regional members, we will be hosting professional development seminars at the Port Fairy RSL at the Port Fairy Folk Festival on Saturday 10th March from 11.30am (free to non-ticket holders as well) and the Mossvale Park Music Festival in Gippsland on the main stage from midday on Saturday 17th March.

Please mark down the last two weeks of April in your diaries for Music Victoria’s first membership campaign. We will be sending out a survey to subscribers in the next few weeks asking what would entice non-members to join up and what existing members want to see. As always, your feedback is important. We will be hosting a networking event at the end of the campaign for all members which will be a great chance to meet you all.

As our state government funding is not guaranteed after 1st July 2013, is it essential we encourage as many supporters as possible to sign up and become financial members to keep Music Victoria going.

That’s all for now, please keep supporting our wonderful music scene.

 Cheers

Patrick Donovan
CEO, Music Victoria

 

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CEO report December - the big 2011 wrap-up

22 Dec 2011

It’s been a big year for Music Victoria and the industry and we’ve noticed that, as De La Soul once sang, three is the magic number.

For years the music industry has lagged behind other industries because of a lack of meaningful data. But this was addressed this year when APRA, Arts Victoria and the City of Melbourne each released reports into the economic, social and cultural contribution made by music.

2011 will be remembered as the year that they started to take the music industry seriously. The three reports highlighted the importance of the industry and will help shape the decision making process in years to come.

The Victorian government and Responsible Alcohol Victoria have also acknowledged the value of the industry by amending the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 by inserting an object into the act recognising the contribution of live music to the state. Objects act as guiding principles of the act and should not only help avoid another SLAM rally but give weight to the push for the Agent of Change principle (which protects existing venues against new neighbours) to be given legislative teeth. We look forward to working on that, and other issues, on the soon-to-be established Live Music Roundtable in 2012.

Music venues are an endangered species. This year we lost the Arthouse and the Public Bar, the East Brunswick Club band room will wind up after summer and the Prince Bandroom’s future hangs in the balance (although the appointment of a new band booker announced today is a positive sign). On the other hand, great new venues such as the Phoenix Public House hosting music again, and the Regal Ballroom in Northcote and Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine will also start hosting live music.

While there’s not a lot that can be done to stymie the encroaching inner city gentrification, Music Victoria is looking at ways local councils and government can help make it more cost effective for licensees to host live music. Music Victoria also attends monthly meetings with band bookers from venues around Melbourne to talk about issues affecting live music venues and what we can do to help.

2011 will also be remembered as the year Melbourne simultaneously and successfully hosted three major music events – the Face the Music conference, the Australasian World Music Expo and the second Melbourne Music Week. All events were well attended and if the positive reaction from the creative director of Austin, Texas conference South by Southwest, Brent Grulke, is anything to go by, we’ve got a winner on our hands. Grulke, one of the most traveled and influential leaders in the music industry, was blown away by the industry’s size and talent in his nine days in Melbourne in November and confirmed that Melbourne has the passion, talent and infrastructure to run its own version of SXSW.

Three is also the number of committees that Music Victoria established in 2011 to ensure that it is broadly representative of the industry.

  • the 70-strong Victorian Music Council, made up of leading musicians, managers, regional festival promoters, venue owners, community radio station managers and music lawyers, which helps guide the organization on priorities and policy;
  • the Education Advisory Committee, which guides us on education matters;
  • the Student Committee, comprised of 13 of the state’s top music business and performance students. 

In 2012, the students will be working towards setting up an internship database and Code of Conduct, re-vitalising the underage and all-ages gig circuit, helping promote National Slam Day on 23rd February at TAFEs, unis and around the state, and assisting us in working with Centrelink to have a better understanding of the value of creative industries. For this, they will be working with our volunteer researcher Kerri Russell, who is adding the finishing touches to our Centrelink survey and report. It will be on our website soon and we will be approaching federal MPs about our recommendations. Thank you to everyone who contributed by completing our survey.

The Australian Music Industry Network, of which I am a director, had a great year, negotiating a deal with Virgin Australia that allows Music Victoria members to save thousands of dollars a year in excessive baggage fees. If you’re not a member, sign up now and save. We are also offering two Virgin Velocity memberships to new members who sign up and existing members who renew before the end of December. We’ll draw these lucky winners at random in the new year.

I also enjoyed my time on the National Film and Sound Archive board this year, and look forward to helping raise its music-related profile and acquisitions next year.

Music Victoria is also helping facilitate the Generate pilot program with APRA and the federal Creative Industries Innovation Centre (CIIC) to help identify, educate and fund the best and most innovative15 music-related business ideas in the country. For more details check our website and register your interest if you have an innovative music business idea. An information session will be held in Melbourne on 22nd February – you must be registered to attend this workshop.

And all of you licensees and band bookers out there, don’t to forget to register your events at slamrally.org and be part of the first National SLAM Day on 23rd February 2012 , celebrating our small live venues.

The Music Victoria board has recently been boosted by the addition of musician and festival programmer Sophia Brous and Street Press Australia’s own Leigh Treweek, and we look forward to harnessing their ideas and energy in 2012. Welcome aboard, folks!

Music Victoria is a non-for-profit organisation that survives on a state government grants, sponsorship, donations and membership fees. The state government, which has provided operational funding until the end of June 2013, has advised that we have to start working towards self-sustainability.

So it’s vital that our subscribers who support what we have done in our short tenure get behind us and become financial members. The more of the industry we represent, the healthier the industry and stronger we all become.

Our music scene is strong, but it’s a fragile ecosystem. On top of venues closing down, this year we lost record store institution Hound Dog’s Bop Shop, which closes its doors this week after decades of providing roots music lovers with rare vinyl and CDs. Make sure you pop down to 313 Victoria Street West Melbourne, buy some tunes and say farewell to manager Denys Williams, who says he is closing the store for a lifestyle change, not because of slow business. And make sure you hit the other record stores (check our Melbourne Music City guide for lists) and stock up on Victorian music for excellent Christmas presents.

And finally, our wishes are with music guru Molly Meldrum, who has been in an induced coma at the Alfred Hospital this week after falling from a ladder. Get well Molly!

Paddy and Bek would like to thank the Music Victoria board for their guidance and patience; and huge thank you to all the volunteers who have worked with us this year – Kerri, Ryan, Tania, Meredith, Graham, Cassie, Lanie and Carrie. 

Have a great Xmas and New Year. The Music Victoria office will be closed from Friday 23rd December and we’ll be back on board on 9th January, ready for a new year.

Patrick Donovan
CEO, Music Victoria 

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CEO report November 2011

4 Nov 2011

Greetings Music Victoria members and subscribers

Thanks to those of you who attended the Annual General Meeting of Music Victoria on Tuesday 18th October. It was a great turnout with more than 50 enthusiastic members attending to vote in the board elections and hear about the organisation’s fruitful year. 

The Face the Music conference on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th November is fast approaching. Music Victoria plays an active role in the conference, which has broadened out from its focus on young people entering the industry. Tickets are on sale now and are great value at only $60 full / $50 concession for a 2 day pass or $40 full / $30 concession for a 1 day pass. Don’t forget that Music Victoria members get a 10% discount. Members can email us directly to access the discount code. 

November is going to be a huge month for music fans. Music Victoria is also co-presenting the Live Music Safari event on Thursday 24th November as part of Melbourne Music Week. The Live Music Safari will see the best small venues in the Melbourne City Council area offer free, one-off line-ups of some of Victoria’s best artists. We’re also proud to support the excellent Australasian World Music Expo (AWME) from 17th – 20th November. 

Read full report....

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From the CEO's desk - December news

7 Dec 2010

Deborah Conway’s 1990s hit ‘It’s Only the Beginning’ was Ted Baillieu’s theme song during the election campaign and we at Music Victoria are hoping that that sentiment rings true over the next few weeks when the new Government formulates its arts policy.

Mr Baillieu taking on the arts portfolio as well as running the state augurs well for the arts community, as it will give arts initiatives a higher profile.

Music Victoria encourages musical education and celebrating Melbourne venues, but we would love to also see support for artists at the grassroots level and in training and development.

It would be great to capitalise on some of our best talent, with artists such as Conway (who currently runs the Queensland Music Festival) and Paul Grabowski (who runs the Adelaide Festival of the Arts) and Mick Harvey involved in curating any new festivals.

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Rocktober - From the CEO's desk

25 Oct 2010

What a great month it has been for the Victorian music community. 

Yes, Rocktober has been truly rocking – music has been all over the media, people are talking about it at pubs and around the office water coolers, listening to it at train stations, on trams, in the City and Federation Square. 

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From the CEO's desk

24 Sep 2010

G'day, Music Victoria has had a busy month catching up with members of the music industry. We held a musicians forum in our offices for about 25 participants, including Terry Noone from the Musicians Union, Mae Parker from Support Act Limited, Quincy McLean from SLAM, Ariel Valent from City of Melbourne and musicians Steve Lucas, Jen Cloher and Charles Jenkins, who engaged in a robust discussion about the state of music in the state.

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From the CEO's desk

20 Aug 2010

Dear Music Victoria supporters
Your CEO reported for duty at the Brunswick Town Hall office of Music Victoria for his first day of work on Monday, 33 years to the day that Elvis 'The King' Presley left the building for the last time. And what a first week it has been. Our project officer Bek Duke had only just secured the office space, computers and second-hand furniture, but within days it felt like home.

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