Sounds Australia loses crucial funding through the Catalyst Program – the industry responds

It’s been a tough day for Sounds Australia and their extensive team of colleagues and supporters, with the low-key posting of the controversial Ministry for the Arts Catalyst Program over the weekend revealing that the live music body has failed to secure crucial funds.

As detailed in an article by the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, the Coalition has allocated $12 million to 45 organisations including The Australian Ballet (The Primrose Potter Ballet Centre), Expressions Dance Company, the Bundanon Trust artist’s residence and the National Library of Australia.

The funding Sounds Australia already has secured ensures the delivery of their Contemporary Music export initiative through until December 31st, this year. With this incredibly important financial support now cut, the initiative won’t be able to offer Australian artists the full export program beyond the end of the year.

Our music industry is operating in a great time at the moment, where Australian artists are being celebrated abroad and independent artists are making strides in establishing themselves both at home and overseas. Since 2009, Sounds Australia has assisted over 600 bands and artists at events all around the world and without the support from the organisation at events like SXSW, CMJ, Canadian Music Week and The Great Escape, so many artists would still be struggling today.

APRA AMCOS‘ Head of Member Services, Dean Ormston, has expressed his disappointment over the Government’s decision, in addition the official statement made by APRA today.

“As one of SOUNDS AUSTRALIA’s primary funding partners, APRA AMCOS is extremely disappointed that the export development initiative has not secured Catalyst funding. SOUNDS AUSTRALIA provides an invaluable service to hundreds of touring artists, and has been instrumental in helping some of Australia’s largest musical exports make the leap to the global stage. Contemporary musicians are amongst Australia’s smallest and most innovative businesses, but they will suffer without a dedicated commitment towards a service that supports the export of Australian music.”

Throughout today, all corners of the industry have been reacting to this news on social media, understandably shocked, angry and in a state of general disbelief that after seven years, the Sounds Australia team have been dealt such a blow.

“SOUNDS AUSTRALIA have been instrumental in developing Australian Music internationally for 7 years and has now had its funding rejected. There is literally no way The Beards or myself would have had half their international success without this organisation’s support – let alone hundreds of other bands. This government is INSANE! In a time where acts like FlumeCourtney Barnett and Tame Impala are killing it for Australian music – we grant funding to ballet companies. Seriously – WTF?”
Chelsea Sinnott, Artist Manager (Upstairs Music)

“It is absolutely ridiculous that SOUNDS AUSTRALIA have failed to receive their funding through the Arts Catalyst Program. This is a huge blow [to] the Australian Music Industry. Without additional funding, the initiative will not be able to offer its full annual export program beyond December 31, 2016. This organisation is key in the export of Australia Musicians and their work. They provide the support and opportunities to make a true impact in overseas markets. Personally – Millie, Glenn, Esti and Chelsea have felt like part of the team when my artists have been showcasing overseas. They have always been there to support, provide advice and help us maximise our opportunities. Truly invaluable!”
Jamie Croft, Sofar Sounds

“We (or any of the 619 other bands) could never have done what we did with Hungry Kids of Hungary across SXSW, The Great Escape Festival, Liverpool Sound City, CMJ and so many more if it was not for the flawless work of Millie, Glenn and co. They have supported and HUGELY assisted these 620 bands at 40 different international events in 52 cities across 19 countries – talk to any one manager or band who’ve worked overseas and they will tell you the same.”
Ben Preece, Mucho-Bravado

“I am horrified to learn that SOUNDS AUSTRALIA has been disallowed from securing funding through the Ministry for the Arts Catalyst Program…Since its inception in 2009, SOUNDS AUSTRALIA has supported the careers of hundreds of Australian artists. NGAIIRE is one of them and there is no way that we could have done CMJ or Culture Collide – or BIGSOUND for that matter – without Glenn, Millie, Esti and Chels.

They were reaching out to me with ideas and solutions before I even knew I needed them, had told everyone at the overseas conferences about us before we arrived and made meaningful introductions, and let helping hands and welcoming hugs at every leg. The work they do is invaluable.”
Mel Lewis, SPUR: Presence Agency

“Sounds Australia is one of the key reasons Australian music has been such a successful export. It is the lynchpin in many artist managers’ initial export strategies; in the early stages of my career through to now, myself and my artists have relied on the Sounds Australia team to help build our international networks, create showcasing opportunities and raise the profile of Australian music in general.

Without Sounds Australia, VelociraptorJeremy NealeThe Creases and DZ Deathrays would not have had the confidence to tackle the huge task that is international showcasing and breaking into an overseas market. I certainly would not have known where to start as a young manager bringing an act to events like SXSW or The Great Escape for the first time. The Aussie BBQ is the envy of every other country’s showcasing acts. It alone has contributed significantly to many artists’ careers. The government can go eat a big bag of dicks. #bag #dicks”
Jesse Barbera, Artist Manager & The Blurst of Times Festival Programmer

“SOUNDS AUSTRALIA have just found out that they are not funded beyond the end of this year. If this actually happens, it will be a disaster for music export, and have series effects on the global attention the Australian music scene has so obviously enjoyed as a direct result of the support from this organisation.

As a young manager, I thought that daring to try to break a band internationally was absolutely impossible and almost not worth the effort. It was the encouragement and the connections made by Millie, Glenn and Esti that completely flipped my perspective and made me realise that it is actually possible. If it weren’t for them, I may not have had the courage to give it a go for DZ DeathraysThe John Steel Singers and The Creases, who are now internationally revered artists. That in turn helped me to be qualified enough to get the position as BIGSOUND co-programmer, a job through which I have witnessed the excitement and the envy that many an international delegate has of our brilliant scene, and how much they want to be part of it.”
Maggie CollinsArtist Manager & BIGSOUND Co-Programmer

With the Federal Election now set for July 2nd, it’s never been more important for those standing to be effected by such funding cuts to make their voices heard and their opinions known. Sounds Australia will be presenting their case and with the amount of support already pouring out, the case will be a strong one indeed.

To show your support on social media, you can post re-post or re-tweet from the APRA AMCOS socials or share the Sydney Morning Herald link, including the following tags where appropriate:

#Catalyst
@APRAAMCOS
@SOUNDSAUSTRALIA

You can also show your support by signing this new Change.org petition that has been launched, the results of which will be submitted to the Minister for Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield. Click HERE to have a read and add your signature.