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News November 8, 2021

Virtual ARIA Week unveils speaker lineup and program

Senior Journalist, B2B
Virtual ARIA Week unveils speaker lineup and program

The ninth annual ARIA Week is taking shape, with a lineup of guest speakers including The Annex founder Mardi Caught, artist and entrepreneur Jack River (aka Holly Rankin) and UNIFIED Music Group CEO Jaddan Comerford.

Announced today, the ARIA’s look-and-learn sessions will stream Friday, Nov. 19 on YouTube, and will also boast commentary from industry professionals including Sian Van Der Muelen (aka Miss Blanks), Tony Bracy, Ricky Simandjuntak and Amber Horsborough.

The 2021 program, revealed in full today, will drill into such topics as innovation and entrepreneurship, cultural change and promoting first nations culture through music.

Also, organisers are setting up an online workshop to “help nurture emerging artists and aspiring industry professionals,” a statement reads.

holly rankin tio awards 2018

For ARIA and its members, this year has been one of change, challenges and evolution.

This month’s flagship ARIA Awards ceremony encapsulates those factors.

For the first time, the gender-based awards have been scrapped for what will be a virtual ceremony, beamed out live Nov. 24 from an as-yet-undisclosed location.

Behind the scenes, the ceremony will be the first on the watch of CEO Annabelle Herd and Chair Natalie Waller, ARIA’s first female leadership tandem.

In a change from previous years, the trade body’s staff won’t be taking a place on any ARIA Week panels.

“We really wanted to give our platform to other important voices across the industry to have this conversations in a really authentic way,” Herd tells TIO.

Annabelle Herd

“We had a very clear intent. When we knew we would have to do ARIA Week online, and weren’t going to be able to do the usual, in-person program, we took a step back and looked at what we wanted to achieve this year,” she continues.

The baseline for those ambitions was to build on the decision around best artist, and “on the work that’s been happening in the industry, build on the themes that have been happening across the industry this year and also give our platforms to others to have those conversations.”

Those conversations on stage, she anticipates, “will move us forward so that when we come out of COVID, we’ve made real progress.”

Lars Brandle, Jen Fontaine, Regan Lethbridge, Jeremy Furze and Catherine Haridy

Lars Brandle, Jen Fontaine, Regan Lethbridge, Jeremy Furze and Catherine Haridy at the 2019 ARIA Masterclass

Herd singles out the Friday morning cultural change panel as one to watch.

“It’s going to be a great conversation about inclusion and how we move forward as an industry that everyone feels comfortable and happy to be in, and positive,” she explains.

The full-line up for the 35th ARIA Awards will be announced in due course.

When the curtain raises, the party starts.

“We want to make a really positive show to get people excited about next year and the fact that, despite everything, amazing music is still being made,” Herd says. “We want it to be a really upbeat show this year.”

For more on ARIA Week visit

2021 ARIA Week

Friday 19th November @ 11:00 AM AEDT
Sian Van Der Muelen from Point Blank Group (also known as Miss Blanks) has brought together Alethea Beeston (Digi Youth Arts, Blaksound), Uda Widanapathirana (Artist Manager, Sukuya) for the Cultural Change Panel moderated by Jim Malo (Journalist) to discuss representation, equity and inclusion in an effort to ignite change, hope, unification and community-building.

Monday 22nd November – 11:00 AM AEDT
MusicNT in collaboration with The NIMAs will discuss the future of the music industry, awards and how to support First Nation artists, in a conversation led by Arian PearsonLeah Flanagan and Emma Donovan moderated by Ben Graetz.

Monday 22nd November – 02:00 PM – 03:00 PM
Mardi Caught (The Annex), Jaddan Comerford (UNIFIED), Joel Connelly (Blackbird) and Holly Rankin (Jack River) come together to discuss what it takes to start your own business in music while providing insight into their own journey in the music industry.

Tuesday 23rd November – 11:00 AM AEDT
Emerging artists and aspiring music executives are invited to join Wendy OngTony BracyRicky SimandjuntakAmber Horsborough and Nooky as they discuss all things music. Whether you are about to release your first track or want to know how to craft the perfect radio campaign, this is a unique opportunity to learn from some of the industry’s best. Attendees will also have the chance to win a place in Amber Horsborough’s Deep Cuts program as well as the opportunity to be paired up for one on one mentoring sessions with a suited industry executive.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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