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CHANGES Music Summit

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Over two days in July the CHANGES music summit will incorporate talks, live showcases and forum discussions that aim to ignite conversations around the future of the music industry. Featuring showcases from artists such as RVG, Cable Ties and Loose Tooth, and speakers from Pitchfork, Ableton and Sounds Australia, CHANGES promises to be a ground-breaking event for Melbourne. Noisegate caught up with Kate Duncan, the CEO of youth organisation The Push, to talk about the program and find out why it is such an exciting and necessary step in continuing the development of the Australian music industry.

Can you describe what CHANGES is and how it’s adding to the landscape of the Melbourne music scene?

CHANGES is a two-day celebration of the Victorian music community. It’s not only showcasing 90 or more of incredible Victorian artists but it’s also showcasing Victorian venues, our Victorian audiences and providing a platform to start a conversation about the future of our music industry. It’s something that I thought wasn’t really happening in Victoria, particularly in Melbourne, and that was weird because we’ve just been named the live music capital of the world so why are we not providing a forum in which to celebrate that? A forum to come together and to plan new ideas for the future.

Who is behind CHANGES and how has that impacted the programming of the industry talks and the live showcases?

CHANGES is a partnership event between The Push, Music Victoria, and the City of Yarra. Sounds Australia are also very heavily involved. And so what it means that each of those stakeholders can really own their space and deliver the outcomes for those very separate market segments. The Push are really focused on the emerging side of things and we’re doing all-ages programming at lunch time and we’ll be doing a series of workshops for kids around like, DIY parties and Ableton labs and the Gameboy workshops, that kind of stuff. Music Victoria are very much focused on providing skills development opportunities for mid-career artists and Sounds Australia will be managing the international export opportunities and business meetings.

Who exactly is CHANGES for?

I think it’s unique because of the partnerships it can provide something for three very separate market groups. So for The Push, it’s an opportunity to be connected with our audience networks across Victoria. There’ll be young people coming from across the state to participate. Music Victoria will provide something for that mid-career artist and Sounds Australia for artists that are ready to participate at an international level. In particular, the talks program during the day have been curated in a way that means it is forward thinking and presenting new ideas. Particularly around music technology and innovation. I think that’s relevant to anyone.

Cable Ties at Changes
Cable Ties

How were the live showcases curated and why did you choose to program them in such a way?

What is really unique about CHANGES is that we haven’t curated it ourselves, we’ve empowered the wider Victorian music community by bringing on 20 individual curators who can each showcase their own line-ups. If you look at other industry events there’s normally one person who is the tastemaker and determines who should be seen. But what we really wanted to do was have CHANGES be a celebration of the wider community and I don’t think that one person can necessarily be across the nuances of the artists that are working in like, a heavy world versus electronic music production versus indie… So we’ve engaged multiple labels, agencies and organisations that each represent those unique communities. They’re the best placed to know what’s really interesting and coming up in their worlds. UNFD are doing a heavy showcase at the Bendigo, Bad Apples are doing a hip-hop line up at Laundry and there is everything else in between. I think that what makes it different to a regular gig on a regular night is that you’ll be able to walk around on those two nights of CHANGES and pop in and out of venues and know that whichever of the ten venues you walk into you’re going to be seeing the best of Victoria.

Could you talk a little about some of the speakers you have coming for CHANGES? Who are you really excited for?

We have Jenn Pelly from Pitchfork and (music journalist and editor of Noisey) Shaad D’Souza is doing an interview with her. Shaad has been a massive fan of hers since he first started reading music journalism when he was in high school so I’m really glad that we could bring them together. Cherie Hu is a journalist but is particularly focused around music tech and she’s going to be talking about things that I definitely don’t understand. She’s been doing a bunch of stuff on smart speakers. Those virtual speakers, like Google Home. I don’t know much about it but apparently this is the future, this is how music consumption will be moving away from a smartphone device. It’s weird but awesome. That really excites me, particularly around Amazon Music and Bandcamp, all of these people that are doing really new innovative things, I think it’s just something that our community needs in terms of education around what we need to be doing around technology and greater utilisation of that for our further careers. There’s lots of artists that are still operating on an old school model and not using music technology to advance their careers in terms of touring, streaming etc. I think it’s just that people don’t know and it is quite straightforward so that’s what we hope to do with the way in which these talks have been programmed. Just really practical, breaking it down.

Loose Tooth at Changes
Loose Tooth

What about Melbourne makes it so exciting for the international music industry to visit?

We’re just so lucky that we have world leading venues, artists and audiences. recently been touring with a band and you go into other cities and people will only come for the headliner or people just aren’t as engaged. There’s something just so special and loving about Melbourne, and that’s hopefully what CHANGES will capture. It’s the artists that people are coming for but I think our audiences are very special too, we’re open-minded. I think that the line-ups that have been put together really do celebrate and showcase diversity, I hope that that’s what these internationals will take away. They’ll see that we have all different artists from all different experiences and backgrounds and we’re unique in that sense.

Why is CHANGES an important event for the music industry?

Sometimes online there’s such negative and unproductive discourse and what I hope CHANGES will be is a real step forward in people coming together and realising that if we just work together on something like this and celebrate each other rather than cutting people down that we can really achieve great things. It just wouldn’t have come together without the true goodwill of the venues and the curators and the artists. I had hoped that that would happen but knowing that it has, I guess that comes back to what I was saying before, that we are a loving, supportive community and sometimes we forget that.

CHANGES is happening across many venues in Melbourne on July 4th and 5th, 2018. Tickets are available now.