BLAKSOUND conference to go ahead + all the biggest industry headlines from the week

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BLAKSOUND conference to go ahead + all the biggest industry headlines from the week

Words by Christie Eliezer

Tones & I performs in new Qantas ad, Universal investigate work culture, Port Phillip venues get grant + more.

Been out of the loop with everything that’s been going on in the music industry recently? We don’t blame you. Here’s a wrap-up of all the biggest Aussie music industry news stories from the past fortnight.

The top headlines:

  • Don’t stick to classic chord progressions to write your next hit.
  • Serenade unveils NFT marketplace for music, with minimal environmental impact.
  • Teamwrk and Lucky Ent. combine to provide Distrowrk, a music distribution service which gives 100% rights and royalties to the artists.

Keep your eyes peeled on our Industry News page to stay updated on all the latest headlines.

Want To Write A Hit? Bump Into Something Surprising

While some believe throwing in all the ingredients of past hit songs into a computer can inevitably come up with a hit, a new study in the scientific journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience suggests just the other end.

An analysis of Billboard top hits from 1958 to 2019 found current day music lovers are drawn to unconventional unexpected sets of chords. Or “harmonic surprise”, if you want to be highbrow.

Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” is the best example of taking a left turn and coming out of the blue, to mix metaphors.

According to the report, “With its stark, sudden shifts between choral melodies in major chords and menacing percussive elements drawn from the trap subgenre, the song constantly defies the listener’s expectations throughout.”

As with anything, the more you listen to music, the more you need to push the goalposts to get the same thrill.

The researchers Scott Miles and David Rosen of music startup Secret Chord Laboratories suggested that rather than cling to a standard C major chord progression (C, G, F), go for rare chords in verses and throw in a catchy chorus.

New Aussie Distro Gives 100% Rights, Royalties To Artists

A new Australian music distribution platform DistroWrk allows artists to get their music on Spotify, TikTok, Apple Music, Amazon and other major streaming services.

An artist portal gives musicians full control over their assets, uploads, monthly royalty withdrawals, and streaming and sales analytics.

The folks behind DistroWrk are Teamwrk Records (responsible for Masked Wolf’s billion-streaming ‘Astronaut In The Ocean’) and Lucky Ent. who also provide selected acts access to their promo, artist management, booking agency and events divisions resources, including Ultra Music, Good Things, Billboard and 170 Russell.

Tones & I Helps Get Qantas Ready For Take-Off

A new exclusive version of ‘Fly Away’ by Tones & I will be used in Qantas’ new vaccine rewards campaign. It offers vouchers, points, status and credits — and a grand prize of a year’s worth of flights, hotel stays and fuel – to encourage Aussies to get the COVID-19 jab.

Meantime, composer Haydn Walker and guitarist Nathan Cavaleri created the soundtrack to 10 Qantas downloadable virtual meeting backgrounds including a business seat, with the pilots or a lounge.

Linktree Buys Songlink

In the wake of raising an extra $59 million from venture capital firms, Melbourne-based Linktree has bought automated music link aggregation platform Songlink for an undisclosed sum.

Songlink will be integrated its new Music Link feature to go towards its target of being a one-stop shop for monetising touring, merchandise and streaming, and diversify their following

Universal Music Investigates Workplace Culture, Sony Sacks Two More

Universal Music Australia became the second major label to launch an independent investigation into inappropriate behaviour.

In the meantime, while investigations continue at Sony and no charges yet been laid, its New York office confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald that VP of A&R Pat Handlin and senior VP of strategy, corporate affairs and human resources Mark Stebnicki are no longer with the company.

The two were stood down in June when the story first broke, and chairman/ CEO Denis Handlin left his post. There is no suggestion of any wrong-doing by any of the three.

Port Phillip Venues Get Funding

A new initiative Please Don’t Stop The Music allows music venues in the Port Phillip area affected by the latest Victorian shutdown to apply to get $5,000 a week until end of the year.

The money comes from savings from the St Kilda Festival which was canned this year due to COVID. A database is set up with local acts whom venues can contact directly. More info at

Sometimes You Kick, Sometimes You Get…

On August 13, INXS made Australian chart history: their INXS – The Very Best platter cumulatively notched up nine years (468 non-consecutive weeks) in the ARIA Top 100 albums chart. Seven of them were spent at #1.

Last November the album was certified diamond for Australian sales of 500,000, and crowned the top Australian Album of the Decade.

First Nations Artists Get Own Conference BLAKSOUND

Sycco, Emily Wurramara, Naomi Wenitong and triple j’s Karla Ranby & Nooky lead First Nations music’s first youth-led conference BLAKSOUND.

It is presented by Digi Youth Arts and Vyva Entertainment, broadcast online from Meeanjin, supported by QMusic and BIGSOUND.

The virtual event takes place September 6-8 with young First Nations musicians Sycco, Jem Cassar-Daley, DOBBY and Loki Liddle co-curating the event, mentored by Alethea Beetson, lead artistic director of Digi Youth Arts.

The speakers list includes artist Naomi Wenitong, Emily Wurramara, rising rapper BARKAA, Bianca Hunt, song writer, hip hop artist and producer DRMNGNOW and radio & podcast personality Rhianna Patrick.

Among workshops, Spotify’s Jono Harrison will give tips on navigating the platform, triple j’s Karla Ranby and Nooky will host a virtual networking opportunity for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander young people, and Ditto Music’s Jinaya Walford will discuss distribution, DSPs and playlisting, providing a behind the scenes look at how DSP’s work, and offering a how-to for First Nations artists who want to make the most of Ditto to distribute their music.

The Voice Delivers Million Dollar Riff

Nine might have drop-kicked The Voice out the door but Seven’s having a good run with it. So far this season it’s never fallen below the 1 million metro viewers mark.

Last Sunday (August 22) it drew 1.18 million metros (#2, behind Seven News) and went up to 1.68 million on the Monday, It topped the 25–54 age group and most livestreamed show of the night.

Serenade Launches Eco-Friendly NFT Platform for Digital Collectibles

Australian tech company Serenade has launched an eco-friendly NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) platform for digital collectibles.

It aims to break down barriers to entry surrounding NFTs and make them more accessible and affordable for artists and fans.

It kicked off with NFT offerings from Jungle, ArrDee, Kaiser Chiefs, Super Fury Animals, Ash, Gary Powell of The Libertines, Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip, The Game, Strawberries & Creem festival, Young MA, Ride, Scouting For Girls, Ladyhawke, State Champs and S1mba, Muki.

The eco-friendly platform produces 1/44,000th of the carbon emitted by a standard NFT (or 1/10th of the energy usage of a tweet) uses a ‘Proof of Stake’ authentication method that is far more efficient than a direct-to-Ethereum ‘Proof of Work’ approach, and eliminates expensive ‘gas’ fees which can be a major barrier to entry for anyone wanting to create affordable NFTs.

Each time an NFT is sold and re-sold, the artist earns their fair share of the revenue. “It’s punk rock ethics built into a product,” says Max Shand, the tech entrepreneur and music fan who set up the company.

Papa Don’t Screech

Music, DVDs, games and books will make up 10% of the $800 million expected to be spent in Australia on Fathers Day, on the first Sunday in September.

The research from the Australian Retailers Association in conjunction with Roy Morgan found that alcohol and food are at the top of the list (28%) ahead of vouchers and gift cards (16%), clothing, shoes and sleepwear (16%) and tools, hardware and gardening (10%).

79% will spend the same amount as last year with 13% to spend slightly more. This is good news for retailers: Father’s Day gives an indication of spending patterns for Christmas.