When Australian broadsheet The Sydney Morning Herald publishes an article about the demise of the live entertainment space, you know the industry is in serious trouble. Something that artists themselves have known for quite some time is that local event organisers are being squeezed out by large multi-national corporations that are invading our shores; pricing an industry which is already on its knees out of the game. The alarm bells are ringing and the negative impacts on artist revenue, freedom to play, and the spiralling exorbitant cost to see your favourite acts, is sending shockwaves through the community.
As everyone understands, except the government it would seem, market consolidation only leads to two things. Monopolisation and dominance over price points for its suppliers. Just ask Australian farmers what it’s like having only three supermarket chains driving down profit margins. Just as it is unsustainable for them, so it will be for the entertainment industry.
Make no mistake, these foreign operators are backed by serious money. Live Nation is partially owned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Yes, that same man who has brutally quelled freedom of speech and overseen increased political repression stretching far beyond the kingdom’s borders. Now the company has bought more than a dozen Australian music festivals, ticketing companies, music agencies and venues, including Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival, Spilt Milk, Ticketmaster and Moshtix.
Hot on their trails are other international behemoths including TEG and AEG, meaning that 85% of the market is sewn up, and you get next to Buckley’s chance of getting paid correct weight for the ‘privilege’ of playing at their events. Combine this with the ever-diminishing locations where artists can perform, Australia is going to find it increasingly difficult to break out of this cancerous malaise. After all, money talks and when you are dealing with a company that controls the end-to-end process, there is little room to manoeuvre.
That level of incursion into Australian business models has created a fear factor within the industry with many choosing not to speak out in case their revenue stream is cut off completely. The outrage behind the scenes is palpable, with many reviewing their options as to how they can regain control of their businesses before their third-party arrangements disappear forever into the hands of faceless offshore facades.
It is not just the performance fees themselves which are crippling our musicians. Artists are increasingly directed to sign exclusivity and binding contracts which means they cannot play in the months preceding, or after the scheduled event. So, what are we to do if we are going to revive an industry which is already suffering the economic curse of the pandemic? Well, there is one Australian company bucking that trend and providing a solution to the problem.
Aussie Sounds Augmenting the Live Arena
Realising there was an increasing lack of outlets for Australians to earn a living due to closing venues, severe weather events and reduced fees, CEO Heath Donald is aiming to fill the gap in the market and offering a free streaming service for on-demand and live content from fans’ favourite artists. More importantly their vertically integrated advertising model and corporate funding strategy means that musicians and bands will get an equal share of the profits.
Heath is a digital entrepreneur with skin in the game, and the idea for Aussie Sounds Live and its altruistic ambition came to him precisely because his friends in the music industry were starved of opportunities and only surviving on government handouts. Using the latest technology, Aussie Sounds Live will augment the reality of performances giving fans what they need, and free from the oppressive excessive prices dictated by the uber agencies.
As the CEO forecasts, “When I started this company, I knew the opportunity was huge, the road would be long and at times challenging. Delivering a service that raises the earning potential of musicians, and which allows fans to connect with bands through a quality-controlled service, is a vision which brings the future of digital content to the present day. ASL is currently talking to several VR venders about integration of their content into the VR world… Stay tuned”
More importantly this is not just about our capital cities. Aussie Sounds Live will broadcast from near the idyllic Byron Bay in the Northern Rivers region of NSW. It will bring much needed income into the community and showcase to the world the beauty of our environment. The NBN Enterprise Ethernet is ensuring that the technology which was once a pipe dream is capable of bringing the experience to any digital device in the world.
So as the bills keep piling up and we lose the economic power to experience our favourite musos, seek out the team at Aussie Sounds Live. Our first event is on 22 November 2022 which will feature the comeback of the No Frills Twins and music from their exciting new album.
Despite the death knell being rung by many, there is an alternative. Locally owned, operated and determined to resuscitate the live entertainment industry to its former glory, Aussie Sounds Live will transform the live experience for many.
Aussie music must thrive, or we are in danger of becoming a backwater of increasing global insignificance until there is nothing left but tumbleweed and dust devils blowing across our stages.
Turn On. Tune In. Never Drop Out!
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Jay B McCauley is a renowned award-winning music journalist, broadcaster and record producer. He has written for some of the biggest platforms in the game and runs his own label Vagrant Soundz.