In what is set to be a growing trend for the live music industry, Falls Festival organisers announced on Wednesday that they would push ahead with the 2020/21 event with an all-Australian line-up – a departure from its traditional use of international acts as headliners.
As bored music buffs turn to social media to find new tunes, Chugg said some Australian acts are also seeing major growth in streams and views from overseas, which will help them in the long term when international touring restarts.
“It is only going to make Australian music stronger,” Chugg said. “We have seen acts like Lime Cordiale, Casey Barnes and Sheppard picking up fans overseas all the time.”
While Chugg too will focus on domestic talent, what the industry looks like on the other side of the pandemic is unclear.
“[It] will recover, how long it takes and what direction it goes I don’t know, but I don’t think it will ever be the same again,” he said.
Field is optimistic – a recent Live Nation survey of ticket buyers found that 89 per cent of respondents would see live music when restrictions are eased. But he said a successful return to live music would require a joint effort from the whole industry.
“This is a time to be working together and helping the government to determine a plan for our events to come back,” he said. “We aren’t going to be able to do that without ensuring the safety, wellbeing and health of our audiences, staff and artists. That has to be the absolute focus.”
Live music organisers and venues are preparing for easing social restrictions, focusing on sanitation, crowd control measures and contactless transactions.
But even as the restrictions are rolled back, challenges for the industry will continue. The promoters believe it will take time and encouragement for the public to overcome their hesitations.
“I don’t think we are going to see a 500-person venue with 500 people in it,” Chugg said. “I think you will see a 1000-person venue with 500 people in it… what that allows is acts like Lime Cordiale or Tones and I to play 10 nights in a row, hypothetically speaking. I think that is the sort of thing you will see for the near future at least.”
The jury is still out on international acts. Field remains confident that some international touring will recommence this year, with tickets to pop star Harry Styles’ gig in November still on sale. Jones is less confident.
“We are starting to lock in international acts for the back end of 2021 at this stage,” Jones said.
Nathanael Cooper is a senior culture writer at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age with a focus on music.