Support Act’s Clive Miller Talks ‘Minimum Standards,’ Ausmusic T-Shirt Day and More
Live music is, thankfully, back. As the mercury climbs, the big talent is either on the way, or they’ve already landed. There’s never been more opportunities to blow your bank balance.
It’s not all fun and games. With a fresh wave of COVID infections threatening to spoil the party, and the elements a constant threat, many in the music community feel left behind.
“There are a lot of people that are still struggling,” comments Clive Miller, CEO of Support Act, the music industry charity.
“There are some particular issues that people are confronting, some people are still trying to recover financially and emotionally from the last couple of years of the pandemic.”
Those that are working, “it’s still incredibly competitive, the cost of things has gone up,” he continues.
“As much as people are out and about — there’s no denying things are much better than they were — I think there’s still some softness out there in the market when it comes to consumer spending and consumer behaviour.”
Music professionals, including the smaller and medium-sized artists, “continue to be under financial and emotional pressure” when shows are pushed back or cancelled.
All of which results in “an ongoing demand for Support Act’s services and we’re continuing to see it when it comes to crisis relief and people accessing our mental health programs.”
This year marks 25 years since Support Act materialised. Today, the organisation provides essential crisis relief, mental health and wellbeing support for thousands across a range of services, including the charity’s “Wellbeing Helpline” and funeral support.
Miller spoke with TMN about the challenges that lie ahead, and some building blocks for a recovery, for a healthier industry, which are falling into place.
One of those pieces is Support Act’s Minimum Standards for a Mentally Healthy Music Industry, a set of guidelines that encourage action to protect, respond, and promote the positive aspects of work that contribute to good mental health.
The framework includes a commitment to provide workplaces that are psychologically safe, and which take proactive measures to address safety at work issues including bullying, harassment, discrimination, sexual misconduct, racism, ageism, homophobia and transphobia.
Since those self-regulating standards were launched at BIGSOUND back in September, more than 50 signatories have come on board, representing a cross-section of the industry including AAM, APRA AMCOS, trade bodies, Secret Sounds, Chugg Music, Spotify, Mushroom Group, Live Nation and Moshtix.
“It’s a slow burn,” admits Miller. “It takes a while for people to look at and review the standards, and then work out how they can integrate them into their workflow. We just hope that more and more people will sign up and take on board the fundamental actions that are suggested as part of that.”
The existing list of participants is “impressive,” he notes. “If all of their peers come on board, we’ll see a lot more on that list before too long.”
Miller is keen to see industry organisations, particularly those in the small-to-medium range, or without an HR department, to check out the standards.
“They’re called minimum standards for a reason,” he explains. “This isn’t huge compliance obligation. We wanted to keep them fairly simple, fairly easy to digest.”
Another easy-to-digest campaign for which Support Act is front and centre is Ausmusic T-Shirt Day, which returns this Friday (Nov. 18).
Ambassadors this year include Thor actor Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Mauboy and Darren Hayes, and its raft of supporters include ARIA, the ABC and its triple j, Double J networks.
Last year’s event raised well over $500,000, a record for the annual project. Organisers this year hope to set the bar considerably higher.
With a target of $750,000, more than $176,000 has already been raised.
To get involved on the big day, get your Aussie artist shirt on, use the hashtag #ausmusictshirtday and tag Support Act, triple j and ARIA across social platforms.
Miller has options. “I bought one of each of the premium t-shirts that we’ve been promoting,” he tells TMN.
“When I came into this role, I had just a handful (of band tees) that I’d collected over the years. Now I have a whole rack. It solves my wardrobe issues.”
For support, call the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline a free, confidential 24/7 counselling service available to anyone working in Australian music or the performing arts. It includes a dedicated First Nations Support Line, Sexual Health and Safety Support Line, LGBTQI+ Support Line, and Manager Support Hotline, all accessed by calling 1800 959 500.
Read the full “Standards” here.