Do you want guitar lessons from The Living End’s Chris Cheney? How about VIP passes to an after party with Tame Impala? Well thanks to SLAM (that’s Save Australian Live Music to the uninitiated) it’s all possible.
As previously reported, to help fund this Saturday’s National SLAM day event organisers have set up a crowd funding scheme, where everyday punters can put a dollar in to help support Australia’s ailing live music scene.
SLAM is an organisation made up of volunteer musicians and music lovers and according to their newly created Pledge Music initiative, they need to raise “$10,000 per state per year to help cover operational costs and future sustainability.”
As Co-founder Helen Marcou points out, “there is no way for SLAM to be sustainable after three years without coffee money, so to speak.” Funds raised will go towards a whole heap of expenses; artwork, project managing, photography, printing, distribution, and legal fees to name a few.
Already passionate Aussie music supporters have jumped on board and pledged their support with plenty of exciting rewards still up for grabs. Guitar mentoring with the likes of Gareth Liddiard of The Drones (his first ever session as a guitar teacher!) or Richard Llyod (Television) will set you back $250, whilst “on the door” passes cost as much as $2,000 with Melbourne being the most expensive, giving you access to iconic Melbourne venues such as The Corner Hotel, The Espy, HiFi and The Tote for three double passes to gigs during the year.
For $1,000 you can have a “dream dinner” with talented Aussie songstress Kate Miller-Heidke, or for the more budget concerned, Dan Sultan will set you back $300.“Chewing the fat with Bob Log, or Gaz from The Drones, or talking songwriting with Steve Kilbey…” – Helen Macrou, SLAM
Speaking of the development of the pledge rewards, SLAM co-founder Helen Marcou said “we’re just absolutely humbled that they’ve come forth and offered these experiences for SLAM… Chewing the fat with Bob Log, or Gaz from The Drones, or talking songwriting with Steve Kilbey.”
Marcou noted that many of the one-of-a-kind experiences were developed after asking “some of our musician friends, who are there ultimate bands and wish lists? If they could have a mentoring session with anyone,” says Marcou. “Basically they’ve come from their peers, the recommendations of who we approach, some of them from really respected songwriters.”
Marcou promised that “there’s more to announce in coming weeks,” including more of the ‘Dream Dinners’, with one of SLAM’s own volunteers, who is a restaurant critic “is matching up some really beautiful food and wine experiences with some of our hosts, and they nominated their favourite restaurants and we’ll be announcing them [soon],” says Marcou
For those with only a bit of loose change to spare, the Pledge Music offers include a T-shirt for only $45 or even a $10 membership pledge, which gets you the first in a series of downloads, featuring Lee Renaldo (Sonic Youth) and Tim Rogers (You Am I). To pledge your support visit the website here.
The decision to opt for crowd funding rather than seeking government funding seems like a no brainer for SLAM. “It is crucial to our independence that we are not beholden to any government,” reads the press release.
“It’s really important to SLAM to maintain our connection with the grassroots and the community,” Helen Marcou told Tone Deaf. “[To] maintain our integrity and independence. If we need to be critical of government, we can’t be accepting money from them… It’s fickle to bite the hand that feeds.”“It’s really important to SLAM to maintain our connection with the grassroots and the community.” – Helen Marcou, SLAM
The co-founder emphasised that SLAM needed to preserve its independence, from government funding or corporate sponsorship, to enable it to continue acting as a viable body that operates with and for the live music community. Adding, “we’re not there as an attack dog of government… we’re at the negotiating table at certain levels. [but] we’re in a position that we need to pick and choose what policy we need to be critical of and what we don’t need to be critical of.”
“We believe live music is a non-partisan issue, it shouldn’t involve party politics. There’s people from the extreme left, the extreme right, and everybody in between that enjoys their live music and goes out and participates or are practitioners as well.”
SLAM first came to attention back in 2010 when angered Aussie musos and music lovers took to the streets to protest harsh new liquor licensing that was forcing many live music venues to shut its doors. An unfair link between live music and violence being the excuse for the tough new laws. With over 20,000 protestors marching at Victorian’s State Parliament, the SLAM rally has been described as the largest cultural protest in Australia.
Australia’s live music scene is now facing new challenges, with residential developments near music venues and a number of noise complaints forcing venues to rethink live music. Much loved venues such as The Annanndale in Sydney, The Old Bar in Fitzroy, and Pure Pop Records in St Kilda are all facing financial woes.
National SLAM day will take place this Saturday 23rd February, with over 300 venues hosting bands with over 200 gigs to be held all over the country.