Australia News: #MeTooNZ, Laneway, Six60 & More

– Paul McKessar

New Zealand Female Artists Plan Database Of “Problematic” Executives

A database of “problematic” male music executives which young women could consult before a job interview is one idea mooted in the wake of sexual harassment concerns in the New Zealand music industry.

The sector is looking at solutions after the Jan. 24 publishing of results of a month-long investigation of sexual harassment in the New Zealand industry by #MeTooNZ and news publisher Stuff resulted in two executives losing their jobs.

An open letter on addressing the problem was signed by female performers Lorde, Anna Coddington, Anika Moa, Mel Parsons, Tami Neilson, Hollie Smith and Bic Runga.

“If the artist’s job is to … make moving music, yours must be to help them professionally and personally, without crossing boundaries and taking advantage of them,” the letter read in part. 

It encouraged execs to diversify workplaces, “refuse to let it slide,” when they witness transgressions, and quit the industry if they couldn’t follow guidelines.

In the wake of the #MeTooNZ and Stuff revelations, Scott Maclachlan, who discovered Lorde and was her first manager, was fired from his A&R role at Warner Music Australasia. Paul McKessar stepped down from CRS Management until an independent investigation was conducted on claims by former employees.

“We are shocked and saddened to hear these stories of harm caused by people in our industry,” said Teresa Patterson, chairperson of the Music Managers Forum NZ, which introduced a code of conduct in 2015. SoundCheck Aotearoa, set up November 2020 by a group of music associations to take on diversity, discrimination and security issues, is working on an industry-wide code of conduct.

In an unrelated incident, a 23 year old musician appeared in Wellington District Court Jan. 28 on charges of indecently assaulting and raping five different women over three years. He denied all charges. He was an early arrest in Operation Emerald, a police investigation launched October 2020 after social media posts about the behavior of some Wellington musicians.

Laneway Teases “Something Special” For 2021 As Festival Demand Rises

– Laneway at Fremantle 2020

In a Jan. 29 social media post, on the eve of what would have been its first 2021 show, Laneway Festival teased “something special later in 2021.” It noted, “While there is hope on the horizon, unfortunately we are still a while away from presenting you with the Laneway events that you know and love.”

In 2020 Laneway played to 100,000 in five Australian cities, and 12,000 in Auckland. A multi-year run in Singapore began 2014 to crowds of 10,000. Its North American debut in 2013 in Detroit proved a one-off.

In the meantime, strong punter response to live events saw two festivals expand operations. After the debut Summer Sounds drew 28,000 to Adelaide’s Bonython Park, promoters Secret Sounds (also behind Splendour in the Grass and Falls), Five Four Entertainment and Groove extended it to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, Feb. 25 to March 4.

After its June 12 show in Brisbane posted an 80% sell-out, metal, punk and rock Full Tilt will also be in Melbourne July 3.

How Six60 Remained NZ’s Biggest Live Act During COVID

– Six60

In 2020, New Zealand band Six60 undertook the Six60 Saturdays Tour, playing each consecutive Saturday Jan. 25 to March 7. They shifted 120,000 tickets, which included a second sell-out at the 50,000-capacity Western Springs Stadium – unprecedented for a local act.

In 2021 the Dunedin act repeated the format but this time, with the COVID specter, they and tour promoter Eccles Entertainment took a different tack. Each ticket buyer had to commit to a COVID Delay date. If any of the Jan. 16 to Feb. 27 shows had to be cancelled, they had to agree to an optional date in autumn or spring.

“We couldn’t take the financial risk otherwise,” founder Brent Eccles told Pollstar. These were the biggest gatherings in the country, and health officials further made demands on fans at shows, ensuring their phones had NZ’s COVID Tracer app and to ensure its Bluetooth feature was turned on, as it was “like your phone giving a digital high-five to other nearby phones using the app,” a health official told Hawkes Bay Today.

This year’s tour also shifted 120,000 stubs, which retained the act’s status in history books. “I can’t think of any other act from Australasia (Australia & New Zealand) who’s done these figures,” said Eccles. The Bowl of Brooklands show in New Plymouth (Jan. 30) drew 15,000. The Feb. 6 stop at Hagley Park, Christchurch will be to 20,000; Sky Stadium in Wellington on Feb. 13 will have 30,000 while on Feb. 27 Claudelands Oval in Hamilton will host 25,000. Such figures have sparked tour talk in the northern hemisphere, where the act is signed with Epic/Sony.

US born Producer Rick Will Dies Of Heart Attack

– Rick Will

U.S.-born, Grammy nominated producer and engineer Rick Will died in his adopted home city Sydney of a heart attack. Nicknamed “Soldier” by Ziggy Marley, Will was nominated three times for a Grammy. He worked on 350 records with everyone from Johnny Cash and Gillian Welch to Nine Inch Nails and Incubus.

In Australia he helped make hits for Cold Chisel, Jimmy Barnes, Grinspoon and Boy & Bear. “We made beautiful records together,” wrote Barnes. “Rick was one of the best sound engineers and the most gentle, sweet guys you’d ever meet.”

Executive Moves At Michael Cassel Group, Theatre Royal & More

– Lucie McGeoch

Media executive Lucie McGeoch joined Michael Cassel Group as director of client management. The firm’s clients include former prime minister Julia Gillard and former Olympian and global sporting administrator Lord Sebastian Coe. 

McGeoch was most recently supervising producer of Seven Network’s The Morning Show, while prior roles include chief of staff for Today Tonight, news editor of Woman’s Day and associate producer of A Current Affair.

With refurbishment at Theatre Royal Sydney almost completing and negotiations with international productions underway, Trafalgar Entertainment announced the first of senior hires. Jono Perry of Opera Australia and Brisbane Festival is general manager, Nick Cook of the Capitol and Coliseum Theatres was made technical manager and Ticketek’s Houri Tapiki head of customer experience.

Julia Holt takes over as head of programming Feb. 8 at Perth Festival. She was founding director of Adelaide Cabaret Festival, director of programming & marketing for Adelaide Festival Centre, and GM at Riverside Studios, London and Assembly Rooms at Edinburgh Fringe.

Lindy Hume is new artistic director of the Four Winds festival in NSW, staging Easter 2021.

Elvis Movie Release Pushed To Mid-2022

Warner Bros has pushed the release date of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic from Nov. 5, 2021 to June 3, 2022. 

Filmed on the Gold Coast, the still-untitled project stopped March to September 2020 when Tom Hanks, who plays manager Colonel Tom Parker, tested positive for coronavirus. A new addition to the cast is Grammy-winning Gary Clark Jr. who plays Delta bluesman Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup who wrote ‘That’s All Right”, a 1954 hit for Presley.