Investing in local music scene

City of Greater Geelong mayor Trent Sullivan.

By Cr Trent Sullivan

Taking a high-level view, the Australian music scene appears very strong.

Nationally, there has been a resurgence in large concerts and festivals, with a swathe of international acts touring our shores again.

While there is a strong demand to attend these bigger events and see major artists, the divide is growing.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 1300 Australian live music venues have closed.

This equates to one-third fewer licensed spaces across the country where smaller gigs can be held.

The effect of this runs deep.

It not only limits opportunities for emerging artists to reach a live audience, but it also reduces work throughout the whole music industry.

From a local perspective, the live music scene is vital to the strength of Geelong’s cultural and creative life.

Council has long-term aims to grow both the number of creative jobs, and the amount of people taking part in arts and cultural activities.

We have led and supported several initiatives to provide opportunities to local musicians and performers in recent years, including:

– Direct music-related grants, totalling more than $270,000.

– The successful ‘It’s Our Backyard’ street entertainment program, which offered almost 600 live performances across 2021 and 2022.

– A project providing mentorships to First Nations artists, through Songlines Music Aboriginal Corporation; and

– The inaugural Surround Sounds Geelong and the Bellarine Music Festival, in 2022.

A partnership of council and Creative Victoria, Surround Sounds attracted more than 14,000 people, across 90 events at 35 different venues.

But it also sent a signal – to audiences from well outside our region – that Geelong is a varied live music destination worth visiting.

This week, council and Creative Victoria have teamed up again for another significant investment into Geelong’s music scene.

For the first time, the GRID (Grass Roots Indie Development) series has been brought to Geelong to work with local artists.

GRID is a free program that pairs emerging creatives with acclaimed songwriters and producers.

They’ll get in the studio to record their own track; work with a film crew to produce their own artist documentary; and perform live at Pako Festa and a Geelong music festival in 2024.

From 50 applications, five fortunate performers were chosen to take part in the GRID series.

They are: Ridzy Ray, Baraka The Kid, Wild Gloriosa, Elena Nichols and Daisy Kilbourne.

Their musical interests and cultural backgrounds speak to the diversity of our welcoming and inclusive community.

The recipients identify with First Nations, South Indian, Congolese and Samoan communities, and have musical interests spanning acoustic folk, hip hop, R&B and neo soul.

We look forward to hearing their tracks and seeing them perform at Geelong events.

Council this week also announced its Live & Local program.

This initiative will deliver professional development workshops, micro-music festivals and a local industry forum, in partnership with the Live Music Office and APRA AMCOS.

As part of this, we are establishing a Music Industry Register, to connect with everyone involved in the local industry.

You can sign up to this register, and find other relevant resources, at