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Written by: Leanne de Souza on 13 June 2021

TRIGGER WARNING: This article and pages it links to contains information about rape, sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to victim-survivors.

The Australian music industry has a problem. Men continue to pay unwanted sexual attention to women — men sexually harass and assault women in their places of work. Offices, venues, music festivals, industry conferences and events, in cars and tour vans.

Research, data, online activism and shared lived experiences of the problem have proliferated since 2017.

My generation, the X-ers of Australian women, were hopeful of a feminist future much like this tree:

Strong, swollen with recognition and wisdom. A canopy rich with diversity and deep roots. Holding power to account and in place for future generations.

Alas this tree is how I feel today on International Women’s Day 2021:

Battle scars, grief and trauma run deep in the music industry.

My own experience includes ongoing, deep psychological wounds. The music industry spat me out twice — traumatic immediate loss of income, identity, purpose and imagined futures built on integrity, hard work and visions that failed to materialise.

I can now pinpoint, in the rearview mirror, both the summer of 1993–94 and the spring of 2008 as defining perceived industry ‘failures.’ Cognitive neuroscience research explains the influence past experiences have on behaviour. Often unconscious, these psychological and physical triggers explain the negative effect on our wellbeing. …

Seeking to understand why my Spotify use has changed and is now increasingly skewed toward algorithmic lists I researched a “Digital Cultures” paper for university – this is an edited version.

Canadian cultural critic, Marshall McLuhan would define Spotify as a medium, and therefore differentiated from the music (content) that is played on the platform. He would argue it is not the music that matters so much but what we do, as humans, with it is that has an impact on culture.

As a digital media platform Spotify functions within what new media scholar Jose van Dijck calls a ‘techno-cultural…

“Brisbane company ready to help restart Australia’s Nightlife” In Queensland, May 2020

Music is everywhere. We hear it in coffee shops, salons, bars, restaurants, gyms, hotel and theatre foyers, workplaces, shopping malls, family leisure centres, tourism attractions and the list goes on.

We feel music through our hearts and communicate it through our brains — music creates a bridge between the heart and head.

Research in music and neuroscience demonstrates the many fascinating ways that music affects human’s mood and behaviour.

Barry Goldstein summarised here the four ways that music affects the brain : emotion, memory, neuroplasticity and attention. Listening to music affects our emotional and physical experiences. A 2009 study from…

A wall of flat screen TVs with different images on each one
A wall of flat screen TVs with different images on each one

A response to the Australia Council for the Arts provocations in the September 2020 Discussion Paper, re-imagine What next?

The discussion paper centres the idea that COVID-19 has provided a “clear imperative: future disruptions are inevitable, and the arts and culture industries must rapidly adjust to ensure they don’t just survive but thrive in the future.”

I was immediately curious — what would the collective arts and culture industries’ artists, artsworkers and organisations consider in the consultation to follow? …

“No Gaps or Awkward Silences” by Maurice Powell (2020)

PART THREE : Play Data, Royalty Distribution and Equity

How royalties are distributed to the owners of songs and sound recordings deepens the complexity of the issues unpacked in FAIR PLAY Part One and Part Two.

Data has reshaped the conditions of economic exchange in the 21st Century.

The UK Intellectual Property Office commissioned research from Ulster University in 2019. Their Music 2025 The Music Data Dilemma: issues facing the music industry in improving data management report adopted a holistic view. Inspired by SST (Social Shaping of Technology) with an emphasis on the contingent, complex and intricate relationships involved in innovation. The research evidenced strong and growing consensus that…

No Gaps or Awkward Silences — Image: Maurice Powell 2020

JULY 2020

The ACCC has re-authorised the monopoly of APRA and by extension, OneMusic Australia. Until 2024 APRA will maintain the status quo as the exclusive power broker between Australian small businesses and music rights holders.

Over 18 months the publicly funded ACCC received a total of 76 submissions of which 88% were critical of APRA and OneMusic. Queensland’s Nightlife Music alone invested over half a million $ to fight for music industry reform to benefit Australian artists and businesses.

Urgent reform could have expedited crucial growth of Australian innovation and technology and returned increased revenue to Australian artists when…

“No Gaps or Awkward Silences” by Maurice Powell 2020

Why I care about public performance income for artists

I married the co-founder of Nightlife Music in 1997. A computer programmer and a fan of happy house music. Tim.

Through the 1990s and 2000s, every three months, Tim would diligently collate all the data from what music was played on the Nightlife Music systems around Australia. A quarterly royalty report for record companies and APRA would be printed and posted.

Line by line, reporting the detail of which artists’ music videos had been played in an increasing number of Australia’s pubs, clubs and venues as the Australian company grew.


IMAGE: “No Gaps or Awkward Silences” by Maurice Powell (2020)

PART TWO : Governance and Scrutiny of Australian PROs

Catch up on PART ONE: The ambiguity of One Music’s ‘Copying Licence.” here.

Governance is not the most exciting topic or perspective of the music sector. It would be much more fun to dance and talk about our favourite new songs, bands, get back to live gigs and discussing remixes! Stay with me, as more than ever in the traumatic post-COVID19 rebuild of the Australian Music Industry interrogation is now required.

The Governance Institute of Australia defines governance as:

“…the system by which an organisation is controlled and operates, and the…

Leanne de Souza

Governance | Leadership | Advocacy | Strategy | Research | Undergraduate at UQ | music, books, conversation, alchemy, justice and champagne

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