What’s in store for MusicNSW after 20 years in the biz? A chat with Managing Director Emily Collins

For the last month, MusicNSW has been celebrating a huge 20 years supporting the state’s music industry.

An organisation providing advice, funding, opportunities, and just being all-round legends to musicians and industry folk, they’re the absolute backbone of NSW’s music biz and they’ll continue to be as long as they operate.

To celebrate the big 2-0 and find out a little more about MusicNSW from the inside, we had a chat to Managing Director Emily Collins.

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Photo: Dani Hansen

MusicNSW has spent 20 years supporting the state’s industry where it needs it most. We spoke to Emily Collins to find out where the organisation is headed.

HAPPY: Hey there, how are things? What are you up to at the moment?

EMILY: It’s a pretty busy time for MusicNSW! We’re finishing up our year of programs, working with the NSW Government on their Contemporary Music Plan and getting ready for the state election next March. Oh, and celebrating our 20th birthday!

HAPPY: It was a pretty huge day last week for MusicNSW. What was your reaction to the inquiry’s report?

EMILY: I think the report is fantastic, mostly because it’s an official assessment of the current state of the music industry in NSW. It’s fairly broad and looks at a range of factors that are impacting the industry and suggests methods for managing them – which means the  industry now has something to help guide their advocacy.

HAPPY: At the same time, that’s a lot to look forward to. What is the rollout of these recommendations going to look like?

EMILY: Well let’s not get too ahead of ourselves – they’re just recommendations at this stage. The government needs to respond to the recommendations and it’s their response which will indicate what’s likely to go ahead – both in terms of funding and regulatory reform. They’ve got until the end of February to come back with a response and outline what they endorse. So, until we see what the government is committing too, we will be cautiously optimistic.

HAPPY: Were there any recommendations that had you particularly excited?

EMILY: There are lots of fantastic recommendations, but Recommendation 41 is pretty exciting – the establishment of a Music Hub that houses MusicNSW, rehearsal spaces and recording studios, an all-ages venue and other music business would be so great for NSW. But, I also think the specific funding for Indigenous musicians is really important and I really hope that gets up.

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Image via MusicNSW. See more here.

HAPPY: Looking back a little, MusicNSW just celebrated its 20th birthday. What are some of the programs over the years the organisation is most proud of?

EMILY: We’ve run some great programs over the years, including Indent – a program focused on helping young people put on their own gigs. We also used to run a great program called Whichway, which was an Indigenous talent development program. And my favourite at the moment is Sound Advice – our general industry info program which brings in a bunch of industry experts to talk about how to navigate the industry.

HAPPY: Any big plans for the birthday?

EMILY: We’ve received some really beautiful messages and birthday wishes from the music community that we’ve been sharing on Facebook and Instagram – videos from artists we’ve supported over the years, like Lupa J, Rackett and The Vanns. We’ve also shared videos from other members of the MusicNSW family like Laneway Festival’s Dom O’Connor, who presented Minor Chord, an all-ages music show we used to have on FBi Radio, and Melody Forghani who’s gone from volunteering in our Indent program to starting twnty three and most recently being announced as BIGSOUND’s music programmer. Beyond that, we’re showcasing some of MusicNSW’s history through a Year In Numbers series and a playlist series. Check it all out here!

HAPPY: For the average Joe, what’s a regular practice of MusicNSW that most musicians and industry folk should be aware of?

EMILY: Firstly our new website – it’s got so much info on there about how to navigate the industry. Secondly, come meet some industry experts at our Sound Advice sessions – talks, panels, and masterclasses where we cover the basics of the industry from publishing and distribution, to self-promotion and social media marketing. It’s a good first stop for anyone looking to get into the industry. We’ve also got a whole lot of industry benefits and discounts for recording studios, digital distribution and more available through MusicNSW’s membership, which is free for NSW-based artists and industry!

HAPPY: Are you excited about the next year? It seems like there’s a huge amount happening for you guys.

EMILY: Things are really looking up for NSW, not just because of the government’s focus on the music industry, but because we’ve got so many talented artists, resilient festivals and venues, and loyal audiences who all love music and believe it should be in our every day lives. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry!


Find out more about MusicNSW’s 20th Birthday here.