Face The Music 2016: Day One Highlights

Melbourne Music Week 2016 is culminating with Face The Music, a contemporary music summit that, well, lives up to its name. This year sees some of the best and brightest in the industry coming together for two days of discussions, deliberations, demonstrations (and debaucheries). With over fifty different talks, panels, workshops and networking sessions, the ninth year of Face The Music may just be the best yet.

The thirty degree day (thanks, Melbourne) was mellowed by performances from Jess Ribeiro, Jaala, Stopgap and JAWN throughout the day; best enjoyed with cold beer in the shade of the State Library. This music showcase program, a new incentive this year, is definitely a welcome addition.

Speed meetings, a new addition to the summit, are one of the greatest concepts for a music industry conference I’ve seen. Spanning industry careers advice, domestic and regional business, new and nurturing connections could be seen blossoming, and business cards were in a flurry.

A highlight was one of the keynote addresses, a conversation with Zola Jesus, who was open and unabashed with host Sara Savage (Triple R). She discussed overcoming crippling self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy, as well as what it means to be a performer. The importance of collaboration was described as invaluable and crucial, following her collaborations with J.G. Thirwell and M83. There’s new music in the works for this talented songstress, and I don’t doubt that there’ll be bigger and ever-more amazing things from Zola Jesus.

An exceptionally intimate chat and performance with Alex Lahey, Ainslie Wills and Nai Palm (of Hiatus Kaiyote) revealed the inner workings of their creative minds. Three of Australia’s most talented songstresses revealed the some of the best songs they’ve crafted are the ones that ‘just kind of happen’, and that the ‘iPhone list is the 21st century moleskin’.

Robert Forster, of The Go-Betweens, gave an insightful conversation, discussing his views on the internet, prog rock, gender equality, cross-dressing, and The Goon Sax (not goon sacks, but his son’s band). ‘I couldn’t play another person’s song and make it sound good… that’s why I started writing my own songs’, he confessed, ‘it was freedom, it was self expression.’ He truly demonstrates that he knows a thing or two about the music industry and about the world (after all, he does have a bridge named after his band); his recent book Grant & I is guaranteed to be an informative and interesting read. We were also lucky enough to find out that a documentary about The Go-Betweens is currently being produced, with release pending next year – stay tuned!

Gender equality in the music industry (hell, in any industry) is always a key issue, and the extension of that to the creation of safe and inclusive spaces is imperative. A powerful panel of Jenny Valentish (Writer), Melinda Barber (CBD Hospitality), Elly Scrine (Cool Room), Katie Pearson (LISTEN), Helen Marcou (SLAM), and Karina Utomo (High Tension) discussed the need for greater awareness and better practices to make live music and entertainment spaces more accessible. It’s no easy feat, but recent events (including at a High Tension show) demonstrate that now, more than ever, we need education and collaboration for an inclusive industry.

Between panels of publicists and psychologists, workshops on licensing, international business and tour budgeting, Day One of FaceThe Music has been an evoking experience. Day Two will surely impress, and only great things can come from this gathering of some of the best in the music industry.