Sydney looks to revive CBD with live music grants, Support Act celebrated in new Music Vault series + more: all the latest Australian music industry news

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Sydney looks to revive CBD with live music grants, Support Act celebrated in new Music Vault series + more: all the latest Australian music industry news

Words by Christie Eliezer

Your brief on the biggest industry headlines of the past two weeks.

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 music industry news stories from the past few weeks.

This week’s big stories:

  • Australian Music Vault launch new series celebrating Support Act
  • The NSW Government are handing out grants to for musicians to play in Sydney’s CBD.
  • A new Bundaberg radio station is playing 100% Australian music.

Don’t miss out on all the latest Australian music industry news – keep your eyes peeled on our Industry News page to stay updated. 

Music Vault’s ‘Banding Together’ series looks at changing face of Support Act

The latest of the Australian Music Vault’s Banding Together project – documenting for future generations how the Australian music industry coped and created during the pandemic – looks at the Support Act charity and health and wellbeing hub.

Immediately after the live music industry turned off the lights on Friday March 13, 2020, calls to Support Act’s helpline jumped 400%. The charity’s original assistance to affected musicians and music workers was to ensure they had a roof over their heads, food on the table, essential bills payed and funded their funerals.

On Banding Together: Highways of Hope producers Carl Gardiner and Marcus Knight speak to names as Paul Kelly, Ella Hooper, Julia Zemiro and Support Act’s Luke O’Connor. Hooper related how the organisation “does it in a musician-speak in a way we can connect. It’s never ever condescending or bitchy, it’s real. It’s what we need when we need it.”

Post-pandemic, Support Act expanded to mental well-being, being pre-emptive with prevention and training hundreds in mental first aid. Howard Freeman, co-founder of the 600-member road crew association CrewCare, reveals aside from well-being courses, “We’ve trained 127 people who are now up to the market with how to look for people with problems and how to direct them to the right places to have those faults sorted.”

$1 million to perform in Sydney CBD

The NSW government has $1 million for musicians to play the Sydney CBD. Grants of up to $50,000 are available to present a one-off performance or series of live events under Round 2 of the Play The City scheme.

The first round supported 53 projects, helping musos and venues. This second round opens up the moolah to a wider range of applicants and more locations in the CBD and surrounding inner city suburbs. Applications close at 5pm AEDT Wednesday March 10 for projects between March 26 and June 30. Go to

Newly launched Bundaberg radio station plays 100% Australian music

Launching on March 1 in Bundaberg, Qld, is OzNow Radio ( which is devoted to playing just Australian music – the more unknown the better. It is the brainchild of one-time Melbourne community radio station presenter Elena Di Fiore aka Ellie D who’s been running the Behind The Music singer songwriter podcast since last June.

She says, “For the first nine months of operation, OzNow Radio will be free of announcers and advertising, purely broadcasting original Australian music 24/7. The only voice you will hear will be that of featured Australian music artists yet to be discovered.”

Music venues storming back

No less than four music venues around the country are returning to active duty.

* After 12 months in darkness, Melbourne electronic music club Xe54 reopens on March 6. It is moving from City Road to new digs at The Bottom End at 579 Little Collins St in the city, and sporting a 24-hour licence and an upgraded

* Brisbane’s The Stock Exchange, which suddenly closed last December, is rebooting under new owners who will maintain its live music. New operators Rawgroup Hospitality will divide the building into two. Upstairs will be a cocktail bar and rooftop area, with a traditional pub on ground level, both with DJs, duos and acoustic sets.

* In the heart of Darwin, Sinsations in the Squires Building in the Austin Lane precinct, starts operating from April 22 as Mayberry Darwin under promoter Russell Temple.

* Sunshine Coast Council gave the go-ahead for Eleven Dive to start crashing out the chords at 19 Duporth Ave. It’s an old skool punk rock/ metal dive bar “paying homage to a time when music was for real music lovers not festival posers.” It opens Wednesdays to Sundays.

But it’s not all good news. Geelong’s Workers Club, a live music supporter for six years, has stopped the music after being decimated by the pandemic. After losing 65 gig bookings within two days owner Steven Nichols switched to a food delivery service, and the site will to operate as Workers Barbecue focusing on smoked meat.


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A post shared by Xe54 (@xe54melb)

More Aussies listening to radio on phones, smart speakers

Australians still tune into radio via broadcast radio, 83% via AM/FM and 27% via DAB+ digital radio. But more listeners are tapping into the mobility of the medium, and mobile phones are now the third most popular way.

Figures from commercial radio showed that nearly 2.5 million folks (or 17% of the population) in the five capital cities live and local radio through their phones at some point each week in the December quarter. That represented a 25% rise from the same quarter a year before.

Listening on PCs and tablets constitutes 9% of listeners, up 27% in the December quarter to 1.2 million. Listening through smart speakers still only constitute 7% but are showing strong growth. In the period, it was up 58% to 1.04 million but off a smaller base of 662,000 in 2019.

Sweat It Out launches publishing arm

Sweat It Out – behind the writing careers of RÜFÜS DU SOL, What So Not, Crooked Colours, Dom Dolla, Motez and Winston Surfshirt – has launched a publishing division headed by Angus Russell. He has his own label/management co. Gallery and previously did A&R for Of Leisure, Neon and Universal Music.

The new publishing deal has its own studio in Redfern, Sydney, and signed on emerging talents Mickey Kojak, PRICIE, Ric Rufio, Mazy and Matilda Pearl. With Kobalt, it is holding its inaugural writers camp March 24-26 in inner Sydney studios with names as Dom Dolla, Crooked Colours, Felivand, KLP and Set Mo.

 Latest signings

* LA-based Sydney hailed multi-platinum rapper The Kid Laroi follows his worldwide success with mixtape Fuck Love with a global deal with Sony Music Publishing and a US booking agency deal with UTA. Reaching #3 in the US, the 17-year old was the youngest Aussie solo artist to top the ARIA Albums Chart.

* Melbourne songwriter and producer Tyron Hapi finalised a global publishing deal with BMG. His singles ‘Anyway’ and ‘About You’ were certified platinum and gold respectively, while Masked Wolf’s global hit ‘Astronaut In The Ocean’ which he co-wrote and co-produced, racked up 100 million Spotify streams.

* Melbourne blues-rock band The Ugly Kings are now with prestigious European rock and metal label Napalm Records. They’re currently working on their second album, following 2018’s Darkness Is My Home.

* Latest roster addition to Native Tongue Music Publishing is New Zealand artist, multi-instrumentalist, screen composer and producer Mark Perkins (pka Merk). He’s dropping his second album Infinite Youth in April and managed by Australian-based management company Heartstop Music, home to Marlon Williams, Julia Jacklin and The Weather Station.

Nine more Aussie acts invited to SXSW Showcase

Nine Aussie acts were invited among 106 around the world in Round 2 virtual showcases at South By Southwest March 16 to 20. They are Baker Boy, The Chats, Hachiku, Jaguar Jonze, Kota Banks & Ninajirachi, The Lazy Eyes, Luke Howard, Sophie Hutchings and Sycco.

Being virtual showcases venues include a Taoist temple in Taiwan, an LA freeway overpass, Abbey Road Studios in London, an indoor shrimp fishing spot in Taiwan, a cable car in Norway and bush backyard in Australia.

Music execs join AIM 

Well known music execs joined the Melbourne campus of the Australian Institute of Music (AIM). Veteran radio administrator Tracee Hutchison takes up head of partnerships, while former Mushroom Music GM Ian James joins as an academic lecturer specialising in music publishing. They join Tim Kelly, program director for Arts and Entertainment Management, as new appointments to the AIM team.

MusicNT strategy for women creatives

Northern Territory’s peak music association Music NT is launching You Gotta See It Be It, its first strategic plan for women in music. All will be unveiled in Alice Springs in Montes Lounge on March 7 and in Darwin at the Railway Club on March 14. Female-identified artists perform.

If you’re pitching to Millennials and Gen Z…

Music businesses pitching to Millennials And Gen Z should take heed of a Snapchat study which found they’re looking for brands which has a stand-out founder, reflect their own values, cool with technology and makes them happy.

44% of Aussie Snapchatters like to learn the backstory of brands they deal with, more likely to buy if they connect with its founder. Almost half (47%) think Augmented Reality makes digital experiences more immersive and closer to real-life experiences.

Globally the ‘Snapchat Generation’ has more than $4.4 trillion in spending power. Globally, 41% will go out of their way to shop in a place that reflects their value even if it is convenient, and 50% will refuse to deal with brands whose social issue history is opposite to theirs.

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