Melbourne live music venue Billboard has undergone some interesting new changes, including a new name and a change of booking, as it joins forces with another major Melbourne venue.

The 900 capacity venue, located in the heart of the CBD near Chinatown, will now be known as 170 Russell (functionally named after its address), with new signage already up at Billboard along with a new website that labels 170 Russell as a ‘Corner Presents’ venue.

The live music company, which represents Melbourne’s iconic Corner Hotel, the Northcote Social Club, and the sister Sydney venue the Newtown Social Club, revealed the latest addition to its venue folio two days ago in a Facebook post, before yesterday officially announcing the first show booked under the new arrangement.

“OK, here it is! Our first show announcement for 170 Russell, the latest (recently renamed – no prizes for figuring out which one it is) Melbourne venue to join Corner Presents,” reads a post announcing the gig; a Bluesfest sideshow featuring Bob Marley’s backing band, The Wailers, with support from reggae legends Sly and Robbe, The Taxi Gang, and Bitty McLean on Wednesday 23rd April (tickets here).

Responding to a comment about purchasing Billboard, Corner Presents notes: “We didn’t buy it… We’ve just started working with the team over there and 170 Russell is the new name. So pumped!”

Other upcoming gigs at the newly named 170 Russell include djent metal outfit Periphery in February, followed by SuicideGirls Blackheart Burlesque Tour in March, followed then by metal acts Iced Earth, Dark Tranquility, and Children Of Bodom in May.

It is believed that Billboard will continue booking bands internally alongside their new partners of the rebranded venue, including bookers Way Over There, as confirmed to Tone Deaf today by a spokesperson from the agency.

Way Over There has booked for festivals such as Groovin The Moo, Falls Festival, St Kilda, and Brisbane Festivals, as well as other Corner Presents venues. There is speculation that Way Over There have discontinued their bookings for other Melbourne live music venues, but they declined to comment on the situation, while they were also booking for Splendour In The Grass – the festival is conspicuously missing from their website.

(A photo taken by Tone Deaf outside Billboard The Venue in Russell Street yesterday showing off its new signage)

The news of the Billboard reshuffle arrives amidst a change of climate for Melbourne’s live music scene.

The Victorian State Government introduced a raft of policy reforms yesterday aimed at cutting the red tape that currently entangles live music venues and inner-city licensees. Conspicuously absent from the 36 new reforms however, was the much-touted ‘Agent Of Change’ principle policy, despite previous assurances from Victoria Planning Minister Matthew Guy that it would be introduced.

The ‘Agent Of Change’ policy would essentially make it harder for noise complaints from residents new to an area (such as Mr. Edmonds) from shutting down venues via expensive council disputes and costly soundproofing measures. But the policy is still a ‘work in progress’, according to Minister Guy. “These matters are currently being discussed by government and no decision has been made,” he said yesterday. “The government’s aims though are to protect live music venues in our inner city areas.”

Minister Guy also has the final word on approval of a proposed $70 million redevelopment of The Forum Theatre, that includes the construction of a 32-storey boutique hotel and office complex.

Though it follows hot on the heels of the controversial application to raze fellow Melbourne theatre, The Palace, in favour of a luxury tenement project, the Forum application is “designed to respect the Forum,” according to a representative of Clement-Stone Town Planners, who filed the planning application on behalf of venue owners Marriner family.

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