Whether you’re an artist, writer, creator or just a lover of the live music scene in general, it’s so important to ensure that you surround yourself with other like minded and passionate people. This year’s Face The Music Conference in Melbourne, provided the perfect platform serving as both an educational experience and most importantly, a chance for industry professionals and alike to rekindle their motivation for their craft. The two day conference held on Thursday and Friday of Melbourne music week, boasted a packed out schedule with a mixture of key note speakers, panel discussions and of course, live music.

Each morning kicked off with what became known as the “morning ritual” and what better way to start the day than with a live performance from the likes of Jess Ribeiro and Hiatus Kaiyote’s Nai Palm, with both taking advantage of some rare Melbourne sunshine on the steps of the state library. Spread throughout both the Melbourne State Library and RMIT, conference attendees found their niche attending hour long sessions throughout the day.

The “Meet Your Future Boss” panel was a chance for the voice of the younger generation within the music industry to ring out loud and clear and prove that passion, drive and a willingness to learn are often just as important if not more than experience. With the likes of Gam Strum, Greer Clemens, Shelley Liu and Nic Kelly the panel was informative, interactive and of course bursting with youth.

Several “speed meeting” sessions took place, giving attendees the chance to meet with industry professionals in almost a speed dating sense. These specifically targeted sessions offered a space for some ‘real talk’ with topics including Music Industry Career Advice, Domestic Music Business, Pitch Your Music and Showcasing Artists Export, these proved to be an invaluable resource for artists, emerging or otherwise and industry professionals.

For the academically minded, the Music On the Mind session provided some psychological background into the way we enjoy music, really reiterating the importance and impact of music on our minds and overall wellbeing. Many sessions were inclusively business focused, targeting up and coming artists, managers and writers to dive in and not only learn more about their chosen field, but also examine what the next step on their career path really looks like.

A real standout discussion however, was the “Creating Safe and Inclusive Spaces” panel with representatives from the Victorian Government’s safe spaces taskforce, leading discussions about how venue staff can ensure they are not only promoting safer spaces, but making sure their venue is consciously caring for all members of the community. High Tension’s Karina Utomo, someone who is well versed on the subject, commented on the importance of taking action as well as creating an open and well informed discussion platform, particularly highlighting an artists’ responsibility to call out and highlight inappropriate behaviour at gigs.  

The importance of both community radio and the associated independent voices behind its impact (particularly with prominent community station 3RRR celebrating 40 years on air), was brought to light during the panel, “Radio: The Format That Just Won’t Quit”.

Moderated enthusiastically by Bridget Hustwaite, this really hammered home why we’ll continue to be glued to ‘the wireless’ for many years to come. With panelists such as Gemma Pike from Triple J and Gloria Brancatisano from SYN, this incredibly informative discussion focused specifically on the responsibility of radio to  really champion Australian music something that is often overlooked by commercial radio.

There were several keynote speakers scatted throughout the conference, however Andrew Jervis from Bandcamp and Zan Rowe from Triple J were two incredible standouts. As the chief curator for Bandcamp hearing Andrew chat about his passion for unsigned artists, and discovering exactly how Bandcamp as an entity came into being, was truly fascinating. Above all, Andrew made a conscious effort to actively listen to numerous Australian artists prior to his arrival in Australia and noted how “truly impressed” he was at the calibre of talent particularly amongst the Melbourne music scene.

Zan Rowe’s chat with Myf Warhurst had the packed out RMIT theatre on the edge of their seats. An incredibly intimate look at the two decade long career of the Triple J mornings presenter, coming up through the ranks of community radio, mid dawn sessions and finally to the triple J studio where she remains today.

Zan revealed many personal anecdotes along the way and at one point even backtracked by stating, “now someone from Tone Deaf is going to write about this…” – and that we did Zan. Purely because every single person who presented at Zan’s keynote, particularly inspiring young journalists, walked away with many motivational notes in their back pocket. A true inspiration within the world of music journalism.

Overall, the Face the Music Conference was undeniably a hit. The State Library was an incredible venue, flooded with helpful volunteers pointing attendees in the right direction. The program was diverse, catering for everyone’s taste and expertise, with many taking away hints, tips and vital information as they dive head first into the music industry – another impressive step forward for music conferences in Melbourne, and Australia.