Australia’s Music Industry Is Rallying To Stop NSW’s ‘War On Music’, And They Need Your Help
"This is the lockout laws all over again, but worse."
Today, Australian music industry figures, promoters, policy advisors, labels and more have banded together to launch Don’t Kill Live Music, a new group determined to fight off the NSW government’s recent regulations surrounding music festivals. And they need your help.
In recent weeks, two NSW music festivals, Psyfari and Mountain Sounds, have cancelled days before they were due to begin, citing exuberant government-and-police fees. In addition, last November Bohemian Beatfreaks announced it was relocating to Queensland to escape a hefty $200,000 police fee — a considerable hike from the previous year’s $10,000.
In response to Mountain Sounds’ comments about the fees, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian gave a statement in which she defended the increased fees, and said “I don’t think it’s fair for organisers to blame anybody but themselves.”
The NSW Government recently announced that a new festival liquor licence regulation will come into effect on March 1, which will further increase prices based off the festival’s ‘risk level’, with size, event type and history of overdoses coming among other things. Most large scale music festivals will automatically be regarded as high risk, something which the Premier herself appears to not realise.
Don’t Kill Live Music demands that the government reconsider its current regulations, be more transparent with fee regulation, and involve the music industry in conversations through a ‘music regulation roundtable’. It has launched a petition today on Change.org, which as of writing has more than 8,000 of its target 10,000 signatures.
“Overbearing regulation, exorbitant police bills, a lack of respect for NSW businesses, and very little recognition of the significant positive impacts of music on our communities is forcing music out of NSW,” it says. “The State Government has declared war on music and culture in NSW, proclaiming that music and music festivals are high-risk activities.”
Current signatories include a variety of artists (Amy Shark, Cut Copy, festivals (Bigsound, Beyond The Valley), organisations (FBi Radio, Milk! Records, Mushroom Group) and venues (Oxford Art Factory, The Icebergs Group).
“Instead of consulting with festival experts, the NSW Government imposed punitive regulation that specifically targets music festivals and music fans,” the petition reads. “Festivals are being used as a scapegoat for years of failed drug and alcohol policy.”
In a separate statement, the Keep Sydney Open Party yesterday launched their own policies regarding music festivals for the upcoming NSW election this March. Policies are similar to Don’t Kill Live Music’s aims: Keep Sydney Open also wants a roundtable and repeal the new festival licence regulations to keep festival costs for police in line with other events. Other policies include harm-minimisation strategies surrounding illicit substances, including pill-testing and scrapping sniffer dogs. KSO leader Tyson Koh equated the new regulations to a larger war on music, calling them “the lockout laws all over again, but worse”.
“Festivals are a $1.8b industry and this crackdown will affect the livelihoods of thousands of people, especially in regional areas of NSW,” Koh says.
The new fees come after five overdoses at NSW Music Festivals within the last seven months, beginning at Defqon.1 festival this September. Despite growing public support for pill-testing, pleas from families of those who have overdosed at festivals, and widespread medical support, the NSW Government has remained headstrong in its resistance, claiming it would effectively endorse drug use and instead promoted new punitive measures for drug users and festivals alike.