Australian expats are achieving incredible things for the music industry from the UK. Many of them will tell you the lessons learned on home soil gave them many of the tools they still use today.

To celebrate the countless Australians crushing it in the UK, we interviewed five industry figures about their roles, the differences between the two territories, and their hot tips for artists set to make it big overseas.

Blake Price
Talent & Marketing Director – Brand Partnerships (Global), UMG

Formerly: Marketing Director, Universal Music Australia

After eight years in the local industry, holding roles across Sony, Warner and Universal Music, Blake Price relocated to London in 2015 to take on a new challenge. Fortunately, he was given the opportunity to do that whilst staying within the Universal Music family, taking on a global role in the world of brand partnerships at Universal Music Group.

What does your current role entail?

My role is global – working with our different teams and partners across 40+ countries. At the core, my role is about helping matching the right brand partners with the right artist, no matter where in the world they are signed – and trying to do so in a way that is both creative and authentic for the artist. We’re set up in a complete full-service structure, so I’m working alongside account managers, creative directors and strategists daily, to help bring that to life.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

All confidential of course! In the last week alone I’ve been working on campaigns for clients in China, India, Sweden and more – so there is never a dull moment. The timelines we work on with brands are quite different to a standard music release, so we’re already knee-deep in campaigns for 2018. In 6 months you’ll see some very cool campaigns in the fashion and beauty space with some of UMG’s new artists; there’s a big tourism campaign in the works; and a number of very nice things happening soon,in the tech space.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the first month after relocating?

In Australia we’re such a close-knit industry, you’ve worked with everyone else at some point. Landing in the UK without that network felt like starting from Chapter 1 in some respects. I was pretty blatant with the industry friends I did have in the UK – “please help me meet people! Please invite me to gigs! I’ll shout the pints…” – and that worked wonderfully for me. Industry folk – especially those with a stake in breaking an artist – definitely see Australia as a key music market as well, so will generally be happy to make time for you in exchange for picking your brain about the landscape back home.

What’s the biggest difference between the Australian industry and the one in your city?

You definitely feel the effect of being (for now) part of Europe. People will come into the office on a Monday talking about the banger they heard on the weekend in Ibiza, or this new band they saw in Paris or that hip hop artist in Amsterdam. It helps keep your playlists (and your brain) diverse. That multiculturalism will probably be reflected in the people you’re working with too – my team is made up of as many French/Italian/Belgians as it is Brits. Thankfully after a few years they understand some of my quirkier Aussie slang.

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What’s the best tip you could give an Aussie looking to move and work in your city?

Per the above – start building your UK network now. Keep in touch with the international contacts you’re making in your job day to day  – when you’re looking for a move, they’ll be the ones to open doors. (And when you get here, don’t ever believe a Brit when they say it will be “just one” after-work pint.)

Give us your hot tip for the next big Aussie artist to break overseas…

My interns were hounding me for Dean Lewis tickets recently – that’s a pretty good sign. I’ve also made it my personal mission to share Odette with anyone who deserves to know.

Watch the clip for Dean Lewis’ ‘Lose My Mind’ below

Kara Mukerjee
Head of Digital, RCA Label Group UK

Formerly: Digital Marketing + Projects Manager, EMI Australia

London was calling for some time for Kara Mukerjee. Despite her family history, all of her favourite records came out of the UK and she long saw it as the global epicentre of artists who really mattered.

After relocating to the UK from Australia in 2011, Mukerjee held roles at EMI (Digital Projects Manager), UMG International (Strategic Marketing) and at Composed and Universal Music UK (where she held a dual managerial role).

Now, as Head of Digital at RCA, Mukerjee is working on releases from Paloma Faith, Everything Everything, and even Australia’s own Amy Shark.

Why did you relocate?

It is phenomenal working on Chemical Bros, Hot Chip, & The Beatles with likeminded souls in Australia. But it’s another matter when you’re dancing to “Hold Tight London” IN LONDON, singing along with Jarvis Cocker in the Royal Albert Hall, and working from Studio 2 at Abbey Road.

What does your current role entail?

  • Leading digital marketing, CRM strategy, analytics & channel management for RCA UK projects, plus managing the stellar digital team (who do the real hard yards).
  • Driving innovation with creative projects and tech partners, plus strategic relationships with industry partners.
  • …plus all the finance & project management in between!

What projects are you working on at the moment?

  • Nothing But Thieves – Broken Machine. An absolutely magnificent album. I couldn’t be prouder of the job that we did on this – but that would be futile without a world class album from world class gents.
  • Everything Everything – A Fever Dream. Sheer genius. I am a total fangirl.
  • Paloma Faith – The Architect. She is an extraordinary woman with an uncompromising vision and voice.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the first month after relocating?

Setting up life in the UK requires patience and willingness to be crushed by life admin. Prepare to be frustrated to no end, get put on endless hold, and print out all your paperwork in triplicate.

What’s the biggest difference between the Australian industry and the one in your city?

Aussies work harder, longer hours, and celebrate life more than Brits. Work projects are bigger, slower, and more expensive in the UK. But it’s 100% worth it!

What’s the best tip you could give an Aussie looking to move and work in your city?

Keep your Aussie work ethic and lust for life, whilst making the best of every incredible experience London bombards you with. It’s very easy to fall out of love with London – it takes an emotional and physical toll, and you need to remind yourself why you’re here.

Be willing to sacrifice sun and sea for something else. That “else” changes every day, just as London does.

Best career mistake you ever made?

Leaving EMI Australia. It broke my heart to leave those incredible people, and I still consider them my family. I had to follow the calling however… It worked out well!

Give us your hot tip for the next big Aussie artist to break overseas…

Amy Shark! (disclaimer, I’m working on breaking her in the UK) plus, Jack Ladder, Donny Benet and that whole crew. Not new, but they’re too damn talented to stay Australia’s secret.

Watch the clip for Amy Shark’s ‘Weekends’ below

Johanna Whitehead
Director and Founder, WDW Entertainment

Formerly: Artist Relations, Capitol / EMI

When EMI Australia’s Johanna Whitehead first left the country to live in London in 2008, she was seeking a well-deserved break following EMI’s takeover by Terra Firma. She had only planned to stay a year.

Now, as the director and founder of PR agency WDW Entertainment, Whitehead’s clients have included Michael Jackson, Gucci, the London 2012 Olympics and the MTV Music Video Awards.

Why did you relocate?

I loved my job at EMI. To this day I look back on that period as such a happy and wonderful time. I left EMI as Terra Firma were taking over and there were a lot of redundancies. It was horrible seeing incredibly talented people being let go; people who loved the music and the EMI family… it was so disheartening.

I reassessed where I was at and thought I would take some time out, live in London for a year and see Europe before heading back to Australia. That was nearly 10 years ago. I am not sure I would have ever left EMI if that hadn’t happened!

What does your current role entail?

I run a PR agency with two other girls. We started it three years ago with nothing and have been building clients and a business together. We have expanded into management and will continue to grow!

What projects are you working on at the moment?

We have a number of things going on. We recently took on National Geographic and working on an incredible documentary called “Jane”, it is about Jane Goodall. It’s playing next month at the Hollywood Bowl with a live orchestra – Philip Glass composed the music for the film so that will be a very special night!

We have an up and coming artist called Raphi, she went to the Brit School, just sold out her first show in London and is a BBC Introducing talent. We are really proud of her.

We also work with clients such as The Old Vic, BAFTA, across a number of film titles and talent.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the first month after relocating?

Take the bus!! It’s the best way to work out London! The tube is great but being underground you don’t really know where you are…

London is a tough city at first, it’s cold and grey and you think you’ll never find your place, but one day it opens up and you realise it’s an incredibly magical place.

What’s the biggest difference between the Australian and UK industries?

I didn’t go back into a label when I arrived in London so it’s hard to do a direct comparison. The volume of international talent coming into London is mind boggling so you really could end up working for anyone or on anything which makes living here really exciting…

What’s the best tip you could give an Aussie looking to move and work in your city?

It’s a cliche but be open to anything. Retrospect and hindsight is really interesting… As I look back, I arrived in London thinking I’d be there a year, maybe pick up a contract at a label then go home… that didn’t happen!! But I have been lucky enough to work on everything from Michael Jackson to Gucci, the London 2012 Olympics to the BAFTA film awards, MTV Music Video Awards to National Geographic and everything in between.

Best career mistake you ever made?

Leaving music. I worked in music PR when I first moved here then went into a big brand PR at a big agency. I hated it at first, it was a tempestuous time for me and I thought I’d never work in music again. I was miserable… but as I started to settle in, it gave me the confidence to see the business from a different perspective. I started to see how I could carve out my own place. It gave me the confidence to start my own business. Now I have music, film, literary and brand clients…

Give us your hot tip for the next big Aussie artist to break overseas…

Holy Holy…. they have been over a number of times and each time I feel like they are getting bigger and bigger!

Watch Holy Holy cover Beyonce’s ‘Hold Up’ below

Rowan Brand
Director / Artist Manager – Tribe

Formerly: Director / Artist Manager, RedGreenBlue Co.

Sydney native Rowan Brand, who managed Boy & Bear until 2011, made the strategic move to London in 2012 to manage acts in the UK/European territories.

Earlier this year he launched his independent boutique artist management company, TRIBE. Operating out of London (at Rak Studios) and Netherlands (at Kytopia), TRIBE was formed out of three existing management companies, Jack Saunders’ UK company Rift Management, Matthijs Boom Management out of Utrecht and Rowan Brand’s RedGreenBlue Co.

Why did you relocate?

Opportunity and advice. After spending time working in NYC for The CMJ Music Marathon for two and a bit years, I became pretty acutely aware of how little I knew about working bands in Europe. A mentor of mine encouraged me to come over for a bit to get up to speed. I ended up signing a band and have stuck around and continued to explore more new markets.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

UK indie band Bear’s Den, Dan Croll, an exciting classical/contemporary composer called Paul Frith (who’s done arrangements for Radiohead, The XX as well as had his debut symphony recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) as well as a couple new things which we’re excited to announce very soon.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the first month after relocating?

The most fruitful business meetings in the UK are done over a cup of tea or in the pub. Relax, learn and ask good questions.

What’s the biggest difference between the Australian and London industries?

The way the live industry is structured very different to what we would recognise in Australia when working with domestic bands. Dealing with local promoters and the complications of having a lot more people involved in a tour is dramatically different over here.

What’s the best tip you could give an Aussie looking to move and work in your city?

London is like 4 cities in one. Explore the different music/industry communities and pockets of the industry and find your scene AND don’t forget to think about the rest of Europe. 750million people within a range shorter than Sydney-Perth. There’s enormous opportunity on this continent.

Best career mistake you ever made?

Baking mac and cheese for Bear’s Den the night before a massive support show at London’s biggest arena (O2) and giving one of the band members and I food poisoning. Oops.

Give us your hot tip for the next big Aussie artist to break overseas…

I’ll leave that to the experts, but I can’t stop listening to the new Winston Surfshirt record, Sponge Cake. Really digging Dean Lewis and seeing that grow beautifully internationally.

Watch the clip for Winston Surfshirt’s ‘Be About You’ below

Adam Townsend
Member Relations UK and Europe, APRA AMCOS

Formerly: Licensing Representative, APRA AMCOS

Working from the same London location as Rowan Brand at RAK Studios, Adam Townsend relocated in 2010 to get closer to the ‘UK sound’.

As a Member Relations representative, Townsend ensures all APRA AMCOS members are breaking through the noise in the UK and European markets.

Why did you relocate?

Apart from the work opportunities that exist in the UK, I’ve always been huge fan of the UK sound. Bands like Radiohead, Massive Attack and Portishead have a certain melancholic sound which has always resonated with me personally. And the fact you can jump on a plane or train and be in another country in an hour or so. That’s pretty good too.

What does your current role entail?

I am based here in Europe to represent all our members that have made the move to this side of the world. This mainly involves making sure their day to day APRA queries are being answered, but also includes helping our members engage with the local music industry in providing knowledge of how to work this market.

As I’m also one of the only overarching representatives for Australian music in Europe, I also liaise directly with the local embassies whenever opportunities arise and keep them up to date with how our members are circulating in the music industry.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently wrapping up our latest SongHubs writing camp which I’ve run in Berlin, where we had 15 local and international songwriters working from Riverside Studios for 3 days before Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg.

This was an amazing experience that featured artists and songwriters such as Client Liaison, Lisa Mitchell, Tinpan Orange, Jack River, Pines,Teischa, Mazde, Ben Abraham, M Craft, Steph Marziano, Charlie Grant, Victor Van Vugt and Jonathan Dreyfus.

The feedback so far from all writers has been incredible and I’m really looking forward to hearing where these songs and newly formed relationships end up in the world. Watch this space!!

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the first month after relocating?

The rental market in London is not as organised or regulated as it is in Australia. You’re going to deal with some interesting people so be very careful before settling down!

What’s the biggest difference between the Australian industry and the UK & Europe?

The obvious one is the size of the market being much larger. The music that attracts the most attention in Australia seems to be confined to certain genres which is largely due to population, demand and the channels in which music is made available.

Music is still regarded as one the most important forms of entertainment across Europe and therefore, there are increased opportunities across a wide range of genres, hence why we are seeing an increase year on year of people moving to this side of the world.

What’s the best tip you could give an Aussie looking to move and work in your city?

Do your research and make sure the city you move to is right for you. For those moving to London, there is a particular sound here and you need to know that there is going to be an audience that will respond to you.

Also, don’t assume that whatever you have done in Australia is going to get you an immediate pass here in London. The scale of the music industry here is vast and you really need to come in with the mindset to work hard and immerse yourself in the local scene.

Try and not stick to the familiar “Australian” areas of London (Shepherd’s Bush, Fulham, Clapham etc). You’re preaching to the choir in some respects so if you want to win over the locals, you really need to venture out of those suburbs and mix with the best the city has to offer.

And most importantly, if you’re an APRA AMCOS member or manager, then let us know before you make the move. We’re here to help! Contact your local Rep or shoot me an email at [email protected]

Give us your hot tip for the next big Aussie artist to break overseas? 

There are many to choose from so let me condense this down to a few. Berlin-based Australian band, Parcels have been on my radar for a while now and now making some serious headway in the US which is really exciting.

Also London based duo Two Another have been growing a solid fan base here in the UK so I’m sure we’ll see more of them next year.

And I’d have to mention Teischa from Perth who I’ve just had the pleasure of seeing for the first time at Reeperbahn Festival. Such an amazing performer and I know I’ll be seeing her name popping up all over the place very soon.

Watch Parcels perform ‘Overnight’ on Conan below: