Dark side of the live music scene

Dark side of the live music scene

From veteran rockers to cool jazz combos, musicians are getting behind the City of Sydney’s push to revitalise live music in Sydney which has been struggling in recent years.

Musicians, venue operators, managers and other industry experts will come together at Sydney Town Hall for a City Conversation where Hoodoo Gurus frontman Dave Faulkner will share his insights on the industry before a panel dissects the red tape and other issues facing artists.

This week emerging Sydney duo Jep and Dep will bring to the stage the folk and alternative country songs that have seen them build a strong following in small bars and more intimate venues around Sydney for the past year.

“Performing live is one of the best parts of being a musician,” said Jep and Dep’s Jessica Cassar. “Having a supportive community or culture with plenty of opportunities to perform live will in turn produce a really vibrant, strong and interesting City.

“Councils can help by making it easier and cheaper for bars and venues to start up and maintain themselves as a viable business. It’s so important for artists and musicians to have a healthy live music scene so they can perform and develop their craft.”

The event comes as the City of Sydney’s Live Music Task Force works to identify steps that will help reinvigorate the music scene, which has struggled in recent years with high-profile venues closing down or going into receivership.

Guitar popsters Knievel have been playing the circuit on and off since the mid-90s and have just about seen it all. Playing live is still what drives them, and they are supporting the city’s efforts.

“In the late 90s a lot of venues were closing down and the club culture reigned. We’ve lost some great venues,” Knievel singer and bassist Tracy Ellis said.

“Good venues are born out of creating a happening and then supporting its growth. Councils can help by recognising that.

“If I were starting now, I would look for different opportunities. Go busking. Get together with friends and organise backyard gigs and warehouse gigs to gain experience and think outside the box.”

Jazz singer Sarah J Hyland, who has been working the live scene for over a decade in both Sydney and New York, says even established artists find it hard to get gigs these days.

“Councils can help artists to promote their work by giving them access to resources such as printing and copying facilities to make flyers, web design and access to more local venues. They can also offer young artists opportunities for mentoring and help build an artistic community where young people get support from more professionally experienced performers.”

Ben Panucci, who plays guitar in a jazz trio across Sydney and interstate, it’s taking time for audiences to realise that live music is becoming more of an option, and he supported efforts to give the industry a boost.

“Bars and venues that support live music should be supported by the council and government in a way that rewards them for having a positive impact on Sydney’s cultural scene,” Panucci said.

“Society needs to take live music more seriously in general. If venues have the incentive to keep putting bands on even if they might not initially make profit then it would allow for more bands to hold down residencies and slowly draw the public’s attention to the fact that Sydney has a live music scene worth supporting.”

The City Conversation follows the City’s Live Music 101 seminar last month for those interested in what it takes to put on a live show. Around 150 participants were advised on what permits are needed, how to avoid pitfalls such as noise complaints, and were given case studies from successful venue operators.

The Live Music Task Force will report later this year on ways the City can help stimulate the live music scene, including ideas on development consent and noise regulation, licensing requirements, building codes and possible initiatives to build audience participation.

City Conversation: You Can’t Stop the Music … unless you have a properly approved Noise Abatement Order

Date: Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Time: 6.30–8pm

Where: Lower Town Hall, Sydney Town Hall, 483 George Street, Sydney (entrance via Druitt Street)

Tickets: Free but limited – booking is essential on 136 100 or via ticketmaster.com.au

For more information, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Rohan Sullivan on 02 9246 7298 or 0414 617 086, or email rsullivan@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au