The streets of Cronulla were crawling with creative types this month for the suburb’s inaugural Australian Music Week. Carla Grossetti wraps it up.
“I’m a great believer in Australian music. We have to get the youth of Australia into live music or we’re stuffed,” says promoter, agent and raconteur Ted Gardner.
As co-founder of Lollapalooza festival, former manager of bands such as Jane’s Addiction, Tool, Verve and Queens of the Stone Age, Gardner should know.
The controversial artist manager was one of many industry greats in the spotlight during Cronulla’s inaugural Australian Music Week, which Gardner declared in an interview with Stuart Coupe “a showcase for the industry’s growth”.
Trio a hard act to follow
Although director Geoff Trio and his team have spent much of the past year planning the event – which featured more than 150 artists performing close to 250 shows on 18 stages over three days – he is not about to rest on his laurels.
“The plan is to make this festival an annual event. In order to achieve that, we have to start work on next year’s event and capitalise on this year’s success,” says Trio, who also co-owns El Sol Mexican and the Brass Monkey and manages local acts The Lazys and Rin McArdle.
“The feedback I’ve been getting is so hugely positive. As well as luring serious industry greats here to talk about the changing landscape, we had artists making major connections with booking agents and managers who were actively looking to sign new acts,” he says.
Music to Cronulla’s ears
Trio, who grew up in Sydney’s southern suburbs, says he was inspired to curate the event in Cronulla after attending the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas and the Big Sound in Brisbane.
“I grew up in the Shire and I thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do something like this in Cronulla?’ where the focus is on putting more music in front of more people and celebrating emerging talent,” says Trio.
“We wanted to help young artists
learn from the experts on how to
better navigate the landscape and
cut through the noise and be heard.” – Geoff Trio.
Festival attendees were given the opportunity to see acts such as hip-hop artist Waza at Shucked Oyster Bar, hear from the controversial co-founder of Lollapalooza Ted Gardner (former manager of Jane’s Addiction) about his highs and lows in the industry and learn from workshops entitled What do Record Labels Even Do? and Getting a Start in the Music Industry. The festival wrapped up on Sunday with HiFi Days, which included headline act UB40 as well as acts such as Caravana Sun, The Hot Potato Band and Fripps & Fripps.
Captured puts musicians in the spotlight
Hip hop singer Waza believes the range of topics discussed during the industry-related workshops had the potential to give emerging artists a nudge down the right path.
“If I had attended an event like this 15 years ago when I was starting out I reckon I would have achieved the success I am enjoying now so much sooner,” says Waza, whose music video for Lost in Space is one of the Captured: Australia finalists.
“AMW gives us, as artists, the opportunity to meet face to face with industry experts and agents rather than trying to connect via email or over the phone. It’s very insightful to hear speakers such as Nick Findlay from Triple J saying ‘it’s not enough to have a song on the Jay’s playlist. You need to get out and build your own fan base which creates its own momentum’. That kind of advice is gold,” he says.
Gigs and all that jazz
Singer songwriter Kristafor Farrenkothen says as well as being given the opportunity to play lots of gigs back to back, he was invited to support other acts on upcoming tours and make connections with other musos. He says what surprised him most about his trip to Sydney’s south was discovering the cool counter-culture that exists in Cronulla.
Stephen Wade, director, Select Music Agency says artists must understand that success – first and foremost – relies on ‘building a community’. And that, say the organisers of AMW is what the music festival was all about.