The Hot Seat: Luke Hede

Published in The Music Network


We speak to Luke Hede, Live Nation’s Vice President of Promotions for Asia Pacific about the imminent launch of the entertainment company here in Australia.

Live Nation Australia. Why now?
In reality, we’ve been working in this part of the world for over a decade now. We’ve co-promoted some of the most successful tours that have ever been to this region – David Bowie, Prince, U2, The Police, The Rolling Stones. We’ve worked with almost all of the major local promoters. In order to fully monetize Live Nation’s global tour rights, we really needed to have our own permanent presence in this market.

Australia is already well-stocked with promoters.  What gives Live Nation Australia the competitive edge?
Our advantage is our global promoter network where we can share resources and intelligence on artists. We’re also the only promoter in this part of the world with offices in neighbouring countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and Abu Dhabi. We can put together real regional offers. In Australia, we’re assembling an experienced but youthful team. We have some new ideas and we’re not afraid to try new things.

On the flip side, how will Australian artists benefit from your arrival here?
We’ve already spoken to quite a few Australian entities who are extremely keen to work with Live Nation both locally and globally. They recognize that a relationship with the Australian office could potentially open doors in Europe and the US.

Live Nation doesn’t have a strong history in developing the grassroots music scene. Is that something you’re keen to change?
I think that’s a little unfair. Obviously the Madonnas and U2s get most of the publicity, but there are certainly opportunities for younger acts to play in our network across America and at venues like The House of Blues. In the UK and Europe, we promote a lot of smaller shows and offer many developing acts opportunities on the various Live Nation festivals. We have literally just opened the Australian office, but we are certainly interested in developing some local acts and creating opportunities for them both here and overseas.

Will Live Nation Australia leverage their existing global touring relationships?
Absolutely. That goes without saying. The reality is that the Live Nation global tours will only represent a small percentage of the content we bring to the region. Like the other promoters, we will be evaluating all of the other available talent and where appropriate bidding for tours.

Some of your rivals are nervous about Live Nation arriving here. Should they be?
They don’t have any reason to be more nervous than they already are of their existing competitors.

There’s been a lot written about the sorry state of the US touring market this summer. Is Australia going to run into similar problems?
The Australian economy has been holding-up really well compared to the U.S., and our dollar seems to be bouncing back. There’s certainly an extraordinary array of world class acts coming here this summer. We’re conscious of the potential for the market to become too saturated with tours and we may already be seeing that with the festivals. But presently, it looks like most of the big names seem to be selling through quite well.

Do you see real value in developing a Pan-Pacific trading circuit?
There are certainly some real opportunities to include Asian dates before or after an Australian Tour. We’re still booking acts through Hong Kong, Singapore and China and our most successful shows in Asia over the last few years have all toured Australia at the same time. It makes sense to group these regions together. We also have partners in South Africa, so hopefully we may start to see some more specific Southern Hemisphere tours in the future.

Have you any tours signed and sealed?
We are very close to confirming a couple of tours for the summer. We’ll be announcing news at our dedicated website where we’ll give fans access to presales and competitions, and let them open up a My Live Nation Account.

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The Hot Seat: Peter Hebbes AM

Published in The Music Network


Newly appointed General Manager of Australasian Music Publishers Association (AMPAL) Peter Hebbes discusses the issues and challenges ahead for the organisation in the digital world.

Peter, what will AMPAL achieve with you at the helm?
Publishers have put a lot of faith in me by asking me to take on this role. Every business needs a healthy and active industry association, and that’s how I view the future of AMPAL. There are many issues ahead of us and a lot of challenges to face, individually and combined.

What are those issues?
We continue to move into a digital world. Music and writers needs to be protected all the way along the line. It’s also apparent that the understanding of music publishing leaves a lot to be desired. We need to educate at our seminars and information networking, not just the public but members of our own industry.

I’ve recently met with a few federal and state Government departments and other copyright associations, and we’ve started meetings with other copyright owners and administrators including the Australian Publishers Association, CAL, MIPI and SPAA. We have a lot of mutual interests and issues and if we can get together and pool our resources, we can present a united front and promote the understanding of copyright protection, ownership and usage.

Where are the big areas of growth for music publishers?
Over the past few years, it’s been third-party usage – film, TV and advertising, and generally reproductions involving new digital technologies. We have to be ahead of the game to maintain our rights. That’s what it’s all about really; creating new income streams as the industry and the world develops, but at the same time making them user-friendly. The use of music is an important factor in the communication industry and we want to encourage that, provided that they pay for it.

And the weakest links?
Ringtones have dropped away, but sync income is up. Equally, as digital comes up, the mechanical rights from CDs are dropping away. Copyright ownership -– which is what music publishers and writers are all about -– seems to be maintained. Publishers are the survivors of the industry regardless of the carrier.

Are Australian songwriters seeing big hikes in their royalty collections, seeing as sync is the new black?
It’s a bit volatile. Certainly a lot of advertisers like using wellknown copyrights. There’s always an opportunity to pitch a new writer or a new song. Hopefully you’ll find a film director that’ll take a chance with a new writer based on the music, as opposed to the name. We have to be good salesmen.

There’s been a lot of activity in publishing in Australia. Shock Publishing crashed, John Anderson left EMI Publishing and Kobalt is readying a launch here. What’s with all the upheaval?
The Shock situation is yet to be fully understood, but change is often a healthy development. We have a number of new publishing companies starting up and songwriters are forming their own individual companies. It’s a changing industry and it’s happening all around the world.

What happens to your own company?
Hebbes Music Group carries on. This (AMPAL) position is one of great responsibility and trust so I will have to reprioritise my time.

Which countries are setting good examples for doing business in the digital era?
Canada is ahead of us all. Their Government has given tremendous support, certainly in music with Peter Hebbes AM festivals, business conferences and the development and support of domestic acts.

And the bad?
Some of the third-world countries we’re struggling with. We’d all love to be in business in China or India but getting through to them is tough.

Are we really seeing publishers chasing multi-rights deals from artists, much like major labels sign acts to 360-deals?
I’ve read that in the American papers but I haven’t seen any evidence of that here. Our concentration has been on music administration, working with the writers and the commercial users. We have enough issues facing us without getting into selling t-shirts.

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Thunder From Down Under

Published in Billboard Magazine


Amid pop-oriented fare by Miley Cyrus, Scissor Sisters and the cast of “Glee,” a recent top 10 entry in Australia’s album chart was distinctly harder—and faster and louder—than the rest.

Parkway Drive’s No. 2 debut on the July 4 ARIA chart with “Deep Blue” (Resist Records) confirmed Australia’s hardcore scene’s emergence as a commercial force to be reckoned with.The breakthrough by the band from the New South Wales beach town Byron Bay followed Brisbane six-piece Amity Affliction’s No. 6 entry in June with its sophomore effort, “Youngbloods” (Boomtown Records). Those are remarkable rankings for indie acts with national media support largely limited to hard-edged music monthly Blunt, whose publishers claim a circulation of 18,000, and state-owned radio network Triple J.

Their success comes from “hard work and constant touring over the years, not just of the [state] capital cities but well into the regional areas,” says Stu Harvey, host of Triple J’s weekly hardcore/punk show “Short Fast Loud.”

“There’s people all over the country listening to this music,” agrees Amity Affliction’s manager Luke Logemann from Staple Management. Emphasizing that point is the band’s upcoming regional tour through Sept. 8 that will take in such bywaters as Wollongong, Dandenong and Ballarat.

Australia’s hardcore scene has been building since pioneering acts Day of Contempt and Price of Silence emerged from Adelaide in the mid-1990s. Today, international outfits like Killswitch Engage (the United States) or Bring Me the Horizon (the United Kingdom) have mounted Australian tours playing 1,000- to 2,000-capacity venues. This fall, U.S. bands the Devil Wears Prada and the Ghost Inside will support Parkway Drive in theaters and arenas, including Brisbane’s 9,000-capacity Riverstage.

Indie labels Resist Records in Sydney and Boomtown’s parent Staple Group in Melbourne are hardcore’s main players, with both specializing in multiservice deals.

Resist handles Parkway Drive’s recordings, bookings and management. Such deals “were born through necessity,” founder Graham Nixon says. “When these bands were starting out, there weren’t really any agents who were interested.”

Amity Affliction has a similar deal with Staple, whose concert promotion arm Destroy All Lines has organized hardcore package tour Boys of Summer each January since 2006, headlined this year by U.S. act Every Time I Die.

Staple also runs regular hardcore club nights in cities and towns across the country. “All the scene kids go there,” notes Nick O’Byrne, GM of indie labels trade body AIR. “It’s the only place that caters specifically for them.”

According to Staple Group co-founder/promoter Jaddan Comerford, “the Internet and live is where it all happens for these bands,” with Amity Affliction particularly active online. Prior to the release of “Youngbloods,” its MySpace page hosted a nine-part video diary by the band members and offered an iPhone application that provided free streams of the album, news, photos and videos.

Now, even as a new wave of bands like Break Even, Deez Nuts and Confession emerges around the country, their immediate predecessors are looking further afield. Nixon says four Resist hardcore acts—Parkway Drive, 50 Lions, Miles Away and Carpathian—are touring Europe this year, whereas “just a few years ago, you’d have had just one band in that genre making the trip abroad.”

Parkway Drive, a regular U.S. visitor since 2007, plays the Vans Warped tour in the States through Aug. 15 before traveling around Europe, Australia and New Zealand for shows throughout the rest of 2010. And Amity Affliction has November European dates penciled in, followed by a North American push through 2011.

Already, there are encouraging signs in the United States, where “Deep Blue,” released on Epitaph, bowed at No. 39 on the Billboard 200 dated July 17.

Back home, hardcore is “bigger now than it’s ever been,” Nixon says, “and it’s not going to go away.”

The Hot Seat: Ed St John

Published in The Music Network


ARIA Chairman and Warner Music CEO speaks to us about the revamped ARIA Awards, why they needed to change and how they’ll avoid the issues of last year’s event.

Why has ARIA revamped the Awards this year?
We felt we needed to take it to a new level in terms of visibility and profile. We need to increase ratings and ensure that the show remains relevant for viewers of all ages. There’s a younger audience who isn’t necessarily enamoured with watching three-hour TV shows, so we need to re-engage with that audience.

What is the biggest change to the format this year?
We’ll be coming to the Sydney Opera House and creating a show that combines an outdoor performance before a live audience with an industry awards ceremony in the Concert Hall. People can expect a shorter and more spectacular show.

And there’ll be fewer awards handed out on the night?
Correct. We’ve actually increased the number of awards overall because we’ve added two new genre categories (Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal and Adult Alternative) and introduced four new publicly voted awards into the main show. There’ll be fewer awards on the night – the socalled genre awards will be handed out separately. We’re still working on the best way to do this.

There are no ARIA functions in Melbourne. Could this rankle with the indies?
Hopefully this isn’t a ‘majors versus indies’ issue. We did the Hall of Fame in Melbourne for five years. Most of the people who came each year were from Sydney — about 90%. The cost of staging the event is astronomical, and is generally a loss-maker for us. We feel we’ll have a better chance of attracting a paying audience in Sydney.

You’ve returned to Channel Ten. How will they improve the show?
Ten have a natural flair for music programming. They’ve got some great staff – as do the producers Fremantle – who really understand the DNA of the show and understand rock ‘n’ roll.

Why did the ARIA Awards rate so poorly last year?
Audiences for this sort of TV are diminishing. It was on Channel Nine, which was unfamiliar to the audience. And it wasn’t on a Sunday night — the biggest night of the week for television — where it had been for five or six years. It was on a Thursday, the worst night for attracting a younger audience. It was disappointing, but those were the factors.

Are there plans to sell the broadcast abroad?
We’d love to see international sales and we’ve had those discussions. Fremantle specialise in selling programs and formats overseas. When you think about a more focused show, and the iconic value of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour, we could have an amazing program that potentially people would want to watch around the world.

You had Robbie Williams last year, Pink before that? Is the show’s success contingent on the big internationals?
We don’t ever want to turn the ARIAs into an international music show. We stage it to promote the best in Australian music. But I don’t think you could attract a big audience here, or sell the show overseas, without at least one international performer. We’re still looking at what our talent possibilities might be for this year.

Why host the ARIA #1 Chart Awards?
The point of all of these different events is to bring as much attention to Australian music as we can. This year was especially important because we wanted to let people be well aware of our plans, and where we’re heading with the show.

Critics say the record industry shouldn’t be spending big on a show like the ARIAs.
We don’t spend big. We organise it, we shoulder the risk and responsibility. But we make absolutely no money out of it ourselves. It’s our intention that the broadcaster fees, the sponsor fees and the money we receive from selling tickets ultimately pays for it. If we didn’t stage it, I’m not sure it would happen. And I’m not willing to leave that up to chance.

[Ed St John no longer serves with ARIA or Warner Music Australia .]

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