Edward Mandla
Live Music Taskforce

Published On: 11/11/2013

I was asked the other day, what I thought were some of the key attributes of a Board Director.

I thought about it and answered, much of it has to with dampening enthusiasm of the CEO, staff and stakeholders that have put ďtheir allĒ into a plan.

Then thereís the courage to say that while it all sounds good, maybe what weíve produced is the start and not the finish.

Finally, thereís that ability to add lateral thinking and creative thought, to do something that ďchanges the gameĒ.

I think this Live Music and Performance Action plan is really noble, hearts are in the right place but Iím convinced as it stands itís not going to be a game changer.

Music Today

A while ago the city had many dance venues where people danced the Gypsy Two Step, Pride of Erin and the Barn Dance. We could get a task force together to revive this and it would create economic benefit but the world has moved on and it wouldnít work.

Iím worried that our Live Music plan is a bit like Old Time Live Dancing Ė completely old school and not focused on our future Ė our next generation performer.

I urge Councillors to spend some time listening to 2DayFM and Nova to get an idea of what our youth are listening to Ė a youth that in yesteryear flocked to live music.

After listening for many hours, youíll see music today is highly processed by a computer and the produced sounds would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. To a degree, the computer has become the performer.

Live music used to be where the sound of tomorrow was heard. Today, itís heard first electronically via the Internet and Social Media and that drives a live performance.

So let me give you an example, letís assume for a moment that Councillor Mant and Councillor Kok are fine musicians (and I wouldnít be surprised if they actually are).

Our live music policy would help them secure live gigs. Even if they were world class, their audience would most likely be family, friends and people having a rest from gaming machines. Because today, if you havenít heard them first on-line, youíre unlikely to go and see them.

However, letís assume the city under itís Creative City initiative provided not only rehearsal space and parking but provided collaboration with countless young people, all the music computer equipment anyone ever dreamed of, taught the modern music strategy that music is art, it should be free, share it with the world and then it monetises into t-shirts, novelty items, paid remixes and live events.

Now letís consider Councillor Mant and Councillor Kok under such a Creative City initiative. This time letís assume they have limited musical abilities. However, with access to collaboration, expertise, the right computer technology, sophisticated video equipment, and a knock out social media strategy, well, itís foreseeable they could become global Internet sensations. That would translate to demand for live performances.

This is the new world of music. Young people consume music online first.

So from word go, our live music policy is misguided. Itís no longer just about performance experience and performance platforms. Itís equally about technical wizardry plus on-line genius.

The plan is a good start, but to get it back on track we need to do something we missed Ė do real front line consultation. Talk to the young working artists, particularly artists that are just starting out and talk to the small venues.

The Task Force has few or no actual live music performers on it and it seems like there are a lot of older people on it. I would have thought it should be confined to people that are under 25 with some grey hair for guidance and administrative support.

Letís Change the Game and Not Reminisce of the Past

There needs to be a focus on rehearsal space but itís rehearsal space with a massive investment in technical equipment to make recordings and videos plus access to expertise for on-line marketing and social media.

No one will come to your show if they havenít heard your music before and a lot of venues will not book you without hearing and seeing a demo.

Technology has advanced but itís still not accessible to the average artist due to cost and the need for sophisticated technical expertise. Recording, computer processing and video is extremely expensive not to mention gaining accesses to Internet distribution expertise to get known.

Forget affordable housing, young artists will happily trade a bed for access to collaboration, technology, expertise and a real chance to be noticed.

If you accept my argument that in the new world of music, young people consume music online first and wonít pay unless they know you, then we should be thinking subsidised or free venues to get them in.

We should also be thinking precincts. Fast food, food courts, and furniture shops all learnt a long time ago about clustering. People just blindly go to the precinct and make a choice when they are there. Iím astonished there is no discussion on dedicated music precincts, which could serve up a variety of live music acts. We own enough properties on Oxford Street to do this and it might just save its agonising death.

The plan is a good start but miles off being a finished product and certainly not yet a game changer

Edward Mandla
November 2013

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