Features April 11, 2019

Ten years of Music Victoria: CEO Patrick Donovan on its enduring achievements

Ten years of Music Victoria: CEO Patrick Donovan on its enduring achievements

is currently running a membership drive to help grow Victoria’s contemporary music sector on behalf of musicians, venues, music businesses, professionals, and music lovers.

The latest drive runs through to Thursday, April 18, and expands membership categories including a $77 one for sound engineers/producers and music industry professionals.

There’s also a push for free under 18s membership to give wider access to the association’s workshops, discounts and professional development series’.

Full details are available at the Music Victoria official website.

TMN: What are the projects that Music Victoria is working on currently?

PD: Music Victoria is currently running the Women’s Leadership program Cultivate, and have just opened applications for the third Live Music Professionals program, a coaching module for 20 mid-career promoters and venue operators, which we deliver in partnership with The Push and the State Government.

We recently launched our (free-for-industry-members) Professional Development Program with a focus on venue workshops, mental health, pitching to radio, and budgeting.

We are planning the second Changes Summit with partners The Push, Creative Victoria the VMDO (Victorian Music Development Office) and APRA AMCOS and the inaugural Port Phillip Council Venues Day which will feed into the council’s $300,000 live music action plan.

I am attending a national roundtable in Sydney next week to discuss partnerships and the delivery of Federal government’s recent commitments to music, and we are reviewing the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry’s 16 recommendations to support the growth of music, which includes supporting (music publicist-turned academic) Chrissie Vincent’s recommendations to increase commercial radio quotas for Australian content.

We are continuing to advocate for better regulatory support for live music venues with our recent White Paper analysing the effectiveness of the Agent of Change clause after five years, and we are consulting the Environmental Protection Agency on its new noise regulations.

The Victorian Music Development Office, which Music Victoria delivers for the state government, is running a number of exciting programs to support small business and First Nations artists and businesses, including the new business development program Blak Sound, in partnership with Spotify and City of Melbourne; the CLOCK education program, where two Victorian professionals will validate their skills and experience with formal qualification credits, and a recent showcasing event at Australia House during SXSW in Austin Texas.

TMN: What were the circumstances that caused the association to be set up?

PD: In 2009, Victoria was the only state or territory without an active peak body for contemporary music.

So members of The Push, APRA/AMCOS, SLAM (Save Live Australian Music), FairGo4LiveMusic and AIR formed an interim board to consult the industry about the need for a peak body, and determine what its goals should be.

Arts Victoria and Australia Council helped fund the consultation process, which supported the formation of an independent peak body.

Then it was incorporated and received seeding funding from the state government.

The SLAM rally happened soon after it was established which galvanised the community gave us plenty of momentum. We were on our way.

TMN: Looking back at the 10 years, what are a number of initiatives that wouldn’t exist in the state if not for Music Victoria?

PD: Music Victoria works in partnership with industry and government on many initiatives.

We are in a unique position to help facilitate change and development because we are an independent, non-for-profit, representative peak body, and governments and businesses come to us because we represent the overall industry’s interests and the big picture.

An overarching live music strategy, represented by our Victorian Live Music Ten Point Plan, is unique to Victoria.

It contains some of our initiatives, including parking permits for musicians, a building code exemption for small businesses, and the Age Music Victoria Awards.

We have driven some vital evidenced-based research, including the Victorian Live Music Census.

We have also advocated for councils to adopt music strategies, and assist them in developing them.

TMN: There have been many wins but Agent of Change is not only being looked at for adoption by many Australian states but also in some overseas cities. Can you elaborate?

PD: The Agent of Change provision was developed in Victoria, and legislated in 2014 to protect existing venues and rehearsal studios from encroaching development.  

We advised London industry and lawmakers on its implementation there.

We are currently reviewing its performance over the last five years, and have made recommendations about how it can be strengthened and complement other reforms to not only protect existing venues but remove barriers for new venues and operators to enter the market.

TMN: How difficult was it to get the Agent of Change introduced in Victoria, what obstacles did Music Victoria encounter?

PD: The industry had been calling for it, and then the state government of the day announced it would implement it, but then they dragged their feet.

SLAM threw a few media grenades which got their attention, and then it was a case of negotiating the best outcome for the industry.”

TMN: Victoria is a textbook case of the music industry and the state government working closely together. How did you manage that?

PD: The Music Victoria Live Music Census helped showcase the unique strength of our live music industry, and highlight to the government that any investment added value, and was not a mere subsidy.

State Labor governments have a strong history of supporting the development of the contemporary music industry; when the Coalition were in power from 2014 to 2018, we changed the narrative and asked them to cut red tape and reform laws to enable live music venues to run better businesses and create jobs.

TMN: How advanced are your gender-equality initiatives?

PD: In 2015, we conducted a research project into issues confronting women in the contemporary music industry in Victoria.

We used those findings to implement a number of programs and initiatives including the establishment of a Women’s Advisory Panel to advise Music Victoria on key issues; gender quotas for our board, panels and all of our programs in 2017; we run the Cultivate Women’s leadership program and an annual panel called You Can’t be What You Cant See.

TMN: What were the consequences of holding the Music Cities convention in Melbourne?

PD: It helped put Melbourne on the global map as one of the great music cities.  

It was a rare opportunity for the world’s leading policymakers and entrepreneurs to experience Melbourne’s vibrant music scene and learn about our diversity, community and support programs. 

VMDO manager Bonnie Dalton and Creative Victoria’s Kirsty Rivers are currently in Chengdu, China, further developing relationships and promoting Melbourne and Victoria to the Chinese music industry and the global market.

TMN: What was the thinking of adding more membership categories?

PD: We have expanded our team and programs and now offer value to each section of the music industry, so we established new categories to reflect this.

So we encourage everyone in the music industry to join our music community, whether you are a musician, venue, fan, sound engineer, manager, council arts worker, graphic designer or music student.”

TMN: Anything else you want to comment on the last ten years?

PD: We are excited that the federal parties are now investing in contemporary music, and we look forward to working with industry and government to implement the inquiry’s 16 recommendations and to support and develop Australia’s contemporary music industry.

Every state and territory runs incredible projects to support their music communities, and the best ideas and practice should be rolled out nationally.

I would also like to thank all of the musicians and industry, our members, current and past staff and board members of Music Victoria, and the tireless work of our numerous volunteers and partners to help get us to where we are today.

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