opinion Opinion March 19, 2020

Artist manager Jen Fontaine issues call to arms for Aussie music [op-ed]

Artist manager Jen Fontaine issues call to arms for Aussie music [op-ed]

Warning: This article mention suicide and depression which may be disturbing to some readers.

The current state of the world has seen crises across all industries.

Travel has been decimated, hospitality is struggling, media jobs are being made redundant and fashion has never been harder to make a mark in. For the purpose of this piece though, I will stay in my own lane: entertainment, and more specifically, music. 

Over the past weeks, I have watched this pandemic decimate our live industry and now, with new health and government bans in place around public gatherings and live shows, the heart has been metaphorically ripped out of the music industry’s chest.

For many artists (and you would be surprised by the list!), their only sources of income have been selling tickets to shows, taking corporate bookings, and selling merchandise to fans. 

Let’s take it to another level. We have the talented and tireless production teams: FOH engineers, production managers, tour managers, creatives, producers, publicists, choreographers, wardrobe, glam squads, freelance consultants, content creators, roadies, lighting designers, tech teams, support artists, touring agents and of course, artist managers. 

That list goes on. These people live booking by booking. They have bills to pay, families to feed. It’s not just the current cancellations that will affect them, but the depth of the re-build ahead. 

As we have seen over previous years, this industry is already crippled with depression, suicide and stress due to obscene hours and many many demands – it’s a constant rollercoaster. Now is our time to step up and help, and I really call on the government and large industry bodies to set agendas now. For the committees I am on, this is our top priority.

While I applaud and couldn’t be prouder of every single artist that does make a significant income from streaming and other sources (such as brand collaborations and syncs), there is still a huge gap between those that do and those who do not. 

For those at home streaming, now is the time to support your Aussie artists, across every genre.

To the streaming services, please look to profile even more Aussie talent than you do currently, it’s too much to see the global giants receive the hero profile. Now is the time to give even more Aussies a chance. 

To radio, now more than ever, we need Aussie music played in prime time, and not in shallow slots. There is support but we need more.

To the media, please make it your duty to provide as much exposure to our Australian talent. Profile stories are a massive help. 

To our venues, please give preference to Aussie artists when they are rescheduling dates that may have been cancelled. 

To my friends and respected colleagues in TV or booking talent for live event moments, in this next year, we must look to book our Aussie artists first, and create event moments that include Australians. 

The artists that are global giants with multi-millions in the bank will survive this crippling moment, but our own may not. Just like the farmers and regional towns who continue to struggle, we must support Aussie singers and bands. 

I appreciate there is merit in the internationals providing interest levels, and I will be the first to recognise that there are ratings and KPIs to consider, but we need the focus to be on our homegrown talent. 

Equally, we must do our bit to support Aussie content – TV shows, radio, online and press. 

While social distancing may be necessary now, let’s use this period to plan for the rebuild and how best we can come out thriving.

Thank you to those that are already doing their bit and helping to bolster Aussie music and artists. If we don’t band together now, we will have failed in the Australian spirit.

In these troubled times, music is so powerful to keep us calm and help us heal. But behind the beautiful power of music, our Aussie industry will need you. 

Let each country do the same for their local industry. Stay safe!

If you or someone you know requires help, please contact Support Act on 1800 959 500, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or text the Lifeline helpline on 0477 13 11 14.

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