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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFace The Music, the southern state’s annual music talk-fest kicked off yesterday with Melbourne throwing up a typically petulant array of weather experiences. Melbourne’s Face the Music conference is unique in that it shares the Victorian Arts Centre venue with the Australian World Music Expo, which runs parallel with it. It makes for an interesting blancmange of people. First up on the Friday, Australian Musician caught an interesting session titled ‘Airplay and Beyond’, which focussed on how an act can best attempt to obtain radio airplay. It was no surprise to see punters squeezing into a vantage point, it’s a subject close to musician’s hearts. It was an indie radio only perspective but enough to give the attendees some solid tips. Jen Long, Music journo, BBC3 presenter and label manager offered an insight into the UK market which was enlightening.

Soon after, Jen was warming yet another presenter chair as part of the session called ‘The Changing Nature of How Bands Break’. One trend which was highlighted at both of the aforementioned sessions was the proliferation of acts breaking not so long after their introduction to the market. It seems the old ‘pay your dues’ method is not necessarily the only way to go these days. Of course, the need to be damn good in the first place is critical. The need to back up your initial foray into the biz with equally strong material into the future is the key to a long career. It doesn’t matter how many conferences you attend or how much advice you pick up from any music industry identity worth a pinch of salt, the one never-changing fact is that it’s all about the song. Or as The Drones’ Gareth Liddiard once eloquently put it, ‘just don’t be shit!’.

‘The Music Conferences You Never Knew You Need To Know About’, was appealing too. Ironic that you’d go to a conference to learn about other conferences but intriguing just the same. The panel of well travelled experts were able to suggest which boutique conferences served what particular purpose. Want to break into The Balkans? They had a conference for you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter lunch, the waft of fine percolated coffee was overcome by another scent … the suspicious smell of an impending election. It was time for the Victorian state politicians to put forward their case for music in the ‘Vote For Me’ session. Edward O’Donahue (Libs), Martin Foley (Labs), Sue Pennicuik (Greens), Fiona Patten (Sex Party), and independent Kris Shroeder (Basics Rock n Roll party) did what politicians do … argued their case, criticised the opposition and tried to appease the audience. The promise of a bricks and mortar music hall of fame was a contentious issue, polarising the crowd. Do you pay homage to the past or gain more benefit in directing those funds to the future of music?

Today, Face The Music was all about the keynote speakers with Steve Albini and Tangerine Dream’s Edgar Froese taking the stage. As Steve Albini suggested, things have changed. “Pre-internet, independent bands became resourceful, building their own infrastructure. They’d operate on a profit-sharing basis that encouraged efficiency. It was the beginning of an alternative to the major label paradigm,” he said of the grunge days. Edgar’s offering was unsurprisingly unorthodox, “I’m not a musician. I’m not interested in music anymore. What I’m interested in is energy – the power that lies beyond matter.”

As Face the Music attendees begin to feel a little sessioned-out, they might now merge with AWME attendees in the Arts Centre bar and party on into the night. For a relatively inexpensive delegate fee, your Face the Music ticket is always well worth your while… and you can claim it on your tax! You may have gained a shit load worth of knowledge at FTM, it may have only been one single thing. You may have gone network crazy or only met one particularly important person … either way, it could have been crucial to the development of your music career.

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