That’s the quandary one of the directors of Australian Music Week, Geoff Trio, has recently found himself in, and the reason why the industry veteran is able to find time to be interviewed even as preparation for AMW is rapidly amping up – the man is confined to his bed.
“I snapped the ankle eight weeks ago,” says Trio. “I was running down the side of the house and stumbled and it snapped. I’ve got to have another operation to get the pins that are in there now out on the day that Australian Music Week starts. It’s all fun and games for me.”
Time waits for no broken limbs, and even though Trio might be in hospital when the three-day celebration of Oz music kicks off, there’s no slowing down the AMW machine. Featuring a staggering lineup of key industry players – ranging from mighty Australian label Spunk’s very own Aaron Curnow to media star Larry Heath of the AU Review – and a litany of up-and-coming bands, the event is truly not to be missed.
The bash was conceived of during an overseas trip, and was born largely out of an acute sense of jealousy: that overwhelming feeling that the Yanks were already mastering something us Aussies should have been doing for years. “I’d been doing a lot of travelling,” Trio says. “Flying with John Howell and Scott Mesiti, the other directors [of AMW], and going to conferences in Canada and the US. We kept thinking, ‘We should do something like this in Sydney. We should do it by the beach.’ And we finally talked ourselves into it.”
Though Australians are sometimes guilty of an overt kind of modesty – we never sing our praises when we should – Trio has loved spruiking Aussie acts via the festival’s panel discussions and special one-off events including film screenings and gig showcases. “We’ve been really enjoying the whole process of trying to promote Australian music, and trying to make partnerships with other internationals to try and introduce them to Australian music and there others to us as well,” he says.
Luckily, AMW isn’t all talk, and the festival has some very practical goals in mind. Though Trio admits that he doesn’t necessarily have a “guiding philosophy” in mind while curating each year’s iteration, he does very obviously want the bash to have some real, quantifiable outcomes: namely the education of rising industry players.
“On the conference side, we try to cover all sides of what we would’ve liked to have learnt as we were going through the motions of booking and managing bands and trying to seal record deals,” Trio says. “We’re just trying to get as much information as we can out there, especially when the industry is changing on a weekly basis.”
On the performer side of things, this year, the festival is set to boast one of its most jam-packed lineups yet, with acts as varied as Diesel and Damien Leith making a showing. “As far as programming goes, we had so many amazing applicants,” says Trio. “We try to put showcases in genres and we have certain amount of spots we can put for each genre. I went through the best bands I could find for each genre, and checked how established the band is, whether they had management, and whether I thought they were ready to get in front of other delegates and also maybe where they needed help.”
Ultimately, the sheer variety of events and acts punters will find themselves exposed to when AMW kicks off is something to be marvelled at: a sure sign that the local Oz scene isn’t only alive, it’s positively jumping off the furniture. “We want to have diversity, and make sure that we are catering for all genres of music that we possibly can,” Trio says. “No matter what you play, we’ve got a spot for you, and we want to help you out wherever possible.”
By Joseph Earp