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Live Music Matters

In early 2013 the City of Sydney assembled a taskforce of eleven experts from across the music and performance sector.

The taskforce was asked to develop a series of recommendations for the City to act on to support Sydney's live music and performance sector.

The Live Music Matters action plan is the taskforce’s plan for the future of live music and performance in Sydney. The feedback period for the action plan closed on January 17, 2014

Thanks to everyone who contributed their ideas and made a submission.

City staff have now drafted a report which was considered and endorsed by Council on Monday 7 April, 2014

In early 2013 the City of Sydney assembled a taskforce of eleven experts from across the music and performance sector.

The taskforce was asked to develop a series of recommendations for the City to act on to support Sydney's live music and performance sector.

The Live Music Matters action plan is the taskforce’s plan for the future of live music and performance in Sydney. The feedback period for the action plan closed on January 17, 2014

Thanks to everyone who contributed their ideas and made a submission.

City staff have now drafted a report which was considered and endorsed by Council on Monday 7 April, 2014

Do you want more live music in Sydney?


CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

I have been living in Sydney for one year and before that in Melbourne on and off for about 15 years. As you know the live music scene and community is very strong and well supported by the local community and has been for a long time in Melbourne.

A couple of things come to mind...Sydney does not seem outwardly like a 'creative city' compared with Melbourne (small pop up and local made shops, artist run spaces and music venues are everywhere in Melbourne, the city is used as a canvas - just walk down High St, Northcote compared with say Crown St Surry Hills - High Street is of full of little interventions, posters, stencils (where are Sydney's band posters!! - not that Melb council's support them but this is how most people in Melbourne know what is going on live-music wise), then compare the CBD in both places - the laneways are actually used in Melbourne, they evolve, are engaged with - not just one bar or coffee shop - compare both on on a Sunday afternoon for example and Hoiser Lane in Melbourne will have numerous artists, photographers, tourists hanging out while Sydney CBD is quiet - half the shops don't open.

Maybe you are trying to create something which Syd is not (the rents are high and people complain a lot about noise in Melbourne too.) - people will do it if they want (council intiatives can help (Postcode 3000, Melb Laneway commissions and a progressive urban design unit at City of Melb) but grassroots will happen by the community regardless of council - the best things which actually have community ownership are when people initiate it themselves I think, rather than having to be council run and sponsored. Why doesn't this happen here is a good question...

But if you do feel the need to try to create a more visibly creative city - the radio stations PBS and RRR are an influencial force and very much encourage a sense of community - like FBI - but they probably target and are made up of a wider age group of listeners and announcers...I guess older people (ie 24+) can hold more influence as they run venues, host nights, manage and play in bands etc - usually without council support. Last thing is and off the track a bit...have more things at night which are not just bars - where are the late cinema sessions in this town (in Melbourne you can catch a 10.55 / 11.15 / 11.30pm session every friday and sat night).

By the way this is not just a Melb vs Syd thing...the examples are what I have observed and what seems to work in the world of live music in Melb. and what it seems like the Syd council want.

sh about 4 years ago

As well as being a local singer-songwriter and a member of Sydney based bands for the last 25+ years, I am President and live music curator (venue booker) at Petersham Bowling Club. One of NSW’s oldest registered clubs, the pbc has become Sydney’s favourite pokie-free, community volunteer-run, not-for-profit bowlo with a fine line in quality craft beers, great food and some of the best in live local, national & international artists.

Where just 3 years ago we were mired in debt and examining exit strategies, last financial year we posted a 5 figure profit which was almost exclusively the result of the success of our developing a live music program that supports the artists, but is also sensitive to the needs of the wider community. The fact that we did this without leaning on the social ills of poker machines is significant, proving that there is another model and that there is a very real place for live music, not just in our culture, which is vital to our health, but also to our local economies. Of course, as a largely volunteer-run business, we don't have the same financial imperatives that most other venues do, but we have proved that live music works.

We wholeheartedly support the efforts of the Live Music Task-force in addressing the challenging issues surrounding maintaining a viable and culturally strong live music scene in Sydney. Live Music Matters.

the pbc about 4 years ago

I run a pub in Chippendale, we have always had live music, we support many young band nights and in the past we were putting bands on 4-5 nights a week but in the last year with the huge number of noise complaints and restrictions being put on venus like ours the fines keep coming. we wont stop, because if we do where will the australian talent come from and where will they go?
People move into these "arty" areas because they like the "culture" and its "cool"but its the musicians and artist that created this culture. so why move to a place to be apart of it and then make noise complaints and write letters to the council complaining about the very thing you moved here for?
and its not just residence for example, this pub has been here with bands for 100 years, this area is now trendy, a fancy pizza place just spent millions to open up on our street, and now they to are making noise complaints sometimes as early as 9pm. This is getting out of hand.
We are killing the little culture we have.

Gladdy14 about 4 years ago

Musicians need to work harder. Instead of playing 1 show at a 2000 capacity venue, play 4 shows at a 500 capacity venue.
These days it seems that bands play some intimate shows. Then, as soon as they gets some popularity, they choof off overseas for ages. Then they come back and bam, they’re playing in a 2000 capacity venue. There doesn’t seem to be any in between.
Also, people might be more inclined to go out on week nights if shows started earlier and finished earlier. This would suit the nine to fivers to get home at a reasonable hour. It would also give the sort after work life balance to venue staff.
Another suggestion to attract more people to live music is to have the main band play second. i.e. support band, main band, then support band.

Fan ov fonetic speling about 4 years ago

Manager Comments:
Marrickville Golf supports and provides free music events - Keep up with the beat check out the Clubs website
Free live 6 piece Jazz EVERY Sunday afternoon 3pm - 6pm
Free Brewer's Brew (local musician) every 3 months next gig Friday 21st Feb 7pm
Free Choir nights - Singing For The Joy Of It! Check the website
Free ukulele Night! Check the website
Email with your email address to receive club emails with upcoming free music events

Marrickville Golf about 4 years ago

Please have more live music in Sydney. Its too hard to find as it is. In Cairns and Melbourne i just walked into a live performance when i felt like going. Here, its that much harder to find. Hope you change things!

rabidpixel about 4 years ago

PLEASE make it easier for small live music venues to exist. There are far too many requirements to make the trouble worth while. And it has led to chilling effect in Sydney's live music scene. We need to make it easier for promoters to run events at public locations like community halls. And for pubs and clubs to have live music without unrealistic requirements for security and volume levels. 90dB is just impossible to maintain. And it rules out the live music scene in open air areas all together. And we need to encourage music for the suburbs, outside of the CBD. Travel times make it really hard for 90% of us.

Ned Jeffery about 4 years ago

What needs to happen is a complete rethink about what has happened to entertainment.
All of the people that have commented in this debate page have talked about music styles
and what venues should be doing... nationalism ( ie Aussie music) demographics etc.
yes they are all relevant points so no offense to those that stated that...

but what needs to happen is punters walking out of a venues and going home with a smile on there faces because they have had fun....

and the next day going to their friends and talking about what a great night they had. Its about creating a frenzy....

and more so be inspired to perform them selves. Because thats what happened to me Im now a Performer/Songwriter and Singing /Guitar teacher in Newtown....

we need to focus on the bands them selves....

And Australia i realy wish we could move on from this "Aussie music stuff" musicians should be about music not flag flying...
Im not totally against it IE i love it when Australia smashes England in the cricket etc. I'm the true blue Aussie bloke....

but i just feel its time Music was about Entertainment and people socializing and having a great time....
more focus and recognition for the individuals and bands entertainers talent not their nationality....

Oh and it must be More lucrative for the performers.

I saw that doco on Rod Laver ( i must have been realy bored) he was taking about making $30,000 for a grand slam. Now its 2.4 Million Dollars... sadly money talks but it also has the effect of raising standards....

So more money for the performers.....
Rock Off

BrizaRocks about 4 years ago

Kudos for a long overdue plan. You have my complete support. Here are my thoughts on the situation in no particular order:

Ignore the haters and stop bowing to the whingers. "Not in my backyard" syndrome is the scourge of this country and it is particularly rife in Sydney. Those who hate the most have the least to offer.

Destroy all red tape. Regulation and art do not mix.

The Sydney live music scene has withered for more than 20 years. It will take a considerable long term effort to bring it back to health. Be prepared for the long haul.

Understand that the value of live music cannot be measured in dollars.

mangonuts about 4 years ago

society is in danger.. what passes for techo music, and the fact that people will dance to it (while some sounds as bad as an ambulance)- is irreprihensible. Forget trying to get 4-5 people together to make some half decent money..why clear away a few tables when a CD will do? And if the music sucks they turn it down or up or change the station...people are far to infatuated with iphones and what not to really need to pay attention to 'acts'...There is so much noise pollution around...and its so easy for people to google their favourite stuff...Teaching music is a joke in the school system..the music industry was really broken 50 years ago, let alone rules around smoking, noise limits etc...and the demographic of Sydney has changed remarkebly with migrants favouring other styles of entertainment..whilst there are many amazing musicians of all cultures, the old Sydney scene is past. Indeed, we have to compete with DJ's. The economy of scale says it's no go. So now muso's have to do it as hobby, resulting in that it's usually half baked. Some fine jazz players around, but are they getting paid? And not much dancing going on music is important, but, unless it's in the Opera house or Angel Place, there are too many reservations about going out and getting off to a hot act..(hoping they still have a real drummer)...

Tony about 4 years ago

Live music is the blood and life of a city, vital not just in promoting the talents of Sydney and Australia, but also in bringing it's unique flavour and culture to visiting tourists and locals alike.
Live music is a precious part of any community. It needs to be nurtured and protected.
Inge, musician

Self empoyed about 4 years ago

long overdue plan, but an outstanding thing to have happening. smaller shows, especially in places whereyou can conduct all ages shows. these are the best breeding ground for multitudes of varied and in the long run more mature and interesting bands. i personally started going to shows, all ages usually, since i was 14. by the time you are 18 you have probably seen a plethora of acts from here and abroad, and are clearer of mind in what you do and dont like etc. smaller halls and non purpose built venues usually are less intimidating to go to, as its usually not a profit thing, its just to support keen minds amalgamating and sharing ideas.

look at the melbourne 'little bands' scene in the 70s/80s.

reticent about 4 years ago

I think it is really important to make it easier from small to medium venues to have music on regular occasions; pubs around the city mainly. As a full time musician I have, in the past few years, seen less and less work as pubs are unable or unwilling to put on regular music events due to the crippling red tape, council requirements, DA fees and complaining neighbours who have willingly moved near a live music venue and then try to shut it down!
Work in Sydney is poor for musicians and that needs to change. I personally am looking to emigrate to a country with a vibrant and supportive live music scene just to survive - Sydney is simply not feasible for artists. Please, act now for the future - save what little music we have left and encourage new and emerging artists to stick with music as a career. Sydney is always marketed as a city full of entertainment but, as a resident, I think that can't be further from the truth. Music is synonymous with art and culture.

webby about 4 years ago

Make pubs have live music and cheap food if they are going to be open after 10 at night
Give musicians access to free public transport and public pools, reduced rates and other city 'amenities' in exchange for performances

support what works well in places like the Lass O Gowrie in newcastle

robbo about 4 years ago

We have been living off American cultural charity since the advent of the television. More than a few of my friends born in the 80s have the strange notion that although they were born in Australia, America feels like home, even when a lot of them have never travelled there, except through movies, television and music. It's time to stop borrowing and seriously put the effort, money and dazzle into creating the avenues for our young who are so desperate to have a piece of the culture that brainwashes them from the moment they can walk. Music heals and unites… It's time to stop teasing and damaging our youth's psyche and put this great asset to societies within their reach, in their actual home country.

elarcoiris about 4 years ago

Sydney fares badly in comparison with other major cities like Melbourne in particular, in its perceived support of musicians and live music. And we residents of wider Sydney are all the poorer for it. Music breathes life into a city, both reasonably priced and free events. It brings diverse communities together and enriches both adults and children in non tangible ways. People are inspired, young and old, to be more a little bit more creative perhaps and try new things, and others will be drawn to visit and reside in a city which clearly promotes and suppports its creative community. It's contagious. Music - always a unifying force in a diverse modern city.

Rose about 4 years ago

1. Have venues WITHOUT poker machines. The stage needs to be the main attraction, not the slots. The best music to come of out Australia was in the 70's and 80's when the pub rock scene was thriving. You could play a different venue every night and build a presence. INXS, Midnight Oil, ACDC, Cold chisel etc all made a global impact and remain iconic aussie bands.

2. Play more unsigned and Aussie bands on radio especially commercial radio. If people heard these awesome bands, they would go out to see them live which will mean less venues closing down.

There is so much good music in Australia, there is something really unique about how aussies do it. So many amazing bands get sick of playing to 2 people, you really can't make a living doing music full time in Australia unless you get a major label deal. We all know major labels can't take too many risks and will sign commercial stuff (understandable), so indie bands end up fleeing for America or Europe to try and make a living. You can be an indie band in the States and make a decent living.
Come on Australia, let's make the music scene vibrant again!

Shelly about 4 years ago

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yKMsgBIoRU about 4 years ago

DJing in my mind is as equal a form of live musical performance as any other. The line -

'While recognising the importance of nightclubs, DJ-led parties and other similar activities to the city’s night time economy and global city 
reputation, the role of this taskforce was contained to the issues facing live musicians and 

- from the Action Plan suggests that this taskforce lacks knowledge of the state or importance of electronic music in today's world.

Please do not overlook electronic performers, with whom a majority of future musical innovation and potential arguably remains.

liam about 4 years ago

I agree. However, a lot of venues are too small to support a five piece rock band with amps bigger than the stage. We'd go out more if there were venues with small less deafening entertainment. What happened to the quiet piano bars, and small jazz trios ...

Cat about 4 years ago