Career

Music Industry Masterclasses

July 1, 2020

Not even a pandemic can stop The Push for delivering value to its users!

Thrilled to be facilitating four music industry masterclasses for The Push over the next couple of months, on behalf of Bolster. The first session will a workshop on Bandcamp, followed by one on YouTube plus two more to be announced. Every session will have an expert in each platform giving their best tips and tricks on how emerging artists and music industry professionals can get the most of the product, followed by a Q&A session hosted by me. Full disclaimer – I plan on being a bit selfish and picking their collective brains on everything that I’ve ever wanted to know, but I will definitely make sure that the attendees answers get some airtime too!

Register for the Bandcamp Music Industry Masterclass with their Artist & Label Ambassador Will Evans. Register for the YouTube Music Industry Masterclass with Ant McCormarck from Changer Studios. Keep an eye on The Push’s event listings page to find out more about the yet-to-be-announced instalments of the masterclass series.

For those who have not heard of The Push, it’s an incredible non-profit youth organisation based in Melbourne with the goal of making music accessible to youth organisations. A huge part of this is helping set up our next generation of music industry professionals for success, but another stream is making sure live music is accessible to often forgotten youth audiences. (Also I’m a proud board member.)

In line with The Push’s core value to make sure their services are accessible, all these workshops are completely free of charge and open to everyone. See ya in Zoom!

Old Media, New Media with Melbourne International Jazz Festival

June 30, 2020

I spoke on a career development panel for Melbourne International Jazz Festival earlier this month, as part of the iconic institution’s online music and learning festival.

The panel was hosted by the festival’s own Dean Worthington, who brings over a decade’s worth of arts sector wisdom. I was joined by some absolute powerhouses: music journalist Michael Dwyer, Lior Albeck-Ripka (co-founder of artist and events agency Hear Them Holler, and also a key player at Festival of Jewish Arts and Music, Sarah Guppy (the brains behind This Much Talent, Gig Life Pro and all-round music PR lord).

It was a fascinating chat about publicity, telling artist stories, communities plus my thoughts on why the idea of ‘gatekeepers of culture’ in the music space is problematic. (I have so many thoughts about Blackout Tuesday.)

Watch our chat below (please enjoy my not-staged-at-all-what-are-you-talking-about Zoom background) and find out more about the wider digital festival here.

Side B Sessions

May 8, 2020

Bolster ambitiously (and successfully, might I add) rolled out a full day conference last year in Sydney and Melbourne. It was a day packed with keynotes, workshops and panel discussions around music, audiences, community building, tech, social media, advertising and brand marketing. We rolled out a full session in Melbourne and went back for seconds in Sydney a couple of days later.

I presented two different talks at Side B: Cultivating Communities (about fandoms, communities, and how brands can get in on that action) and a State of Play (where we’re at with consumers, advertising and tech). I also had a nightmarish trip back from Sydney where our flight was delayed a billion hours and my plane seat was covered in something that could have been blood or jam or both. (Oh the days of interstate travel, I miss you yet I really don’t at the same time.)

Since it’s going to be a while since we get to hang out in large groups again, Bolster are doing what we do best – innovating and adapting. We’re proud to announce that we’re doing Side B again, especially at a time when people need it most. We’ve also made it free and on Zoom to be accessible for anyone (not just Bolster clients in Sydney and Melbourne). Side B Sessions will be coming at you with a one-hour session per week, and a mix of guests that’ll include Bolster and industry leaders.

I’ll be co-presenting the second Side B Session, an updated state of play (since so much has changed since we presented this last in October). I’ll be Zooming into your respective home offices/bedrooms/kitchens/bathrooms with my Bolster peeps on Tuesday May 19. I’ll specifically be covering off how media demand and consumption has changed (and why), and how the consumers of 2020 are showing their love.

Sign up for it here, plus find info on some of the other sessions we have planned. See you, can’t promise I won’t be wearing sweat pants during the Zoom keynote!

Side B Sessions #2

Side B Sessions #2: Digital state of play is tomorrow ⚡️All the rules have changed since our last keynote, so Paige X. Cho and Cat Rewha will be taking you through the current COVID-19 climate. Sign up here.

Posted by Bolster on Sunday, May 17, 2020

VMDO Networking Breakfast

April 29, 2020

Love the VMDO’s work ? Those four letters stand for the Victorian Music Development Office, and this power house team truly support and empower the contemporary music industry in VIC.

They’ve been running their Networking Breakfasts for a few months (maybe a year?) out of White Sky Music‘s office in Collingwood. As soon as the pandemic hit, they deftly translated their event into an online affair. I had the pleasure of joining today’s Twitch session, and it was incredible that they were able to recreate the IRL experience online in a way that truly provided value. (I.e. not a bunch of faceless peeps feeling very disconnected while watching a webinar.) The VMDO split us off into Zoom breakout rooms for networking (got deep into a conversation about the state of live music venues), had a beautiful Welcome To Country by their First Peoples Business Manager, and an engaging panel discussion followed up by ample question time.

So with all of this in mind, I’m very excited to be taking part in their next VMDO Networking Breakfast on Wed May 13 on behalf of Bolster!

I’ll be taking a deeper look at how social media/media demand and consumption has shifted during COVID-19. I’ll explain how music businesses can use these insights to not just survive but actually thrive during this period of downturn. My presentation will cover not just social media platforms, but also usage of other entertainment channels like YouTube, Netflix and Spotify. Co-presenting with me is Leesa Snider from Achord Agency. Sign up here.

BRB finding my best sweat pants for my first at-home Zoom public speaking engagement!

Cultivate

March 1, 2020

Stoked to reveal that I’m in Music Victoria‘s 2020 Cultivate program! ?

The program is a women-only leadership program for the music industry, and is running in partnership with the Victorian Government. The personal development initiative is designed for mid-career established women in the local music industry.

The first iteration of the program ran last year, with Kate Duncan (CEO, The Push), Dallas Frasca (Director, A Hitch To the Sticks), Katie Besgrove (Co-Owner, Look Out Kid; GM, Barely Dressed Records), Coco Eke (Label Manager, Bad Apples Music) and Sally Mather (Music & Marketing Manager, Corner Group).

I applied last year and missed out to the above incredible women, but actually think it was a blessing in disguise. Over the past 12 months at Bolster, my role has changed slightly to include more management, and I’ve had more leadership training and mentoring internally so that I can jump straight into it at Cultivate this time round.

This year, I will be joined by five other incredible women: UNIFIED Music Group’s Ashleigh Hills; broadcaster, DJ and event curator Danielle Rizk; Sanicki Lawyers’ Moira Mckenzie, Girls Rock! Melbourne’s Shannon Driscoll and Remote Control Record’s Victoria Sweetie Zamora

My mentor will be Shamini Rajarethnam, who is currently CEO of Rationale and has a very impressive backstory. Leadership Victoria has also given me access to Dana Eisenstein, an incredible executive coach.

The three-month program kicked off last Thursday at The Corner Hotel. We met our mentors and coaches, had a few mind-blowing workshops and were treated to keynote speeches from Aminata Conteh-Biger, and the Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp.

We also collectively brainstormed what seven traits we think effective leaders have to shape the discussions for the next three months. (We decided on empathy, integrity, vulnerability, confidence, kindness, self-awareness and courage.)

The main catalyst for me applying to Cultivate is that I have zero formal training in management or leadership (like, oh say 99.99% of people working in the music industry). As my role develops with Bolster’s growth, I’ve had to manage more people, and it’s in my duty of care to nurture their careers and personal development.

And finally, I also take it on myself personally to be a visible example to younger women of colour in the music industry. When I first started out over a decade ago, I don’t think I knew any women of colour working in any capacity in the industry (no doubt they existed, I just hadn’t met them), let alone in leadership roles. Let’s change this ? 

2019: Year In Review

December 24, 2019

This year was a milestone year for me – 10 years in the music industry. An entire bloody decade. Here’s a list of some things I did in 2019 that stuck out in my head.

  • Celebrated my fourth work anniversary at Bolster. I’m now practically part of the furniture.
  • I tackled my fear of solo vacationing in 2018, but took it a step further this year by going overseas (to New Zealand) by myself for the first time. Stayed in a converted stable on a working deer farm. Fed all the many farm animals. Learnt how to put snow chains on. Saw snow for the first time since the 90s. Went hiking. Sailed across Milford Sound. Discovered that there’s some interesting Kiwi sandwich that’s just pineapple and cheese with mayo. ?
  • Went to BIGSOUND for the 8th time, where I swore to never have another espresso martini for as long as I live.
  • Got over my public speaking anxiety, and…
  • Had the absolute honour of doing public speaking engagements for Bolster in QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC, SA and WA. Next year I’ll have to try to get to NT and TAS ☺️ (Seriously – if you happen to be in either of those areas and need someone to talk about music or advertising, hmu). One particular highlight was my CHANGES talk because it was the biggest crowd I’ve ever talked to. Ever.
  • Bought an $8 phone tripod from Kmart, and discovered the joys of illustration time lapses.
  • Went to Golden Plains for the first time ever. Wore a gold dress (of course). Felt like a shiny bitch. Wondered why it took me so long to get myself to GP.
  • Listened to a lot of techno. A lot.
  • Worked/am working on the largest tour that Bolster has ever advertised with Elton John’s farewell tour. (Think 34 stadium shows.)
  • Stayed in a 100-year old post office in a ghost town for a songwriting trip with Fever Land. Met some beautiful horses.
  • The creative industries job board that I run with my friend Fran hit 700 peeps!

That’s it. Happy holidays and see y’all in 2020! ✨ 

The A-Z Of New Music Marketing

July 13, 2019

The second iteration of the CHANGES Music Summit rolled into Melbourne last week, and it was incredible. The programming was refreshing, with thought-provoking sessions on offer. The APRA AMCOS networking brekkie was fun (tiny croissants filled with bananas!) and I bumped into lots of Bolster friends across the two-day event. And also never going to complain about learning and meeting new people in a location as beautiful as Abbotsford Convent.

Oliver Hall (Senior Campaign Manager at Bolster) and I were asked to do a talk about the A-Z of new music marketing on day 1 of the conference. It was the largest group of people I’ve ever talked to in my whole life ? but it was wonderful having a speaking buddy with Ollie and our presentation GIF game was on fire ?

Paige X. Cho & Ollie Hall at CHANGES. Picture by Eric Peng.

I’m not going to re-share the full A-Z in this post, but here are three of my faves:

ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS:

Might seem boring to highlight this in a list with fun tech advancements like AR or the rise of dark social, but insights are one of the most valuable things a marketer can possess.

A little context. The amount of data music marketers have is astounding. We have access to Facebook Page Insights, Facebook Audience Insights, Chartmetric, Next Big Sound, Spotify For Artists, Spotify For Brands, Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, YouTube Analytics and so much more at our fingertips. And you bet that every one of these platforms is also constantly making their metrics more and more nuanced by the day.

Having all of these numbers are great, but it can be totally overwhelming. It’s crucial to not only have the data, but use it to pull out key insights that mean something and take action based on that. As in:

data > insight > action

It’s sick if you know that most of your Facebook fans tend to be online at 10pm, but what use is it if you still post content at 2pm because you don’t work at night? Or knowing your most requested song on Triple J if you don’t turn it into an encore? Or figuring out Adelaide is your top Spotify city but not adding it to a tour because no one tours South Australia? Or having data that shows 90% of your ticket page traffic comes from mobiles, but the mobile experience sucks so mobile traffic only accounts for 30% of final ticket sales?

You get the picture. (If you want to get nerdy about the data > insight > action cycle this is a great read.)

MOBILE FIRST:

When I started working at Bolster in 2015, I noticed that desktop was the top device for most music festival sites. People just liked using their computers to connect with festivals. A year later in 2016, I could see the beginnings of mobile growth. Some festivals started to see more mobile traffic overall, but desktop usage spiked when tickets went on sale (because frankly, some ticketing companies were decidedly mobile unfriendly at the time).

Fast forward to 2019 and mobile takes the cake. Across our clients, the wider industry and just the plain old internet, lots of people browse (for leisure anyway) using a phone. Ticketing companies have improved their mobile UX massively, and we’re seeing mobile as the #1 device for festivals throughout every stage of the campaign.

Yet… I do hear of marketers/brands/businesses prioritising desktop (not clients, but just in my wider networks). The most common culprit is that someone higher up (ahem, a director perhaps) doesn’t understand mobile. Said person approves websites/designs based on what they look like on their 2011 Windows Dell computer using Internet Explorer. Mate. Seriously.

This doesn’t apply to just websites though. Future marketers need to mobile optimise everything a consumer will see online*, including video creative, photos, captions, links, everything.

* Exception to this is if your business/artist has more desktop use, but check your analytics. An example might be a job ad site where people tend to apply for roles on their computer, or maybe the blogging interface for users (not readers) to write long form. CHECK YOUR STATS.

OPTIMISATION: 

I occasionally get asked if I’m worried robots will steal my job… They already have, and I am so fine with it.

Back in 2014, digital advertisers had to pretty manually optimise everything. If I had five campaigns with three audiences in each, and each ad set had three ads… I would have to individually check out each campaign across all three levels and decide what to keep live, kill or tweak. This took up an enormous amount of time.

Facebook and Google have since used machine learning (read: AI) to optimise campaigns for marketers. The platforms can do anything from serving out an ad creative that’s better at selling tickets, or spend more of your campaign budget on the audience most likely to RSVP to a Facebook event. Bonkers.

I’ll let the robots do that happily so I can spend more time doing campaign strategy, channel planning and data analysis.

Here’s to CHANGES 2019, and see y’all at CHANGES 2020! Perhaps with another 26 buzz words rolling around my head at that time.

Pic by Eric Peng.

EMC Connect Melbourne

June 30, 2019

While Sydney is the Electronic Music Conference’s home, the event has also been hosting EMC Connect mini events in Brisbane and Melbourne. I’ve never been to EMC proper before but have heard incredible things. When they asked me to be involved with EMC Connect Melbourne, my answer was absolutely said hell yes.

The Growth Guides: Prioritising Community panel looked at how to build strong online and offline music communities, and what is key for generating support, real engagement and fandom (not just stats). The panel was facilitated by the excellent Arlo Enemark from Xelon Entertainment and Medium Rare Recordings. Joining me on the panel was Jerry Poon from The Operatives (actually a Bolster client), Xander Malual from The Listening Co and Juñor Ondaatje from AUDollars/R.E.A.L Music. Here are some of the conversations we had:

  • What’s your approach when Bolster clients want stats over prioritising a community or real fans? We actually get asked this fairly often. Some clients are hellbent on numbers like post reactions and Facebook fans, but we call these vanity metrics. We’ll always try to uncover the real life business outcomes behind these and focus on these for clients instead and find these vanity metrics follow anyway. (Real business outcomes might include people engaging with website content, clicking out of a Linkfire or purchasing a ticket.)
  • How do you find networks when you know no one? Go out to events, be nice, get to know people, offer to help and ask for help.
  • How do you keep your existing audience but find new people? We all had slightly different answers but my thoughts here… Look at it through two lenses: 1) what will existing fans like, and 2) what will appeal to new audiences? Put that in a Venn diagram. Aim for the middle so you aren’t alienating your current audience for the sake of growth.
  • What to do if you’re an artist and about to possibly get kicked out of Australia due to visa issues? If you’re a bedroom producer (especially if you’re a bedroom producer) you can literally create music from anywhere in the world.

Thanks to EMC Connect for the great conversation. Next panel appearance will be in Adelaide next month!

Indie-Con 2019

June 26, 2019

Returning to Adelaide next month for my yearly AIR Awards visit!

In addition to that the awards, I’ll also be in town for the Australian Independent Record Labels Association’s Indie-Con music conference. I’ll be speaking on the Tech Health for Indies panel on behalf of Bolster, along with my former Shock boss Mick Tarbuk (who know heads up Believe Digital in Australia), Bill Wilson (SVP of Operations and Innovation at Entertainment One) and Jacqui Louez Schoorl (Jaxsta).

Hit me up if you’ll be around for the AIR Awards or Indie-Con and want to be a canape buddy at the awards ?? (I am always that person at events networking but actually just looking out for food trays coming by…)

Conference info and tickets here.

VMDO Digital Masterclass

May 12, 2019

The Victorian Music Development Office (VMDO for short) has been absolutely killing it. The VMDO is tasked to help grow our local music industry with a special focus on small/medium businesses. I was lucky enough to attend and have my mind blown at their recent Unconscious Bias class, and have had their networking breakfasts on my to-do list for a while now.

So I was absolutely thrilled when Katie Stewart asked if I’d be interested in hosting a Bolster digital masterclass for the music industry, as part of their Experts In Residence program! Previous Experts In Residence include Andrew Fuller of Clearview Legal Council, Sally Christou of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (around HR) and Paul Luczak & Mark Rice of The Gild Group (covering finance for music businesses).

I haven’t fully finalised the curriculum for the 3-hour class yet, but it’ll be focused on paid advertising, specifically:

  • Channel planning, with a look at what each platform excels/sucks at, what your campaign needs and how the channels can work together (this is a key step to a successful campaign but most 101 digital classes seem to gloss over this like me during a Star Trek film)
  • Campaign structuring
  • How to get started across all these platforms (easy takeaways for class participants to use as a reference guide later)
  • Machine learning 101 (my fave)

The session will be on the morning of Tuesday May 28, and it’s free for Victorian music businesses. Places are strictly limited, and you can apply here.

P.S. there will be a lot of GIFs in my presentation in case that’s a problem for you ?

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