You’d be hard pressed to find a better celebration of everything in the Victorian and Melbournian music scene. Having media partners 3RRR and PBS, the community radio stations championing much of the music created here and 3RRR this year being inducted to the Hall of Fame in their 40th anniversary. Some of the biggest Victorian bands performing at the After Party with a supergroup comprised of Rockwiz backing band and guest singers. Let’s not forget that Rockwiz is one of, if not the only, program on Australian TV that showcases live performances and musicians, is created in Melbourne. Not to mention that $5 from each ticket sold going to the charity Support Act, created to support artists and workers in the music industry who are in financial crisis. All of this happening during Melbourne Music Week. You could say that the ceremony is a spotlight on everything that a thriving, vibrant music scene can create and achieve.
We sat down with Patrick Donovan (pictured left) from Music Victoria who spearheaded the awards to what they are now, to talk about the state of the music industry and why celebrations and recognition such as these awards are important for continuing the longevity of the music industry.
You founded the EG awards which have evolved to be the Age Music Victoria Awards 11 years ago. Why was it important to you to start a Victorian specific music awards 11 years ago?
I was involved in a few of the exiting awards and I felt there was such a diversity of talented acts and venue and festival promoters that weren’t being recognised so we set up 22 categories to celebrate not just the well known pop and rock acts and big festivals and venues, but the smaller ones as well.
Unlike the ARIAs, the Age Music Victoria Awards are nominated and voted for by the music community and music fans. Why was it important to choose this model for the awards?
I think its important to have buy in from the punters – after all, they are the ones that pay for careers and businesses. But we wanted to narrow down the nominees so they are nominees that are supported by our key media partners -The Age, Triple R and 3PBS.
Why is it important to celebrate and acknowledge excellence in the music community of Victoria?
Music is subjective – so it’s difficult to compare apples and organs. But these awards provide a point of difference for nominees and winners and it helps them with new opportunities with shows, airplay and synching opportunities. As music fan, it is also a great filter to help people discover great new Victorian music.
The changes to liquor licencing laws in 2010 that almost ended the Tote was a tipping point in the community’s consciousness about how easily a music scene can be taken away. What was the music scene like 11 years ago? Was the scene more robust or feel more robust? Did the awards ceremony feel like it was playing an important role in how government perceives the music scene then?
Victorian music was at a crisis point in 2010 with draconian liquor licensing laws. But the Victorian music community responded as only it can and the SLAM rally galvanised the industry, forced us to get organised and become a serious political force. Now we have important data showing how serious an industry we are and all political parties understand the economic, cultural and social benefits of a strong live music industry.
In light of continued government funding cuts to the arts how important is The Age Music Victoria Awards in highlighting the high calibre of musicians and artists in Victoria?
Very important, as so many of the biggest names in music live in Melbourne. We invite politicians to the event if they only attend one show a year, they go away with a good understanding of the talent.
The AFTER PARTY is becoming one of the most anticipated highlights of the year and this year is no exception. Has there always been a live component to the awards ceremony? How do you think the live show helps the awards ceremony?
The awards has always been a big party – with an awards element. We try and let the musicians communicate through their music – not overly long speeches. This year we have separated the awards from the live concert, which is open to the public.
Do you think Victorian/Melbournian musicians are the best in Australia? If so why do you think that is the case? Is it the rapidly changing weather?
Certainly some of them are. And if they don’t live here yet there’s a good chance they will move here for opportunities.
There is an argument that the colder weather and lack of surf beaches encourages people to pick up guitars instead of surfboards, but I think it is more about the supportive ecology – live venues, community radio, street press, blogs and of course the passionate fans.
What’s your hot tip for the winner of best band?
Hard to say, but the Drones and King Gizzard have always polled very well.
The Age Music Victoria Awards are being held on Wednesday. The SOLD OUT after party featuring Tash Sultana, Melbourne Ska Orchestra, Camp Cope and The EG Allstar band is being held at 170 Russell. If you're lucky someone might be able to hear the bands from the street !