Industrial Strength March 29, 2019

Industrial Strength: Dean Lewis, Bluesfest, Splendour, pill testing & more

Industrial Strength: Dean Lewis, Bluesfest, Splendour, pill testing & more


This week’s Pollstar magazine, the US based global live music trade bible, was glittering with Australia.

Dean Lewis was on the front cover, in a story in which he revealed that he knew he had a hit with ‘Be Alright’ before he even released it because the response he got live.

“People would always come up to me afterward and say, ‘When are you going to release that one?’.

“But I didn’t realize it would be global, like it’s big in Belgium and it’s doing stuff in France and in Singapore – these places that are unattainable for an Australian artist.

“You grow up hearing that it’s sort of not possible – especially not North America.

“There’s been like five artists in the last 10 years from Australia that have even had small success here.”

The same edition devoted 12 pages to celebrate Bluesfest’s 30th anniversary, with congratulatory ads from major promoters and other music industry entities.

Aside from being regularly ranked in Pollstar’s Top Festivals list for ticket sales, the Byron Bay has had its reputation spread worldwide with the likes of Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt and Steve Earle going on record as saying

Bluesfest director Peter Noble may have hosted some of the greatest names in music.,

But in the piece he cited two who stood out. One was James Brown who put in a great show despite his declining years, and was considered such a legend by fans and musicians that it took the Bluesfest crew 40 minutes to get him to his limo at the Gold Coast Airport because everyone wanted an autograph, a handshake or a photo opp.

The second was Patti Smith, whom Noble had been trying to land for years. After the first show, she lost her voice. Although concerned she had to rest her voice for the Australian tour that followed, she rejigged the second Bluesfest appearance with an unexpected set of acoustic numbers and poetry readings which got her a standing ovation from the crowd.

(Disclaimer: this columnist is the Australian and NZ correspondent for Pollstar and wrote the Bluesfest story).


This year’s artist in residence for Splendour In The Grass is ARIA nominated visual artist Lee McConnell.

He’ll be building eye-popping installations across the site, and running a masterclass for some lucky Splendour folks.

Starting out at Mambo as artist and then art director, he moved on to create magic for artists and festivals, including Dune Rats and Jack Rivers as well as Grow Your Own.

Splendour (Friday 19 July, Saturday 20 July and Sunday 21 July) will drop its artists next Wednesday, so you have five days to leak the bill or create fake posters… because you’re the crazy generation!


The NT government has officially turned down an offer from Pill Testing Australia to conduct free tests at the BASSINTHEGRASS festival in Darwin in May.

Test advocate Dr. David Caldicott offered to fly himself and do the tests.

But chief minister Michael Gunner said the government’s current position “wasn’t pro pill testing”.

Independent MLA Jeff Collins called it a “cop out” and said he had two little girls whom he expected to return home safely after attending festivals in the future.


What better way to shatter the harmony of a multi-general camping holiday than start a debate about which decade was the best for pop music.

Was the blueprint created by Elvis and Chuck Berry of the ‘50s better by The Beatles and The Stones?

Was it inevitable that the tech-rock, punk and rap of the ‘70s would give way to the era of golden pop and alt-rock of the ‘80s, and would the ‘90s and 2000s have existed without what came earlier?

A new study from New York University grabbed 643 music fans aged between 18—25 and quizzed them on which songs they recalled most from 50 years of pop.

It seems the era that people remembered was from the early ‘60s to the late ‘90s.

The study is full of po-faced scientific analysis which you can access here.

Dr Pascal Wallisch who lead the research team explained, “The 1960s to 1990s was a special time in music, reflected by a steady recognition of pieces of that era-even by today’s millennials.

“Spotify was launched in 2008, well after nearly 90% of the songs we studied were released, which indicates millennials are aware of the music that, in general, preceded their lives and are nonetheless choosing to listen to it.”


4 million Spotify streams for Queensland singer-songwriter Tia Gostelow’s ‘Strangers’ ft. LANKS.

20 million subscribers for Blackpink’s official YouTube channel, the first K-Pop act to achieve this.

44% rise in Australian viewership for the Nickelodeon awards. In the Australasian section, Sydney born Ruel was fave music maker, New Zealand NBA star Steven Adams as fave sports star and 23-year-old Brisbane-based gamer Lachlan Power, the first Australian gaming YouTuber to reach 10 million subscribers, as fave content creator.

11.8% more Australians have in the last 12 months gained access to pay TV to 14 million, according to Roy Morgan research. In SVODs, Netflix leads with 11.2 million Aussie subscribers (up 25.2% in a year) while Aussie-owned Stan jumped 45.2% to reach 2.6 million.


The number of Australian artists showcasing at The Great Escape in the UK has risen to 27.

The event which has a reputation for showcasing the best export-ready emerging acts has added Brisbane-based Tia Gostelow (“This is my first festival overseas and i am sooooooo ready bb”); Sydney pop-rock outfit PLANET who after opening the DMA’s in Europe & UK in 2018, have nine shows already locked in between May 4 to14 and already have July booked for the northern summer festival; and

Melbourne punk band Press Club who continue to work their debut album Late Teens which was issued 12 months ago and are touring through Europe and the UK in April and May.

The other 24 Australian acts include Confidence Man, Tropical Fuck Storm, Jungle Giants, Body Type, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Triple One, Stonefield, Alex Lahey, Kian and Kingswood.


Supercar race events continue to use rock music to draw younger patrons.

In the latest round, Icehouse and Killing Heidi are announced for the Watpac Townsville 400 to headline the off-track entertainment under the Watpac Big Top with the concert presented by Jim Beam.

The race is North Queensland’s largest annual sporting event, and is staged July 5—7 at Reid Park.

Last year organisers booked John Farnham and Daryl Braithwaite.

Icehouse singer Iva Davies and Killing Heidi’s Ella Hooper were in Townsville for the announcement, and were joined by Supercars drivers Jamie Whincup and Will Davison, Watpac regional manager Bryan Glancy, the event’s official charity GIVIT’s CEO and founder Juliette Wright and Townsville mayor Jenny Hill.

Mayor Hill said that attracting live drawcards added to Townsville’s claim to be the events capital of Northern Australia.

“It’s always great to have such successful Australian bands visiting Townsville and bringing visitors to the region – Icehouse and Killing Heidi are sure to attract everyone to the Supercars, not just those who want to watch the races.”


Professional musicians, community groups and enthusiasts can be part of Make Music Day (June 21) by registering their event or activity here.

Launched in 1982 in France as the Fête de la Musique, Make Music Day is a day of community-led free musical expression now held annually in more than 800 cities in 120 countries.

Make Music Day seeks the involvement of government bodies, local councils, schools and community music organisations, music retailers and industry, and importantly, members of the community.

Make Music Day encourages both amateur and professional music making, and empowers individuals to seek out ways to celebrate and express music in their community.

All of it is free and open to the public. Every kind of musician — young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical persuasion — gathers indoor and outdoor, in venues, streets, parks, plazas, paddocks and verandas to share their music with friends, neighbours, and strangers.


Another fund raiser is being held for Phil K, the man they call “the dj’s dj” who is battling prostate cancer.

On Friday, April 12 at Club 77 in Sydney, names as The Aston Shuffle, Infusion (DJ set), Simon Caldwell and Jono Fernandez are showing their solidarity.

Phil says, “I’m sure some of you have heard that I haven’t been doing so well lately. And, honestly, it’s been a pretty tough few months. Having to face my mortality, that’s not a pleasant thing for a person to have to go through and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.”

He has not been able to work since September and the bills are starting to pile up.

All things going well with his treatment, Phil plans to make an appearance on the night.


Downtown Music, which has a Sydney office, has bought AVL Digital Group, the parent of CD Baby, AdRev, DashGo and Soundrop.

AVL Digital’s portfolio of music distribution, rights management and artist services businesses collectively distribute and monetize more than 10 million tracks on behalf of over 900,000 artists, labels and other rights holders.


MusicNSW has announced a new pilot program to help revitalise music in regional NSW.

Its Regional Music Officer (RMO) Program is a 12-month pilot program employing local music champions to be brokers within their towns on behalf of MusicNSW – building capacity and relationships between local industry, artists and council.

There are four RMO contract positions across regional NSW, approximately 2-days per week over the twelve month period, and include training and support from MusicNSW.

Emily Collins, MusicNSW’s managing director, said, “We’ll be employing local people to help foster their music scenes by working with and connecting local artists, venues, schools, audiences and local organisations over 12 months, starting this June.”

“Often much of the conversation, funding and support is focused on metro areas – but MusicNSW is committed to making sure there is equity across NSW and look forward to having a deeper engagement with towns and cities in regional areas.”

Applications are open now here.


Australia joins 190 other countries celebrating International Jazz Day on April 30, with most capital cities and larger regional centres running events.

In Melbourne, Herbie Hancock, James Morrison, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Kurt Elling are among those who’re taking part in a worldwide concert.

In Mt. Gambier, SA. Morrison and Elling lead a “Generations in Jazz” festival featuring 6,000 high school student musicians.

The indigenous community of Yarrabah in Far North Queensland gets a jazz education program for student musicians.

The celebrations actually run for two days, and also include performances, education programs and community service initiatives.


Australians through via the One News Now livestream can watch Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Marlon Williams, Maisey Rika, Hollie Smith and Teeks perform as part of a NZ-wide remembrance of victims of the Christchurch mosque massacres.

It has already begun at 10 am NZ time.

In the meantime, Lorde, Shihad, Marlon Williams, Stan Walker, Shapeshifter, Dave Dobbyn, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Six60, Anika Moa, Bic Runga, Hollie Smith and Teeks are among major New Zealand acts playing two large fund raising concerts in April.


BMG’s revenues grew 7.5% in 2018 to €545 million, with strong activity from its recording, publishing and production music divisions.

It said it had #1 chart success with Lil Dicky, Jason Aldean, Kylie Minogue, The Prodigy and Kontra K.

Its parent company Bertelsmann generated revenues of €17.7 billion in 2018, its highest figure since 2007.


* Leo Lounge at 42 Darlinghurst Rd, Kings Cross is tomorrow (March 30) launching its weekly Dream Nightclub which will provide R&B, hip hop, dance, Old School & 90s-2000s mashups and offering a number of complimentary things as part of its launch.

* We thought that the application by the Sandstone Park Hotel, southeast Queensland’s largest music and entertainment venues, to host more outdoor festivals was a foregone conclusion. But resident complaints led to a delay in a decision, eve after a marathon council session. The venue already stages festivals as Red Hot Summer, Holy Green Music & Arts and Spring Loaded.

* Hotel Gearin in the Blue Mountains (NSW) closes this weekend, with local outfit Red Bee returning from a 12-date national tour to play the farewell. The video for their ‘Chasing Shadows’ was shot at the hotel’s Roxy Room.

* Former vendors of popular live music market NightQuarter claim they are owed thousands in unpaid bonds from the operator  — but he is counterclaiming six figures in rent and damages.

* A new cabaret venue, The Pink Flamingo, is coming to Broadbeach on the Gold Coast.


For Record Store Day, Bloodlines is issuing exclusively on vinyl The Birthday PartyMutiny/The Bad Seed (double vinyl), The Reels’ The Reels (40th anniversary red vinyl) and Broderick Smith’s Suitcase.


GRID (Grass Roots Indie Development) is an Australian artist development platform established in 2013 by Melbourne musicians Ariel Blum and Ayesha Mehta.

The program empowers emerging Australian musicians from outer suburban areas to cultivate their musical and marketing skills and transform them to support thriving careers.

Having kicked off with their Western Sydney program last month, GRID announced four artists to be part of the program.

They are Australian-born Tamil woman, Srisha Sritharan who is also an Australian and NSW poetry slam champion, singer songwriter Chris Neto, songwriter and producer Clarissa Mei and Fijian-born Ilisavani Cava.

GRID now turns their attention to South West Brisbane.

Four successful applicants will get a one-on-one session with an established songwriter, record with a renowned producer, and be mentored by an accomplished music industry expert to discuss their career and develop a set of strategies.

Mentors for the Brisbane program include Nick Lynagh from Mirror Music Group (Gang of Youths, Middle Kids), Sarah Chipman from Title Track (Manu Crooks, Didirri, Gretta Stanley) as well as songwriting development from Konstantin Kersting (The Belligerents, Mallrat), with Yanto Browning (Kate Miller Heidke) and Ariel Blum (Lara Andallo, St.Ives) on production duties.

More info.


Apple Music has rebranded its The A-List: Dance Playlist as danceXL after its dance music listeners grew 40% from 2017 to 2018.

While the Chinese release of Bohemian Rhapsody has snipped out all gay references, the sequel is heavily rumoured to begin after the Live Aid concert.

A Sex Pistols biopic is on its way but still in its early stages.

The B-52s are doing a farewell tour overseas.

A row has broken out between Scouts Victoria and organisers of Shivoostock, a 50-act festival set up to help the LGBTQIA+ community. The Herald Sun reported that the Scouts have axed the festival from being staged at one of their campgrounds in Gippsland. The Scouts say they were not told a festival was being held there, just that a group of friends were camping there. The festival says the grounds were booked by email through the grounds’ manager and caretaker but did not have a contract. “We’ve never done it before, we were learning along the way,”  a festival manager told the paper.

A Buddy Holly hologram will join a Roy Orbison hologram on his tour through Europe.

Justin Bieber fans are blamed for damaging the Icelandic canyon featured on his ‘I’ll Show You’ video.

‘90s electro pop band Def FX are reuniting for dates along the East Coast in June, with Nunchukka Superfly, Matt Doll (a founder of the Mavis’s), Newcastle punk act Bitchcraft and Sydney industrial dance band Snvff going along for the ride.

UB40’s sax blower Brian Travers has stepped out of the band’s 40th anniversary tour,  as he has been diagnosed with brain tumour.

In the meantime, Everclear frontman Art Alexakis revealed he is battling multiple sclerosis.

The music got unplugged at the festivals, now the court cases have begun. A dealer trafficking MDMA and Super K at the Rainbow Serpent in Victoria was jailed for five months … a Port Stephens teenager has escaped conviction after being sentenced for supplying MDMA caps at Sydney’s Fomo … a man has been charged with careless driving and drug driving over an incident at Falls Lorne when a vehicle drove over a person sleeping in his tent. He’s alive because he was lying on his stomach, and not exposing his chest, paramedics told him. The accused faces court in July.

Shortly before a performance in Wollongong, Ash Grunwald and a group of supporters will go to Red Beach in Port Kembla and clean it up.

In 2018 Melbourne Ska Orchestra made a promise to  release a song a week. They lived up to it. Now they’re on the road in celebration, playing Bluesfest’s 30th and side shows in Melbourne and Sydney.

Melbourne band Clowns’ limited edition hot sauce with Punk Rock Peppers, May I Be Extinguished?,  took out first spot in the Tabasco category at the 2019 Mr Chilli Hot Sauce Awards.

Liam Gallagher’s Petty Green fashion label is expected to go belly-up.

Sara Storer is headlining a charity concert in Cloncurry, Qld, for those doing it tough after the state’s harsh drought and one of the worst flooding in history. It is on Saturday April 6 at the Cloncurry Racecourse Equestrian Centre. All proceeds go to Sisters of the North’ Charity, set up by a  group of women who encourage connection, community and empowerment as a means of developing resilience against adversity.

Independent Music NZ (IMNZ) announced Moana and The Moahunters’ landmark 1993 debut album TAHI is the 2019 recipient of its Classic Record award. Also announced were the three finalists for Auckland Live Best Independent Debut Award: Alien Weaponry’s Tū,  Jed Parsons’ Midnight Feast and Wax Chattels’ Wax Chattels.

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