New music festival for rock’n’roll recovery in Victoria with 100 events

Gudinski first presented the concept of Always Live to Prime Minister Daniel Andrews after helping the Prime Minister and his wife Catherine get tickets for Joel at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 2017. From there, the idea of ​​using government money to the Piano Man to Melbourne turned into a 2018 election pledge to host a 10-day, statewide music festival.

The establishment of a standalone live music season in Victoria will add to the frenetic competition between state governments for the post-pandemic domestic tourist dollar, with NSW this week announcing its plans to host a version of South by Southwest, a cultural festival in October 2023. and corporate festival made in Austin, Texas.

So far, 43 percent of Always Live event tickets have been purchased by people living outside of Victoria. Minister of Tourism, Sports and Major Events Steve Dimopoulos said the festival would 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, it would encourage promoters to release international acts to coincide with the festival. “It gives us the opportunity to be the focus, not just for one Billy Joel or Eminem concert, but for multiple events at different levels,” he said. “It will grow and prosper from this freshman experience.”

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

Always Live will receive $13.5 million in funding — nearly all of its revenue — from Visit Victoria, the government agency for major events and tourism promotions. Visit Victoria also approves the appointment of its board members other than the Chair, who is appointed by the Cabinet.

To accommodate Michael Gudinski as the founding chair of Always Live, Janet Whiting, chair of Visit Victoria, a veteran trade attorney and chair of the board of trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, has put in place strict rules to manage conflicts of interest in the board.

The company’s articles of association prohibit directors from entering into contracts in which they have a material material interest. A purchasing subcommittee chaired by John Kirby of Village Roadshow decides which acts will be included in the Always Live program.

Matthew Gudinski said, “There are rigorous, formal processes that prevent me from participating in the review and decisions about whether or not to support a pitch for Always Live from Frontier Touring or any other Mushroom Group-related entity.”

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

Michael Gudinski championed the idea of ​​a contemporary live music festival for the benefit of the entertainment industry and the wider economy.

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

“I’m not worried about Matt being the chairman,” 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 halted by the pandemic. During Melbourne’s prolonged lockdown, Michael Gudinski and Andrews developed a close friendship, with the Prime Minister sharing the entrepreneur’s passion for vinyl records, single malt whiskey and reviving the state’s dying live music scene.

In the depths of Melbourne’s second-wave lockdown, Gudinski expressed optimism about his industry and his city’s resilience. “Melbourne is known for the things that have been most affected, but we are not throwing in the towel,” he said. The age at the time. “We will be very excited as soon as we can start. Hopefully that’s not as far away as people think. †

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

Gudinski’s original idea for Always Live was a 17-day festival that lasted three weekends and had a “monster” event every weekend. Always Live CEO Steve Smith, a well-connected entertainment industry consultant who previously ran Australian Radio Network Melbourne, said the 2022 program would be “looser” in structure and spread out over the year.

Some Always Live events have already been organised, with the Foo Fighters playing a one off show in Geelong and more recently Welsh indie pop artist Cate Le Bon in Melbourne and Castlemaine. Later this month, K-pop group Epik High will play an Always Live performance in 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 Fazio

“The appetite is there now, we encourage people to collect music and use it as a great tonic to bring them back to life,” Smith said.

Smith said events chosen for the program would either be exclusive, such as the Joel concert, or unique in setting or content. Government funds will be used to reduce production costs so that promoters and venues can book acts for performances that would otherwise be commercially marginal.

“If it’s not exclusive, there will be something special about the event,” he said. “Economic impact is a consideration in every event we host, but secondly, and really important, it’s to promote Melbourne, Victoria and the suburbs to further cement the envy of Australia’s live music capital.”

Aidan McLaren, the co-founder of the Ocean Sounds festival on Churchill Island, said he couldn’t have headlined Melbourne singer/songwriter Tash Sultana without funding from Always Live. “It’s Tash’s only show in Victoria this year,” he said. “Fingers crossed that this is just a regular summer and people want to go out again to support live music.”

Early this year, Always Live invited interest from promoters, festival operators and venue managers who wanted to be part of the program. Shows have been confirmed so far in Melbourne, Geelong, Queenscliff, Echuca, Horsham and the historic Goldfields town of Carisbrook. The full program is expected to be announced in the coming month.

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