play / pause / play Is Shining A Light On Adelaide’s Local Music Scene

Luke Penman is the brains behind play / pause / play, a new online radio streaming platform shining a spotlight on Adelaide's live music scene.
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A seasoned all-rounder music writer and storyteller with a specialised interest in the history of rock.

play / pause / play is a new online radio streaming platform that's shining a spotlight on Adelaide's bustling and thriving live music scene.

The service showcases only Australian music from local artists and musicians touring the state, and listeners will be able to tune in for free via the online website or mobile application.

play / pause / play is the brainchild of Luke Penman, a podcaster and former radio host who was increasingly frustrated by the lack of SA music on the airwaves.

Launched in June 2018 after a successful Pozible fundraising campaign that garnered some $12,000 from 334 backers, in December last year the platform clocked up 1,000 app downloads.

Why did you decide to create play / pause / play and what gap/ problem in the market is it addressing?
[Luke] The music industry is inherently tied to radio, but that relationship isn’t working in Adelaide.

As little as eight per cent of music played on our major stations is Australian, but there’s dozens of great new, Aussie-made songs released every week. We know there are hundreds of live music events in Adelaide each week, but it’s often difficult to know what’s happening and how to find new music.

play / pause / play is a project to address this gap in the industry by establishing a new internet radio station that focuses on music relevant to South Australians: 100 per cent Australian music with a big focus on new releases, artists based in Adelaide and artists performing here soon – whether they're playing at Grace Emily, Thebarton Theatre or WOMADelaide.

What level of professional experience do you bring to the venture?
I'm running pretty much everything here: from the music scheduling and audio content creation to website design, social media, marketing and PR, and pretty much everything else (apart from our logo designs).

I've been kicking around the South Australian music scene for about 15 years. From all-ages shows in the beer garden of The Austral to studying at Music SA, dabbling in artist management, blogging and podcasting before winding up at community station Radio Adelaide.

I was there for five years as a volunteer and staff member, working in the music team and hosting the local music programme, Local Noise. I interviewed hundreds of local artists on the weekly show before moving the programme to the morning slot, where I produced and presented the three-hour show five days a week for twelve months.

I've also provided various services to organisations such as Music SA, APRA, Beer & BBQ Festival and the UniSA Student Association, as well as the Cities of Adelaide, Unley and West Torrens, including booking artists, speaking on workshop panels, DJing and MCing events and more.

What sort of content is being made available via the platform?
The radio stream serves two core purposes: showcasing local artists and keeping listeners informed about upcoming gigs in Adelaide.

So many touring artists perform in Adelaide and don’t get the support they deserve from our radio stations. Now they will. We have regular ticket giveaways thanks to our partnerships with venue supporters, right there on the home screen of the app.

At the moment listeners are loving local acts like Neon Tetra, Mane and Electric Fields, and Australian acts Eilish Gilligan and Haiku Hands – all featured on play / pause / play.

What bands and artists will we NOT hear on the platform?
The play / pause / play radio stream focuses on new music from local artists and touring Aussie artists playing in Adelaide soon. There is no Kanye, no Tay-Tay, no Chisel [probably]. Commercial radio has that well and truly covered. We are always on the look out for great, local music.

How successful has the venture been thus far?
The support and encouragement from local musicians and fans has been amazing since we launched in June. Our successful crowdfunding campaign brought us 334 supporters, and play / pause / play’s listenership is growing every day – we are now on the way towards hitting 2,000 app downloads.

We’ve formed some great partnerships with a few live music venues and local councils, and are working towards expanding on that.

How do listeners access your content?
The play / pause / play app makes it easy to discover new Australian music and find out who’s making waves in Adelaide. Just open the app and press play; you just might find your next favourite band – and they’ll likely be local.

The radio stream is live now at with iOS and Android apps also available.

Is there a cost for listeners who want to access the platform?
The play / pause / play app and web player are completely free to access, but we do ask for listeners to pitch in what they can. Music licensing comes at a huge cost, but it’s important that our artists are getting paid for the work they do.

In what ways does the platform benefit local SA artists?
I’ve had people tell me they’re discovering new local music that they weren’t being exposed to elsewhere.

I’ve had people come up and shake my hand in the pub and say they believe in what I’m doing. I had an Uber driver tell me that he’d already heard about the project from a previous passenger. This is a new music discovery option that South Australians have been crying out for.

If we can maintain this momentum, this can be transformative for the local scene. As well as streaming great new Australian-made tunes, play / pause / play features on-demand content including artist interviews, gig guides and industry workshops.

Instead of hosts, listeners hear the voices of artists introducing their own music, giving listeners a background into the creative process and keeping listeners informed of upcoming local performances.

How does an artist or band submit their material to be played on the platform?
The short answer is send us an email, but there's more in-depth info on the website.

Importantly, when sending in your music, send us an artist message – a quick recording of you introducing your song – too. The average listener will give a song seven seconds before changing the station. We can drastically increase that by giving them a reason to stick around.

In the artist message, you can talk about your lyrics, the recording process and, of course, mention any upcoming gigs.

What is your long-term vision for play / pause / play?
The long-term goal is simply to have more people going to gigs more often. Listeners are already loving hearing emerging South Australian artists in among their Aussie favourites, and are buying tickets to see their top play / pause / play discoveries.

People who have lost their connection to the local scene are telling me it makes them want to leave the house again.

To keep doing what we are doing we need steady income streams, through grant funding and public backing, and for people to spread the word to help grow our audience. play / pause / play exists to showcase the amazing music scene in South Australia, to help connect artists with audiences and build a stronger scene.

The radio stream is kind of an umbrella under which several other activities will take place. In December we hosted the Heaps Good 50 countdown, showcasing the top 50 South Australian artists for the year, and I'd like to have more celebrations throughout the year including more podcasts, play / pause / play-produced events, and maybe even vinyl releases.

The next step is sorting out this year's radiothon, which I'm expecting to run in June. That's gonna be the big test of local support. But I'm hoping that, now that everyone's seen what play / pause / play is about, they'll be ready to get behind it and help us keep growing.

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