SWOT: Lights, Music, Action.

A decade-and-a-half on, is Vivid still going from strength to strength? 
SWOT: Lights, Music, Action.
Photo by Srikant Sahoo / Unsplash

Welcome to SWOT by Sound Story, your inside track on the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats looming for the creative industries.

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Trending: Music streaming services are criticising a new regulation in Canada that requires major streaming services to pay 5% of their revenue to various groups supporting the creation of Canadian content. Words by Daniel Tencer. Source: Music Business Worldwide

🎵 Music: Sound NSW has released a report showing for the first time the full landscape of the live music ecosystem across the state. Source: Sound NSW

📰 Media: Jessica Hunter promoted to Head of The Brag Media, Lars Brandle named Head of Content. Source: The Music Network

💰 Advertising: Are we in an advertising recession? SMI data says no, but are we splitting hairs? Ben Willee asks the question and mulls the implications. Words by Ben Willee. Source: AdNews

📲 Tech: Sony Music chief Rob Stringer calls for an end to free ad-funded streaming services. Words by Andre Pain. Source: Music Week

📜 Government: The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) has released its Radio Fair Play report, laying out the significant benefits the Australian music industry could see if the government removed caps on the dollar amounts that radio companies have to pay to license the music they air. Words by Ellie Robinson. Source: The Music

🌶️ Spicy: Jackie ‘O’ Henderson has accidentally admitted to breaching her contract on-air, prompting a warning from co-host Kyle Sandilands she “could be fired” for the blunder. Words by Lexie Cartwright. Source: News.com.au.

Strength: Lights, Music, Action.

There’s been a long-held perception that Sydney’s not at its best in winter. The music, ideas, food and lights festival, Vivid, has gone some way to change that. But a decade-and-a-half on, is it still going from strength to strength? 

👉 Last year’s Vivid had its largest ever recorded attendance – over 3.28 million – so we’re yet to see if this year’s iteration can go bigger.

👉 The festival certainly has the ability to generate headlines though – whether it’s the weather, ‘insider hacks’, live music reviews or hints on how to get the most out of the free events.

👉 Each year, the festival also grabs headlines for doing something ‘different’. This year? Why, it was ‘Tekno’ Trains, of course.

👉 Its music program also grabs media attention, both good and bad. The Sydney Morning Herald, for example, declared “This year’s Vivid Music program is massive – here are the must-see acts”, and Happy Mag went with “Vivid’s Tumbalong Nights Killer Lineup with Arnhem Lands’ Wildfire Manwurrk & 3% Album Launch”.

👉 This piece here from The Conversation explores how Vivid Sydney can continue to go from strength-to-strength and captivate locals and visitors each year.

Weakness: TV’s Image Problem

We’ve said previously that everyone talking about radio is a good thing for the medium, but we’re not sure the same can be said for television right now.

👉 Television just can’t seem to tell its own story at the moment. Headlines abound about problematic newsroom cultures, CEOs in crisis, allegedly abusive staff, not-to-mention a war criminal running a state network.

👉 The negative image only seems to be ramping up at the moment, with articles about more Australian television series reportedly being axed, and fears that adult drama will follow the children’s content downturn on free-to-air TV.

👉 Plus, there’s Network 10’s endless image, branding and rebranding issues. Remember when Fairfax Media and 10 went to court over multichannel 10 Boss? Which eventually became 10 Bold? Well now it’s going to be 10 BOLD Drama.

👉 There was a moment in time when industry body Think TV was doing a fantastic job at telling (and selling) the story of TV, taking on the tech giants, and getting the networks to stop backgrounding on each other and in turn feeding the negative narratives. We’re not sure that comms ceasefire is still in place.

👉 What we do know for sure is that this hot take – that television and Nine’s CEO Mike Sneesby are only in crisis because the media loves a pile on and Australians are beholden to tall poppy syndrome – is missing the much bigger picture (and problem).

Opportunity: Let the Games Begin

Sound Story’s Zanda Wilson has previously used SWOT to predict that the next big thing in media will be gaming, but it’s not just media which will be moved by these ripples. Gaming is increasingly influencing and impacting music. Let’s look at what’s happening.

📌 Vivienne: I am tempted to defer to my more knowledgeable and experienced Sound Story colleagues here (noting that Zanda knows much more about gaming than I do, and Kirsty Rivers commissioned this report while at Creative Australia – Australian Music and Games 2023 Benchmark – which will inform a range of strategic decisions including funding, partnerships, and advice on legal and regulatory settings. It’s worth noting though, that it’s not just my colleagues who are noticing this uptick. Digital Music News this week wrote about how game soundtracks are the new vinyl goldmine, and Rolling Stone recently explored the 25 best video game soundtracks of all time

📌 Zanda: The gaming community has never been bigger and more well-recognised as a growing media segment, and yet its potential remains untapped. Looking at the potential for Aussie musicians on the licensing side in particular, having a piece of music appear in a globally consumed game is one of the best pieces of exposure an artist can receive - and should be considered a key pillar of exporting musicians. The FIFA football franchise as an example is massively popular (the latest game EA Sports FC 24 was played by 11.3 million people globally in its first week of release alone). The game’s soundtrack has regularly featured both well-known and rising Aussie musicians, with tracks by BLOODMOON, Young Franco, Luude, Hayden James, Flume, Crooked Colours, Slumberjack, Royal Otis, Tkay Maidza, Winston Surfshirt and more appearing over the most recent three games in the series.

Threat: Redundancy Season

It’s not been a great week for jobs in the media, but it’s certainly not the only sector which is suffering. 

👉 The impacts of News Corp’s Australian restructure are still being felt, with numerous high-profile executives, and everyday staff members, on the chopping block.

👉 The travel and tourism sector may also be feeling the cost-of-living pinch, with the P&O Cruises Australia brand folding.

👉 While some people working behind the scenes tried to package this story up as the logical coming together of two strong brands – the reality is when two massive brands come together, there will be losses. 

👉 It was only a few months ago that P&O unveiled a new brand platform via Supermassive, which attempted to reposition and relaunch the cruise line.

👉 There’s likely more to come this year, so watch this space.

The Fun Stuff

Quote of the Week: “In my view, the tech monopolies are also mining companies. They don’t mine our minerals, they mine our lives. Those lives are Australia’s greatest resource, and we have a responsibility to protect ourselves and the way we want to live,” News Corp Australasia’s Executive Chairman, Michael Miller, at the National Press Club (via Mediaweek).

📺 Show of the Week: Colin From Accounts is back for Season 2. The quirky comedy boasts quintessentially Australian humour, but is also seemingly taking the world by storm. Episode 2 of Season 2 is out today, but we recommend going back to Season 1 on Binge and snort laughing and cringing in equal measure.

Team Tidbit: Sound Story's Jane Elliott escaped Melbourne's chilly weather and found some birthday serenity in beautiful Langkawi.

Written by
Sound Story
Sound Story is Australia’s leading strategic communications consultancy for the creative industries with clients spanning music, media, advertising and technology.
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