Publisher Pulse: talking 10 years of export with SOUNDS AUSTRALIA

Friday, 10 May 2019

From left: Glenn Dickie, Millie Millgate, Jana Gibson, Esti Zilber, Dom Alessio

Thanks to everyone who made time in their busy days to come along to the recent Publisher Pulse events in Sydney and Melbourne. The SOUNDS AUSTRALIA team joined us in a panel moderated by Head of Member Services Jana Gibson, and it made for an insightful discussion around their 10 year anniversary and all that they do to support the export of Australian music globally.

You can watch Jana’s presentation and the SOUNDS AUSTRALIA Sydney panel in full, which was live-streamed on the day, just make sure you are a member or that you join the APRA AMCOS Publisher Network Facebook group. Here’s the video link.

We have also condensed the chat into a handy 6 key highlights from the SOUNDS AUSTRALIA panel. Have a read, and we hope to see you at the next Publisher Pulse event.

1. How the music market has changed in 10 years since SOUNDS AUSTRALIA began.

SOUNDS AUSTRALIA’s first employee was Executive Producer Millie Millgate, she was joined a bit later by Esti Zilber, who is now Creative Producer, and Glenn Dickie came aboard in 2013 as Export Music Producer.

Millie said the biggest change is that “People are no longer marketing by territory. It’s not just ‘marketing,’ it’s all international marketing." But while that is changing, two key components to export remain crucial:

1) face to face engagement, and
2) importance of getting to the events

"Because there’s nothing like being introduced to someone and making that connection.”

2. Like marketing, fanbases no longer start on a purely local level,  but are building globally from an artist’s first release or upload.

SOUNDS AUSTRALIA employee #4 Dom Alessio took on the newly created role of Digital Export Producer at the beginning of 2018. He explained how global fanbases are being built a lot quicker, but with that "You also need to be ready then if you should go to a new territory. You still need to be export ready.”

Dom has helped further build export relationships with DSPs, social media platforms, and other digital music players, including launching SOUNDS AUSTRALIA as a global curator on Apple Music.

3. What is this ‘export ready’ that you speak of?

Glenn explained that it is not just being ready to step on a stage in a little club in Austin and play a few showcases at SXSW. (Although of course that is one part of it - read Glenn's tips here.).

“You need to be willing to invest because you’ll need to be able to go back – once or twice. You need enough money in the warchest,” he told the audience.

He talked about the "Unearthed factor" and how the worldwide reach and influence of triple j Unearthed means there is a lot of heat on performers who might be really young and not ready for the next step. You need to consider: do you have business plan or a manager to help you to the next stage?

4. How SOUNDS AUSTRALIA supports publishers and their writers.

SOUNDS AUSTRALIA’s scope of export includes being the networking conduit to Australian industry and international contacts. Millie said that the time for a publisher to connect with SOUNDS AUSTRALIA is when they are looking at opportunities for their own export of their company. “If you’re looking to expand overseas, the benefits of exporting your company will come back to your artists.”

5. SOUNDS AUSTRALIA connects the local industry to the global.

At the start, SOUNDS AUSTRALIA was focused primarily on the artist/performer but quickly evolved. “It became apparent that unless the ecosystem is strong, none of this will work. So, it also became about how to put people together,” said Millie.

Beyond showcasing, the networking opportunities include:

The Luncheon: “It’s like a wedding. We sit people next to each other in the right environment,” and watch the international guests and Aussie industry build their networks. Many business relationships have started at these lunches, with agents, lawyers, labels, publicists, programmers and so on.

They also host networking sessions for the other international export bodies, present conference panels, and handle trade show management, and have helped facilitate SongHubs in Brazil, India, Germany and Singapore, fostering more cross-cultural songwriting opportunities for APRA AMCOS members in the process.

6. A decade of building the SOUNDS AUSTRALIA brand.

The SOUNDS AUSTRALIA brand has to signify credibility, so that the big shot American festival booker or A-list UK A&R makes room in their itinerary to go to a luncheon or AUSSIE BBQ. Esti said that as an industry-facing body:

“The brand has to be built on trust that we are bringing the best emerging Australian talent to the event. It’s taken time and patience to build that.”

Esti has forged outward-facing brand relationships with major brands like Tim Tam, Blundstone and Twitter. These brands are aligning themselves with quality and, “Putting faith in that being involved early on with these Aussie artists will mean supporting the ones who go on to Coachella and Bonnaroo.”

 “They really believe in the artists and what we’re doing.”

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