‘Give local musicians a platform’: Australian companies urged to shake up pending playlists | Culture
Listening to a 15-second instrumental track on repeat for seven hours convinced Karen Eck that phone lines were an untapped resource for promoting Australian music.
Since being put on hold for most of the day as she tried to change a plane ticket with Qantas during the lockdown in August, the Sydney publicist and talent manager has campaigned for the Australian companies are ditching their royalty-free elevator music and turning to local content on their call waiting systems.
Initially, Eck targeted Centrelink, Service NSW and Services Australia as well as Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. She also lobbied Federal Arts Minister Paul Fletcher and New South Wales Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello.
A petition launched on Change.org – Hold Australian music – has so far attracted nearly 10,000 signatures, and the Australian Recording Industry Association (Aria) and music copyright organization Apra Amcos have both supported the campaign.
Now Eck has upped the volume, with a plan to target 30 brands in 30 days during the month of November.
“The Australian music industry has been on its knees during the pandemic, so why shouldn’t big companies give our local musicians a platform to showcase their work?” Eck told Guardian Australia.
âIt’s just about choosing a playlist that supports our incredible talent in Australia. “
Companies selected for targeting will be at the suggestion of campaign supporters, with NRMA, Apple, Telstra, Optus, Sydney Airport and the Australian Taxation Office in the sights.
Large companies that already stream commercial music but are urged to switch to more Australian content include Medicare, Energy Australia, Centrelink, MyGov and three of the Big Four banks.
On Tuesday, tagging #HoldAussieMusic, ME Bank in Melbourne announced that it will update its playlist for call waiting with 10 new local tracks, including those from Jack River, Tones and I, Budjerah, Birdz and Gang of Youths.
Eck said she believes many businesses are just unaware of how their customers feel when they are put on hold.
âPeople in positions of power, decision makers, are never put on hold with their own business, so they often just don’t think about it,â she said.
âThere is an awareness that needs to be encouraged from a brand management perspective.
âAnd there are companies that can organize playlists for individual companies, that can make sure the music is right for the brand, that it has the right tempo, the right tone.
“A business can really use their music on their call waiting system as a platform to reflect their own brand.”
On Monday, Woolworths announced a new partnership with Australian Radio Network, owner of the KIIS Network, The Edge and iHeartRadio brands.
The deal includes a commitment to play more Australian artists in the 995 Woolworths stores across the country (subject to the tastes of each store’s demographics) and on supermarket digital radio via the iHeartRadio app.
“It will be 50-step shopping carts as Australia’s two supermarket giants clash with in-store entertainment,” Radio Today said, referring to a long-standing partnership between Woolworth’s only competitor, Coles, and Nova Entertainment.
In 2019, the Coles / Nova partnership saw Coles Radio # 1 in digital radio ratings only, with 254,000 listeners across the country each week (ABC’s Double J was second, with 221,000 listeners).
Hold Aussie Music is just one of many campaigns since the start of the pandemic to push for more Australian music in the corporate sector.
In August, singer-songwriter Holly Rankin, who plays Jack River, spoke out on social media about Channel Seven’s failure to broadcast enough Australian music during its coverage of the Tokyo Olympics. She also challenged Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and the banks to use more local music in stores and in their advertisements.
Coles responded by announcing that he would increase the volume of his commitment to local music.
In October, the Aria-led Our Soundtrack Our Stories campaign succeeded in getting Commonwealth Bank, Nissan Australia, Bonds, Channel Seven, Qsic, 7Eleven, Channel 10, Rebel Sport and Bank Australia to publicly commit to increasing their support for local music.