Feedback: A Music Conference For Young People was a special initiative put together by MusicNSW’s Indent for 12-25 year olds looking to get a start in the music industry. The event was part of Vivid Ideas and featured many different key players- from musicians to a producer, managers to a promoter plus publicists, a teacher, an APRA representative and more. They covered topics ranging from song writing to staging all-ages events to music publicity and management.

Kirsty Brown from MusicNSW opened the show by introducing the first session, “Crafting Your Tunes”, which saw producer, Wayne Connolly (Silverchair, The Living End, Custard) and musician, Josh Pyke in conversation. The former described the role of the producer and engineer and how this has changed over the years. Traditionally, an engineer was the person responsible for technical aspects in the studio (like setting up microphones and equalising the sound board) while producers were responsible for helping the artist with song writing and arrangements and making sure the latter did their best possible performance.

Josh Pyke described how the writing process has changed for him. He once began with a chord progression or melody on the guitar but more recently he has been trying to write on different instruments and penning stream-of-conscious-style prose. He also described how he won two different grants and that this prompted him to create his very own, JP Partnership. His advice was sensible as he suggested that people try out for these things but don’t assume that you have got them before you do. He also said to take time and effort when completing your applications and not just write, “I wanna be famous”.

Both Connolly and Pyke described how buddying artists can record good sounds in their bedrooms. They recommended Apple’s Logic because it is a cheap and amazing program and the importance of getting a decent preamplifier (preamp), microphone and compressor. Pyke knows this all too well because he played us a live, acoustic version of his hit song, “Middle Of The Hill”, which was recorded on equipment that was only worth “1500 bucks”.

The keynote speech came courtesy of promoter and Twitter addict, AJ Maddah. He described the difficulties he encounters with bureaucracy and other authorities when he tries to stage all-ages shows (this includes the exorbitant price of security and the police plus checking the IDs of fifteen year olds who don’t have state-issued proof-of-age cards). He believes the authorities would much rather wrap children up in cotton balls but that this is not a good solution for society because when young people do venture out and things go awry they are more likely to just “fall apart”.

The topic of all-ages shows is something that is close to Maddah’s heart. He told us that when he was young he used to travel by public transport from Castle Hill to Coogee’s Selina’s even though he wasn’t the right age. He called it a five hour journey of hell just to put your ear up against the wall. He also said that once people are old enough they tend to forget what it was like when they were young and that 18 year olds are the biggest whingers about all-ages shows.

In the questions section at the end, Maddah was asked about the closure of Melbourne’s Palace Theatre. He said that this doesn’t affect all-ages shows as they never staged them but it does impact on the industry as a whole because Melbourne no longer has a two thousand capacity venue. He said you go from 1400 at The Forum to 5000 at Festival Hall and there’s nothing in between. Maddah was excellent at reeling off figures, he described how much money in a ticket price goes towards booking agents, GST, security, etc. He also said that bringing out international artists is an expensive process where you can pay in the vicinity of $2million in trucking and freight fees to get their gear here plus around $4,500 in visas plus everything else.

The last two sessions of the day included an industry speed dating where the audience could line up to chat to individuals from Select Music, TAFE Music, Create/Control, Triple J Unearthed, Alberts, FBi Radio and APRA about things like: licenses, royalties, publishing, airplay, publicity and marketing. The penultimate talk of the day was titled, “The Young Ones” and saw Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall and his manager, Graham Nixon alongside Thelma Plum and her manager, Leanne De Souza in a panel chaired by Bluejuice’s Jake Stone. Their discussion was a loose one based on their experiences and success in the industry.

Plum told us about how she was rejected from the school choir only to have the choirmaster turn up at her show as a paying costumer a few years later. She said she entered Triple J Unearthed because she wanted her grandma to hear her demo of “Father Said”. From there she won the station’s National Indigenous Music Awards competition which gave her the opportunity to perform at the ceremony in Darwin and that this opened up doors for her.

Winston McCall was a very charismatic and interesting speaker. He told us about how Parkway Drive started off playing gigs whenever they could (around once a fortnight) and that the band is a perfect storm of circumstance, hard work, the individual musicians’ personalities and help from friends. He said they had no grand plans when they first began beyond “Play a local gig. Entertain your friends” and that they felt they’d hit the big time when they got their first lot of sandwiches backstage at Newcastle Uni. (They photographed these and still have the picture to prove it).

In the end, Feedback Festival had been an informative, interesting and inspiring event. The young attendees were offered some excellent advice from people in the know and from different parts of the music industry. There is no question that after such a successful day these kids have the opportunity to be our stars of tomorrow or your new favourite artists and with great initiatives like this one they will be tackling things with some of the best tools of the trade.


Originally published on 10 June 2014 at the following website:

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