Published in The Music Network
Laneway is now established in Asia. What did you learn from that experience?
There’s certainly a market for the style of music that we’re presenting. We dipped our toe in last year and kept it pretty humble, starting with one stage and eight bands. We got the most incredible press. People from all over the region flew in. This year has been met with the same kind of interest. Singapore has really opened our eyes up to Asia. We don’t have any plans for any other markets. But it’s certainly in the realms of reality now.
Your partner Michael Chugg has been banging the drum about a pan Austra-Asian touring market. Laneway seems to be an extension of that.
There are so many artists who want to get into the Asian market. Indonesia is really opening up, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand. If you come into Australia to do Laneway and a couple of sideshows, kick off in New Zealand, head off to Singapore and do five shows plus potentially Japan, well that’s potentially a 12-date tour. It’s one step at a time for us. There’s a lot of interest in other parts of Asia for us to take Laneway there. We must get an email with interest every couple of weeks.
Laneway also visits NZ. Where will you take it next?
It’s a difficult time for a lot of festivals. Predominantly because of the number of them. Ken West made an important comment; the number of festivals means the fees are going up to prices that is unrealistic for a lot of them to be able to handle. Yet, they’re still paying them and putting themselves into positions where the break-evens are really tight, and therefore there’s a huge amount of pressure to bring those shows home. Laneway has always been a small show. It’s a boutique event. Break-even has always been sustainable. We’ve never really been caught up in the bidding wars. The fact is, artists are really expensive. Just the cost overall to put on an event is really high, and there has to be some balancing of that. There probably (needs to be) some balancing of people’s realities and what can be achieved in the market. Not all festivals have struggled. Some have managed to sell-out, some as quickly as in previous years, like Golden Plains and Meredith. They’re great examples that festivals can still survive and do really well.
What’s the scale of your shows?
Melbourne & Sydney are 10,000, Brisbane & Perth are 7,000 and Adelaide is 4,000. Our numbers are pretty realistic. Adelaide and Perth have been particularly slow this year, but the other shows have done fine. This is the first year Melbourne and Sydney are going to 10,000. In our own little way, we’ve grown by about 5%.
Was the move abroad meant to insulate against the issues here?
That’s one of the motivations. We’re really interested in creating an international event. Ultimately we figured, because we are one of the smaller events, we might be able to offer a more compelling series of shows. And take (performers) to three different countries. We’ve always tried to create an event that isn’t chasing big headlining acts. We want to keep it boutique, and special and just want to improve all those aspects, celebrating Australian artists as much as we can each year. It’s about putting on something that is the antithesis to the large corporate massive event.
You have a seriously busy year with Gotye going off, and you’ve got The Temper Trap later in the year. What’s the Gotye plan?
He’s more or less finished his Australian roll-out. Which is a bit of a relief, because it means we can fix our attention on America and UK and the rest of Europe. The single has been No. 1 in Germany and in six other countries. The feeling around the UK is really strong and he’s charting in the US. Tickets for a series of shows in February have all sold out. We’ll do Later with Jools Holland. He’s been offered the Echo Awards in Germany. We’re trying to roll it out in the best way we can while protecting Wally and his ability to be creative, and not get completely swamped by expectations. It’s really on the verge of putting quality Australian music on the map in a big way.
What’s with The Temper Trap album set-up?
We’ve been in LA at the Sound Factory with Tony Hoffer (Beck, M83). I’ve been in there listening to 17 tracks. It’s sounding like nothing else.
Are there any singles?
There’s three or four contenders. Definitely, the first track will be really important to the guys. I feel like they’ve got it.
When do we hear the fruits of their labour?
The first song should be out by March and the album is slated for a mid-May release. We’ll see the boys in Australia around that time. And we’re going to do lots of work in Asia in the next two years.