2019 Turn Up! Music Conference Review

Stuart Coupe (left) and Howard Freeman at the 2019 Turn Up! Music Conference. Stuart Coupe (left) and Howard Freeman at the 2019 Turn Up! Music Conference. Image © Marc Austin-Zande

There was no shortage of music industry heavyweights on hand at the sixth annual edition of the Turn Up! Music Conference, held at Solbar for the second time.


Turn Up! continues to punch above its weight as the only truly regional music conference attracting top shelf speakers. With each instalment, Turn Up! has built on the quality of the previous year to create a packed out two-day programme of professional development.

Top of the pops for this year was a keynote delivered by charismatic promoter Michael Chugg, who spoke at length about his time in the industry while regaling rapt audiences with his collection of stories gathered over the years.

In a speech that spanned how he got his start, to touring with some of the world's biggest acts, Chugg also stressed the importance of Australian artists remaining independent and how best to utilise emerging technologies for promotion and distribution.

In summarising his vision for Australia's highly talented First Nations artists, Michael's message was succinct: “We are all Australians - together and alone we make great music.”

If there was any doubt about the current strength of Australia's music industry, the APRA-AMCOS panel facilitated by Screamfeeder's Kellie Lloyd put them to rest, revealing the country's live music economy is worth around $300 million annually, growing as it continues “kicking goals in the global environment”.

From the health of the industry to that of our musicians and performers, the Health Wealthy And Wise panel covered a wide array of issues relating to the importance of mental health and well-being in the music industry.

Between Shannon Ward, Dr Bill Anseline, Scott Maughan and Lucius Borich, the panel broached topics as diverse as maintaining physical and mental health on tour, dealing with performance anxiety and the impact of financial-related stress on musicians when they are not being paid correctly, or in some cases, at all.

Among the glittering pearls of wisdom shone perhaps the brightest gem of this year's proceedings: an in-conversation panel titled 'Road Running: How To Survive In The Fast Lane Of Rock 'n' Roll' with author Stuart Coupe interviewing who he considers the 'godfather of Australian roadies' Howard Freeman.

Also on the panel was Sophie Kirov, who represents the new breed of Australian roadies making a name for themselves globally in the realm of technical production. Sophie discussed the evolving topic of the increased presence women have in production roles and how the industry landscape is becoming more accepting of women taking up the challenge.

It just wouldn't be Turn Up! without the ever-popular I Heart Songwriting Club masterclass held by the sublime Francesca de Valence, who shared her personal model (that actually works!) for breaking through creative blocks to write a complete song.

The conference is a valuable addition to the calendar offering up-close-and-personal engagements with industry professionals just as its 'big city' conferences. Full steam ahead to Turn Up! 2020.

Turn Up! Music Conference was held at Solbar (Sunshine Coast) 17-18 October.

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