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News February 1, 2021

ARIA’s board made a pledge for diversity, and kept its word (Op-Ed)

Senior Journalist, B2B
ARIA’s board made a pledge for diversity, and kept its word (Op-Ed)

Australia’s music industry let out a collective sigh of relief last week when the most important job vacancy of them all was filled.

A touch over two years after making diversity a mission statement, ARIA announced Annabelle Herd as its new CEO, starting in the role today (1st February).

There’s nothing tokenistic about Herd’s appointment. The incoming chief executive has a CV bulging with experience in legal, working with elected officials in Canberra and, naturally, entertainment.

Coming from commercial TV, Herd brings fresh eyes to a recording industry that, prior to COVID, was in good nick.

Opening new pathways for music and ensuring everyone gets paid should by a breeze compared with the struggles at the major TV networks. Those guys are dying a death of a thousand cuts.

Herd will be ably supported by Lynne Small, who is promoted to Chief Operating Officer of ARIA and PPCA. Small has been with the organisation since 1996, and is one of the Australian music business’ great unsung heroes.

Progress is often slow, but it doesn’t need to be painful.

aria-logo-neon red


ARIA was established in 1983, replacing the old Association of Australian Record Manufacturers (AARM). Things were different then. Six majors were at the top of the pyramid, where just three operate now.

Some 35 years later, during its AGM, ARIA’s members approved a proposal to amend the trade body’s constitution and, in time, unlock opportunities to boost the representation of women on its board.

It was long overdue for an organisation that has historically had just two female board members, Vicki Gordon and Bonita Boezeman.

Herd arrives at ARIA at a tricky time. The pandemic has severely damaged the music industry. There will need to be serious pressure applied to government to not only offer meaningful support, but actually deliver on what they announce.

From next week, Herd will need to juggle harder than a Flying Karamazov Brother, whether it’s managing members’ expectations, picking the right fights or swerving the wrong ones.

And there’s the not-insignificant matter of the 2021 ARIA Awards. We’ll all need a good drink by November, hopefully together.

Welcome to the music industry, Annabelle Herd.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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