New music festival to fuel recovery of rock and roll in Victoria with 100 events

Gudinski first introduced the Always Live concept to Prime Minister Daniel Andrews after he helped the prime minister and his wife Catherine secure tickets to see Joel at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 2017. From there, The idea of ​​using government money to bring Piano Man to Melbourne morphed into a 2018 election promise to host a 10-day state music festival.

The creation of a separate season of live music in Victoria will add to the frantic competition between state governments for the post-pandemic national tourism dollar, with NSW this week announcing plans to host an October 2023 version of South by Southwest, a cultural event. and business festival created in Austin, Texas.

So far, 43 per cent of tickets sold for Always Live events have been purchased by people living outside of Victoria. Tourism, Sports and Major Events Minister Steve Dimopoulos said the festival will boost regional economies, with thousands of concertgoers expected to book local accommodation and restaurants.

Geoff Jones said that once Always Live was established as an annual event, he would encourage promoters to field international acts to coincide with the festival. “It gives us the opportunity to be the focus, not just at a Billy Joel or Eminem concert, but at multiple events on a variety of levels,” he said. “It will grow and flourish from this first year experience.”

Billy Joel performs at Madison Square Garden.

Billy Joel performs at Madison Square Garden.Credit:Shutterstock.com

Always Live receives $13.5 million in funding, nearly all of its revenue, from Visit Victoria, the government’s leading events and tourism promotion agency. Visit Victoria also approves the appointment of its board members in addition to the chairman, who is appointed by the cabinet.

To accommodate Michael Gudinski as founding chairman of Always Live, Visit Victoria chair Janet Whiting, an experienced business lawyer and chair of the National Gallery of Victoria’s board of trustees, established strict rules for managing conflicts of interest on the board. .

The company’s constitution prohibits directors from entering into contracts in which they have a personal material interest. An acquisitions subcommittee chaired by John Kirby of Village Roadshow decides which acts to include in the Always Live show.

Matthew Gudinski said, “There are formal and rigorous processes that prevent me from participating in the evaluation and decisions on whether to support any Frontier Touring releases for Always Live or any other entity related to the Mushroom Group.”

Always Live’s board includes leading entertainment industry accountant Michael Roseby, Melbourne artist Clare Bowditch and Roundhouse Entertainment co-founder Anthea Newton. Jones and Field said they were comfortable with the composition of the board and the structure of the company.

Michael Gudinski championed the idea of ​​a live contemporary music festival to benefit the entertainment industry and the economy in general.

Michael Gudinski championed the idea of ​​a live contemporary music festival to benefit the entertainment industry and the economy in general.Credit:Simon Schluter

“I’m not worried about Matt being president,” Jones said. “I know he is an honorable man; he is a music man and he wants the best for everyone”.

Plans for a music festival and Joel concert, tentatively scheduled for winter 2020, have been put on hold due to the pandemic. During Melbourne’s lengthy lockdown, Michael Gudinski and Andrews developed a close friendship, with the premier sharing the businessman’s passion for vinyl records, single malt whiskey and reviving the state’s moribund live music scene.

In the depths of Melbourne’s second-wave shutdown, Gudinski expressed optimism about the resilience of his industry and city. “Melbourne is famous for the things that have been hit the hardest, but we’re not throwing in the towel,” he said. Age at the time. “We will be very excited as soon as we can get started. Hopefully, that’s not as far off as people think. ”

He died in March of last year at the age of 68, while the pandemic was still raging. A statue of Michael Gudinski outside Rod Laver Arena was unveiled this year by rock icon Jimmy Barnes.

Gudinski’s original idea for Always Live was a 17-day festival spanning three weekends and featuring a “monster” event each weekend. Always Live chief executive Steve Smith, a well-connected entertainment industry consultant who previously ran Australian Radio Network Melbourne, said the 2022 show would have a “more flexible” structure and be spread throughout the year.

A few Always Live branded events have already been organized, with the Foo Fighters playing a one-off show in Geelong and, more recently, Welsh indie-pop artist Cate Le Bon playing in Melbourne and Castlemaine. Later this month, K-pop group Epik High will play an Always Live concert at Forum Melbourne.

Cate Le Bon takes the stage at the Corner Hotel in Richmond.

Cate Le Bon takes the stage at the Corner Hotel in Richmond.Credit:Simon Face

“The appetite is there now, we’re encouraging people to come together and use music as a great tonic to come back to life,” Smith said.

Smith said the events chosen for the show would be one-of-a-kind, like Joel’s concert, or unique in their setting or content. The government funds will be used to reduce production costs so that promoters and venues can book acts for otherwise commercially marginal performances.

“If it’s not exclusive, there will be something special about the event,” he said. “Economic impact is a consideration with any event we are hosting, but second and most importantly promoting Melbourne, Victoria and the suburbs to further cement the enviable position of Australia’s live music capital.”

Aidan McLaren, co-founder of the Ocean Sounds festival on Churchill Island, said that without Always Live’s financial support, he would not have been able to secure Melbourne singer-songwriter Tash Sultana as the headlining act. “It’s the only Tash show in Victoria for the year,” he said. “Let’s cross our fingers that this is a normal summer and people want to come back and support live music.”

Earlier this year, Always Live invited expressions of interest from promoters, festival operators and venue managers looking to be a part of the program. Shows have so far been confirmed in Melbourne, Geelong, Queenscliff, Echuca, Horsham and the historic Goldfields town of Carisbrook. The full schedule is expected to be announced within the next month.

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