Radio begins to answer the music industry’s plea for more airtime
Radio’s importance in times of crisis was laid bare when the ABC provided key, rolling updates during Australia’s bushfire crisis over the summer of 2019/20.
Now, as the globe faces the coronavirus pandemic, radio is being called on once more, as a key mechanism to keep the Australian music industry ticking over.
By last Friday, the total lost income from cancelled events in Australia surpassed $250 million.
The conversation kicked off when singer-songwriter Kira Puru put out the message earlier in the week, calling for Australian radio stations “to play mostly/exclusively Aussie acts to jack up our royalties while we wait for our gigs to pick up again”.
A CHALLENGE to Australian radio stations to play mostly/exclusively Aussie artists to jack up our royalties while we wait for our gigs to pick up again! 1 small, literally free way to aid local artists?
— Kira Puru (@kirapuru) March 17, 2020
At the same time, Triple M’s Jane Gazzo called on The Project to commit to playing 100% Australian artists leading into and out of their ad breaks.
EMI was one of the first music labels to pledge their support to the cause, with GM of A&R Mark Holland announcing the label is preparing to re-serve all media with their local roster.
Unsurprisingly, several triple j shows were the first to take up the challenge.
Hau Latukefu tweeted that his triple j hip hop show and his Double J show Sky High would be dedicating shows to all-Aussie acts.
Big love to Hau and all the presenters coming on board! https://t.co/v6IDUthZXt
— Kira Puru (@kirapuru) March 20, 2020
More presenters from triple j began coming on board, as Short Fast Loud with Joshua RedBeard also committed to the cause, rearranging one of his shows to go two-thirds Aussie content, while Lachlan Watt pledged an All Australian show.
Challenge accepted, all Australian show next week https://t.co/rOTrWHi8NM
— THE RACKET (@triplejracket) March 17, 2020
To get behind the push, The Music Network decided to publish an Australia & New Zealand-only version of its weekly tip sheet for Aussie music programmers; Singles To Radio.
Meanwhile, PPCA announced that it will begin offering cash advances of between $250 and $10,000 to PPCA registered artists.
Now, commercial radio is starting to get on board.
Following a request for comment around Kira Puru’s query, a spokesperson for Southern Cross Austereo says “we are, and have always been passionate about supporting Australian music, from airplay to live events that showcase artists to our audiences.”
“On both the Triple M and Hit Networks, we have weekly shows that are dedicated to Aussie music and, during this difficult time we will continue to work with artists, labels and promoters to increase airplay and support the Aussie music industry in a meaningful way,” the spokesperson told TMN.
“Music, like radio, can provide great comfort in uncertain times and we are all in this together.”
Those words already appear to be more than just words. On Monday night, Hit Network National Nights show Ash London LIVE played only Australian music, and London also spoke to industry experts and artists about ways fans can keep supporting local acts.
“Thankyou @kirapuru for the kick up the butt! We love you!” tweeted London.
Thankyou @kirapuru for the kick up the butt! We love you!
— ash london (@ash_london) March 24, 2020
Last week NOVA Entertainment played ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ by Gerry and the Pacemakers across its stations in solidarity with some UK-based stations.
TMN reached out to all of the main players to see what they’re doing to support the domestic artists that radio’s business model relies upon to thrive, only receive little to no response.
When approach by TMN, SCA and Australian Radio Network were most generous with a “we’ll get back to you” reply, NOVA Entertainment and Apple Music didn’t respond at all and a Spotify spokesperson directed us to its “global initiatives”.