Music

Australia’s Music Industry Throws Support Behind Touring Initiative ‘Michael’s Rule’

SYDNEY, Australia — A new campaign that would ensure Australian artists are included on all tours by international acts in these parts has been widely supported by the music industry.

Unveiled last Wednesday, May 1 during the 2024 AAM Awards and announced proper on Friday, the policy bears the name of Michael McMartin, the late, great artist manager who guided the career of Hoodoo Gurus for more than 40 years, and is broken down into three main pillars: every international artist must include an Australian artist among their opening acts; the Australian artist must appear on the same stage at the international artist using reasonable sound and lighting; and the Australian artist must be announced at the same time as the tour so that they benefit from all the marketing and promotion.

The Rule, presented by the Association of Artist Managers, has been met with a resounding “yes.”

Leaders from the music industry’s trade associations and major organizations are backing the initiative in a “virtually unprecedented moment of consensus,” according to AAM, with Australian Live Music Business Council (ALMBC), The Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA), ARIA/PPCA, Select Music, the newly-formed Music Australia among them. Also, leading concert promoters Michael Chugg, Danny Rogers, Ben Turnbull, and Untitled Group have expressed their support.

The rule had once been widely accepted by the industry after lobbying by artist managers in the early 2000s. However, with Australian acts currently struggling to impact the domestic charts, and a slew of major international tours packaging foreign line-ups in these parts that feature no homegrown support, McMartin used his final public speech at last year’s AAM Awards to call for this voluntary code to be reinstated. McMartin died March 31 of this year following a lengthy illness. He was 79.

“Michael’s rule is imperative,” says Danny Rogers, co-founder of Lunatic Entertainment / St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. “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.”

Adds Millie Millgate, executive director of Music Australia, “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.”

This initiative “has the power to play a vital role in the discovery and visibility of emerging Aussie acts,” reads a statement from Untitled Group, Australia’s largest independently-owned music and events company, which produces Beyond The Valley, Pitch Music & Arts, Wildlands, Grapevine Gathering, For The Love and Ability Fest. “We need to remember that while the live performance industry has its own challenges, there is no industry without a thriving local music culture and healthy grass roots scene. Fostering and platforming local talent must be a core responsibility for promoters – the future of Australian music and the live music sector depends on it.”

AAM, representing more than 300 artist managers, is calling for promoters to work with the industry to devise a voluntary code of conduct. If they do not engage in that process, the AAM warns it will tap government who have multiple levers they can use to ensure Australian fans get to explore more local live talent.

“There are instances where local talent can’t be involved but they are in a low percentage of tours,” says legendary concert promoter Michael Chugg, chairman of Chugg Entertainment. “It’s great to see the Australian music industry standing together here and I fully support Michael’s Rule.”

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