Australia News: Sydney, OneFour, ARIA & More

Sydney To Roll Back Lockout Laws

After a lengthy and bitter campaign by the Aussie concert industry, the New South Wales (NSW) government announced Nov. 28 that Sydney’s lockout laws will be partially rolled back starting Jan. 14.

These rollbacks apply to all areas except the Kings Cross precinct, which will be reviewed in 12 months.

In September a parliamentary report by the Joint Select Committee recommended the removals, saying they cost the NSW economy A$16 billion ($10.8 billion) a year. The laws were initiated in January 2014 after the rise of booze-fueled assaults and the deaths of two teenagers in one-punch cases.

Minister for jobs, investment, and tourism in Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the move would be a major boost to the city’s tourism, adding “It’s time to embrace a 24 hour economy that creates jobs, fosters arts, culture, live performance and safety on our streets.”

Justin Hemmes, whose Merivale company’s portfolio includes The Ivy and The Establishment, praised the decision as “unlocking Sydney’s true potential as a global city we can all be proud of” and locals “would see a cultural rebirth of the city not seen since the Sydney Olympics in 2000.”

Others said there was more work to be done. Night Time Industries Association chair Michael Rodriguez stressed it was imperative the biz be involved in the to-be-formed Industry Advisory Group and the development of an exposure draft bill with Liquor and Gaming “which we anticipate will explore and review a lot of the ‘night-tape’ associated with liquor licensing.”

Dean Ormston – chief executive of music rights association APRA AMCOS, which coordinates the Live Music Office – encouraged the government and City of Sydney to “now work in partnership with industry to develop a broad based strategy to support existing live music venues while also incentivising the development of new venues, whether they be in existing cultural institutions, restaurants, small bars or in new exciting spaces.”

Tyson Koh of the Keep Sydney Open Party insisted the Kings Cross lockouts should also be abandoned. “Sydney will never be a 24-hour global city otherwise, and Melbourne will continue to lead.”

Police Force Cancellation Of Rap Tour

– OneFour
OnefourOneFour, whose tour was cancelled by Australian police.

Drill-rap outfit OneFour had its late November national tour – which was to be promoted by Live Nation – cancelled after police put pressure on venues to pull the shows or pay for up to 40 cops on-site. NSW Police claimed they were concerned for the safety of attendees.

Police said band members had “criminal links,” had either been in jail or were facing charges and were in the middle of a turf war in their home base of Mount Druitt in western Sydney.

Officers visited homes of two members and served them with exclusion orders, preventing them from attending the glittering ARIA Awards at the Star or the local shopping center.

The band’s management stated, “There have been no arrests or violence at any previous OneFour concerts.”

It accused the police of “adopting a singularly youth-focused, ‘fear-based’ censorship strategy” that “set a dangerous precedent [with] police ultimately determining which artists can and can’t play at music venues in Australia.”

OneFour have half a million monthly Spotify listeners and 23 million views on YouTube.

– Michael Chugg

ARIA Awards Confer Icon Status On Michael Chugg

The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) accorded veteran promoter and artist manager Michael Chugg Icon status at its Nov. 27 awards at the Star, Sydney.  

At a pre-awards cocktail party, radio executive Trevor Smith recalled how Chugg’s career as a race caller, at age 15, ended abruptly when, caught in the excitement of a close race, he dropped the f-word.

Smith relayed when they attended the Woodstock 25th anniversary concert in 1994. Chugg was tapped by organisers for his management skills, and, said Smith, diverted a possible financial loss into a winner.

Chugg who quipped “I’ve not always said the nicest things about ARIA”, said his motivation remained as strong as it was 50 years ago: “standing at the side of the stage and watching 50,000 losing it and having the time of their lives.”

The awards wins were dominated by three newcomers. Twelve months ago solo singer Tones & I (real name Toni Watson) was busking in Byron Bay and living in a van. Her single “Dance Monkey” set chart records in Australia (No. 1 for 18 weeks and counting) and the UK (longest running No. 1 in 2019 with nine weeks), topped the charts in 27 countries, and generated a billion streams. It has entered the US Top 20 and she made her U.S. TV debut to a standing ovation mid-November on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

With two wins each were Melbourne soul blues outfit The Teskey Brothers – who this year created a buzz at SXSW – and singer-songwriter Dean Lewis. Best international artist went to Taylor Swift.

Jay-Z Sues Kids Hip-Hop Book & Clothes Retailer

Jay-Z filed suit in the Federal Court against Sydney-based online children’s books and apparel retailer The Little Homie, claiming trademark infringement. It was set up by Jessica Chiha, combining her love for hip-hop and new motherhood.

The company uses rap celebrity to teach kids, including counting (1 2 3 With The Notorious B.I.G.) and speaking (the forthcoming First 50 Words With 50 Cent). The book in question, AB To Jay-Z, uses a number of rappers to teach the alphabet.

The rap entrepreneur said Chiha profited from using his likeness and printing the  lyrics of “99 Problems” on the back cover. He said she’d been warned the company a number of times to desist. Chiha responded, “To have someone like Jay-Z file legal proceedings is daunting beyond belief and hugely dispiriting.”  

The case is scheduled for an initial hearing Dec. 6.