For almost twenty years, Katie Noonan has been a total fixture in Australian music. From fronting pop-rock gems George in her early days as a powerhouse vocalist, sweeping the ARIA charts and owning triple j’s airwaves to exploring the intricacies of the world of jazz later in her career, Noonan’s industry experience is as varied as her talent scope.

The Carol Lloyd Award has returned for 2019 to benefit emerging female talent in Queensland and this year, Noonan will jump on board to present the lucky winner with the opportunity to boost their career.

The prize recipient will be given the opportunity to kickstart their careers with a $15,000 grant to either record a full-length album or record and tour an EP. In order to be eligible, applicants must submit up to three original tracks with supporting material.

To celebrate the upcoming award, we sat down with Noonan to discuss the importance of female representation across all facets of the music industry, her advice for up and comers and the current state of Australian music.

The Carol Lloyd award is set to support up and coming women in music.

How has being a woman informed your experiences in the music industry over time?

I think of music as a genderless thing myself but unfortunately, I am often the only woman on stage, in a board room, or in a meeting. So I feel I have a responsibility to help create pathways for the next generation of women so as to slowly change that situation over time.

I was inspired by the quote: “You can not be who you can not see.”

We have only just clocked 50 years since abolishing the Marriage Act in Australia so the longterm effects of that are still being felt; ie no female CEOs of major record companies and therefore no female board members at ARIA.

This has recently changed due to constitutional change at ARIA and this, along with lots of other awesome initiatives, is a very positive sign that the music industry is evolving for the better to reflect modern equalist thinking. 

I would like to say though that most of the men I have worked with in the industry are awesome, it is just a small handful that do the industry an extraordinary disservice.

Katie Noonan – Breathe In Now Live

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The topic of gender representation in music has recently hit a point of extreme relevance. What changes have you seen take place since? What do you believe still needs to change?

Ultimately I do believe in a meritocracy as I feel that hard work and determination is what leads to success. And I do believe that in our modern Australian society there is very little preventing a hard-working woman achieving her goals. Personally, I would never want to feel that I got a gig or a job purely because of my anatomy.

But I do genuinely believe in encouraging women to find their place in what is still a predominantly male industry and awards like The Carol Lloyd can do something to hopefully help that aspiration. 

I also love performing on stage and recording with women, and sometimes only women, as it is an extraordinary and unique energy. 

I think quotas are tricky in essence, it is allowing gender to control decision-making, which is kind of what got us in this whole mess in the first place! Instead of aiming for a percentage, when I am programming my festival/my projects, I ask myself five things:

1. Are they extraordinary, unique and awesome at what they do?

2. Could they be a First Nations artist?

3. Could they be a Queensland/Australian artist?

4. Could they be a woman?

5. Are they reliable and have a good work ethic?  

Often the answer is a resounding yes to all five of these questions and that is why 83% of our artists in my first festival were Queenslanders and 38% were women.

If you could give one piece of essential advice to an up-and-coming musician, what would it be?

Do not sound like anyone else. Be kind and work your ass off because if you can make it work, this is the best gig in the world.

Katie Noonan covers Sia’s ‘Chandelier’

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Reflecting on your career, how would you use what you know about the music industry now to help your younger self?

I really have been very lucky as I have had complete creative and artistic control throughout my career. So my mistakes were lessons I learnt from and I wouldn’t change my journey one bit! I have had the chance to work with extraordinary people who have helped me make a career and I am incredibly grateful.

If I could reflect on one thing it would be to trust your gut instincts and make the final call on everything – your music, your images, your press releases, your film clips, your everything… as it all reflects who you are.

What’s your current take on Australia’s indie music scene? 

It is absolutely amazing but very hard to cut through. The traditional channels no longer work and the awesome age of independence means there is a lot of traffic and noise to filter through in order to be heard.

My main advice would simply be to be as unique as possible as in the end, that is your greatest asset and I do believe there will be an audience for your music if you are unique, you are kind, and work bloody hard.

Entries are now open and will close on 1 March 2019. More information can be found at 

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