Australian News 9/27

End Of The Jack Awards?

The Jack Awards, the 3-year-old event honouring live music, looks like it might be scrapped.

After a seven-year relationship, Jack Daniel’s and Sydney-based marketing firm Peer Group have opted not to extend the awards’ contract, which expires at the end of 2007.

Peer Group and Jack Daniel’s began working together in 2000, first getting the brand a presence at festivals inlcuding Big Day Out, Splendour In The Grass and Homebake. In 2004, Peer created and produced the Jack Awards, building it into an A-list red carpet event.


Takeover Bid For SkyCity

New Zealand casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group revealed it has received a takeover bid, leading to a record one-day gain on the NZ stock exchange, according to Bloomberg News. SkyCity declined to name the interested party.

SkyCity put its Adelaide casino on the block in May, saying it was not performing to expectations.

Seven parties have shown interest in purchasing the casino, which made a before-tax profit of $15.5 million last financial year from revenues of $133.4 million.

SkyCity owns another Australia casino (in Darwin), and three in New Zealand (in Auckland, Hamilton and Queenstown).


P’finger, Silverchair For ARIAs

Powderfinger and Silverchair are confirmed to play at the ARIA awards, held October 28 at Acer Stadium in Sydney.

Also playing will be John Butler Trio, Missy Higgins and dance act Sneaky Sound System. This year, up to 70 percent of acts nominated for the ARIAs are with independent labels.

Sneaky Sound System is one of the success stories of the year, with an album that broke into the mainstream charts and sold well more than platinum (70,000 units).

The band will tour Stateside in early 2008. Sneaky Sound System received six nominations, with John Butler Trio getting five, and Silverchair, Powderfinger and Goyte getting four each.


Peter Garrett Announces Arts Policy

One-time Midnight Oil singer Peter Garrett, now turned shadow minister for the arts for the Australian Labour party, unveiled his party’s arts policies.

It included promises to review the low income that most Australian musicians earn, boost music exports by getting private investors involved, cut bureaucratic red tape involved in the grant application process, boost the capacity of Australian students to access arts education, and fund the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (AMRAP) to help promote contemporary Aussie bands and musicians through college radio.


Cosima Vs Managers

A legal stoush between former "Oz Idol" contestant-turned-indie singer/songwriter Cosima De Vito and her former managers Con Nellis and Ted Gardner has been running since December 2004.

In March, they initiated proceedings against her in NSW Supreme Court alleging breach of contract totaling $500,000. A month later, she countersued saying they’d been "negligent" over her career.

An attempt at mediation on September 17 was not successful. The matter goes back to court mid-2008.


Blow Up The Pokies

Video poker machines are the bane of live music acts: Many licensed venues around Australia tend to see them as a more consistent income-earner than bands.

The Whitlams’ song "Blow Up The Pokies" seemed to sum up the sentiment. The Adelaide Advertiser reported that almost 800 groups, solo artists, venues, radio stations and live music fans signed up for a rescue campaign launched late August by musician and owner of Adelaide’s Cavern Bar, Monty Ruggiero.

He "proposes a motion to entitle venues that only offer live entertainment to have a special entitlement for live music, comedy, DJs and theatre and those that have pokies on their premises to be disallowed entitlement for live entertainment, allowing for a more equitable playing field in all venues."

His band Fab 4 split recently after bookings dropped from 150 a year to 37. The Australian Hotels Association dismissed his claim that the South Australian live scene is in crisis as "a myth and a fallacy."

General manager Ian Horne told the Advertiser that South Australian hotels, more commonly known to Americans as bars, stage 21,000 live band performances every year, with 55 percent offering live music or entertainment.


Short Notes

The reunited Rage Against The Machine will make its first appearance outside the U.S. with arena shows in January for Lees & West. The speculation is that RATM will be headliners of Big Day Out, which Lees & West also promote.

Andrew McManus Presents announced six arena dates for Kelly Clarkson, March 1-9. Clarkson first toured here in 2005, at a time when her Breakaway album received six platinum certifications.Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is set to return in December for three dates for KMW Productions, and Handsome Tours is bringing British band Art Brut for four appearances in mid-December.

Melbourne band Skybombers have signed with Ron Stone from Gold Mountain Management to represent them outside Australia and New Zealand, and with Val Wolfe of The Agency Group. The act is signed with Albert Music, home to such menacing rockers as AC/DC and Rose Tattoo. It is signed with Fur Management for Australia.

Sydney loses another live music venue, with Vic on The Park unplugging live acts October 1.

U.K.’s Ministry of Sound brand will hold its own events in December. It’s about to announce an all-day rave in Perth, and a mega-warehouse party in Sydney.