BIGSOUND Hot Seat: SGC Media Group’s Stephen Green
The managing director of SGC Media Group, Stephen Green has racked up almost two decades in music marketing.
His SGC Group looks after businesses in all areas of the industry, including SGC Media, Title Track, Collision Course, Radio Monitor and Play MPE.
The father of two is a previous BIGSOUND programmer, big band vocalist, and is also the vice president of QMusic.
TMN caught up with Green ahead of his ‘Why Should Media Give A F*ck About Australian Music’ panel at BIGSOUND 2019.
What are you most looking forward to at 2019 BIGSOUND?
It’s hard to go past Andy King. I love that BIGSOUND can have such serious and important discussions on the future of the industry, but still maintain a personality and humour.
For me, I just enjoy the social aspect of BIGSOUND as well, where we are together as an industry discussing big topics, but that at the end of the day (quite literally) its a bunch of people running around getting excited about new music. To see the gleam in people’s eyes as we run from venue to venue reminds me of why we all got into this business in the first place.
What panels, performances or events are on your ‘must-see’ list for this year?
Well, I guess my panel on Australian content in the media is a must-see for me or I’ll get in trouble! Aside from that though I’m really looking forward to seeing Mambali. Their new track has been in my head for weeks and I can’t wait to see the live show. And I take every possible opportunity to catch Electric Fields who have to be close to the best live act in Australia. Tasman Keith also HAS to be on the list.
How important are events like BIGSOUND to the continuing development of our industry?
I’m probably biased as I’ve been involved with the event since close to the beginning, but I think BIGSOUND is a vital piece for the industry. Not just because you can meet and do deals, but because it’s an event that’s rooted in the music first and the business flows from that.
It reminds us all about why we’re here and it breaks down geographic barriers so that we’re all unchained from our computers for four days and we can look people in the eye, hear real music and make genuine human and musical connections with people who all-too-often become email addresses or ‘roles’ in our day to day work. It humanizes the industry and is a connection point.
What are the biggest challenges facing the music industry today?
The biggest challenge for the industry is ensuring we preserve our musical identity and culture in a global market. Working out ways that Australian voices and stories are still heard and that the fact that it’s commercially more expedient to have a singular global music pool doesn’t steamroll the public’s ability to connect with music that speaks to their local nuances. We have worked out how the industry as a whole survives and thrives in a streaming world, but the impact on individual artists is still real and being addressed.
How can we future-proof the Aussie music industry?
I don’t think you can future-proof ANY industry, but insofar as you can, music has already proven itself to be very resilient, and that’s simply because we are not selling plastic discs or even digital music, we are selling connection, feelings, pleasure, culture and reflecting the world back to itself. The product that we sell is as fundamental to who we are as humans that it can never be superseded or deemed unnecessary, which is about as much future-proofing as you can get.
On the positive side, what new technologies or innovations should we be celebrating or looking forward to?
Blockchain is really exciting and could allow for a democratisation of royalty payments. I think we’re a long way from seeing this play out in reality despite it being talked about for a long time now, but what the technology promises is a game-changer. In terms of innovations, if we take that in the broader sense, things like the Support Act help line, the #metoo discussions and the general culture change around the industry right now that is showing that we’re starting to value health, equality and respect is probably more important and transformational that any new technology will be.
Are we entering the age of the DIY artist?
Maybe, maybe not. I think we’re entering the age of CHOICE for artists. We work with some big artists who manage themselves and all aspects of their career that thrive. We work with some smaller artists who need a big team around them. Some artists benefit from a label. Some don’t need it. Every case is different, but the important thing is that we’re entering an age where hopefully artists don’t feel like the have to go down any one path to achieve what it is they want to achieve.
What is driving artists towards becoming entrepreneurs and remaining independent or starting their own labels ect.?
When I see artists choose the independent route, it comes down to control and belief in themselves. If you can choose your own team, decide how the product your releasing is going to sound and make nimble choices around your release, then for a lot of artists, that is a really great option. Financially, if a project works then you’ll be making more as an indie and a lot of artists are deciding that they are happy to take the upfront risk and keep control rather than hedging their bets against it not working by having someone else foot the bill.
What are your big predictions for the industry over the next 3-5 years?
Streaming will continue to grow and we’ll see a further globalisation of what is consumed. In some cases that will be a risk for local content, but in other ways it will be an amazing potential for creativity as genres that would have ones been stuck in the “world music” basket become more mainstream and different genres from across the globe cross-pollinate. Whether it’s k-pop or country/rap or other things, the breaking down of silos is going to have a huge impact on the kind of music we all consume and that’s exciting.
Stephen Green will deliver his panel ”Why Should Media Give A F*ck About Australian Music’ at Alice Room – Cloudland on Wednesday, September 6 at 1:45pm.