It’s no secret that the country is full of amazing musicians all hoping to smash the big time. But while there’s no shortage of talent, there is a shortage of pathways to get that life-changing break.
Cracking the local market can be expensive – with promotional tours, festival appearances and professional recording all costing big bucks. Even if you do make it in the local scene, breaking into the international market presents an extra hurdle for Aussie musicians. The tyranny of distance makes overseas appearances difficult and very expensive. Especially if you have a whole band – and all their equipment - in tow too! So what’s the answer? Sponsorship, industry support and cold hard cash are what musicians really need to overcome the obstacles and challenges in their path.
One brand determined to make a difference is a name you’ll find on the hips of muso’s, rockers and roadies across the globe. Iconic denim and lifestyle brand - Levi’s - which have arguably been the unofficial uniform of the music scene for generations. Music has always been part of the Levi’s brand DNA. From Glastonbury in the ‘60s and ‘70s through to Splendour, Bluesfest and Coachella today – Levi’s® has dressed the performers, the fans and the often unseen heroes of the music industry.
Now Levi’s are keen to give back by supporting emerging Australian artists through the Levi’s® Music Prize awarded at BIGSOUND. While Nicky Rowsell - Marketing Manager, Levi Strauss Australia and New Zealand - is glad she isn’t a judge with the difficult task of selecting the winners, we asked her opinion on what sets an artist apart from the rest.
How to be heard
- It’s a given that you need exceptional talent. But to really make it to the next level you need exceptional talent that also has cut through. It might mean having a unique sound, a special connection to your audience or a message that resonates. It’s that something extra that can be mercurial and hard to define, but you can feel it in the air when an artist performs. It’s an indefinable energy and a chemistry that exists when a performer has that ‘star quality’.
- You need great song writing and great lyrics. If you have a message that strikes a chord with your audience at the right time, it can also help you take off. You usually can’t plan it, but you can be lucky and have the perfect timing. This was the case for one of the 2017 Levi’s® Music Prize winners. It was a timely coincidence that Stella Donnelly’s song ‘Boys will be Boys’ hit a nerve at a time when the ‘me too’ campaign sparked an international conversation about assaults against women.
- You need persistence and an unwavering self-belief. While you hear stories of artists being discovered on the street busking or on YouTube – the vast majority slog it out for years before getting that ‘big break’. You need the fortitude and the passion to push through the grunt work of lining up gigs and knocking on doors – and the determination to follow your dreams.
For Levi’s the decision to partner with BIGSOUND, QMusic and Sounds Australia was easy. “We looked all around the country for the right opportunity,” said Nicky. “But as a premier industry event for Australian artists, and in particular emerging talent, BIGSOUND was the right platform for us.” This is the second year of the Levi’s® Music Prize, which at a total of $100,000 per year, is the largest annual prize pool in Australian music.
The aim is to uncover four artists (or bands) which are showing potential, but need funding to take that next step. It’s hoped that the prize money will allow them to continue to build momentum and to achieve cut through on an international stage. The artists need to commit to either touring, recording or creating new music, a video or similar, and have to submit their business plans to BIGSOUND each quarter. The winners are then selected by a panel of international judges from within the music industry. Stage and Screen has also jumped on board to support emerging artists, by providing $5000 in travel assistance to each of the four winners.
BIGSOUND is held in Brisbane in September and the total Levi’s® Music Prize is divided into four x $25,000 sums which will go towards funding four artists each year. Visit the website for more information.
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