As the United States revives its live music scene with their unexpectedly efficient COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Australia is falling behind.
Multiple reports point towards ‘frustrating barriers’ as the main issue preventing Australian artists from touring in the land of freedom. Many feel that the delayed vaccine rollout back home is to blame.
Artist manager Catherine Hardy, Executive Director at the Association of Artist Managers (AAM) is just one of many frustrated industry representatives who agree, stating that “for me, at the heart of all this, is a mass vaccination; that factor influences all of the others – quarantine, costs, flights, exemptions. Everything falls off that one big thing.”
And the consequences are drastic for our national scene.
With no foundational vaccine rollout from Australia as of yet, successful charters like rapper Masked Wolf – who is currently hitting #7 on the US Billboard chart – cannot capitalise on his success in the American market.
The Australian Live Music Business Council (ALMBC) Executive General Manager, Craig Spann, explains that “the only way anyone is going to crack a market overseas is through consistent presence.”
Those with a market overseas – which actually includes the majority of charting Australian artists now – are risking losing momentum on their recent success, which in turn puts them at further risk of falling back to a career square one.
I hope every politician is watching Michael Gudinski’s memorial, to see how much Australian music means to the world and how important it is to the fabric of our country. Coming out of Covid, it needs government support more than ever #michaelgudinski
— Dom Alessio (@domalessio) March 24, 2021
In fact, not all Australian artists have their biggest market in Australia. Some artists are doing better overseas, so the risk of not even playing for those interested markets will hurt their success badly.
As a result, many Australian acts are disappearing from US festival lineups, reviving the long battled excuse that Australia is just too far away to justify bookings in the U.S.
Now with the lack of a national vaccine, U.S bookers are sceptical that Aussie artists can even get into the country at all.
However, there is some hope. Organisations like Sounds Australia are currently working closely with Government to streamline the touring process.
While no immediate solutions have arisen just yet, there is hope amongst the community that the vaccine roll-out will get back on track.
Musician Amy Shark has scolded the Queensland Premier on social media, accusing Annastacia Palaszczuk of deserting the music industry, which was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. https://t.co/5dZtNYrHXz pic.twitter.com/DFyEExxQKq
— The Australian (@australian) May 10, 2021