Sounds Australia Funding Cut

The Australian music biz responded with anger at the loss of funding from the Australian Government’s Catalyst scheme for the Sounds Australia export initiative.

Set up in 2009, it helped 619 acts at 48 trade events in 52 cities in 19 countries that it identified as gateways to the international marketplace. These include SXSW, CMJ, Canadian Music Week, Folk Allied International, Music Matters, MIDEM, A2IM and The Great Escape, with showcases, stands and the Australian BBQ series before bookers, agents and promoters.

Recent global success stories Vance Joy, Courtney Barnett, Chet Faker and Flume built their international presence at its showcases. Sounds Australia’s executive producer Millie Millgate called the decision “devastating” for artists, and said it had 11 events coming up in the next two months. An online petition set up by artist manager Laura Wallbridge of Walls and Bridges calling for the Minister of Arts Mitch Fifield to resolve the issue picked up 6,000 signatures in five days.

Dozens of managers pointed out how the organisation achieved results they could not have otherwise. “Those kinds of shows are very hard to set up by yourself and it’s very hard to get the right people along,” said Bossy Music’s Claire Collins, whose clients include Gotye, Chet Faker and Flume.

“Sounds Australia is very integral at inviting those people along.” Mel Lewis of SPUR: Presence Agency added, “They were reaching out to me with ideas and solutions before I even knew I needed them, had told everyone at the overseas conferences about us before we arrived and made meaningful introductions.”

Faced with the backlash, Minister Fifield issued a statement: “The funding for Sounds Australia covers work until January 2017. An evaluation is underway and discussions will continue.” A funding by Government-run Australia Council has since provided A$300,000 ($218,240) over four years but Millgate says it is insufficient.