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News May 3, 2024

AAM Unveils ‘Michael’s Rule’ to Help Rebuild a Music Community In ‘Crisis’

Senior Journalist, B2B
AAM Unveils ‘Michael’s Rule’ to Help Rebuild a Music Community In ‘Crisis’

As iconic music festivals and venues disappear, and Aussie artists find themselves shut out of sales charts, the music management community pitches a live music campaign that its architects hope will give musicians a much-needed lift.

At the 2024 AAM Awards in Sydney on Wednesday, the Association of Artist Managers presented Michael’s Rule, a policy that would ensure least one local artist would be among the support acts on every international tour.

The “Rule” bears the name of Michael McMartin, the late, great artist manager who guided the Hoodoo Gurus for more than 40 years, and had tirelessly advocated for the policy and used the platform of last year’s AAM Awards to drum up support.

Formally announced Friday, May 3, “Michael’s rule” has three main pillars: every international artist must include an Australian artist among their opening acts; the Australian artist must appear on the same stage at the international artist using reasonable sound and lighting; and the Australian artist must be announced at the same time as the tour so that they benefit from all the marketing and promotion.

“Everybody knows that there are less Australian songs on the charts right now
that at any time since the early 1960s,” comments Maggie Collins, executive director of the AAM.

“Local artists and their managers are also facing other historic challenges including a slew of recent festival cancellations. These challenges have been recognized by governments across Australia in recent years. Promoters received significant public funding during the pandemic and they understandably continue to receive public support for some of their major events.”

The trade association, she continues, urges the promoters to “do their bit” to help give Australian artists “a leg up by the simple means of including at least one local act on every international tour.

Experience artist managers and the AAM are calling for this voluntary industry code, which was widely accepted in the 2000s, to be reinstated at this time of “crisis” for the homegrown music community.

If promoters are unwilling to jump on board, the AAM insists it will lean on federal government to intervene and make it a condition of issuing visas that international artists touring Australia must comply.

Every major tour that excludes a local opening act is “a major missed opportunity” for artist discovery, say Alastair Burns and Jess Keely, AAM co-chairs. “In memory of Michael McMartin OAM we are therefore making this public request today to every major promoter and we eagerly await their reply.”

Following the announcement Friday, ARIA and PPCA supported the AAM initiative. 

“Tours play massive roles in discovery and provide important support slots for Aussie artists to connect with new fans. Taylor Swift, the 1975, Harry Styles and Ed Sheehan all rocketed up the charts with multiple albums the weeks they were in the country recently,” comments ARIA and PPCA CEO Annabelle Herd

“At the local level, these tours provide huge opportunities for Australian artist via support slots, which can connect our artists with whole new fan bases.”

Australian artist barely made a dent in the year-end charts for 2023.

Just four Australian albums cracked the top 100 this year, led by INXS hits collection The Very Best (at No. 58), and only three Australian-made singles impacted the top 100, none of which were released in 2023.

“Doing whatever we can to get our local artists in front of new audiences is the most important issue facing our local industry,” says Herd, “and as such the Michael’s Rule is a fantastic initiative, which we are confident can be implemented in a way that doesn’t impact the viability of international touring.” 

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