SWOT: Live Entertainment Takes Centre Stage

The live sector came together this week to issue a rallying cry to the industry to work together more collaboratively.
SWOT: Live Entertainment Takes Centre Stage
Variety Australia and Twilio’s inaugural Live Business Breakfast. Photo: Jack Moran

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: An Australian psychologist was lost for words after discovering her husband was leaving her for a patient. The mental health professional wrote into the Toni and Ryan podcast to share her anguish after her life came crashing down. Words by Shania O’Brien. Source: Daily Mail Australia

🎵 Music: Support Act’s Mental Health and Wellbeing in Music and the Creative Industries 2024 survey is now open, and they want to hear from you before 18 June. Source: Support Act

📰 Media: There's nothing normal about what's happening to Australian media stocks. Words by Tim Burrowes. Source: Unmade.

💰 Advertising: Meta social media platform Instagram’s latest change, "unskippable" Ad Breaks, may frustrate users and creators away from the platform. Words by Ashley Regan. Source: AdNews

📲 Tech: The questions Apple needs to answer about its big AI move. Words by Tim Biggs. Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

📜 Government: The Queensland government — led by Premier Steven Miles — has announced the allocation of a $1.6 million funding package to support the Queensland music industry in this week’s state budget. Words by Mary Varvaris. Source: The Music.  

🌶️ Spicy: British band forced to change name by easyJet reveal their new name following lawsuit. Words by Jess Battison. Source: LADBible.

Strength: Live Entertainment Takes Centre Stage

The live sector isn’t without its challenges, but it came together this week to issue a rallying cry to the industry to work together more collaboratively, gain a deeper understanding of evolving audiences, and explore what the future of music festivals in Australia will look like. 

👉 The industry’s best and brightest came together via Variety Australia and Twilio’s inaugural Live Business Breakfast.

👉 Sound Story client Untitled Group Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Michael Christidis, had a spot on the prestigious panel and noted: “The connection between promoters and ticketing companies is more important than ever. You need people to know and believe an event will sell out. If they don't think it will, they'll have a sense of security that they know they can wait until closer to the date."

👉 Despite the challenges within the sector – whether its rising costs, changing audience behaviours, insurance issues or heavy-handed policing – there was a sense of optimism and opportunity from the panel and attendees.

👉 Eventbrite’s Commercial Director APAC, Linda Scott, said: “We need to let the audience and attendees guide us. Single-day festivals will grow in popularity. The future is exciting and we'll see new trends and players emerge.”

👉 The new event also handed out a handful of prestigious awards including the Live Business Award which went to Untitled Group, Promoter of the Year Award to Frontier Touring, and Best Live Event Marketing Campaign, which went to Fred again…

Weakness: Congratulations, You’ve Been Bamboozled

A radio network was called out this week for “fool[ing] listeners by faking interviews with its competition winners”. 

Sometimes it’s hard to know what – if anything – you should say when questioned on your conduct, so this week we’re asking: What would you have done if Media Watch came to you for comment about this debacle? 

📌 Jane: Radio has a unique ability to create a personal connection with listeners, and popular local radio teams drive ratings and revenue, which explains breakfast and drive announcers’ generous salaries. On-air tactics and competitions are great for engagement and attract listeners but in the current financial environment, radio networks have been forced to tighten the purse strings and ensure every dollar delivers maximum value. Expensive giveaways and concert experiences incur significant costs, which can’t be justified across multiple local shows – hence Capital Radio Network’s current situation. Listener loyalty is crucial, and deceiving listeners is risky for a medium built on trust. If your response to criticism suggests that listeners must refer to the terms and conditions to understand a competition, and use the opportunity to promote a new competition, it not only lacks transparency but also insults your listeners. A good comms team would have recommended a more considerate and respectful response, but it is often not their final decision. Let’s hope they learn from this situation – don’t deceive your listeners, they are hard won.

📌 Zanda: This is a difficult one and I actually find myself somewhat on the fence about it. We’re in a time when doing local breakfast radio in regional areas is becoming an increasingly difficult cost to justify for radio networks, so on one hand you have to applaud Capital for continuing to do so. It’s also true that most listeners would find this behaviour deceptive. Multiple things can be true at once. As for the appropriate comms response, clearly the PR team drafting Josh Matthews’ comments were never going to admit it could be deceptive, and by the terms and conditions, they might well be technically right. But it certainly leaves a sour taste, particularly for anyone not familiar with the inner workings of how such contests are usually put together.

📌 Vivienne: Zanda is totally right that this might be legally watertight, but non-media-savvy people may watch this – replete with host Paul Barry’s pauses and inflammatory language – and think this is all a bit shifty. Media Watch have done an excellent job of packaging this together. It’s at once frustrating and almost comically outrageous hearing the sneaky segments all overlaid together. Watching the segment, it appears that the evidence against Capital Radio Network is damning, and that they’ve barely bothered to respond. Paul Barry asks the audience: “So what does Capital Radio Network have to say about conning its audience with all this fakery? Not much.” A voiceover then reads out a one-line response from the accused, which seemed a bit brief and brash to me. “The Capital Radio Network has not deceived its listeners” appeared to be its reply to a long list of deceptions. I questioned this short and sharp comms response. As it turns out, there’s more to it. They actually issued a full one-page explanation, which is available here. They even used it as an opportunity to promote their next competition, which gave me a bit of a giggle. I still don’t love the overall practice by Capital Radio Network, and think it’s right for Media Watch to keep an eye on, and call out, bad conduct. But was it perhaps a bit misleading for host Paul Barry to say they didn’t have “much” to say in response, when actually they issued a 229-word response? Maybe everyone should be a bit more transparent here!

Opportunity: What Next For Live Music?

If you want to know what’s really going on in live music and where the opportunities are – both locally and internationally – then it’s a great week for you (especially if you also love reading reports!)

👉 The State of the Scene 2024 report reviewed the NSW live music industry. It recommended long-term strategies for Government, and looked at what advocacy and reform was needed to meet the needs of the live music industry. 

👉 This includes exploring opportunities for live music venue tax relief, investigating the viability of supporting venues to become fully accessible for people with mobility impairments, considering grant reforms, and advocating for a permanent outdoor venue in Sydney.

👉 “NSW is home to talented artists and deeply committed industry professionals who are invested in the future of their scenes. Audiences are returning to gigs, making the most of international and local acts across the state, and they are generally positive about the overall strength of live music,” it said in its conclusion.

👉 Prism Sport + Entertainment and VML also released a brand new culture report, The Beat Goes On, which presents insights and perspectives on music culture and what it means for brand marketing.

👉 And internationally, the Music Venue Trust released A Manifesto For Grassroots Music, which looks at protecting, securing and improving the UK’s grassroots music scene. It offers a raft of solutions specific to UK frameworks, requirements and laws, but there’s lessons in it for everyone.

Threat: Media Can’t Stay Out of the Headlines

It was another below average week for the media in the media. 

👉 Peter Costello stepped down from his position of Chair of Nine Entertainment, with even The Sydney Morning Herald, owned by Nine, saying “Everyone with half a grip on reality knew” he had to go.

👉 He’s been replaced by Catherine West. You can read an explainer on who she is and what she might do here.

👉 Costello’s own statement – after having his own conduct questioned as well as those within his organisation – was “part self congratulatory, and in part it was read-between-the-lines score settling”, according to Unmade’s Tim Burrowes

👉 The cultural problems, it seems, are almost everywhere, with journalist and advocate Tracey Spicer telling AdNews that the behaviour of offenders of bullying and misconduct is “an open secret”.

👉 And not to be left out, it’s also been a horror week for New Corp, with wide-scale redundancies rolling out as we speak.

The Fun Stuff

Quote of the Week: “To have a [music] festival directly aligned with a core audience is vital. Selling tickets… it's expensive, it's hard. If you have a core audience and you're putting up a strong product, you can be successful. You need to know who that core audience is. That's why you hear a lot about the death of multi-genre festivals,” Untitled Group Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Michael Christidis, at the inaugural Live Business Breakfast, presented by Variety Australia and Twilio.

📺 Show of the Week: Taskmaster Australia Season 2 is airing on Network 10 now, and while cynics might say its purpose is merely to give well-known comedians more airtime, I’d suggest that they might not have watched rising stars like Danielle Walker, Nina Oyama and Jimmy Rees absolutely killing it during Season 1. Sure, Season 2 is probably a bit less balanced between young and more established comedians than S1, but TikTok star Jenny Tian has already proved to be a standout against the likes of Wil Anderson and Anne Edmonds, who more than hold their own. But that’s the whole point of Taskmaster, and one of the parts of the format that has made it so successful (it has been exported to 12 territories). Comedians in their 20s are going to approach the regularly ridiculous tasks completely differently to those in their 50s – and the generational clash of approaches makes the format so great. This can also be seen in the relationship between grizzled Taskmaster Tom Gleeson and rising comic Tom Cashman in the role of the Taskmaster’s assistant. Season 3 has already been cast, and I already cannot wait for Peter Helliar to be completely baffled by the thought processes of Aaron Chen and Concetta Caristo. - Zanda Wilson

Client Tidbit: Congratulations to Sound Story client The Brag Media for winning a Silver Croc at B&T’s inaugural Cairns Crocodiles this month. The team received the Silver Croc in the Print and Publishing Campaign category for their Rolling Stone Australia Movember Zine up against stiff competition.

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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