The Australasian World Music Expo
When it comes to music the phrase ‘industry showcase’ does not sound exciting. Men in suits, probably with ponytails and giant ‘90s mobile phones spring to mind. Thankfully over the past few years they are turning into a more public friendly affair. South By Southwest is perhaps the best known industry event, great for bands and drinking and good-times but has become a victim of it’s own success, too much to see and do means you can’t tell the good from the bad until it’s all over. The Australasian World Music Expo on the other hand, held in the Australian capital of live music, has been carefully constructed. “It is a fantastic thing,” says festival director Simon Raynor. “Last year was hugely successful for the artists we showcased, there were seven acts booked for Glastonbury and also The Big Chill, bands booked for tours of Europe and North America, all from playing the Expo last year.”
The Australian World Music Expo is in its fourth year - part festival, part industry event, with around 400 international and national industry delegates. They are booking agents, festival directors, record labels, media and so on from around the world. Primarily they come to buy Australian music product and Australian artists. “I have been involved in the music industry for many years,” Simon says. “Touring acts across Australia, representing acts internationally as a manager and agent and attending trade fairs internationally and marketing the artists that I worked with. It was noticed that at these international trade fairs there was virtually no Australian content, it was very difficult to get Australian showcases at those big events. So the idea was to produce a similar event here in Australia, where we could market our own product and fly in those big buyers. So we have a very focused marketing and promotional campaign, centred on Australia and the surrounding region, with some international guests as well.”
Running from 17 through 20 November, the days are for pressing the flesh and the nights are for pure entertainment. “From 10 till 5 are conference sessions and then from 7pm till 3am are the live shows,” Simon enthuses. “So people who want to come along as a delegate can get a pass for $200 for four days and they can go to everything. All the shows are open to the public so punters can just go along to each of the shows, if they want to see Blue King Brown on Thursday night, they can just get a ticket for that at The Hi-Fi Bar.”
This year’s lineup is 60 acts over four nights, high quality shows, full houses and good times for everyone. Jamaica’s legendary group The Congos with Mista Savona, their album was produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry and is thought to be the best Reggie album ever produced. Hailing from Ethiopia, Afro-Jazz legend Mulatu Astatke will be heading to Melbourne to perform alongside Australia’s own Black Jesus Experience, Also on the local front, dynamic outfit Blue King Brown will make their welcome return to the live setting, as well as venerable icons of Australian song Vika & Linda Bull. Burgeoning locals Skipping Girl Vinegar will continue to build upon their impressive run of live shows, as will Public Opinion Afro Orchestra. Another highlight of the program looks set to be Iconic Songs, featuring none other than Archie Roach.
Not only is there a smorgasbord of offerings for punters, if you are in a band or the music industry there is a whole lot of incredible opportunities on offer. “People or bands who are established, doing well and want to start touring internationally should come down,” says Simon. “We provide the opportunity for them to meet a whole stack of international connections to get them moving, bookers, festival directors who can lock them into shows. We have four of the world’s largest festivals coming this year to book acts.” There are bookers from Roskilde Festival in Denmark, Glasto and Big Chill in the UK, Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, Sziget in Hungary, The Barbican, Journalist from The Guardian, the booker for the New York City Parks, The BBC the list just goes on and on. Last year the Glasto’ booker, Malcolm Haynes was a fixture at the showcases and booked seven acts for Glastonbury including Diafrix, Mista Savona, Black Jesus Experience and Electric Wire Hustle, those last two were also booked for The Big Chill. If you are a band, you want to be here meeting the right people, don’t just go to Glasto’ – you can play Glasto’.
“It really is four days of the most amazing music from Australia and around the world in one weekend,” Simon surmises. “It is also an incredible opportunity to network and develop relationships with the international music industry and push Australian artists and bands.”
The Australasian World Music Expo will run November 17 through to 20. Showcases are open to all lovers of great Australian music at the Arts Centre, The Hi-Fi, Melbourne Recital Centre and The Toff in Town. Delegate early bird passes are available cheap until September 23. Head along to awme.com.au for more info and the full lineup.