Australian News: Inaugural FastForward Conference, The Basement Moves On, Homegrown Sells Out

– “Jim Beam Homegrown Festival”

Live Nation’s Roger Field To Speak At FastForward Australia

Roger Field, CEO of Live Nation Australasia (Australia and New Zealand), will be a keynote speaker at the sold-out, inaugural FastForward conference on the future of live music.

The meet, held in Amsterdam and London, makes its debut in Sydney April 12-13 and is the event’s first foray into the Asia Pacific region. 

Focused on new ideas and technology, other speakers from the live sector include Adam Bury, head of commercial at Perth Stadium; Jared Kristensen, CEO of event promotions software company Audience Republic; Mel Cheng, artist manager at Sydney management firm One Louder; Nathan Thompson, head of tour marketing at Live Nation Australia; and Esti Zilber, of the government’s music export body Sounds Australia, which stages showcases at trade events such as SXSW and The Great Escape.

Other speakers represent record label publishers, media, publicists, radio, streaming services, rights groups, artists and tech groups, among others.

Promoters Push For More Venues

New Zealand promoters are disappointed that there are no plans to build stadiums to draw international acts to other parts of the country. Most just play the country’s largest city, Auckland, which has appropriate venues.

But the recent Ed Sheeran tour extended to Dunedin, the seventh largest city, where 100,000 packed the Forsyte Barr Stadium over two nights. Reports say 60,000 were out-of-towners who injected NZ$50 million ($36.5 million) into the local economy.

Not surprisingly, promoters and local councillors have applied pressure on two other major cities as to plans for venues to draw major acts.

Christchurch, the third largest city, is still rebuilding after a series of 2011 earthquakes destroyed it. The main sporting ground, Lancaster Park, was damaged beyond repair and Rugby League Park was upgraded to seat 18,000. But neither are appropriate for concerts.

The city council of Wellington, the country’s capital and second-largest city, had been without a 10,000-12,000-capacity indoor arena to attract international music names. In part of its 2018-28 Long-Term Plan, costs were set at NZ$200 million ($145.9 million) with council pegging NZ$85 million ($62 million). However, in early April the council said construction would not start until 2025, leading to groans from the live industry and business community at the prospect of Wellington continuing to miss out for at least ten years. 

Sydney’s The Basement To Continue At New Site

Owners of Sydney’s longest-running music venue, The Basement, have rushed out a statement in the wake of speculation it was closing after 45 years, beginning in the ’70s as the premier jazz venue where all the international names visiting the city either did shows or joined late-night jam sessions.

The club will continue but it is moving from its current site in Circular Quay.

According to their statement, “There is no doubt that support for live music in Sydney has shifted over the years and we have worked with the property manager, AMP Capital for more than six months on a transition, mutually agreeing to end the lease ahead of its expiry.

“To be clear, the current premises no longer works for The Basement and AMP Capital has not kicked us out, but rather supported us during this change.”

A new home has not been finalised. It is not sure when the club will shutter in Circular Quay, but no listings are on its Facebook page after April 21.

Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoo Gurus said the club’s predicament “represents in a microcosm what is happening around the state and around the city. The city is dying as a cultural place. Sydney has been doing everything it can to destroy all those places of entertainment and to turn them into apartment buildings.”

Homegrown Draws Sell-Out Crowd Despite Rain

In its eleventh year, the Homegrown Festival – which only books New Zealand acts – drew a sell-out crowd of 20,000 to Wellington’s waterfront despite early rain April 7.

Event organisers said it started off slowly because of the rain but it settled in. The event brought in $7.2 million ($5.2 million) to the city, with 77 percent of the crowd coming from outside.

Acts included Fat Freddy’s Drop, Shapeshifter, Katchafire, Dave Dobbyn, R&B singer-songwriter Stan Walker – who revealed he’d had cancer surgery — and a rare appearance by reggae band Kora.

The rain was not the only drama for Homegrown. Forty-five patrons discovered they had been scammed with fake tickets. Promoters also resisted calls from drug-testing advocates to conduct tests on site, saying they would be left legally vulnerable.