TMN 30 Under 30: Three more winners share their secrets
Elinor Williams, Fiona McAuliffe and George Playfair have all had very different career paths so far, but they share a lot of the same values.
They are doing everything they can to help the industry grow and prosper after a traumatic year, they thrive when their artists and the local music scene are kicking goals, and they want to shine a spotlight on those who too often get left behind.
Here, the three TMN 30 Under 30 winners reveal how they got here and share their visions for the future.
Elinor Williams, TMRW Music
TMRW Music’s senior marketing strategist Elinor Williams believes her varied experiences across the industry – including everything from an internship with Virgin Entrepreneurs to working on the Ministry of Sound Club – has given her a 360 degree view on marketing strategies that work.
She’s also a fierce advocate for artists and will fight for their success.
“My love for music drives my commitment to encourage the discovery of new artists and fresh talent, and connect these artists to the wider community, with the goal of building the profile of Australian artists in a global music space,” she says.
All this, and she’s also a trained classical musician!
But what are the biggest challenges facing the music industry, according to Elinor?
“I believe one of the biggest challenges today is passive listening in the streaming age and the difficulty this creates in converting real connection between fans and artists. Whilst streaming has been great for discovery in many aspects, the nature of these platforms removes the storytelling element that an artist can give in long-form content such as an album or when performing live.
“It would be impossible to ignore the challenges that COVID-19 has created on all levels of the industry. By removing live performances and events, it has become even harder for artists to be discovered, let alone the ability for up-and-coming artists to develop their craft.
“The ongoing impacts of venues being closed affects not only those that currently work in these spaces, potentially forcing talented people to leave the industry, and decreasing the likelihood of future desire for people to find their career path in this space.
“With things opening up in Australia there are opportunities of course, but the loss of venues and support for our scene will take a long time and strong commitment to recover from. The lack of touring both national and international also impacts the ability for artists to connect with others of differing backgrounds to them, therefore impacting their creative influences.
“A major challenge to the Australian music scene in large is the dwindling support for the arts from government bodies. Whether this be in lack of funding towards educational departments, community events and spaces, support for independent venues and licensing issues, we need to work with local councils to gain representation across all levels of government and ensure that our industry can continue to flourish for future generations.”
Fiona McAuliffe, ABC Music
ABC Music’s digital manager Fiona McAuliffe is another rising star who believes in lifting others up in order to better herself and the industry.
To that end, she hopes to be a part of a much-needed change in the music industry in the coming years.
“I hope that success in the future will involve being part of making this industry a more inclusive, diverse and safe space for people to be their true selves, and where mental health is a genuine priority and musos are able to make a meaningful living from their art,” she says.
But what are the biggest challenges facing the music industry, according to Fiona?
“It would be remiss not to mention the obvious, COVID-19, and how it has absolutely shaken so many artists and businesses in this industry. I’m glad to see the Federal Government finally stepping in to support, with ‘MusicKeeper’ and ‘CrewKeeper’, but I know we are not out of the woods yet.
“This feeds into the fact that there is a real imbalance in the profitability of touring compared with recorded music. COVID has further highlighted the struggles for grassroots and developing artists to make a meaningful living from their recorded music.
“I believe the ever-changing digital landscape offers incredible possibilities for artists to reach new fans in ways we once could not have imagined. However I also see that this can become a barrier for many hugely talented musicians who are finding it increasingly difficult to master all of the various new touchpoints they need to build success, particularly for those who may be unsigned and do not have the financial resources to build a team to help them in these spaces.
“There is still a huge lack of representation and diversity among the professional side of this industry, particularly in higher-level positions. The decision makers of the industry, while incredible leaders and humans in their own right, simply do not represent the breadth of musicians, and in fact people in Australia, and this must change as future leaders and people move through the ranks.
“The industry is missing out on so much talent, so many different perspectives, and potential new ways of thinking and operating. I want this industry to be a place that is first and foremost a safe space for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ people, and that fosters growth and inclusion so that these diverse and beautiful minds become the leaders of the future.”
George Playfair, Your Army Music
Back in 2015, George Playfair was an intern at Sweat It Out Music. Now, just six years later, he’s head of promotions for Your Army Music in Australia, running all day-to-day services and operations across the company.
He says the company has a modern mindset and he’s helped do everything from securing sync opportunities to linking artists with brands and TV gigs and helping artists ink record deals.
Plus, this year, the company launched the ‘Open Inbox’ initiative, which will see it work with Indigenous artists and managers to help them achieve their music goals and creative ambitions.
But what are the biggest challenges facing the music industry, according to George?
“Firstly, cutting through. Artists and labels can’t rely on traditional methods of reaching news fans. Australia is one of the most competitive music markets in the world and competing for space to be heard is exhausting. So, artists and their teams need to be better versed on a variety of marketing tools and ideas in order to give themselves a chance. Good news, there are so many tools and platforms to be heard on, and with a little bit of thought, opportunities are endless.
“Secondly, Australia has the most incredible artists who are truly pioneering the global music scene. At the forefront are a vast number of incredible female artists. However, we have a long way to go in providing equal opportunity for female artists. In dance music, the disparity in number between female and male artists is startling. We need more initiatives to foster female talent all the way from producing through to the live space.
“Thirdly, rebuilding our live sector. A friend of mine said to me last week ‘None of us got into the music industry to have a desk job’. Tooooo true. No one has had a harder time than our artists and industry in the live sector who have shown resilience in spades. We’re lucky to be in a position with venues re-opening and now it is time to reward that resilience with a massive dose of participation, ticket buying, showing up and dancing to our favourite artists.
“I sense a big rebound, and I can’t wait.”