The Australian Music Industry Is Tearing Itself Apart Over The Commonwealth Games — No, Really
The fight involves a pop band, a veteran singer, and an industry heavyweight.
You might not have expected the Commonwealth Games to kick off one of the nastiest and strangest Australian music fights of the last few years, but here we are.
Over the last week, Brisbane pop outfit Sheppard, veteran singer Katie Noonan, and promoter Michael Chugg have been embroiled in a mud slinging match over the opening ceremony of the Games last Wednesday, and Noonan’s role as musical director of the event.
The ceremony, which took place last Wednesday, was initially met with fierce backlash across social media over the lack of high-profile performers, and the fact it dragged on for two-and-a-half hours. A lot of the criticism was directed entirely at Noonan, with some accusing her of “hogging the limelight” by performing a solo medley of Australian classics, and claiming she used the event to “boost her own profile“.
Noonan then issued a tearful apology across her social platforms on Sunday, writing that she felt “exposed and raw”.
“There has been some horrible media suggesting my musical direction of the Comm Games opening ceremony was driven by ego rather than good,” she wrote. “For me that is the ultimate insult. I feel so deeply sad as my own interests were never the goal.”
Sheppard — who had turned down an opportunity to perform at the ceremony — posted a scathing response to Noonan’s apology, with frontman George Sheppard writing “Karma’s a bitch.”
“I do kinda feel bad for her…but then I remember how she unnecessarily dragged us through the mud in front of the entire Queensland Music Awards,” he wrote on Facebook. “Karma’s a bitch, I guess.”
“This woman has been nothing but mean and nasty,” his bandmate and sister Amy wrote underneath. “A shame because I used to look up to her as an artist.”
The Queensland Music Awards incident Sheppard was referring occurred in 2016, when Noonan criticised the band for not appearing at the ceremony to accept an award.
Katie Noonan Wasn’t The Only One That Copped It
Sheppard also directed their anger at the Commonwealth Games organising committee for allegedly only offering the band “peanuts” to perform at the ceremony.
George Sheppard told a number of media outlets yesterday that the band were only offered $6000 to play, which was intended to cover five days of rehearsal, prerecording the song, and the performance on the night.
“We all felt like they were ripping off artists, so we declined,” George Sheppard told news.com.au. “It would have been great to play, but at the end of the day this is our job and we would have lost money. I’m sure the organisers were paid properly, so why not the featured artists?”
“The production company that was putting on the ceremony was getting a lot of money — we’re talking in the tens of millions,” Sheppard said. “For them, asking us to perform for peanuts, it didn’t sit right for us… The age-old problem of artists not getting paid what they’re worth.”
A number of unnamed high-profile artists turned down the opportunity to perform at the ceremony, which reportedly cost around $17 million.
Then Michael Chugg Got Involved
Sheppard manager and longtime promoter Michael Chugg also laid into the organisers, labelling the ceremony a “huge scam.”
“We were never going to spend four days rehearsing, driving from Brisbane to the Gold Coast every day and play for $6000 and spend $25,000 to do it,” he said. “Like most others we chose to say no — and what we and others were offered for song use was insulting. No one could afford to get there at their own cost and do multiple rehearsals at $5000 to 6000, a huge scam.”
“The UK company that produced the opening and were preferred to highly experienced Australian teams, were paid millions,” he added. “Not much of this stayed in Australia, a total fucking disgrace.”
A spokesperson for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC), declined to comment on specific arrangements when approached by The Music, stating that is “not appropriate” to discuss them.
Katie Noonan’s manager has since responded to the uproar, writing that there has been a large “misunderstanding” about her role in the ceremony.
“To suggest that the MD has unilateral control and the final say on any creative decisions for events of this magnitude is incorrect,” Jesse Flavell wrote on Noonan’s official Facebook. “To suggest that the MD is involved in setting the commercial terms offered to any performers is incorrect. To suggest that the MD controls the camera work and editing choices of the broadcast partner is incorrect.
“Katie was contracted to do a job as an MD and a performer, which she nailed. In this context, she is a cog in a very large machine.”
See the full post from Noonan’s manager below.
The Commonwealth Games closing ceremony is due to take place this Sunday night, with acts such as Guy Sebastian, The Veronicas, and Samantha Jade scheduled to perform.