Cracking into any creative career is bloody hard. So many people want exactly what you want which makes for one hell of a professional rat race. The music industry is no exception – in fact, it could be up there as one of the most in-demand and therefore the most competitive.
But while plenty of people think that working in a sought-after career like music is all perk and little work – oh honey, no, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s the dedication to the hard work that sets the music industry heavyweights from those who live a life and career unrealised. We spoke to the unsung heroes of the music industry for all of the dirt, from cracking into the in-demand field to loose moments.
BENNIS (BEN DENNIS)
Founder, Myriad Management
Photo: Instagram / @bennis.
Ben Dennis is first and foremost a manager / professional babysitter from Aussie electronic duo Peking Duk, as well as all-round ledge Bensen. The ARIA winner’s a mass fan of special staging effects like the CO2, flames, confetti and streamers you see at Peking Duk shows, so that makes us a massive fan of him.
P.TV: What’s some crazy shit you’ve experienced on the job?
BENNIS: After we touched down in Saigon [after Coachella 2015], we were greeted by six supercars & luxury cars, all with ‘Peking Duk’ spray painted on them. Adam rode in the Bentley, I rode in a Porsche, and Reuben rode in a BMW, and our over-the-top motorcade made our way to the next destination – the castle our host, Donny, had built on the outskirts of Saigon.
This was all a lot considering how jet lagged and sleep-deprived we were. We spent a week at this guy’s home/castle which had its fair share of surprises: Peking Duk performed next to the castle’s pool on the back of a ute – the show had to be stopped shortly before it began so they could reverse the ute a bit as it was rolling into the pool due to the guys jumping on the tray so heavily.
P.TV: What ’bout the biggest fail?
BENNIS: Probably performing a festival in Gold Coast and having the whole DJ booth fall forward off the riser and have the music stop for 3 or 4 minutes. It hadn’t been secured properly, but luckily Adam and Reuben held it together and started freestyle rapping, which was hilarious and kept the audience engaged. Or maybe at the Splendour just gone when Reuben threw his bass around him in a 360 degree sweep which clipped AlunaGeorge in the face (who had flown over from LA especially for the show).
Head Of Promotions, Inertia Music
Meg Williams is the Head of Promotions at Inertia Music and media contact at Keep Sydney Open. Before nabbing those prestigious titles, she was co-director at Spark & Opus and executive director at the Association of Artist Managers. Her career to date teaches you that you don’t need to know the exact position you’re after, just the industry you want to be a part of, and can move up and around from there.
P.TV: What’s been a real highlight of your career this far?
MEG: Last year Sia asked Australian Marriage Equality to accept an ARIA award on her behalf and used the occasion to rally for marriage equality in Australia. I played a small role in organising that – it was really special to see a huge live audience and the TV audience rally behind a cause that I hold very dear, and to know we helped spark that. Oh and once I met Bjork.
P.TV: What advice do you have for someone wanting the same gig as you?
MEG: Be honest and kind and patient. No matter how late you are out the night before, make sure you show up the next day.
Founder, Gigpiglet Productions
Photo: Facebook / Gigpiglet.
Gareth Stuckey (aka The Gigpiglet) is a highly respected engineer and production manager in the Aussie music industry who has an ARIA under his belt.
He oversaw over 100 shows being production manager of A Day On The Green festival, works with Billions Australia to tour with artists like Death Cab For Cutie and Bon Iver, has his own recording studio as part of Gigpiglet Recordings in Sydney‘s Waterloo and is to thank for the production and recording of NOVA’s Red Room series.
P.TV: How hard did you have to hustle for your gig?
GARETH: Its not all bright and shiny. There is SO MUCH hard work – late nights, early mornings, gigs for no money and so on to get recognised and build up a reputation and portfolio. Experience (and good connections) are key – for everything you do, make sure everyone involved walks away singing your praises. No matter what your position in the job was, if people remember you as being great at it, then the next time you come across them they trust you, appreciate you, and will give you more responsibility or more work.
I got my nickname (and now my company name) Gigpiglet because when i was a teenager trying to get into the scene, I took every single gig I could, irrelevant of the time, position, pay or whatever. I just got involved everywhere I could and spent every hour I could doing things in the industry. If i wasn’t mixing live then I was recording or mixing peoples demos (on whatever gear i could scrounge), and if there where no audio gigs I was loading in lights or doing corporate events.
Broad experience makes you much better at everything – not just the job you want to do, but better at life. I think that the more you do, see and experience, the better you can be and the more you can understand what you actually want to focus on. A big-picture understanding is really important no matter what you want to do.
Co-Director, Select Music Booking Agency
Rob Giovannoni (aka ROB G) has 20 years+ experience in the music industry working with acts like Ball Park Music, The Jungle Giants, Boy & Bear, RUFUS, Tkay Maidza.
He’s a talent booker for venues including Spectrum, FBi Social, Oxford Arts Factory, The Gaelic Club, Newtown RSL & The Globe Venue and tours international acts like Public Enemy and The Dandy Warhols.
P.TV: How’d you score such a ~kewl~ job?
ROB: My next door neighbour worked at a booking agency called Trading Post Agency (now called New World Artists) – she mentioned there was an opportunity for a Junior at the agency. I managed to impress at the interview. It was an admin / worksheets + rolling up posters role. From that it developed into booking acts. Another agent at the agency decided to leave and asked me to join up forces – we formed Hype Promotions – an agency, events + touring company.
Then came Underground Promotions (booking agency/management and venue bookings) where I was my own boss. Five years in I decided to take a break for a year – and travelled over overseas with my wife. Came back, met up with Stephen Wade (co-director) and started to form SELECT MUSIC in 2002.
You never know who you talk to where it might lead. Any part of the music industry can lead into various paths that you might not expect. A job interview opportunity / an intern opportunity will gain experience for you – all is useful to where you want to end up.
Music Director, FBi Radio
Photo: Instagram / @body_promise.
As music director (FBi’s third since the station launched in 2003), Amelia’s responsible for shaping the sound of FBi Radio through music programming, interviews and all music-focused content on air and online.
P.TV: What do you froth on the most when it comes to your job?
AMELIA: Is it cheesy if I say everything? It’s really hard to single any one thing out in particular. I love getting to listen to music all day every day. I love supporting musicians and in a small way, helping their music dreams come true and I also really love the team I work with. It’s so nice to come to a workplace every day knowing that everyone is genuinely excited to be there.
So look, while it’s no cinch to crack into the coveted music industry it’s well worth it. It’s just a touch more exciting than your average 9-5. Just a touch.
For more on the unsung heroes of the music business, get amongst Levi’s new menswear campaign. It’s born from the fashion label’s affinity + deep connection with the music industry, capturing the stories of 12 music heavy weights. Check it HERE.