Is Technology Making The Music Industry Better Or Worse?

Published on, June 2018

There seems to be a lot of people stabbing in the dark when in comes to the future of the music industry, but few as qualified as CHANGES Melbourne speaker Cherie Hu, who tells Daniel Cribb what we might expect moving forward.

The award-winning Billboard and Forbes columnist is coming off a month of non-stop conferences around Europe and gearing up for an appearance at new Melbourne music summit CHANGES in July, marking her first-ever trip down under after familiarising herself with some local talent last month.

“They were quite the…  spectacle,” laughs the US music writer and researcher Hu on catching Australia’s Client Liaison live at Primavera Pro in Barcelona in May.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a conference like [CHANGES], in that all the talks are just lightning-style, TED Talk-style — they’re 30-minute snippets, so I’m very interested to see how that will go,” Hu says.

As not only a writer but also a researcher, Hu finds that other conferences around the world don’t tend to go as in-depth as she’d prefer, something she believes the format of CHANGES has a chance to remedy.

“I moderated a panel at MIDEM in France about AI and music marketing and I thought it was a great topic, but the panel was so big and we only had half an hour and there were five other people on it, so we each only had a little bit of time to speak anyway,” Hu tells.

But that’s not to say the standard music conference format doesn’t have its benefits.

“If it’s done well, it’s really beneficial,” Hu emphasises. “I’m always very interested in debates; I definitely don’t think there’s consensus on a lot of things, including where the music industry is going. For example, what is the future of Spotify? What is the future of streaming? Is that the be-all-end-all solution? I don’t think everyone agrees on that and so at their best, I think panels highlight the fact that there are these competing or opposing views, in a respectable way.”

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Having embedded herself firmly within music and tech, and constantly travelling the world to attend conferences as a speaker, you’d struggle to find someone more qualified to discuss that future of music than Hu.

She’ll be giving a talk on Voice And The Rise Of Streaming Beyond The Phone, unpacking what happens when visual interfaces disappear and highlighting the fact that so much music marketing assumes that people are interacting with a stream through a screen when that might not be the case in the near future.

“What happens when people are requesting through voice? What happens when you can’t scroll through a list to discover music? What happens when video isn’t the centrepiece anymore?” Hu asks.

“Bose is building these smartglasses that involve augmented reality, but it’s all powered by audio, so there’s no visual component. It’s very early stages, but I think if you tap something on the glasses, or you make a gesture with your hand in some way, it’ll trigger a voice command.

“I demoed this at SXSW, so an example would be, you walk down a street in downtown Austin and you walk past a venue and you could preview music from the bands that would be performing there that night.”

The barrier of entry is now much lower for artists, but it means they have to work harder and be creative to cut through the noise.

“I met someone, also at SXSW, who records and uploads music to Spotify all on his phone. He has an 8-track app, two bandmates and a mic that’s affordable that you can plug into your phone.

“Then there’s a free distribution app called Amuse, which allows you to upload to Spotify for free, and they can do that in a day.”

On the flipside, it’s harder for a lot of bands and companies to actually make any money, even some of the biggest in the world, which is the biggest challenge Hu believes we face over the next 12 months.

“ was the hottest app a couple of years ago and it was most popular among young teenagers, so 12 to 15 years old. It was a lip-syncing app, so you’d take a selfie video of yourself lip-syncing to an excerpt from a song, and there were these young teenagers who had millions of follows,” Hu explains.

“It had the traction of Vine in that sense; people were building their own personality and brands off this. At SXSW, the head of said, ‘We still don’t actually have a monetisation model — we don’t know how to make money off this stuff.’”

It’s likely that Twitter shut down Vine because they couldn’t figure out how to monetise it efficiently, while Soundcloud was in serious financial trouble last year and YouTube keeps restructuring its paid subscription service.

“That’s just an ongoing challenge of these platforms that have a huge cultural impact and influence not being able to make any money, and I think that’s partly because the legal foundations are not really there and this is a trend across any industry where tech will be ahead of the law in terms of change,” she says.

“As the barriers to entry are lowering, more and more people will want to remix content, and more and more people will want to make their own derivative works off of music, and I think we should be enabling that. Gradually, the industry attitude is going more towards, ‘Yes please, make content from out content,’ as opposed to being fearful and being in takedown mode, so that’ll be interesting to follow.”

Head over to the CHANGES Melbourne website for more details.

Advertisements Sam Perry On ‘The Voice’ Win: ‘It Helped Me In Ways That Emailing Triple J Never Could’

Published on, Jun 2018

WA loop artist Sam Perry might still be riding a high from winning The Voice grand final on Sunday night, but prior to auditioning for the show, he was close to calling it quits.

Speaking with The Music, the most controversial artist in the show’s history said he signed up in an effort to hopefully attract a few more punters to his gigs from the blind audition.

He’s now well and truly on the mainstream radar, but the Perth musician has been “slugging” it away for years and before rising up through the show was finding it harder and harder to cut through the noise on the internet.

“I’ve hit up triple j, I’ve gigged, I’ve toured, I’ve done everything and I’ve just been ignored a little bit, to the point where I was being told by people they’d manage me if I DJ’d, and I was close to giving it up,” Perry said.

“A mainstream program like this, I would never normally think of doing, but they’ve done nothing but embrace what I do. They’ve pushed it harder and turned me into something that could actually get out of Australia pretty quickly.”

Perry admits he never loved reality TV shows and The Voice was never something he’d watch, which is why the support he was given throughout the contest came as such a surprise.

“The crazier my ideas were, the more accommodating they were; they’ve helped me in ways that years of slugging and emailing triple j never could have done for me,” he said.

“The stereotype I had about a show like this is completely not what it was.

“I went in thinking I was going to hate it and, man, I’ve had fun.”

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The show’s judges, Kelly RowlandBoy GeorgeDelta Goodrem and Joe Jonas, might have loved his loop station and beatboxing, but they also branded him as “controversial”.

“It’s important to be refreshing – I’ve brought something new to the show and I think that’s important,” Perry said.

“I kind of love all the controversy I have started, coming in here and turning the whole thing on its head.

“Actually, me and Boy George are really good friends now – he’s a really cool dude, and Joe Jonas would come out to late night gigs with us. They’re all just really nice people.”

Having taken out the grand prize on Sunday, Perry scores a cash prize of $100,000 and a contract with Universal Music.

The signing comes with new single Trust Myself, and while other finalists had their post-win single allocated by the label, Perry pushed to write his own song.

“With Universal, we’re talking about pushing my live show more and we’re going to sit down and talk about what path I want to go on, rather than them making me do things,” Perry explains.

“One of the stigmas of the show is that kids come on and think they’re going to be superstars.

“I’ve toured for five years and I understand that it takes a lot of hustle, and I’ve got a mortgage to pay, so I’m not just going to sign a contract that signs away my rights.

“I’ve already got the music, I’ve already got sets and I’ve already got shows, whereas, I think a lot of the others are in cover bands or don’t write their own material.”

Perry’s planning on booking a run of shows around the country to celebrate his win before focusing on bigger things set in motion by his coach on The Voice, Rowland, and the contacts she’s put him in touch with.

“I’m going to be flying to LA to meet up with them and talk about future movements.

The Voice has opened up so many doors I didn’t know existed.”

Show Review: Joshua Radin 18.05.18

Published on, May 2018

Pic by Dana Weeks

Joshua Radin

Rosemount Hotel

May 18

Ohio-born acoustic artist Joshua Radin was quick to make Rosemount Hotel his own as he eased into his unique brand of “whisker rock” like someone getting acquainted with old friends.

The troubadour’s voice was as smooth as the whiskey soda he was sipping throughout the set; every charming imperfection and emotion was amplified as punters stood in silence and hung off every word. It was only when the venue’s front door opened that distant traffic noises and murmurs from the beer garden broke that spell.

Radin’s calm, calculated tone between songs was enchanting, as he recalled past heartbreaks and regret with painful honesty, before diving headfirst into songs that had a real emotional connection. He wasn’t holding back and it paid off big time for those in attendance.

Melodies on fan favourite such as Winter and You’ve Got Growin’ Up To Do had a more free-flowing nature to them, and by slowing everything down slightly, even happier songs such as I’d Rather Be With You and Vegetable Car had heartbreaking undertones.

He also showcased an impressive vocal diversity, jumping from his trademark whisper to soaring melodies throughout the set, but it wasn’t until opening act Cary Brothers joined Radin onstage for an upbeat cover of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, Its All Right did the headline act really give it his all, stepping back from the microphone and belting out the last chorus with grit, proving he could easily front a rock band.

When Radin is on stage, everyone’s made to feel like part of something; a sentiment echoed with the clapping and stomping along to the chorus Belong – one of many highlights from a memorable set.

Watching Joshua Radin play to a relatively small crowd is a perplexing experience, given the sheer charm and raw talent that he extrudes, and while it would be nice to see him fronting arenas like he deserves, there’s some special about enjoying one of the world’s best-kept secrets in a such an intimate atmosphere.

Show Review: Richard Dawkins 14.05.18

Published on, May 2018

Richard Dawkins

Riverside Theatre

May 14

“What would replace religion if it went away?” asked the evening’s moderator, Australian radio host, satirist, filmmaker and author John Safran, to the formidable force sitting across from him. Celebrated evolutionary biologist, acclaimed author and atheist Richard Dawkins didn’t think for a second before rattling off a number of alternatives: “Human friendship, music, art, science, literature.”

He was relatively calm and softly spoken throughout their conversation, but would unleash when confronted with an opinion he opposes, which happened often when questions from Safran and audience members touched on the psychology and inherited flaws of religion, a lot of which he discusses in his new book, Science In The Soul.

“You can call religion a computer virus,” Dawkins said, discussing the way in which religion gets passed down through families, generation after generation. “It’s an amazing coincidence that everyone is born into the right religion – think about that.”

The conversation was largely driven by points he makes throughout the 2017 novel, with audience members treated to live readings, which were quickly given deeper analysis by the legend on stage.

A number of videos were also played, with Dawkins providing commentary, including Ray Comfort’s banana argument. “Checkmate, Richard,” said Safran, to which Dawkins responded, “It’s like a Monty Python set.”

Dawkins doesn’t shy away from controversy, he embraces it, as evident to his response to Republican Todd Thomsen trying to get him banned from doing a speech at the University of Oklahoma back in 2009: “I’m quite proud of that” – it’s a badge of honour.”

Having coined the term meme in his 1976 novel, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins was treated to “the life of a [modern] meme” by Safran, who projected images of Pepe the Frog onto the screen, detailing the character’s transition from a happy frog to hate symbol. “That’s quite good,” Dawkins said. “It does show an evolutionary progression.”

But being a founder of meme culture isn’t enough for Dawkins, who revealed he’s working on a children’s book (working title OMG, I Think I’m An Atheist).

He also covered off Darwinism (which he rejects – “natural selection does not have foresight”), and championed those like Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, the latter of which toured Australia in 2017, thanks to the same promoter, Think Inc.

It felt like a true privilege to be in the presence of such a historical figure for an evening, and the packed house and slew of questions thrown Dawkins’ way proved people are hungrier now more than ever for answers and change. EXCLUSIVE: Daryl Braithwaite On Harry Styles’ ‘Horses’ Obsession: ‘Stranger Things Have Not Happened’

Published on, May 2018

Harry Styles pic by Kane Hibberd

No one expected Harry Styles to bust out the chorus of The Horses numerous times at each show during his Australian tour, especially the man behind the hit, Daryl Braithwaite, who describes the occurrence as “quite extraordinary”.

Speaking with The Music about Styles’ obsession with the classic hit (originally by Rickie Lee Jones), Braithwaite said, “stranger things have not really happened”.

The pair met “ever so briefly” at the ARIAs last year, which is likely when the One Direction member’s love affair began, being treated to a live performance of The Horses during Braithwaite’s induction into the Hall of Fame.

Fast-forward five month and Braithwaite is sent a video of Styles singing the song to a stadium full of fans.

“I only found out about it by someone at Sony sending me a little video footage of him singing it and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s interesting’, and then it continued on,” Braithwaite said.

The next thing he knows he’s on FaceTime with the UK singer.

“He was at a restaurant with Denis Handlin from Sony, Michael Gudinski and Delta Goodrem and that was really funny.

“I looked at the phone and I thought, ‘Fuck, it looks like that Harry guy.’ He seemed genuinely nice. Maybe he was put up to it, or maybe he wanted to do it, but he was very complimentary.

“It’s funny, it really is – I’m old enough to be his grandfather, but it’s charming in the way he did it, and I did see some footage where he did tell someone off who didn’t like it.”

It also surprised Braithwaite that Styles’ prominently younger audience knew the song so well.

“It’s flattering that he would pick that song and on top of that from what I’ve heard on the videos I saw of it, that people seem to know it, which is more enduring.”

“My career’s not over just yet.”

Show Review: Harry Styles 21.04.18

Published on, Apr 2018

Pic by Jackie Jet

Harry Styles

Perth Arena

Apr 21

“It’s like a beautiful dream being here,” announced vocalist Isabella Manfredi as Sydney outfit The Preatures gave an arena full of impressionable young gig-goers a schooling on what the awesome local scene has to offer.

With its playful guitar riffs, pop melodies and charismatic conviction, 2016’s I Know A Girl set the mood, while Magick utilised a steady, repetitive beat and simple hook.

The band’s trademark indie rock was right at home in Perth Arena as Ordinary kicked things up a notch, and the response to the tight opening riff of Is This How You Feel? proved they already had quite a few fans in attendance, all of which were ready to dance with Manfredi.

The band rounded out their set by paying tribute to “the elders, past and present”, with Yanada, a powerful single that was the result of a collaboration with an Indigenous community in Sydney.

As soon as the lights dropped for the headline act, impatient fans let out a collective screech that reached dangerous levels; a sound which the heavenly intro vocal harmonies of Only Angel struggled to break through.

Bouncing around the stage with ease, Harry Styles looked wildly different from the bright-eyed singer who graced the same stage five years early. He also sounded vastly different, with the rock opener placing more emphasis on guitar riffs and drums tones than vocals.

Woman introduced a classy, chunky musical onslaught to the mix, elevated by backing vocals from drummer Sarah Jones, while thick bass from Adam Prendergast and heavy keys courtesy of Clare Uchima provided a thundering backing track.

Styles was quick to pass the spotlight to guitarist Mitch Rowland, letting it be known it truly was a band effort, as evident when all members chimed in for the song’s big a cappella finish.

“I have one job tonight and that is to entertain you, and I will do my very best,” Styles said. “Feel free to be whoever you want to be in this room tonight.”

Implementing soaring five-part harmonies that would put One Direction to shame, Ever Since New York changed the pace again; its upbeat and communal feel bouncing off his previous sentiment about inclusivity.

Styles’ transformation as an artist was most apparent during Carolina, a song that places him more on the rock spectrum than pop, and a tune that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Aussie pub tour.

Quick to point out he only has one album and thus 10 songs, Styles assured fans there was more than enough fuel in the tank to keep the party alive, driving the gig to singalong number Stockholm Syndrome, breathing new life into the One Direction single before launching into a song he penned for Ariana Grande, Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart.

Fans were treated to an unreleased tune, Medicine, and its Australia debut was greeted with fans screaming the lyrics, no doubt thanks to countless bootlegs on YouTube already.

The new song was gritty and raw, with moody, calculated verses; big, fierce choruses and menacing guitar work, all promising exciting things to come.

Casually strolling through the venue to a stage at the back of the room (screams signalling exactly where he was at all times), Styles and Rowland serenaded punters in the nosebleed section with Sweet Creature and If I Could Fly.

Not one to focus on the past for too long, he rushed back to the front of the venue to unveil another new single, Anna, driven heavily by an acoustic rhythm and containing a snippet of George Michael’s Faith.

One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful was barely recognisable, with its light-hearted boy band chorus traded for an upbeat pop rock offering, while its verses were sung in a lower register that gave a darker tone to the lyrics and melody.

It was stadium rock hit Sign Of The Times that received the biggest cheer of the night; the venue once again illuminated by phone lights while a collective voice blew the roof off in its chorus.

Intimate encore number From The Dining Table had a similar impact, and while a surprise cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain wasn’t a crowd favourite, it was a welcome addition to those parents and unwilling guests who braved the front line in the name of love and friendship.

“If you haven’t been singing this whole time, that’s no problem. If you haven’t been dancing the whole time, that’s no problem…for the next five minutes, I need you to go crazy,” he yelled as the ‘77 classic broke out into an epic jam. His wishes were fulfilled as the final moments of rock’n’roll single and set closer Kiwi rolled around, reinforcing his status as a rock star.

Show Review: Jimmy Barnes 19.04.18

Published on, Apr 2018

Jimmy Barnes

Perth Concert Hall

Apr 19

When you think of Australia’s prodigal son of rock’n’roll, Jimmy Barnes, the first thing that comes to mind is his unique and powerful voice, so it’s not surprising he chose to highlight it in the opening of his Working Class Man tour.

“It’s not pretty, but it’s effective,” began Barnes, following a behind-the-scenes look at his warm-up routine; an introduction that spoke volumes to what was on offer during his new show and the book of the same name he was promoting.

As its title suggests, the sequel to the acclaimed Working Class Boy memoir focuses on Cold Chisel, his solo career and family life.

“I flirted with death every night of the week,” Barnes said, taking fans back several decades to early 1974, shortly after he joined Cold Chisel and exactly were his debut book wrapped.

Themes of domestic abuse, violence and alcoholism were immediately apparent, as he dove into the dark corners of his personal life, each powerful anecdote elevated by a song, some unexpected, like a covers The Turtles’ Happy Together and a reggae remix of Wild Thing by The Troggs.

He spoke of the band’s slow rise into the spotlight, which included spray-painting their name around Adelaide because they couldn’t afford posters.

The music videos for Khe Sanh and Choir Girl were played, to which he gave live commentary, letting fans in on hilarious and interesting behind-the-scenes trivia, and he also touched on his friendship with Michael Hutchence and how important Australian legend Michael Gudinski was to the success of his solo career.

Overall, the Working Class Man tour had a different energy and pace to it, and smoother dynamics than his previous effort, giving great insight into not only the man and musician (who spent most of his career in a self-destructive spiral) but also the industry itself, with powerful messages about mental health and addiction scattered throughout.