The Aussie BBQ 2014 – STREWTH.

1.

strewth

An Australian, or “Aussie”, exclaimation, similar to the somewhat more popular “Crikey!”
Strewth, that was a hard day, toss me a Fosters mate!

Every year a number of ‘activations’ occur for the company Sounds Australia.

Sounds Australia is Australia’s music market development initiative, established to provide a cohesive and strategic platform to assist the Australian music industry access domestic and international business opportunities.

This Sunday 11th May is the Aussie BBQ London 2014. Some of my favourite Australian bands are playing including (but definitely not limited to…) DUNE RATS, Money for Rope, Jeremy Neale and The John Steel Singers.

The first thing that comes to mind when people think of Australia is how ridiculously far away it is. I speak from first hand experience when I say that bands in Australia also feel the same way. It is a dream to play at festivals like Primavera Sound and  Glastonbury (Stonefield – one of the bands at this years BBQ has done just that) or even smaller festivals like The Great Escape.  That dream often seems impossible, as building a fan base and getting to Europe seems geographically unrealistic.

It is thanks to companies like Sounds Australia that help that dream become reality. The whole process seems extremely natural. The bands are some of the best the country has to offer and the venue has a great reputation in London.

Make sure you get to The Hoxton Bar and Kitchen this weekend for one hell of a Sunday Session. Get there early for a free Sausage Sizzle (a sausage in a piece of bread…) also known as the perfect hangover cure.

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is Australia’s music market development initiative, established to provide a cohesive and strategic platform to assist the Australian music industry access domestic and international business opportunities. – See more at: http://www.soundsaustralia.com.au/#sthash.dBMM1DPV.dpuf
is Australia’s music market development initiative, established to provide a cohesive and strategic platform to assist the Australian music industry access domestic and international business opportunities. – See more at: http://www.soundsaustralia.com.au/#sthash.dBMM1DPV.dpuf

is Australia’s music market development initiative, established to provide a cohesive and strategic platform to assist the Australian music industry access domestic and international business opportunities. – See more at: http://www.soundsaustralia.com.au/#sthash.dBMM1DPV.dpuf
is Australia’s music market development initiative, established to provide a cohesive and strategic platform to assist the Australian music industry access domestic and international business opportunities. – See more at: http://www.soundsaustralia.com.au/#sthash.dBMM1DPV.dpuf

Nautical Themed Pashmina Afghan

My MIDEM afterthoughts may be explained if you imagine that the music industry were represented by the boats in the picture below.

MIDEM BOATS

Those 20 million Euro yachts on the right represent the ‘big dogs’ of the major labels who spent their time on panels talking about the need to go back to ‘traditional ways’ of A&R but had no answer as to why that traditional model ever stopped. ‘What’s wrong with a good old fashioned sail boat?’

To the left are the modest and sturdy sail boats standing independent to those to the right. They set the trend for the current music industry and have always done so. There are only two boats, much fewer than those to the right but the grandeur is still there.

Take Lyor Cohen’s new venture 300 for example. Here we have a boat that wouldn’t be seen dead in Cannes as it stays harbored in Monaco. Lyor is a powerhouse but is trying to invest in a new sail boat. His talk at MIDEM ended with Tom Silverman from the New Music Seminar welcoming Lyor into the Independent sector, stating “you’re going to find like it’s much more like the 80′s again.” This boat called 300 is a label that doesn’t need a welcome party, Google has that covered.

On the yachts, you can hardly move without being trodden on by $845 boat shoes. Representatives of various streaming services that marginally differ from one another converse in shouting matches, trying to get the attention of four men sat in the corner eating caviar and drinking don. Over the noise however, two words keep coming through, they are ‘digital’ and ‘streaming’.

I spent a large proportion of my MIDEM with the Sail Boat that is Sounds Australia. It was nice being around down to earth music lovers. People who are in the industry for the right reasons, who are working for a brand that holds some moral integrity and is taking the music industry to a better place. An interesting statement that The Mae Trio posed during their performance at the Aussie Barbecue showcase was “considering this is a music conference, where is all the music?!”

I didn’t go into MIDEM expecting a SXSW atmosphere. At the same time I didn’t expect the focal point of the festival to be the Superbowl. I spent the night of the Superbowl party much like all of the other people in the room, not actually paying attention. I did tune in for the halftime show and that’s when I realised that the Industry is a hybrid of the two boats above. Here we have the branding, the advertisements, the fans but also Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers who went back to basics and put on a kick ass show.

They say the happiest two days in a mans life are : the day he buys a boat, and the day he sells it.

MIDEM demonstrated what I love and hate about the current state of the industry. The music industry isn’t for sail. (pun intended)

Here’s a nice picture with Ben, the conference manager of MIDEM.

MIDEMGROUP

 

Midem 2014 – My student experience

Midem is the number one event in Europe for music business people to come together and bring what they can offer to the industry. It is set-up on the beautiful French Riviera where one can gaze at some 50 feet yachts for the entire day while enjoying delightfully expensive, although very ordinary coffee. All sarcasm set aside, I had a delightful extended weekend away from the crunch of studying, in the unexampled company of my good friends and classmates.

 

– Resume reprobative hair-splitting – 

As exciting as it was to attend talks from legendary executives (i.e. : Lyor Cohen), one could easily get discouraged by the general stagnating state of the industry. To clarify, it felt like all the talks and panelists where saying a lot to not really say much in the end, the general consensus always reverted to the point that it was all about the music to start with – so why on earth did this ever change?!

With all due respect to the brilliant executives that they are, with the illustrious career paths and resumes to back it up, this is a no-brainer type of statement. The only reason why it ever changed is because they thought they could get away with turning music into a factory product. And when faced with the occasional narrow (cornering) questions from the audience, a general discomfort and awkward moments of staring at each other would take-over amongst the panelists.
I’m not trying to rant, or be disrespectful even, but it felt very much like the general topic was always to try and save the music industry with revolutionary innovative ideas that will ‘change the game’, but no one tries to take that leap of faith that could potentially instigate this change.

But we’re talking about the people who thought that digital would just be a phase, so I don’t really expect anything other than a certain level of comfort and reluctance to change radically. So they just take their time and literally take over a decade to start shining a light on the right path to adopt. If it weren’t for music business gurus by the likes of future music business leader and key growing player Benji Rogers of Pledgemusic, I would say we would be better off throwing-in the towel.

And then I got the chance to meet some interesting people. The good people from Sounds Australia really showed their independent spirit and threw an Aussie BBQ party with three stunning performances from Jeff Lang (amazing guitarist who uses effects like a modern Hendrix with an acoustic guitar), talented singer/songwriter Sherill Morris, and the harmony-infused amazing Mae Trio that gave me goosebumps all throughout this lovely Monday lunch. We also shared a few laughs and drinks during and after the conference. I also met this year’s winners of the MidemLab competition – Midem’s startup and app developer competition – NaGual Sounds on the night before the laureates had been announced. We had a good time at a Carlton hotel party, exchanged contacts and learned all about the software they had been developing, needless to say I was really happy to see these guys win the next day.

If I were to pick two quotes from the weekend, I’d have to go with Rita Ora, who despite her incredibly good looks kind of ruined it when she expressed her deepest sentiments for the Vevo Lift campaign she was ‘blessed’ be a part of – ‘I love how the internet and the media is completely controlling what we do’…
And in second place comes Lyor Cohen, who is venturing into setting-up an independent label backed with a partnership with Google – let’s not even go there – with a statement that is beautifully raw and full of integrity to the challenging role that is that of a businessman in the music industry – ‘when you f*** with good […] you miss the opportunity of capturing and maybe being a part of magnificent’ and later concluded with ‘sign stars, don’t dust-bums-off’.

I really didn’t expect to walk out of Midem with an internship sealed, or even a job because frankly very few companies that were there put-up an appealing front. I went in not expecting much, came out with a lot more than what I was hoping, and a lot less money on my bank account. It was more of a networking workshop/experience that has taught me a lot about people as professionals who enjoy playing the game, as well as colleagues as ardent white-collars, some of whom will do pretty much anything to be able to play the game.