The Hot Seat: Patrick Donovan

Published in The Music Network


We speak to Patrick Donovan, the new CEO of Music Victoria about the threat to live music, raising radio quotas for Australian music and their five-year plan.

Congrats on the new gig. You’re not the first journalist to step into the music biz. What advantage does a writing background have?
Certainly there are a lot of reports to write. After being a journalist for 20 years, I have the ability to cut through the spin.

Why did Music Victoria come about?
Until now, there was no peak music body for Victoria. We’re a member of AMIN, the national network of peak bodies. If they were going to be a truly national voice, they needed a voice from Victoria. Obviously there’s been some big live music issues in Melbourne over the summer. In a bid to address the increased alcohol-related violence on the streets, the state Government cracked down on the pubs and clubs.

Unfortunately, live music venues became linked to this violence, when it should have just focused on the booze barns and strip clubs. These threats galvanized the music scene, and Music Victoria was well on its way. It really gave us a mandate, and a real sense of purpose.

What are the big issues on your plate?
Live is the main one, but we’ll be looking at many things. Firstly, we ticked off the Live Music Accord to protect the venues. We’re looking at a best-practice charter which venues will be encouraged to sign and become part of. There’ll be a set of guidelines and recommendations on how live venues should run and treat musicians, such as providing them with hot meals and permits so they can park in loading bays.

The Government would look to provide incentives as well. We’re also finalizing details for me to be on the liquor licensing advisory board. And there’s funding issues. We don’t want to be solely funded by the State Government.

Why does the Victorian music industry need help?
Well, it was unfairly linked to violence. That was a mistake by the State Government which they’ve effectively acknowledged.

If you look at radio quotas for local music, it’s much higher in places like France and Canada. I’m a firm believer that people buy music because it’s rammed down their throat. If the quotas were raised on radio, more people would buy Australian music.

With piracy and burning music, it’s a lot harder for musicians to be making a living out of selling music. Live music is so much more important than it ever was.

How is Music Victoria’s five-year strategic plan coming along?
That’s a priority. We’re in the process of putting out to tender the business plan, which will look at how the whole industry is going to develop. It’s a pivotal stage for music in Australia, from digital distribution to the live issues and everyday problems for musicians, the cultural cringe, and radio stations reluctantly playing Australian music.

We’re trying to address all these problems. And working closely with the state bodies and drawing on their experience.

When will it be ready?
We’ve got the Victoria state election coming up, on November 27. The Government goes into caretaker mode for about six weeks before that, so we’ll try and get some early results and recommendations before then. We’re hoping the Government will commit on supporting the music industry before the election.


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