TMN 30 Under 30: Meet your Artist Management winners
After getting to know the Licensing & Supervision winners on Friday, it’s time to take a look at the three TMN 30 Under 30 heroes from the Artist Management category.
Congratulations to Ellen Kirk from Look Out Kid, Kristie McCarthy from Lemon Tree Music and Rachael Tulloch from UNIFIED Music Group.
We asked each applicant to outline the biggest challenges facing the music industry and all 30 entries were unique and worth sharing. Responses were given prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.
This year’s TMN 30 Under 30 Awards are made possible thanks to six incredible sponsors, including APRA AMCOS, Eventbrite, MTV, Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music.
Ellen Kirk, Look Out Kid
Equality, diversity and inclusion is something that I am really passionate about particularly for our First Nations people and women and it’s still a huge challenge with a long way to go. There are still many obvious and insidious ways that society operates which makes it difficult for people to be afforded equal opportunities, have fair representation and feel safe and heard in the workplace and on our stages.
The current state of the climate as it relates to the music industry is also a huge challenge. The resurgence of vinyl and the history of CDs and plastic packaging, merchandise and physical products made from non-degradable synthetic materials. The carbon emissions that result from touring, international flights, etc and the challenge of having environmentally sustainable practises while remaining or achieving financial sustainability in an artistic career is currently next to impossible.
The globalisation of services, the internet, data and devices and the slow and bureaucratic systems of government, policy, administrative bodies and not-for-profit representative organisations makes it really hard to adapt to new technologies at the pace of which it is developing in a way that fairly respects artists and their work without limiting opportunity.
And lastly, the health and well-being of our artists, creatives and professionals – we have a real issue with hustle culture and burnout. There aren’t enough support systems in place to navigate through issues quickly and smoothly. It’s becoming less taboo to talk about these things, however, there are still stigmas in place and it’s very easy to find ourselves isolated in these challenges. The music industry is quite demanding on our socials lives and we fold to that demand because we’re passionate about what we do and why – but that attitude isn’t conducive to positive practices for our mental, emotional and physical health and general well-being
Kristie McCarthy, Lemon Tree Music
The way we consume music today is radically different than even a decade ago and I believe the side effects of streaming is the biggest challenge facing the industry. While incredible for music fans, and great in many ways for artists, streaming as the dominant platform for accessing music produces its own challenges. Editorial playlists are dominated by office, workout, party or chill moods; meaning heavier or more avant-garde music loses out. It also means artists are tempted to change their sound to be picked up by playlists, meaning we could start to see a loss of music diversity.
On the other side, algorithmic playlists allow artists to be shown to new fans which can be great, but it means labels and managers need to become far more skilled in understanding data than ever before. In my experience, there’s a big gap in knowledge in this area and algorithmic playlists can work against artists if they get geo-locked into a small market like Australia or a minor sub-genre. Understanding how to combat poor algorithms is a huge challenge and right now the information isn’t widely available or well understood.
The streaming model also means artists face the tough challenge of building loyal fan bases. Selling tickets and merchandise has become even more vital for artists sustainability given the decrease in music sales revenue. But with such a competitive market, its much harder to cultivate super fans who will buy physical releases, tickets to shows or merch since its likely they listen to a bigger number of artists than people have in the past. Streaming has fractured the music landscape and changed the game – so we need to find new ways to break artists and foster long term careers.
Rachael Tulloch, UNIFIED Music Group
There is so much change. But change is always and inevitable. I love the current push and pull with where we’re going as a global industry with regards to copyright ownership (thank you TS). I cannot believe that I’m still seeing agreements in Australia that have in perpetuity ownership in them. It’s mind-blowing. The fact Australian lawyers have the ability to make a change and aren’t is a huge challenge for me. Are you serious? You’re still in 2020 agreeing to have your clients sign in perpetuity deals!? We need to chat! I understand as a company we have also done such things and I am internally challenging this with our team to be more progressive.
I think the balance of how artist managers are remunerated post-term is an important challenge – not to mention their overall role. I don’t agree necessarily 100% with Taylor’s points, but I think the work needs to be fairly remunerated and not the first thing lawyers negotiate when a contract ends.
I have been in a position personally where we as a company have spent a lot of time and money and resources on extremely big songs. The relationship didn’t work out and consequently, our post-term on these big songs and albums is cut to pretty much nothing, even though most of the income is coming in post our working relationship.
Lawyers are so willing to negotiate such terms: how and why would we ever want to work with you on an ongoing basis if it’s not fair, if you continue to devalue the role of the artist manager, so you can just take your paycheck home.
I think that finally management may get seen for its value – although it’s still so slow to do so in Australia, not to mention the challenge of what we have as an industry supporting not just the mental health of the artists, but also the artists’ managers. This is a challenge we all encounter.