Michael’s Rule: Music industry unites behind mandating local artists on all Australian tours

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Michael’s Rule: Music industry unites behind mandating local artists on all Australian tours

Michael's Rule
Words by Staff Writer

In a virtually unprecedented moment of consensus, leaders from the music industry’s peak bodies and major organisations have publicly voiced support for the reinstatement of Michael’s Rule.

The announcement comes after a preliminary announcement last week from The Association of Artist Managers (AAM) seeking to ensure Australian artists are included on all tours by international acts.

In alphabetical order, leaders from The Australian Live Music Business Council (ALMBC), The Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA), The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and the newly formed Music Australia have all got behind this initiative. Leading concert promoters Michael Chugg, Danny Rogers and Ben Turnbull have also already expressed their support.

Michael McMartin, the late manager of Hoodoo Gurus, and co-founder of the AAM, was a key lobbyist 20 years ago in helping institute the convention of promoters including at least one Australian artist on every international tour. In his final public speech at last year’s AAM Awards Michael called for this policy to be reinstated due to an increasing number of major international tours packaging foreign line-ups that feature no local talent. Given the current dearth of new Australian music in the charts the AAM sees ‘Michael’s Rule’ as a modest practical measure which can help improve things for Australian culture.

The organisation is calling for promoters to work with the industry to devise a voluntary code of conduct. If they do not engage in that process then the AAM will turn to government who have multiple levers they can use to ensure Australian fans get to see more live local music.

Michael’s Rule is:

1.    Every International artist must include an Australian artist among their opening acts
2.    The Australian artist must appear on the same stage at the International artist using reasonable sound and lighting
3.    The Australian artist must be announced at the same time as the tour so that they benefit from all the marketing and promotion

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“Since the seventies I have been involved with Australian talent & this continues today. I have been a strong advocate for our homegrown talent being on international tours. Through my involvement with Michael Gudinski at Frontier touring for 20 years and as Chugg Entertainment since 2001 and in my JV with Frontier Touring present day, I’m proud to say we have helped many local  acts careers in this way. There are instances where local talent can’t be involved but they are in a low percentage of tours.
It’s great to see the Australian music industry standing together here and I fully support Michael’s Rule,” Michael Chugg AM, Chugg Entertainment said.

“Michael’s rule is imperative. We need unequivocal support at all levels of touring and festivals to ensure that we can find avenues and growth opportunities for our local talent. From 500 cap venues to stadiums, offering up these opening slots to Australian artists is a way for international artists to help celebrate and foster the local community which keeps the eco-system alive and gives the country its cultural leaders, critical in maintaining long term creative identity,” Danny Rogers, Lunatic Entertainment / St Jerome’s Laneway Festival added.

“The Australian music industry has taken a huge hit since Covid and we need change at the top in order for things to improve. Over the last 12 months 97% of Destroy All Lines tours featured an Australian act, so we know it can be done. We wholeheartedly support Michael’s Rule being reinstated,” Ben Turnbull, Destroy All Lines said.

“Repairing our industry and increasing the prominence of Australian artists is going to require teamwork and many steps. Michael’s Rule is one such step that will make a huge difference,” Millie Millgate, Music Australia said.

“Tours play massive roles in discovery and provide important support slots for Aussie artists to connect with new fans. Taylor Swift, the 1975, Harry Styles and Ed Sheehan all rocketed up the charts with multiple albums the weeks they were in the country recently.

At the local level, these tours provide huge opportunities for Australian artist via support slots, which can connect our artists with whole new fan bases. Doing whatever we can to get our local artists in front of new audiences is the most important issue facing our local industry, and as such the Michael’s Rule is a fantastic initiative, which we are confident can be implemented in a way that doesn’t impact the viability of international touring.

Other initiatives, including looking to broaden venues like sports stadiums to multi-use facilities in NSW is a really important step to increase the availability of entertainment for everyone outside of sport, and continue to increase opportunities to see local artists alongside global icons,” Annabelle Herd, ARIA & PPCA CEO said.

“The AAM initiative to reinstate ‘Michael’s Rule’ is an exciting and important step towards nurturing Australia’s extraordinary music talent. With international tours to Australia increasing, it’s critical we also provide local artists the platform they deserve. This homage to Michael’s legacy isn’t just about honouring a giant of the industry, but to also ensure his legacy includes securing the future vibrancy of Australian music. APRA AMCOS unites with the AAM and the broader industry in support of this initiative so we can all truly celebrate the depth and breadth of Australian music,” Dean Ormston, APRA AMCOS said.

“The Australian Live Music Business Council (ALMBC) understands that the many micro and small businesses that make up the lifeblood of the Australian live music industry are in crisis and we support the Association of Artist Managers (AAM) statement released today calling for major touring artists to engage local support acts,” Ant McKenna, ALMBC added.

“Select Music Agency is 100% behind the introduction of Michaels rule. This is not a power play or a shot across the bow of the incredible major promoters that operate in Australia but an opportunity for them to get behind and support the industry that is responsible for developing the live careers of every current major headlining Australian act in the world. Many of which work with the major promoters to tour Australia currently. Fans are won through connection to the artist when performing. Discovery is the most exciting aspect of hundreds of thousands of people who attend live music events. Australian artists need and deserve these high profile support slots. As an agency who works at the coal face of developing artists careers we know how hard it is for acts to break through & how much of a difference playing on big stages with a major international name can change that,” Stephen Wade, Select Music concluded.

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