New Soundtrack Australia policy takes inspiration from David Le’aupepe and Jimmy Barnes

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New Soundtrack Australia policy takes inspiration from David Le’aupepe and Jimmy Barnes


When Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Arts Minister Tony Burke unleashed their Soundtrack Australia music policy last Friday at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory, a number of artists were rubbing shoulders with executives from the peak music associations. They included Gang Of Youths’ David Le’aupepe, who, fresh off their Enmore Theatre show the night before delivered a speech, Briggs, KLP and Peking Duk’s Reuben Styles. The Duk and Jimmy Barnes released statements of support.

Much of Labor’s policy was shaped by discussions with various peak associations and the performing arts and live performance sectors. But Burke revealed that two artists helped shape policy without realising it by highlighting “how music had transformed their lives”. One was Jimmy Barnes’ spoken word show about escaping his childhood poverty and domestic violence. The other was at last year’s ARIAs when Le’aupepe picked up an award for Go Farther In Lightness and spoke of the redemption and healing power of rock music for a lad who grew up in poverty and tussled with mental health issues. Burke said, “These really hit home to me and made us really want to make sure…we dealt with the whole pathway.”

As a result Labor allocated $4.2 million for charities Nordoff Robbins and Support Act, for music therapy sessions to aid mental health and provide assistance to music business people (obviously conversations by the music and health industries were also conveyed to the future Arts Minister). It’s interesting to note how two artists triggered solutions to greater issues.

Other Soundtrack Australia spending included:

– $5 million for music hubs in community centres, schools and other existing spaces that encourage young or aspiring musicians to rehearse and learn through mentoring.

– $10 million for Sounds Australia to help increase the number of acts showcasing abroad, including new markets in Asia and South America. This also doubles the funding for acts to be able to record demos and hit the road. There’d be $250,000 to train new and emerging music managers.

– $7.6 million to boost music education, the number of music teachers around the country, and expand existing school programs as SongMakers and Song Room.

If Labor takes office in May next year, it will introduce a ban on the use of bot software, cap resales at 10% of original ticket price, increase penalties for scalping to $10 million for companies and $500,000 for individuals, while it also promises to consult with the industry on issues like copyright reform.

On Soundtrack Australia, Shorten said, “You can either write Australia small, or you can write Australia big, as our songwriters do, as our musicians do”. Dean Ormston, head of APRA AMCOS, said it was the first time a political party adopted a policy that ranged widely across a number of ministries and  recognised the industry’s capacity to “drive employment, live music, tourism, youth engagement and educational benefits for all Australians across the towns, cities and centres of the country.”