By 2008, the number of artists applying to the Australia Council for the Arts for grants to attend music market events like SXSW (Austin, USA) and The Great Escape (Brighton, UK) had begun to increase. Upon investigation, it become apparent that whilst providing travel support funding to assist getting them there was important, the additional support provided whilst at the event and on the ground in-market was vital.
It had also become evident that in addition to supporting the artists, the infrastructure and ecosystem that surrounded them was equally as important, especially when attempting to navigate international markets and events. Reconnaissance activity by the Australia Council identified that other countries, namely the UK, Canada, New Zealand, France, Germany and the Nordic regions had been investing in this type of export support for several years, with various versions of an “Export Office” already established.
In 2009, the Australia Council for the Arts created an International Music Market Development Initiative, with the intention of advancing Australian music export. APRA AMCOS, as a peak music industry body partnered with the Australia Council and took on custodianship, providing the strategic, administrative and management support required to deliver the export project.
The national export program was named ‘Sounds Australia’ and was established to provide a cohesive and strategic platform to assist the Australian music industry in accessing international business opportunities at key showcase conference events including SXSW, The Great Escape and WOMEX.
The initiative was devised to provide centralised support to Australian artists and music businesses, strengthening available resources, whilst reducing duplication. Presenting under a national umbrella also ensured a stronger (sum of its parts) presence from Australia, compared to if federal and state agencies undertook activity in isolation.
Photo: Dune Rats, CMJ 2012 – Pic by Johnny Au.