Australia: Bluesfest Impact, Festival Legislation, ARIA Awards, Exec Moves

Rabbits Eat Lettuce
– Rabbits Eat Lettuce

Committee Recommends Overturning Controversial Festival Legislation 

A parliamentary inquiry into the New South Wales (NSW) government’s controversial festival legislation recommended it be overturned. Introduced March 1 over drug and safety issues, the live sector called them confusing and  created a toxic landscape that saw events canceled and others, like Rabbits Eat Lettuce, moving to other states. During the inquiry by the Legislative Council’s Regulation Committee, executives complained the legislation was rushed through without consultation, increased operational costs, left events facing ambiguous police decisions, forced an annual renewal of the license and caused a crisis of consumer confidence.
The committee recommended the government start again, after a roundtable with all stakeholders including the live sector, and before the summer festival season begins in November. The industry stressed its desire to work with the government “to develop a more workable regulatory approach to improving safety at festivals” in a statement by the Australian Festival Association, Live Performance Australia, Music NSW, rights organization APRA AMCOS, Live Music Office and the Association of Artist Managers.
ARIA Awards To Be Livestreamed 
The Australian Recording Industry Association’s ARIA awards will be livestreamed for the first time via a team-up with YouTube Music. The ceremony takes place Nov. 27 in Sydney and boasts “an incredibly powerful platform to showcase Australian music here and around the world,” said ARIA chief executive Dan Rosen. YouTube Music will present the song of the year and best video categories on the night, and is currently screening footage from past years.
Executive Appointments
Melbourne-based 123 Agency expanded with Paul Lynch who focuses on international DJs, Vienna Bradley, becoming full-time, Will Hollonds moving from Metropolis Touring and TEG Live, Mitch Adsell joining as digital producer and Xanthea O’Connor on worksheet administration.
Live entertainment producer Michael Cassel Group hired Joanna McEwan as director of tourism, and Remy Chancerel from the National Gallery of Victoria as director of publicity. As head of major events marketing & relationships at Visit Victoria, McEwan marketed Melbourne as a global events city.
Bluesfest’s Significant Economic Impact Highlighted 

Bluesfest Byron Bay
Courtesy Bluesfest
– Bluesfest Byron Bay

This year’s Bluesfest Byron Bay, which drew an aggregated 100,000 April 8-13, pumped A$83.4 million ($56.1 million) into the New South Wales (NSW) economy and included A$35.5 million ($23.9 million) in the local Byron Shire area and A$59.1 million ($39.8 million) in the wider Northern Rivers region. The festival hired a record 1,454.6 workers, marking an 18.7% increase in wages/salaries from its 30th anniversary event in 2018.  The report by Lawrence Consulting, released Aug. 30, found that an extra 13,000 attendees pushed customer expenditure up 18.7%.
Total expenditure for Bluesfest Services Pty Ltd was A$18.4 million ($12.3 million) in 2018/19, and the 9.2% uptick in patrons expanded its tourism and cultural weight. Bluesfest Touring Pty Ltd spent a further $5.5 million ($3.7 million) in the state. Festival director Peter Noble noted its growth from humble beginnings in 1990 at the Arts Factory “popularly called the Piggery due to it being an old pig slaughterhouse” to its powerhouse status. He said, “Bluesfest has become a pinnacle event in the calendar of Australians and music fans overseas. I’m excited to see where the next 30 will bring us as a festival into the Byron. Northern Rivers, NSW and Australian economies.” The report substantiated Noble’s warning he will take the festival intestate unless the NSW government abandons its festival license regulations.
Calvin Harris Headlines NZ’s Newest EDM Festival
Calvin Harris headlines New Zealand’s inaugural Festival X at Western Springs in Auckland Nov. 28. It is a collaboration between Live Nation, Hardware and OneLove, with Juice Wrld, Lil Pump, Tchami, Anna Lunoe and the Katayanagi Twins. The promoters announced in July the inaugural Festival X in Australia Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 in three East Coast cities, and with a similar lineup.

Nightclub Owner Wins Police Defamation Case
A jury found Martha Tsamis, director of Melbourne’s Inflation nightclub, was defamed by former Victoria Police superintendent Brett Guerin. In 2014, he claimed to the Herald Sun and talkback 3AW of drug trafficking, overdoses and underage drinking at the venue. Tsamis, who told the Supreme Court she was an anti-drug advocate, fought to clean up the nightclub industry and kept strict security at the door, sued the state of Victoria.  The state argued that Guerin’s remarks were essentially true and Tsamis had not been effective in keeping drugs out of her venue.
The Seven Network reported the jury of six found that claims of under-aged patrons and the way she operated the club led to hospital admissions, were not “substantially true.” Justice John Dixon will hear submissions from both sides before making a decision on damages.