SWOT: Massive Music Moments

The global music industry had some massive milestones this week, including the latest Loud & Clear report from Spotify.

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: A pair of YouTuber pranksters have duped US presenter Tucker Carlson in an interview about Kate Middleton’s edited photo. Words by Brielle Burns. Source: news.com.au.

🎵 Music:  All signs pointed to Australia not being ready for an artist like Fred again... So, how did we get to the British artist taking the country by storm? Words by Zanda Wilson. Source: The Music.

📰 Media: The NRL has blocked host radio broadcaster Triple M from filming post-match interviews following the backlash over Latrell Mitchell’s expletive-laden comments last Thursday night. Words by Michael Chammas, Adrian Proszenko and Billie Eder. Source: The SMH

💰 Advertising: As Shell Energy’s creative account goes to pitch, a stark warning has been has issued to agencies planning to get involved. Words by Lauren McNamara. Source: Mumbrella.

📲 Tech: What is Suno? The 'ChatGPT for music' generates songs in seconds. Words by Sabrina Ortiz. Source: ZDNET

📜 Government: The Queensland Government has finally seen reason and is moving forward with pill testing, in a welcome move that will no doubt save lives. Words by George Shiers. Source: Pedestrian.

🌶️ Spicy: Man behind viral Willy Wonka experience explains what went wrong in new documentary. Words by Chelsea Connor. Source: LadBible.

Strength: Taz-Mania

“You only get one chance to launch a brand, and the Devils nailed it,” Tim Burrowes said in Unmade this week.

👉 The post is referring to the launch of Australia’s newest AFL team, the Tasmanian Devils.

👉 Despite blowback about the cost of the whole endeavour during a cost-of-living crisis, it seems people are buying into the idea. The Club gathered over 100,000 Founding Members in under 24 hours

👉 As Tim points out, the launch capitalised on local pride, tribalism, fear of missing out and the “psychology of ownership”.

👉 The strength and success of this launch becomes more astounding when you realise the fledgling Club had to take on global giant Warner Bros. Discovery, which had trademarked “Tasmanian Devil” back in the ‘80s to protect its cartoon character of the same name.

👉 The Warner Bros. Tasmanian Devil, commonly known as Taz, was a “ferocious, albeit dim-witted, carnivore with a notoriously short temper and little patience”.

👉 Turns out, some key executives within the entertainment giant weren’t aware the animal actually exists. Well, they sure are now. 

Weakness: Karen Strikes Again

Karen Webb, the NSW Police Commissioner, will be lucky if she doesn’t soon become a case study for how not to communicate with staff, the media and the public. After numerous instances of poor communication, she sacked her comms chief. Now, she’s in the headlines again as people react to the news of her new hire, which has reportedly put the State Government into damage control as well and caused the breakdown of key bureaucratic relationships

So here are the Sound Story team’s top tips for Karen to stay out of the headlines next time she’s looking for a great comms person. 

📌 Vivienne: In University PR courses, we were constantly warned about the dangers of “becoming the story”. The idea was horrifying. Mortifying. Embarrassing. What PR person would want to be in the news? Now, true, I was at University in 2007, and multiple PR people, publicists, influencers and businesses have rewritten the rule book since then, and capitalised on creating the story, redirecting the story, existing with the story and, indeed, being the story. But when you’re a NSW Police Commissioner, who is (rightly) under pressure to do better with really serious issues such as Indigenous deaths in custody, excessive use of force and violence with an elderly woman, and public fears around access to weapons, you really should be focused on those issues – not ending up in the news because you (allegedly) didn’t background your new comms person effectively. The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that news of Steve Jackson’s appointment was delayed “after a flurry of behind-the-scenes crisis talks as police became aware of Jackson’s long and colourful history in Sydney’s gossipy media industry”. How did they become aware of this public perception after the interview and vetting process? This wasn’t some kind of hidden, buried secret. And even if it was, surely the POLICE can discover it, and control it, before it gets out of hand. It’s wild to me that they could be so under-prepared for this reaction to the news, and the fallout that would ensue. So my top tip to Karen would be to time travel back to Macquarie University in 2007 and sit in on our PR101 lectures. Or, alternatively, just background your prospective employees better, be aware of what media narratives may unfold as a result of their career history and public perceptions, and get on with the actual job. All that free advice, without the crippling HECS debt! You’re welcome, Karen. 

📌 Jake: The assumption that NSW Police requires the skills of a new comms lead is, in my view, where this problem starts and finishes. A job ad on Seek for a new NSW Police Commissioner - one who is less tone-deaf and more culturally aligned with the people it serves - might be a more appropriate response in starting the process of reshaping public perceptions of the force.

📌 Zanda: A widely shared view, at least by the left, is that Australians like to think of themselves as laid-back larrikins when the reality is that Aussies actually love police and dobbing in someone breaking the law. Whether you agree with this or not, a variety of media narratives may have flipped this narrative on its head recently, including several own goals by the NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb. Her inability to read the room in terms of public sentiment around various issues recently has been incredibly damaging for the reputation of the NSW Police force. Whether you’re the leader of a startup, an ASX 200 company, or any other organisation, it’s no longer optional to be extremely well media trained. The rise of clickbait and attention-grabbing headlines have made sure of that.

Opportunity: Massive Music Moments

The global music industry had some massive milestones this week. 

👉 Global recorded music revenue grew by an estimated 9.8% year-on-year in 2023 to reach US$35.1 billion, according to a new report published by MIDiA.

👉 MIDiA notes that the market is now 124.5% bigger than it was in 2015, as per Music Business Worldwide.

👉 The report also estimated that streaming revenues grew by 9.6% to US$21.9 billion.

👉 Speaking of streaming, Spotify set a record for the highest annual payment to the music industry from any single retailer, at US$9 billion for 2023, as reported by Lars Brandle in The Music Network.

👉 And another record was recognised this week, with P!nk’s Summer Carnival tour hitting 20 stadium shows across Australia and New Zealand – the most on a single tour.

👉 Live Nation notes nearly 1 million people will have seen the production, and the ticket sales are by far the biggest for any female headliner to have toured here. 

Threat: Tech Troubles

Tick tock. Tick tock. As each week ticks by, big tech seems to clock more scandals, controversies, political sh*tstorms and global perception issues. 

👉 The SXSW audience loudly booed a video espousing the exciting benefits of AI, with some saying “You love to hear it”.

👉 The world seemingly also can’t agree on what to do about TikTok, with a leading security expert saying Australia should pass new laws to curb the power of the platform and protect the community from misinformation.

👉 So far though, it seems Prime Minister Anthony Albanese isn’t heeding those warnings.

👉 “We’ll take advice, but we have no plans to do that. I think you’ve got to be pretty cautious,” he said during an interview with WSFM’s Jonesy and Amanda. “You’ve always got to have national security concerns front and centre, but you also need to acknowledge that for a whole lot of people, this provides a way of them communicating. And so, we haven’t got advice at this stage to do that.”

The Fun Stuff

Quote of the Week:  “A lot of men want to be involved in gender equality and do more, but don’t know how. Men also find it hard to talk face to face, preferring to open up shoulder to shoulder. That’s why we’re baking some pies and strapping in to chat about some of the big, small, and sometimes awkward themes of what it means to be a man and cook up conversations that will ignite real change. We’re going to show what an IWD event could look like if you f*ck the cupcakes, bring on the pies,” said Wez Hawes, ECD at Innocean, about a new gender equality initiative. (Via Mumbrella).

🌶 Hot Take of the Week: Ben Shepherd has taken to LinkedIn this week to offer up his views on everyone’s pontificating and posturing about whether Meta will leave Australia. Give it a read.

Team Tidbit: Speaking of reading, why not head over to AdNews to see what Sound Story’s Zanda Wilson has to say about his time in the industry? Zanda features as this week’s ‘Young Gun’ and gives some insight into his career, inspirations and what’s next.

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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