As a part of the Melbourne Music Week Hub, Face The Music will smash all expectations, a game changing event and a must attend for anyone aspiring to work in the music industry. This includes some of the best and brightest people involved in the industry – booking agents, journalists, program managers, and triple and quadruple threats are among the talents presenting. Among these, includes German industry representatives Michael Pohl, Kontor New Media, Bjørn Pfaar, Silke Westera and Michael Schuster from Cargo Records as part of the Music Passport program who we chat with below.
Hey Michael, thanks for chatting. Firstly, what made you decide to become part of the Face the Music’s Music Passport program?
I was not aware I am part of the Passport program, so may I win an OZ passport at the end of the show? This would be cool! Actually I heard about it via AIR some time ago and it sounds like a bunch of interesting people having a good time and exchange in the creative industry
When you opened your first record store at 18, you were going against the grain by selling punk records in a small Bavarian town. What made you decide that this was something you wanted to dedicate your life to?
To be honest, it was never my intention to start a punk rock store in deepest Bavaria. But back then I lived there and we put on shows, sold records of bands we liked out of the back of a van so opening Subway Records somehow came naturally. At the time SubPop, SST, Touch&Go, Dischord and many more cool labels released brilliant music that sold in the store. When I left Bavaria and started Cargo in the midwest of Germany it never occurred to me that I would distribute these labels some years later and manufacture and store their releases with Cargo.
While working under your record label Subway Records, you signed artists such as The Notwist and the Resistors. One of the bands you signed, Bored!, originated from Geelong in Australia, with two of their members going on to become the Powder Monkeys. Having worked with both, what do you feel differentiates musicians from Germany and Australia in terms of sound?
There is that typical OZ sound! It’s cool, laid back but different to the American sound. Bored! were the Australian answer to Soundgarden or Mudhoney. There are many great bands out of Australia in all different genres making an impact all over the globe. Also many great and upcoming bands like Gold Class, Bench Press or Camp Cope. Courtney Barnett is a great songwriter and so is Cash Savage. Up and coming HC bands like Northlane, The Amity Affliction or a growing electronic scene are so diverse and are not only making waves in Australia.
What is the most exciting or interesting part about working in the music industry?
I have been working in the industry for over 25 years now and it still excites me to hear new music and meet new people. There are so many talented people out there who burn for their art even though it has definitely not become easier to actually be a full-time artist. In the past, say, three years, the industry has taken big steps and I’m not sure it’s all for the best. The way music is getting heard, consumed or purchased has changed and so have the business models. The challenge for the independent creative industry will be to compete with only a very few big companies which are controlling the majority of the market. The market share of the independents is only 30% compared to releasing 70% of all the music. That is definitely a challenge we cannot ignore.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you can give to readers considering a career in the music industry as independent artists?
Don’t expect to get rich and famous! If so, you have done everything right! If not, don’t give up as long you believe in what you do and enjoying it. You have chosen to be an artist, be one.
What can readers expect to learn from your place in Face the Music’s speaker lineup?
I can tell what mistakes you should avoid because I probably made every single one! I can talk about a monster called Amazon or we just have a chat about Australian artists and if JB Hi-Fi can ever be as cool as a record shop?
Visit facethemusic.org.au for more info. Tickets on sale now.
When & Where: Various Locations, November 23 & 24