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In 2014, singer/songwriter Héloise took out the competition with her single Home. The winning track is a love letter to her adopted home of Melbourne and won her an open slather of industry connections, recording time and marketing advice. As Héloise states, the Melbourne Music Bank gave her the break she needed.


“It’s been an amazing opportunity,” she says. “I’ve met so many people who have offered me guidance and expertise. It’s been such a valuable thing in an industry where it’s so hard to get these contacts from scratch.”


Since her breakthrough and with the help of her newfound network, Héloise has sold out a single launch, garnered national radio play and taken her set to Falls Festival. Clearly, she’s built up solid momentum since her win.


“The prizes are all useful things,” she adds. “It’s not like a slot at a festival at ten in the morning and then that’s it. These are all useful things that I probably wouldn’t have been able to financially afford nor had access to. I have people contact me all the time now.”


As well as getting to work with top quality producers and industry pros, Héloise has learnt valuable lessons about what it takes to be a top tier artist.


“I think the main thing is you really have to be at the top of your game,” she says. “I’ve really learnt to push myself to do stuff rather than sit around and think, ‘I should have done this, I should have played that gig or taken that opportunity’. It’s been awesome – a really good stepping stone into the industry. It’s good to get a glimpse of what having a career in music is like.”


This year, the prize pool is even larger with the successful songwriter walking away with two days recording time at Melbourne’s famous Sing Sing studios, a film clip by Oh Yeah Wow (Gotye, Husky, The Paper Kites), album artwork, CD pressing, professional photography, media training, mentorship, dedicated press team and a booking agent. With such a comprehensive kickstart package up for grabs, Héloise is living proof that a career can be transformed by the Melbourne Music Bank.


“This is what I want to do for the rest of my life” she says. “Anything that’s making progress towards being a musician full time and not having to work a day job – actually being able to make a living as a musician – anything that’s progressing towards that is good. It’s all positive.”


Along with a slew of other talented industry giants, musician and radio presenter Ella Hooper returns as the ambassador for the Music Bank. Drawing from her experience in Killing Heidi and a critically acclaimed solo career, she’s excited to be combining her passions for music and mentoring young talent. “I feel like my career has come full circle” says Hooper.


With over 15 years in the industry, she’s learnt first hand what it’s like to work up the music industry’s ladder.


“It’s nice for me to help educate and assist the next generation. It doesn’t make me feel old, but it makes me feel wise,” she laughs. “I have a lot to share and I want to be involved. I also want to help people avoid some of the pitfalls that I went through early in my career.”


For Hooper, a fresh musical perspective and sound is essential for success. As a judge for the competition, she’ll be looking for someone following their own voice instead of following trends.


“I really, really promote trying to create a unique identity and to protect your uniqueness when you’re making creative works. I think having a voice that’s recognisable – whether that’s a musical voice or literally your vocals – just having that be unique and recognisable is my number one piece of advice that I give to these guys. Basically, don’t follow trends,” she says.

Ultimately, the winner of the Melbourne Music Bank will need a killer song. The judges will be painstakingly sifting through hundreds of singles sent in from hopeful applicants in genres ranging from folk to rap. As Hooper divulges, the panel will be looking for something that stands out from the masses. “Something that has impact, that’s catchy but not cheesy. These are the types of things I look for,” she says. “For me, I’m really drawn to lyrics. I love music that can be accessed; that’s not trying to be too cool or highbrow. What I’ve discovered is that I like naivety. I really like things to come across like they were just blurted out. I think there’s genius in naivety.”


Certainly, Hooper is committed to giving the next generation of musicians the leg up they need. “All you need is a push, and I think things like Melbourne Music Bank are a great push. We are the snowball pushers” she says with enrapturing optimism. “You’ve just got to have a good snowball, and we can push it for you.”  


Héloise is currently recording her second EP. Ella Hooper’s debut album In Tongues is out now.