Australian Music Industry News: Michael’s Rule, new label signings and more!

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


Australian Music Industry News: Michael’s Rule, new label signings and more!

Australian Music Industry News
Words by Christie Eliezer

Catch up on the latest from our ever-changing industry!


Some of the most powerful names in the Australian live sector has swung behind a call by the Association of Artist Managers (AAM) to make it compulsory for all international tours to have at least one Australian opening act.

This follows SZA, Taylor Swift and Niall Horan tours which had no Australian opening acts, which lost the opportunity to be seen by hundreds of thousands of new audiences.

This was despite a voluntary code introduced in the 2000s.

Legacy Gong

Last year when the Hoodoo Gurus’ long time manager Michael McMartin was awarded the Legacy gong at the AAM Awards, in his acceptance speech, he called for the code to be reinforced.

At last week’s 2024 AAM Awards in Sydney, the association which has over 300 members, decided that the best way to pay tribute to McMartin, who passed away earlier this year, was to follow this up with Michael’s Rule.

McMartin was among those who’d introduced the voluntary code in the 2000s.

Michael’s Rule

Michael’s Rule wants Aussie acts put on the same stage as headliners (not put in the lobby or shoved away on a side stage) “using reasonable sound and lighting” and announced at the same time as the tour to benefit from the marketing and promotion.

In the days after, the Australian Live Music Business Council (ALMBC), The Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA), The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and the newly formed Music Australia got behind the initiative. 

Concert Promoters

So did leading concert promoters.

Michael Chugg said he’d been a strong advocate for Aussie acts on international tours for over 50 years, through Frontier touring and Chugg Entertainment.

“I’m proud to say we have helped many local act’s careers in this way.”


He added: “There are instances where local talent can’t be involved but they are in a low percentage of tours.

“It’s great to see the Australian music industry standing together here and I fully support Michael’s Rule.”

Danny Rogers of Laneway: “Michael’s Rule is imperative. We need unequivocal support at all levels of touring and festivals to ensure that we can find avenues and growth opportunities for our local talent.” 

Huge Hit

Ben Turnbull of Destroy All Lines: “The Australian music industry has taken a huge hit since COVID and we need change at the top in order for things to improve. 

“Over the last 12 months 97% of Destroy All Lines tours featured an Australian act, so we know it can be done. 

“We wholeheartedly support Michael’s Rule being reinstated.” 

Power Play

Stephen Wade of Select Music: “This is not a power play or a shot across the bow of the incredible major promoters that operate in Australia but an opportunity for them to get behind and support the industry that is responsible for developing the live careers of every current major headlining Australian act in the world. 

“Fans are won through connection to the artist when performing. 

“Discovery is the most exciting aspect of hundreds of thousands of people who attend live music events. Australian artists need and deserve these high profile support slots.” 


Honoured at the Association Of Artist Managers (AAM) awards:

Manager of the Year: Jeremy Furze of Applejack Music

Legacy: Jodie Regan of Spinning Top


Breakthrough: Megan Rasmussen and Harry White of Future Classic

Community Engagement: Kerry Kennell

Patron’s Gift: Lorrae McKenna of Our Golden Friend

Lighthouse: Hayley-Jane Ayres of 360 Artist Logistics


Neil Finn @ Primary Wave

In a “multi-million-dollar deal,” US publisher Primary Wave acquired Neil Finn’s music publishing catalogue and writer’s share of public performance for his work with Crowded House and Split Enz as well as his solo material.

Finn said, “I am confident they see the body of my work as music that matters. 

“This deal has been a good while in the making and feels right.”

Southern River Band @ Cooking Vinyl Australia

On the eve of their first global tour, road warriors Southern River Band linked with Cooking Vinyl Australia and issued a single “Vice City III” with an album to follow.

Their 6-minute epic “Stan Qualen” charted in 23 countries in September 2023.

The May 15 to July 12 tour takes in 38 shows in the UK, Europe and Australia including festivals The Great Escape, Vestrock, Sweden Rock, Rock Werchter and Down The Rabbit Hole.

Jordie Lane @ ABC Music

After finally deciding to get a record company, Melbourne born, Nashville based psych-folkie Jordie Lane signed the contract … inside a ski sled whizzing down an icy slope during a Nashville snow storm.

“My handwriting was disgusting but I think it got the job done,” he shivered.

The worldwide deal with ABC Music / The Orchard sees his first album in six years, named Tropical Depression after his experiences with severe weather and mental health battles, lands on August 23.

Blackfire @ Golden Robot

Melbourne First Nation rock, R&B and soul band Blackfire return from their 1999 hiatus with original members Selwyn Burns, Grant Hansen and Brad Brown joined by six others including Radical Son on vocals.

The deal with Golden Robot, founded by arch-fan Mark Alexander-Erber, includes a new album, another to feature the current lineup, and their back catalogue.

Lonely Empire @ Golden Robot

Golden Robot put teenage Adelaide-based heavy pop-rock band, Lonely Empire, in a development deal.

Lucas Magourilos (vocals/guitar), Noah Magourilos (drums/vocals), Callum Bettison (guitar) and Blake McGregor (bass) came together in 2023.

Cairo Knife Fight @ Golden Robot

Cairo Knife Fight’s first release for Golden Robot, “Afterbias” was recorded in Dave Grohl’s Studio 606, and written about the death of his first bandmate and collaborator, Aaron Tokona.

NZ formed Cairo Knife Fight now split their time between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Serpico @ Robot Distro

Finnish hard rock band Serpico is now with Golden Robot Records’ distribution label Robot Distro, marking the first Finnish artist signing in the company’s history.

Their upcoming album Dressed In Flesh was produced by Anssi Kippo, best known for his work with Children of Bodom’s early albums.

South Summit @ Lemon Tree Music

Perth band South Summit struck a worldwide management deal with Lemon Tree Music, repped by senior artist manager Taylor James.

He says, “I’ve been a huge fan since seeing them live for the first time nearly two years ago. 

“I just can’t wait for everyone to hear what the guys have been working on!”

Giving It

New single “Givin’ It Up” is on triple j spot rotation and sees them on a headline run across Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth & Sydney.

Lemon Tree Music’s roster includes Tones and I, Tash Sultana, Budjerah, Kita Alexander, The Cat Empire, Pierce Brothers, Garrett Kato, Little Green, Battlesnake and Mitch Santiago.

Emma Russack @ Dinosaur City

Folk-pop singer songwriter Emma Russack’s new deal with Dinosaur City sees a single “Everything Is Big”, her first music in three years, and her sixth album About The Girl due on August 22.

The video for the single, conceptualised and directed by her bestie Stephanie Day (Peaches PRC, Jack Ladder) was filmed in Emma’s hometown Narooma as she was visiting there.


Entertainment precinct and amphitheatre developer Cedar Mill Group has bought 57-year old Newcastle music retail store Muso Corner.

It was founded in 1967 by Ian and Sandra Lindsay, first a small piano and repair shop.

Surviving fire, earthquake and floods, it relocated four times and is now on Hunter Street.


The plan was for their energetic and straight-talking son Andrew to take over the business one day, and continue to build it.

But Andrew died in December 2022 after a battle with cancer.


Cedar Mill Group founder Paul Lambess is also from Newcastle, and knows Muso Corner’s importance, both for himself and to the city’s music community.

“From interning at the store in my early teens to purchasing my first drum kit, this store has played an important role in my love of music and is entwined with Cedar Mill Group’s vision for the future,” he said.


Now that TikTok and Universal Music have kissed and made up after a three month spitting contest during which Universal pulled its tracks off, what now?

Well, it’s more ching-ching, which is what the whole grease-up was about.

Rather than make up 1% of Universal’s revenue, TikTok royalties will be “more closely aligned with other platforms in the social music category,” said Universal Music boss Sir Lucien Grange.

Modified Tracks

TikTok will also get rid of “modified tracks”, which are sped up, slowed down or altered and used under pseudonyms, so the musician and songwriter don’t get paid royalties.

It’s a major problem: 30% of TikTok music have been modified this way.

TikTok will find new ways for Universal signings to make more money, and also promised to find new ways to protect artists from the “harmful” effect of Artificial Intelligence (AI).


The West Australian government’s plan to run the AC/DC tribute festival High Voltage in Fremantle as an economic and tourism boost has run out of battery.

The idea followed Perth Festival’s 2020 Highway To Hell where a cavalcade of flatbed trucks travelled along a 5km stretch of Canning Highway with 50 bands cranking out AC/DC toe-tappers.

The first year drew between 100,000 to 150,000 and brought trade to nearby businesses.


Last year High Voltage focussed on Fremantle but bad weather saw crowds slump to 40,000 and with traders complaining they got no benefit.

There were plans to shift it to another month but the Government confirmed it’s a no-show.


Ricky and Alex Cooper who’ve been running R&B and house festival Return To Rio in Wisemans Ferry, NSW, since 2013 had to pull the plug.

Reason: Government rules that festivals must have x amount of police and medical personnel on site and pay them.

Jumped Up

The Coopers say that their costs for these have jumped by 529% in the past year, and additional costs like planning, infrastructure and harm minimisation would hit a further $300,000.

That would mean adding an extra $100 to the ticket price, which would be risky given their patrons’ cost of living issues.


Sunshine Coast’s Horizon Festival rescheduled to May 2025 (2—11) while a more sustainable model is found by Sunshine Coast Council to bring its attendance and revenue to pre-COVID levels.

It had 31,204 punters in 2019, but fell to 25,567 in 2023 and 21,292 in 2022.


Pre-COVID, Horizon contributed $2.8 million in 2018 and $2.3 million in 2019.

But this slipped to $1.9 million in 2023 and $1.7 million in 2022.

Two weeks before, Sunshine Coast Council also put an axe to Caloundra Music Festival for 2024.

Council commits $275,000 per year funding to it but rising operating costs and lowering crowd numbers (down to 21,000 from pre-COVID 30,000) meant it had to take a break.


Los Angeles-based Northern Territory EDM act VASSY was honoured by APRA AMCOS its Billion List when her hit single “Bad” (with David Guetta & Showtek) hit 2 billion streams.

In an intimate ceremony in Sydney she played an acoustic set.

VASSY also got the Future of Dance Award in Miami at the EDMA Awards, where in 2023 she became first female to win the ICON Award.


With Australian acts looking more to touring internationally for revenue, major music markets of the US and Europe can be expensive with touring budgets between $40,000 and $60,000.

An alternative is the Asian-Pacific market—cheaper, closer and still an untapped market because Australians find it can be culturally prohibitive and difficult to navigate.

Set Up

Gig Live Pro was set up in 2019 to connect the Asian music market with the rest of the world through industry panels, workshops, mixers, intimate dinners, after-parties, trade missions and online networking events.

It has members in Australia, Singapore, US, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, UK and more.

At last year’s SXSW it brought Asian delegates to meet local execs, and doing it again this year.


DJ Fisher’s Out 2 Lunch festival last Saturday on the Gold Coast’s Coolangatta Beach with Flight Facilities and Vintage Culture drew 30,000.

Promoters TEG Live’s Managing Director Tim McGregor called it “truly epic” and the “biggest beach party ever held in Australia” and that police and emergency services gave crowd behaviour the thumbs-up.

The crowds could have done with more toilets, and the rain cleared up before Fisher’s set which he called “the best night of my life.”

TEG Live is planning another event on Coolangatta Beach.


The AHA (Australian Hotels Association) Newcastle Hunter’s inaugural Paul Woseen Memorial Music Grant went to local duo Chain Daisy.

The late Woseen was a songwriter and bassist with The Screaming Jets.

Chain Daisy, who drop a single and video at the end of the year, said it was “Beyond our wildest dreams. We’ve had songs waiting for that to happen.”


The recording will be at TAFE NSW campus’ $2-million-dollar recording studio, and the video by Moose Creative Agency.

There’ll also be $5,000 in cash, a performance mentoring workshop by University of Newcastle, a single launch at The Stag & Hunter Hotel in Mayfield with a dedicated publicist, a mentoring session by Harbour Agency Senior Agent Tony Grace and management mentoring by Screaming Jets’ management.


Helene Fairman Jedwab, 71, started out in the early ‘70s as a PA to Michael Gudinski before setting up and running Goanna’s music publishing Uluru Music.

She was also personal manager to Goanna’s Shane Howard before moving to Broome to handle the publishing of the Pigram Brothers.


Larry Page who died of a heart attack at 86 in Avoca Beach in NSW’s Central Coast, was in the ‘60s working in London as a pop singer and producer of hits as The Troggs’ “Wild Thing” and a manager of The Kinks.

Carolyn Laffan, a Senior Curator at the Australian Music Vault in Melbourne, won great admiration for her insight, sensitivity and love for Australian music, especially with the hip hop and First Nation memorabilia exhibitions.

Melbourne DJ Guy Uppiah (aka Meme) was part of the gay warehouse parties like Red Raw and Winterdaze and known for the way he blended disco, pop and house before it was the norm.

Pirate Radio

Graham Webb, 88, who in the ‘60s was part of the UK pirate radio scene, returned home to host and produce from 1974 the pioneering Saturday morning music video series Sounds Unlimited.

‘60s band Masters Apprentices founding bassist Gavin “Spider” Webb, 77, passed after a six-year battle with cancer.

Alex Yurkiv, 19, Queensland teenage songwriter whose “Take Me To The River:”, a song of joy and faith based on his Christian beliefs went viral globally, died in a motorcycle crash on the Bruce Highway.