Australia’s live industry is supported by the LPA, the record business has ARIA, the music publishers can rely on AMPAL for a collective voice and the indies are stronger through AIR. But the electronic and dance music community doesn’t have its own, focused lobby body and key players in the community want that to change.
As the annual Electronic Music Conference kicks off Wednesday (Nov. 29), talk of a new association focused on the dance and electronic sector will be pumping in the halls of Redfern’s Giant Dwarf Theatre.
“It is coming definitely,” says Hardware’s Richie McNeill on the creation of a peak body for the electronic music culture. “I have been in deep discussions with a few colleagues about this. We have to take things into our own hands.” McNeill blames a disconnect between the established trade associations and his community. “They have never reached out to us,” he explains.
Dance music is booming in Australia and across the globe right now. Led by the likes of Alison Wonderland, Flume, Timmy Trumpet, and Tommy Trash, Australian artists, producers and labels sit high in the mix. Look no further than Tuesday night’s ARIA Awards in Sydney, where the public-voted song of the year category went to Peking Duk’s multi-platinum banger “Stranger” featuring Elliphant. Electronic music can’t be dismissed as a fad. The watershed moment in these parts came almost a decade ago when the Presets grabbed a hat-trick of prizes at the 2008 ARIAs, including the coveted best band and best album prizes for their chart-topping set “Apocalypso”, a situation nearly unthinkable for previous generations of music fans. According to data published at the 2016 International Music Summit, the annual electronic music sector was worth more than $7 billion, with growth slowing to about 3.5%.
The EMC was established in 2012 to cater for this burgeoning business in Asia Pacific. The following year, the international industry’s electronic and dance industries combined forces for the launch of an advocacy and lobbying body, the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM). McNeill, then chief of Totem One Love, briefly represented Australia on the AFEM board, an experience he described as “average” which he ascribed to growing pains. “Things are moving forward a bit (at AFEM). It was good though, just to get together and chat with powerful people that can make a difference.” Would an Australian lobby body be affiliated with AFEM? “Possibly,” says McNeil. It’s early days. And the discussions will rumble on throughout the two days of EMC.