Down Under Acts Plan Northern Hemisphere Invasion: Australia/New Zealand Special
“There’s going to be a huge HUGE explosion of Australian music all over the world,” declares the legendary Sydney-based promoter, artist manager and label executive Michael Chugg. “It was going to happen in 2020. There’s so much great music here. Once we get out there again, Australian music is going to make a mark like never before.”
After all, if the LA-based rapper Kid Laroi and Sydney-based DJ Masked Wolf could break worldwide during the pandemic, imagine what may happen if Aussie acts could present their traditionally strong calling cards: live performances.
Across the Tasman Sea, in New Zealand, there’s a similar sentiment that it’s time for more domestic acts to hit the global stage behind Lorde and Benee. Much of this has to do with SIX60’s astounding sales of 175,000 tickets sold over the summer – a feat which put them on the cover of Pollstar.
Explains the band’s Auckland-based promoter and agent, Brent Eccles of Eccles Entertainment, “When you have SIX60 doing that kind of business, it gives everybody hope, and pulls through a lot of acts that maybe wouldn’t have.”
Like many Australian companies, Chugg Music – which the veteran executive formed with Andrew Stone – spent the 2020 lock-in preparing for international borders to reopen.
Jess Gleeson – Orange Is The New Black:
Sheppard is one of many Australasian acts planning summer tours of the Northern Hemisphere.
Brisbane pop-rock band Sheppard, since their global 2014 breakthrough with “Geronimo,” has generated 836 million streams and views altogether within the U.S., their biggest market. Chugg Music continued the act’s momentum with sync deals and collaborations with local regional acts, which triggered more radio and TV support.
Sheppard were planning to spend most of the 2020 northern summer on an extensive tour through Europe and the UK. Instead, they released a single a month online until they were released in Feb. 2021 as the Kaleidoscope Eyes album.
The album peaked at No. 2 in Australia, went gold in Holland and generated 53.3 million Spotify streams, 4.1 million Apple Music plays and 5 million YouTube views.
In between, Chugg and Stone arranged for the band to livestream from the Gold Coast Airport to millions of viewers. Last October they played at the Australian Football League grand final at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium to a viewing audience of 4.3 million. On June 27 the band return to Suncorp Stadium for a State of Origin rugby match to an expected TV audience of 4 million.
“They’re one of the best live acts in the world – if they could have toured last year they’d be one of the hottest right now,” Chugg, 73, says.
Another Chugg Music act, electro-pop siblings Lime Cordiale, will perform mid-July at one of the high-profile rugby matches. Lime Cordiale have been an emerging force, managing to sell 60,000 tickets, a No. 1 album debut, an ARIA win for best breakthrough, nine tracks with British actor/ rapper Idris Elba for release this year, and an October run that is already two-thirds sold out.
After five attempts were abandoned, Chugg Music is looking at rescheduling a British tour for early 2022 and then head on to the United States where interest is growing.
Talking of the act’s global appeal, Stone says, “Their live show is comparable to any band on their level in Australia or overseas, it converts casual observers to fans, they’re writing fantastic songs, and their humour and surf element encapsulates Australia.”
Others on the roster are Mia Rodriguez whose 2020 hit “Psycho” generated 9.64 million streams and 10 million YouTube views and led to a deal this year with Atlantic Records; and country music singer Casey Barnes who has U.S. label, publishing and songwriter interest in working with him to create a crossover.
Among Australian acts looking at heading back north when possible are singer-songwriters Courtney Barnett, Tones & I and Tash Sultana, blues rockers Jimmy Barnes and Teskey Bros, bands The Rubens and DMAs and country music’s Troy Cassar-Daley and Kasey Chambers.
New Zealand’s standout act SIX60 is returning to Australia in November for nine sellout theatre and outdoor shows through Live Nation, and then to 11 stops in Europe and the UK Nov. 18 to Dec. 3.
Eccles contends the band’s strength was confirmed after their show to 50,000 at Auckland’s Eden Park April 24 was broadcast to 11 Pacific Island countries through Pasifika TV and the Northern Hemisphere on Veeps, “reaching millions” according to Radio New Zealand.
“The size of the production, the venue and the crowd started to break around the world,” Eccles notes.
After a competitive summer, NZ acts like reggae band L.A.B., soul singer Marlon Williams who did 26 sellout solo shows in summer, R&B pop Drax Project, pop punk Miss June and breakthrough Martok Road and Summer Thieves are casting their nets wider.
L.A.B. sold 42,000 tix in New Zealand in the past 12 months while their second six-date sellout headline run in Australia shifted 18,000.
“At present, L.A.B are working with a number of international press agents, including the UK-based DVIBES,” reports Dan Clist from LOOP Management. “Given the uncertainty with the current global climate, we are planting the seeds with press, radio play and global streams all starting to increase.”
All of whom may soon be coming to a town near you.