New Rule Could Force Taylor Swift & Other International Artists To Promote Aussie Musicians

taylor swift and sabrina carpenter during the eras tour in australia

Should huge international artists like Taylor Swift and SZA be forced to tap local musicians to open their shows, rather than international stars? That’s the argument the local industry is lobbying for, saying it would help support Australian artists in a particularly tricky industry. 

Taylor had Sabrina Carpenter open for her during the Eras Tour, and the pint-sized singer has recently blown up worldwide with her hit “Espresso”. This coveted opening spot for a superstar like Swift could have injected some much-needed life into our own music industry. 

After artist managers fought tirelessly in the ‘00s to make sure local musicians were opening for international acts, it became standard practice. However, it was an unwritten rule without a formal agreement, and this is seemingly no longer happening. 

At a time when the Australian music industry is in bad shape, any help local artists can get would make a huge difference. Music festivals have been cancelled left, right and centre, and many musicians are struggling to make a living wage. 

Australian musician Barkaa at the Aria awards

Shouldn’t Australian musicians be tapped to open for international stars? (Image: Getty)

In 2023, half of Australia’s musicians earned less than $6,000 over the financial year, according the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance. This is obviously not sustainable, and many artists have been forced to quit the volatile industry. 

“We’ve got a problem that musicians have not been able to sustain careers in a market that is increasingly making them bear all the risk,” MEAA’s Paul Davies told the ABC.

Executive director of the Association of Artist Managers, Maggie Collins wants Australian acts opening for international acts to become the industry standard again, to help musicians navigate this tough industry. She’s calling it “Michael’s Rule”, after the late Michael McMartin who was heavily involved with the original agreement back in the ‘00s.

“It was previously a self-regulated code of conduct,” Collins told the SMH

“Michael was a big part of making that happen. Everyone respected it, but my understanding is that it wasn’t governed in any way.”

Could the Federal Government be involved?

The Association of Artist Managers want promoters to get involved and create a “voluntary code of conduct”. If they don’t want to be part of this, there’s a chance that the Federal Government could help the association out. 

“Visa requirements are one idea we have had; international touring artists can only be issued visas if they comply with Michael’s Rule,” Collins said.

“We’ve also discussed quota systems for tours, similar to what exists for local TV and radio, so international acts have to meet a local quota.”

However, it looks like this is a long way off yet, with Federal Arts Minister Tony Burke saying: “The government doesn’t want to have to add another layer of regulation here; it shouldn’t be too much to ask that there be an Australian support act.”

Taylor Swift holding a pink guitar during an Eras Tour concert

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour came to Australia earlier this year. (Image: Getty)

Has Taylor Swift ever had an Australian opening act?

Taylor Swift has previously tapped Australian and New Zealand talent to open for her tours, so there’s no reason why she couldn’t go back to doing just that. 

She hired Guy Sebastian for her Red tour in 2013, Vance Joy in 2015 for her 1989 tour, and Kiwi band Broods for her Reputation tour in 2018. 

As long as any deals made by the association won’t stop me from seeing Olivia Rodrigo this year, it seems like a perfectly good idea.