Australia: Country Music Value Doubles, Chugg Adds Casey Barnes

Report: Country Music Booming Down Under
A new report by the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) showed that Australia’s country music sector has doubled in value in the past 20 years to A$574 million ($387.5 million). The Economic and Cultural Value of Country Music in Australia 2018 showed an uptick in all sectors. Major festivals reported attendance of 202,000 generating box office and patron spending of A$281.5 million ($190 million).  In 1997 the figure was A$114.6 million ($77.3 million).
The adoption of streaming saw Spotify list Australia as third largest country music territory after the U.S. and Canada, and the world’s fastest-growing country market. Unit sales on the official ARIA album charts saw the genre rise by 24% between 2017 and 2018, commercial radio airplay of local acts is now 14% from 7.9%, and the percentage of songwriters identified as country was 14%, from 6% in 2007.
CMAA president Dobe Newton told Pollstar that an influx of international superstars visiting for the first time, led by Chugg Entertainment and Rob Potts Entertainment Edge’s regular sellout CMC Rocks Queensland festival, increased patrons. “It generated a momentum, and overseas artists realized Australia was a market they should be coming to,” Newton said.  
Earlier this year, Barry Harley, GM of the Toyota Country Music Festival, with 300,000 aggregated  fans over 10 days, said that “a significant upturn” in younger fans, drawn by Americana, brought down the average age of its patrons from 55 to 49 in 2018. 
“They probably don’t even realise it’s country music, because they have this stereotyped image in their heads. But what they do know is that they really like this music,” Harley said. Promoter Michael Chugg said newer fans “ know every song by acts that are not that known.” Groundwater on the Gold Coast drew 25,000 in 2013 to 66,000 in 2018, while the Deni Muster in NSW grew from 5,000 to 20,000 since 1999.
NZ Preps For Going Global Summit
The New Zealand industry is set to meet at the Going Global Music Summit in Auckland, Aug. 30 at Roundhead Studios and Aug. 31 at Whammy Bar. The 50 speakers include SXSW’s Mark Gartenberg, Fluvial Festival’s Francisca Sandoval and Green Man Festival’s Ben Coleman. Discussions include breaking the U.S., UK and Australian markets, getting onto international festivals and new markets. The Summit sold out last two years.

Casey Barnes
via Facebook
– Casey Barnes

Chugg Management Adds Casey Barnes

Veteran exec Michael Chugg added Gold Coast country rock act Casey Barnes for management and recording to his Chugg Music. Chugg and business partner Andrew Stone also have Sheppard, Lime Cordiale, Avalanche City and The Griswolds on their roster. Chugg said, “We’re assembling a world class team to work with Casey, and we’ve been getting great feedback already from Australia and the U.S. about what the music could achieve with Australian and international audiences.” Barnes also assigned his bookings to Stephen Wade and Rob Giovannoni of Select Music.
Opera House Concert Hall Closes For Renovations
The Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall closes for two years starting in February for renovations. They include improvements to acoustics, stage and backstage areas, theatre systems and accessibility. It is part of the Opera House’s A$278.5 million ($188 million) renewal plan. CEO Louise Herron added, “The Concert Hall is our largest internal venue and the heart of the Opera House, welcoming a wide variety of artists and audiences for classical and contemporary music, circus, talks, cabaret and school spectaculars.” Its recent sessions included The Cure, Nick Cave and Iggy Pop.
Australian Women In Music Awards Return A Second Year
The Australian Women in Music awards returns for a second year, at Brisbane Powerhouse Oct. 8-9. They celebrate the achievements of producers, engineers, film makers, photographers, songwriters, journalists, industry leaders, and artist managers. 
Performers include Renee Geyer, Katie Noonan, Clare Bowditch, Melinda Schneider and Ngaiire. Discussions look at visibility in hip-hop, the art of rebellion, image making, and privilege in opera. A keynote on diversity by classical musicians, broadcaster and trans man Eddie Ayre “is part of a hopeful vision for the future of women and diverse people in positions of power and creative control,” explains Vicki Gordon, AWMA founding executive director. “Because we are at a crossroads of dynamic possibilities for inclusivity, AWMA’s vision is to lead with generosity, to insist that our society benefits when musicians and those who work with them are empowered from a diversity of places, cultures and identities.”