SWOT: A Splendid Game-Changer?

This week: “Game-changer.” That’s how a number of people described the revelation that Kylie would be headlining this year’s Splendour in the Grass.
SWOT: A Splendid Game-Changer?
Photo by Joey Thompson / Unsplash

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

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Trending: Channel 10’s promotion of this year’s Australian GP in Melbourne has got off to a rocky start due to one glaring mistake. Words by James McKern. Source: news.com.au

🎵 Music: Bots were used in a coordinated campaign to buy up highly sought-after tickets to Fred again..'s surprise Australian shows with the intention of reselling them for huge mark-ups. Words by Ellie Grounds. Source: triple j Hack.

📰 Media: The founders of The Daily Aus have warned that young Australians will turn to ill-informed but opinionated influencers if Meta blocks news from its platforms, as the Instagram-led outlet faces the prospect of losing touch with half a million of its followers. Words by Sam Buckingham-Jones. Source: The AFR.

💰 Advertising: For the first time, Spotify has handed over the marketing reins to its podcast talent, with the stars of The Inspired Unemployed Podcast launching a billboard battle. Words by Jasper Baumann. Source: Mediaweek.

📲 Tech: People who brag about committing crimes on TikTok will face an additional two years of jail time, under new laws set to be introduced by the NSW Government. Words by Lachlan Hodson. Source: Pedestrian.

📜 Government: Sydney is set to be home to another four Special Entertainment Precincts, with the Inner West Council proposing new streets to join the successful Enmore Road zone. Words by Mary Varvaris. Source: TheMusic.com.au.  

🌶️ Spicy: Emily Blunt’s stylist is beefing with anyone who doesn’t like her Oscars outfit. Words by Soaliha Iqbal. Source: Pedestrian.

Strength: A Splendid Game-Changer?

“Game-changer.” That’s how a number of people described the revelation that the one-and-only Kylie would be headlining this year’s Splendour in the Grass.

👉 Festival line-ups have been a source of derision and frustration in recent years, with punters and industry insiders alike bemoaning an apparent lack of creativity and the perception that the same acts are on rotation.  

👉 So now that Splendour has secured Kylie – certainly not a regular on the ‘Festival Circuit’ – will this turn things around for the festival which has struggled to sell out in recent years?

👉 It’s a challenging time for festivals, but the sentiment around this line-up is the most positive it’s been in a while. KYLIE!

👉 The only other question is – did the line-up accidentally leak early? Eep!

👉 The ever-growing Vivid Sydney also announced its plans for 2024.

👉 The SMH argues that the event “so far lacks a big-name drawcard in the mould of last year, when actor Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde and White Lotus) attended”.

👉 Festival Director Gill Minervini has hinted at “big announcements” to come though.

👉 Streaming service Stan also announced 25 new and returning Originals this week, including 17 scripted shows and seven docos.

👉 Returning faves include Poker Face with Natasha Lyonne, and runaway local hit Bump, which returns for a fifth season.

👉 And finally, Sound Story client Rolling Stone AU/NZ revealed Crowded House and Angus & Julia Stone will perform at the 2024 Shure Rolling Stone Australia Awards in a couple of weeks.

Weakness: Kategate, ‘Kill Notices’ and Communication Chaos

This isn’t a Royal Watch newsletter. Normally, we wouldn’t dream of weighing in on the incessant rumours coming out about the Palace (and let’s face it, also FROM the palace). So why are we talking about a photo of Princess Catherine and her three children? Why is anyone talking about it? Why is everyone talking about it

Why are consumers addicted to this story? 

📌 Jane: It is unusual for an edited photo to stir up such intense interest, persisting beyond the traditional news cycle and revealing new scandalous angles and conspiracy theories daily. With the Palace traditionally remaining silent on gossip, the Princess’ apology for an altered Mother’s Day photo stands out. No royal tale is complete without a ‘friend’ of Meghan and Harry weighing in. Yet any amusement the Sussexes may have felt at ‘perfect’ Kate’s predicament seems short-lived, given reports of the release of their own edited photos. In a world obsessed with portraying the perfect social media image, where photoshopping and the use of filters are commonplace, why are we so obsessed with a poorly edited photo of the Princess and her children? Let’s move on!

📌 Vivienne: Jane! What? I truly believe you would be an excellent Palace PR operative – and honestly, they need that right now. We could not disagree on this more though. This is about so much more than terrible photo editing. It’s incredibly rare for the Palace to lose control of the narrative so definitively. The entire system is built on secrets, subterfuge and, often, silence. Now we have a literal PRINCESS seemingly issuing statements apologising for experimenting with photo editing technology. A ‘kill notice’ (not as dramatic as it initially sounds) has been issued by the world’s major photo agencies. Instagram itself – which can be pretty fast and loose with filters, information accuracy and manipulated images on a normal day – even now carries a warning: “Altered photo/ video. The same altered photo was reviewed by independent fact-checkers in another post.” Conspiracy theories about the Princess’ actual whereabouts and involvement aside, this is a disaster. We’ve traditionally associated the Monarchy with the “Never complain, never explain” mantra. Well, now they’re complaining, they’re explaining, and this is a whole new era of communication for the Palace. 

(Please don’t leave us for the Palace though, Jane!) 

📌 Jane (again): There are no arguments from me, they lost control of the narrative long ago. But I never thought I'd witness the melodramatic reaction of issuing a 'kill notice' within the context of modern-day royalty. It invokes memories of Henry VIII's era that a poorly edited photo should incur such a punishment. Grab the popcorn – this unfolding drama seems to have no end in sight.

Opportunity: The More You Know…

Interactive graphs! Content statistics! Data galore! 

ACMA’s creatively-titled Communications and media in Australia: How we watch and listen to content report, which documents consumer trends and tastes, dropped without much fanfare in December. Tim Burrowes from Unmade picked up on it this week, and now we can’t get enough of the stats.

It’s a detailed research piece and well-worth getting your head around. There’s so much to digest in both the static report and the interactive graphs, but here are five key insights.  

According to the report, YouTube overtook Netflix as the most-watched platform for online content in 2023.

👉 The Big Streamers still fared well though, with 66% of Australians watching a paid subscription streaming service in 2023, compared to 59% in 2022.

👉 In a given week, 51% of people watched YouTube (up from 47%), 45% Netflix (down from 52%), 29% Facebook (up from 27%), 19% Instagram Reels (up from 15%), 16% Disney+ (down from 18%), 14% Amazon Prime Video (up from 12%), 14% TikTok (up from 12%), 11% Stan (down from 14%), 7% Kayo Sports (up from 6%), 7% Binge (up from 6%), 7% Foxtel GO/ Foxtel Now (stable), 5% Paramount+ (up from 4%) and 5% Apple TV+ (up from 3%).

👉 On average, people use 2.4 different services to watch video content, which is stable with 2022.

There’s definitely room for growth in the regions and with older demographics. Only 15% of people in metro areas don’t use an online video service – a number which climbs to 22% in the regions. And 47% of those over 75 don’t use one either. 

Threat: A Bad Week For Big Jobs

It’s been a bad week on the job front for some big companies and big personalities. 

👉 PwC is reportedly axing 329 staff and up to 37 partners in a $100 million cost-cutting drive. The AFR exclusive reports this represents about 5% of the firm’s 7,000-strong headcount.

👉 Remember it wasn’t too long ago that the media and marketing industry was having a real existential crisis with the growing power, influence and hiring capabilities of the consultancies.

👉 “It’s not a given big consultancies will succeed in their marketing push”, Mumbrella declared in 2017 off the back of the news PwC had hired advertising’s master cheerleader Russel Howcroft and added former OMD, Leo Burnett and M&C Saatchi staff to its CMO Advisory.

👉 KPMG was also seeking more agency acquisitions after purchasing Acquity, Accenture bought The Monkeys, and Deloitte appointed 10’s Matt McGrath as Chief Marketing Officer. 

👉 In other news, former News Corp stalwart Liz Deegan was apparently moved on from her position as Executive Director of Public Affairs at NSW Police this week after numerous questionable public statements and moments from NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb recently.

👉 The Cranbrook Headmaster also departed following a damning investigation by Four Corners and some communications clangers.

👉 Could there be more to come? Spheria Asset Management, a significant shareholder in SCA, has fired a warning shot, notifying the market that it will try to remove the company’s chairman Robert Murray. 

Watch this space!

The Fun Stuff

Quote of the Week: “If our media goes the way of everybody being drawn on platforms with free unedited content, then you won’t have anyone investing in reputable media… This is quite an existential moment for Australian media,” Former Treasurer and current chair of Nine, Peter Costello, on the potential implication of Meta’s pull back from news deals. (Via The SMH).

📺 Show of the Week: Stan announced Season 5 of Bump this week, the runaway Stan Original hit, which broke records for the platform when it was first released. All four seasons of the local production are well worth a watch and are available on Stan.

 🦜Team Tidbit: It’s the first anniversary of Zanda Wilson joining Sound Story. We’d be lost without his enviable efficiency, can-do attitude, unparalleled eye for a spicy news story and deep love of the Party Parrot emoji on Slack. Here’s Zanda this week completing a Diploma of Investor Relations which will make him even more valuable to Sound Story clients.

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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