Features November 26, 2020

Chuggie, Mardi Caught, Heath Johns, Beth Appleton all weigh in on the new era for ARIA

Chuggie, Mardi Caught, Heath Johns, Beth Appleton all weigh in on the new era for ARIA

Immediately after ARIA CEO Dan Rosen announced his departure in September to join Warner Music, discussion turned to the topic of who should be the face of the recorded music industry. 

The incoming CEO will follow Dan Rosen’s more than 10-year tenure when he departs next month, but they will be leading an industry unlike any of its previous iterations. The current industry is still in the throes of a global pandemic, and its post-COVID future will be further marred by the same issues Rosen fought during his time at ARIA.

The Music Network has teamed up with The Industry Observer to bring some of those private industry discussions to light. Together, we reached out to a few music industry heavyweights to ask them, “What would you like to see in the next leader of ARIA?”

From Eleven’s and Chugg’s , to Warner Music’s and BMG’s Heath Johns, the below comments may cover many different pain points within our industry, but they all feature one audible message: The Australian music industry punches far above its weight when it comes to global potential, and collaboration is key for its future. 


Mardi Caught
Founder
The Annex Creative

“The next CEO of ARIA will need to have a mindset that encompasses agility and robustness when it comes to leadership.

“The ARIA board’s quick response to the pandemic showed that agility when it was needed. This prioritisation for the Australian music community must continue, not only in terms of domestic revenue, but also ensuring export opportunities continue in a globally restricted touring market. The robustness must come from understanding the ever-changing nature of music fans and how that impacts on all divisions of the industry – whether it be social change demanding recognition or audience behaviour in consumption.

“Dan has done an incredible job of navigating many industry changes within his decade long tenure, and his successor will need to continue to command the same level of attention at Government, while concurrently understanding the evolving nature of the marketplace. Borrowing that old statement of ‘the only constant is change’, the new head will need to be prepared for challenges that we are yet to even foresee. See 2020 for reference.”

Michael Chugg
Executive Chairman
Chugg Entertainment

“One of the things we really need to address, which we’ve been talking about for quite a while, is the state of Australian music on Australian commercial radio. It’s really not getting any better, and at the moment we’d be lucky to have two songs in the Top 40. We’re just not getting the airplay that we should be getting.

“If you look at what’s going on in the live industry, even with COVID, we’ve got so many strong acts in this country at the moment and you wouldn’t put very many of them down to success on commercial radio. If they were getting played on commercial radio, the success would be enormous. It really frustrates me when I turn on the radio and I’m hearing Australian songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s and I’m not hearing Australian music. A lot of acts are having more success overseas than they’re having here on radio, which I think is ridiculous.

“The Australian content quota on radio is a joke, and I know that everyone has been putting their energy into COVID and just keeping everybody on track but we really need to start focusing on the fact that unlike Canada and places like that we do not get a decent crack at radio. I think ARIA needs to address this with the federal government once and for all.

“Dan Rosen has done an incredible job at working with the Government, both local and federal, and I think that needs to continue. We’ve made big inroads in getting the governments to recognise the power of our industry which has been paused by the COVID disaster, One thing we can’t let happen once COVID goes away is that that attention to the industry from the government loses energy.

“Also, we need to spend more time working with the DSPs to see how we can get a bigger focus on Australian music. A lot of the radio in this country is dictated to by American playlists. I don’t know whether it’s a quota or not, but we need to have DSPs paying more attention to local music and also have our music on international DSP playlists too.

YouTube have been amazing. They’ve been doing a lot of work with Australian artists and featuring Australian artists. We just need to get a better relationship and more respect from those big international streaming services.

“I think one of the reasons Australian artists aren’t getting a lot of success is not only lack of radio play but also lack of understanding about the reporting of streaming services, and how that’s all taken into consideration. With our [Chugg Music] acts, streaming numbers are growing every month quite substantially, but they don’t seem to make much difference to the charts or motivating airplay.

“I think label experience is important for the next ARIA CEO. Dan learned about the whole industry. He worked very hard to understand the different parts of the industry and I think he did a great job with live music as well, the current Great Southern Mights project has been very timely and a shot in the arm not just for the artists, but all the other people working in the live arena, so we need someone who knows what’s going on across the business.”

John Watson
‎President
Eleven: A Music Company & John Watson Management

“The next ARIA CEO has big shoes to fill. They will be a key advocate for the music industry to those in government. So whoever steps into this position needs to be able to speak for Australian labels when it comes to all the looming legislative challenges and opportunities.”

Beth Appleton
General Manager & SVP Marketing Australasia
Warner Music Australia

“ARIA has done a great job over the last decade persuading the government to deliver a better environment for the recorded music industry to grow.

“The next decade should be focused on listening and ensuring that the many arms of the Australian music industry are connected and active.

“By being an organisation that is future-focused by listening to youth, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities and constantly learning, ARIA has a fantastic opportunity to continue to connect the industry, and by championing all people even more be a respected, globally recognised culturally relevant influence.”


CEO & Founder
UNIFIED Music Group

“I just want to see someone who can carry on from the great work Dan and the team have been doing for years. What’s important to me is that we continue to support Australian music and our amazing industry, so we can all keep doing what we do, to the best of our abilities.”

Heath Johns
Managing Director
BMG Australia & New Zealand

“The global pandemic has further accelerated the digital transition of our industry and reminded all Australians just how far we are geographically from many of the international markets we seek to export to, as a result, new challenges and new opportunities are there for the next ARIA CEO to tackle head-on in this new COVID world.

“The next decade calls for an artist advocate, moreso than an industry advocate. Label affiliation is largely irrelevant and ARIA could play a key role in empowering artists at all levels with information to help them make educated decisions about whether to sign with a major, an indie or forge their own path by self-releasing, if only while they build leverage.

“There is so much incredible gender, genre and cultural diversity on offer in our thriving local scene. We have artists writing and performing songs dripping with hit potential but they go largely unsupported at Australian commercial radio. I’d like a more ambitious local quota added to the day one agenda of the next ARIA CEO.”


Shadow Minister for Music and the
Shadow Minister for Roads, Member of the Legislative Council

“With the Australian music industry now growing, I would love to see ARIA focus on saving the grassroots scene.

“In Sydney music is at a crossroads. The next phase of ARIA could decide what sort of city we have after dark.

“COVID-19 has had a massive impact on the music industry, the next CEO needs to embrace the challenge of building up our grassroots scene and putting NSW music on the map.”


Owner
Wonderlick Entertainment

“I feel that Dan Rosen, and the whole ARIA board have done an excellent job over many years and Dan’s leadership will be sorely missed.

“I would like to see the continuation of ARIA’s strong efforts to increase the representation and participation of women in the industry, as they have done so successfully recently with three incredible women on the board, and from that strong foundation, to also look to further encourage more racial and cultural diversity in our industry as well.

“I think ARIA’s efforts to hold radio more accountable for the amount of Australian music they play should continue to be an important focus. While streaming’s influence obviously continues to grow, radio still remains a crucial way to make order of the chaos, with so much new music being released now. We have seen the collaborative efforts between ARIA and radio make some difference, and I would love to see this built on further, in order to ensure that even more new release Australian music gets an opportunity to be heard against the glut of international competition on our national airwaves.”

“Major labels, for the most part, are well-positioned to weather this pandemic, so I would like to see ARIA continuing to provide industry support to the artist community and the teams relying on those artists for their livelihoods. Amongst other initiatives ARIA has been a fantastic supporter of Support Act, who are providing such desperately needed services to so many people who are suffering at this time, and this strong support will need to continue.

“Labels are probably the sector of the music industry least affected by the pandemic, but obviously many of their artists and those artist’s managers, agents, crew and associated teams, are being deeply affected, so continuing efforts to try to support the artist community will be very important. Obviously maintaining pressure on the federal government to deliver on their much-mooted industry relief package needs to be a major priority for ARIA’s next leader. The artist community and the live sector of our industry need urgent help now.

“Unfortunately the live music industry was the first to be shut down, and worryingly it will likely be the last industry to be able to recover, so all music industry bodies and leaders will need to lean into the immediate challenges of this pandemic, and to those challenges we will face for the duration of what will be a very long and difficult recovery period ahead.”


Executive Chairman
Mushroom Group

“One of the biggest problems for the person that comes into ARIA, as far as I’m concerned, whoever it may be, is to represent the artists, as much as the record industry.

“There need to be moves made to make sure that Australian content gets support on all platforms, like Spotify, with regulation. And the charts needs work to better reflect the successes of Australian music, because radio relies on it as an indicator for their playlists.

“The message I sent to Denis, who is obviously the key person at ARIA, is that it’s got to be a CEO that’s very knowledgeable about how to get more support for our local artists. Because if a song is at #1 in three countries, you don’t have to be a genius for it to be #1 here.”


Director
Mirror Music Group

Dan Rosen has done a phenomenal job over the past few years. As an advocate of the Australian music industry he has led ARIA through a critical time of adaptation and evolution. It’s been exciting watching ARIA grow and develop, as they continue to support the Australian music industry, and I believe the next candidate to take the helm is well placed to continue on this trajectory.

I think the next head of ARIA is going to need to be extremely forward-thinking. Someone who is very attuned to the shifts in culture and a true representative of our diverse music industry. I would love to see the ARIA Awards shift towards hosting environmentally sustainable events, and led by some of the amazing and inspiring women we have in our industry. I feel that would be pretty cool!

Cathy Oates
Managing Director
Original Matters

“Although 2020 has been a difficult year, it has also accelerated new ideas and initiatives to showcase music. We live in a global music market which is, of course, a great opportunity for Australian artists but at the same time it has become extremely difficult to compete with big international playlists and achieve and retain decent charts.

“With a new head of ARIA coming in, it would be appropriate timing to have a fresh look at the Charts and Awards to ensure these are both compelling assets for maximum impact and success for our local artists’ music. The chart was originally set up to record sales but as we have now moved to streaming all of the procedures need to be re-examined to determine if the chart results are working for the Australian Music Industry. Some deep analysis is needed and out of the box thinking is imperative.

“Some open questions to be asked could be: the current relevance of the chart, is Saturday the best day for release? Are the ARIA Chart calculations working to capture a true indication of popularly or is there another way? For example, could the streams be counted only on local playlists or on unique visits? Is combining streaming and physical working? Should artists social platforms’ streaming numbers or live performances be considered? Should bundles exist? How can we assist physical retailers etc.?

“The ARIA Awards again is a great opportunity but is there a better way to conduct the awards that might be more cost-effective and simultaneously more engaging? There are some great examples around the world right now of combining physical and online performances – I’m personally quite excited about having our own small break out group at a Sydney venue to experience the largeness of the ARIAs in an intimate space.”

Michael Chugg
Executive Chairman
Chugg Entertainment

“One of the things we really need to address, which we’ve been talking about for quite a while, is the state of Australian music on Australian commercial radio. It’s really not getting any better, and at the moment we’d be lucky to have two songs in the Top 40. We’re just not getting the airplay that we should be getting.

“If you look at what’s going on in the live industry, even with COVID, we’ve got so many strong acts in this country at the moment and you wouldn’t put very many of them down to success on commercial radio. If they were getting played on commercial radio, the success would be enormous. It really frustrates me when I turn on the radio and I’m hearing Australian songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s and I’m not hearing Australian music. A lot of acts are having more success overseas than they’re having here on radio, which I think is ridiculous.

“The Australian content quota on radio is a joke, and I know that everyone has been putting their energy into COVID and just keeping everybody on track but we really need to start focusing on the fact that unlike Canada and places like that we do not get a decent crack at radio. I think ARIA needs to address this with the federal government once and for all.

“Dan Rosen has done an incredible job at working with the Government, both local and federal, and I think that needs to continue. We’ve made big inroads in getting the governments to recognise the power of our industry which has been paused by the COVID disaster, One thing we can’t let happen once COVID goes away is that that attention to the industry from the government loses energy.

“Also, we need to spend more time working with the DSPs to see how we can get a bigger focus on Australian music. A lot of the radio in this country is dictated to by American playlists. I don’t know whether it’s a quota or not, but we need to have DSPs paying more attention to local music and also have our music on international DSP playlists too.YouTube have been amazing. They’ve been doing a lot of work with Australian artists and featuring Australian artists. We just need to get a better relationship and more respect from those big international streaming services.

“I think one of the reasons Australian artists aren’t getting a lot of ARIA chart success is not only lack of radio play but also lack of understanding about the reporting of streaming services, and how that’s all taken into consideration. With our [Chugg Music] acts, streaming numbers are growing every month quite substantially, but they don’t seem to make much difference to the charts or motivating airplay.

“I think label experience is important for the next ARIA CEO. Dan learned about the whole industry. He worked very hard to understand the different parts of the industry and I think he did a great job with live music as well, the current Great Southern Mights project has been very timely and a shot in the arm not just for the artists, but all the other people working in the live arena, so we need someone who knows what’s going on across the business.”


ARIA CEO applicants are encouraged to submit their interest and application by contacting Rebecca Henry – rebecca.henry@morban.com.au.

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