Live music lives again

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It’s been a long and winding road for the music industry

As Joni Mitchell once sang, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got, til it’s gone’ which could be a lament for Australia’s live music industry over the past two years. We’d like to think we really did know what we had, but alas when surrounded by such a wealth of local music talent it’s easy to take it for granted. Once COVID cut a swathe through the live music industry, we all missed it more than anyone could have imagined!

But let’s not dwell on those dark days. The positive news is the good vibes are returning – along with local tours and a boom in creativity. “Naturally, the domestic market has been the first to emerge from the hiatus and venues have slowly reopened as capacity limits have been removed,” Jacqui Walter, Stage and Screen National Sales Director and passionate musician said. “It’s been predominantly Australian acts returning to the stage and touring, with regional areas really benefiting from local acts taking to the road.”

It’s a triumphant and uplifting return, as the live music industry was one of the hardest hit sectors in the country. Not just artists, but also promoters, road crew, sound technicians and stage builders had to dig deep to survive. Sadly many were forced to leave the industry, taking their extensive skills with them, to pursue alternative regular paying jobs.

While some hung on by any means they could, many artists describe the enforced hibernation as one of the most productive periods of their career. “They hunkered down to write and produce and they came out with some of their best work ever,” Jacqui said. “It’s been a very creative time and we’ve seen some really interesting music emerge.”

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Another interesting trend has been savvy artists using social media, online platforms and TikTok to promote their music at a time when they couldn’t tour and perform live. The standout global sensation being Australia’s The Kid LAROI, who in the past two years became one of the fastest rising music stars in the world. He came out of lockdown with literally more than a billion streams across music platforms and now sells out arena concerts.

At the same time favourite local events, such as long-standing Stage and Screen client, Bluesfest has finally been able to go ahead this year. With an all-local lineup (and just a few last minute international acts) Bluesfest was a massive success. “The general public flocked to Byron Bay, showing that there’s a huge appetite to go to live music again and also to support the local industry,” said Jacqui. “And this year’s Port Fairy Folk Festival back in March was huge. This local focus has also exposed many artists to a new audience for the first time. Now these acts have a new legion of fans, so they’ve been able to embark on local tours after being well received at Bluesfest.”

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Stage and Screen has also been thrilled to support local musicians and first nation artists as they’ve chosen to focus on small regional tours. “We love working with emerging artists and it’s been great to see our long term client, Baker Boy, back on stage doing what he loves best,” Jacqui said.

There’s also been a trend towards multiple bands and artists playing on the one bill and getting back to grass roots venues in small towns like Daylesford, Woodend and Castlemaine in Victoria for example

.It will take longer for international artists to start touring as Australia’s COVID numbers are still quite high. “More tours are planned for later this year and certainly we are seeing a lot of confidence from artists to tour in 2023,” Jacqui said. Another group heading back to our shores are Australian artists who were stuck in second homes overseas. Bands such as Gang of Youths have been keen to get back home to tour and share their new content with local audiences.

“All signs are pointing to a big year of live music over the next 12 to 18 months, which will be vital for the industry,” said Jacqui. “And government support for the industry in response to COVID and an increase in grants from APRA, are hopefully here to stay. In the meantime music fans can support the industry and artists by pre-buying concert tickets and by purchasing merchandise from their online stores.”

With planning underway for the peak festival season from October to April, Stage and Screen is also busy as the travel partner for BIGSOUND. The annual music festival and industry conference in Brisbane takes place in September and is looking forward to a record number of Australian artists applying to perform.

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As travel specialists that know the live music business inside and out, Stage has been enjoying getting local artists back on the road. Something that’s had its challenges … with regional tours putting demand on van rentals and many car hire companies offloading as much as 40% of their fleet during COVID.

Stage and Screen continues to support the music industry with exclusive entertainment rates, accommodation value-adds and special baggage allowance rates on Qantas and Virgin airlines. “It’s important to look for any savings we can find, as touring artists and promoters are already facing rising fuel costs and insurance premiums,” said Jacqui.

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Looking back it’s hard to believe that as recently as early 2022, fans had to remain seated at concerts – and singing and dancing were in breach of public health orders! However once again we can return to the grassroot venues – and feel the connection that can only come from celebrating live music with a crowd of equally passionate strangers.

A range of important support resources for anyone working in Australian music or the arts can be found at Support Act

Contact us today for more travel information on your upcoming production!

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