Simone Ubaldi, Save our stage Victoria

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1. Creative businesses are not treated like businesses

What we’ve seen with funding for the arts is that companies in the music industry – many of which are very small – aren’t treated like businesses, they’re treated like creatives. They are offered project funding through RISE or Creative Victoria, and they are told, “If you have a good idea, and you fill out this complex grant application, and if you are successful in competing with everyone who applies for this grant application. grant for this idea, then we will give you money to get through the pandemic. “

It’s different from all the cafes, all the banks, all the hairdressers, all the other types of businesses in the country that have been told, “Hey, you’re closed, so we’re going to give you all the money, we are going to distribute widely to keep this economy strong and keep this culture alive until we get out of it. Some will go to the wrong places, and it won’t be a perfect fit, but if we distribute the money everywhere, we know we will support the economy.

Governments just don’t do the job of thinking about the fact that our businesses – due to mass rallies inside – stay locked up any longer, so they need that sustaining money longer. And then there is a whole problem around the gig workers and independent traders who work in the industry, who are also not factored into the financing of small businesses and have fallen through the cracks.

Simone Ubaldi. Courtesy of Simone Ubaldi

2. The music industry doesn’t have to be a mystery

There is absolutely a lack of understanding about how the music industry works, and there are many different business models within it. But if governments consulted industry directly, then they would be able to explain these things.

So, I don’t think the music industry is a dark art. I can tell you how I make my money just like others in the industry. In terms of venues, you have small, large, stadium, and they all have different designs – but that’s just a conversation. It’s not like there are so many in the country that you can’t find a good enough financial solution for most of them.

This is what drives me crazy. It’s a big industry, but in terms of the people who work there, it’s a small industry. If there were more direct conversations, I really think this stuff could be understood.

“You must be bold, courageous and friendly – without being a punisher”

3. Sites are concerned about the short term

I’m confident we’re going to have conversations with the Victorian government that’ll get us back to 100 percent [audience capacity] as they have done in other parts of the world, where vaccination rates have been high. And we have a lot, a lot of artists who have pushed their shows to next year, anticipating that’s when it’s going to happen. What concerns us is the short and medium term rather than the long term.

With all the international border situation, it’s really difficult for the big venues because a lot of our offer for these venues is made up of international groups and Australia is a very small market. Even for the big bands playing at the Rod Laver Arena, it’s still a small market. If there are all these obstacles and barriers when they arrive, they will give priority to other territories.

4. Fortune favors the daring

To get a foothold in the music industry, you need to be bold, courageous, and friendly – without being a punisher. There are a lot of great people out there who work in the music industry and, if you approach them the right way, are pretty generous with their time. My business partner Andrew [Parisi] is a huge fan of just picking up the phone and calling someone – i always have to be brave i hate cold calls … but it’s that if you don’t ask, if mentality you don’t try, you definitely won’t succeed.

I am 42 years old and I still have impostor syndrome. But you also get a little more courageous as you go. You have to support yourself because it’s a very disjointed industry and it tends to reward people who are bold without being punishers – this is a very important postscript.

Amyl & The Sniffers Live In 2019
Amyl & The Sniffers live in 2019. Credit: Lorne Thomson / Redferns

5. Good managers respect the decisions of their artists

With the Sniffers, the group makes their own decisions. At the end of the day, it’s their art, it’s their business, they’re the directors and they make the final decisions. They obviously have a lot of vision for who they are and what they want to create. Our job is to advise them on strategic issues and help them make the right business decisions. We will stand up for our cause and they are listening, but it is still their call.

There were times we clashed, but [Andrew and I have] stuck around. We feel very passionate, not only for the music and the business, but also for them as people: we love them very much. And it’s hard not to worry too much about how their life is going to turn out. So we’ve certainly been very good at voicing our opinion in the past, but we never, ever, ever lose sight of the fact that this is their band and their career.

Musicians are crazy. They’re all crazy, even the ones who aren’t. They are often young and it can be difficult to let a young person make their own mistakes, but you have to give them autonomy in their life. You have to know that they’re all fucking crazy and have good intentions – at least ours – and we respect that.

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