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Australian managers propose ‘support act rule’

Australia’s Association of Artist Managers (AAM) has unveiled a policy called Michael’s Rule, which would ensure international tours include at least one local artist among the support acts.

The campaign bears the name of Michael McMartin, the legendary artist manager who guided the career of Sydney-hailing rock band Hoodoo Gurus for more than 40 years.

Michael’s Rule is broken down into three main tenets: every international artist must include an Australian artist among their opening acts; the Australian artist must appear on the same stage as the international artist using reasonable sound and lighting; and the Australian artist must be announced at the same time as the tour so that they benefit from all the marketing and promotion.

The policy was presented at the 2024 AAM Awards by its executive director, Maggie Collins, who said: “Promoters received significant public funding during the pandemic and they understandably continue to receive public support for some of their major events. We think it is only reasonable that, in return, they should ‘do their bit’ to help give Australian artists a leg up by the simple means of including at least one local act on every international tour.

“We need more Australians loving more Australian music”

“If there’s one overarching issue that managers have been flagging time and time again, it is this: we need more Australians loving more Australian music. We have a major discoverability problem and if we don’t solve this issue, which is both economical and cultural.

“Had Michael’s Rule existed for major international tours, such as Taylor Swift’s seven-date The Eras Tour, which visited Sydney and Melbourne in 2023, how many more fans could we have introduced to a local artist and started creating our own megastar of the future?”

The Support Act rule had once been a widely accepted industry code after lobbying by artist managers in the early 2000s.

With the launch of Michael’s Rule, a voluntary code, senior artist managers call for its reintroduction “at this time of crisis for Australian music,” reads a statement from AAM.

The trade body, which represents more than 300 artist managers, says that if promoters don’t cooperate, it will make formal representations for federal government to step in and make it a condition of issuing visas to international artists touring Australia.

Coldplay are already ahead of the game, having last year launched a competition to find a homegrown support act for their sold-out shows in Perth, Australia.


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Australia set for first int’l tour since pandemic

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is the latest act to be announced for Under the Southern Stars, Australia’s first concert series featuring international artists since the lockdown of March 2020.

Promoted by Andrew McManus’s One World Entertainment, Under the Southern Stars comprises 12 shows across Australia in March.

Joining Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is fellow American bands, Cheap Trick and Stone Temple Pilots, as well as British band Bush – all of which will act as rotating headliners across the tour. Other performers will include local acts Rose Tattoo and Electric Mary.

The tour, originally scheduled for March 2020, has been twice postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.

The promoter says it had to jump through “every regulatory hoop imaginable” before receiving the green light.

“UTSS2022 will without a doubt rock audiences to the core and give them what they’ve all craved since March 2020”

Australia recently reopened its international border for the first time in nearly two years. The country imposed some of the world’s strictest travel bans after shutting itself off in March 2020 due to Covid.

Under the Southern Stars is currently the only tour featuring international acts scheduled to take place in the coming months, after One World Entertainment was forced to postpone the Kiss ‘End of the Road’ tour until August/September 2022.

“To say we’re excited by finally being able to announce Black Rebel Motorcycle Club as a new addition and fourth high profile international rock band joining our already stellar line-up is an understatement!” says McManus.

Under the Southern Stars will without a doubt rock audiences to the core and give them what they’ve all craved since March 2020 – a line up that features the bands and the music they love – both Australian and international artists up in front of them in the flesh and playing their hits, live…it has been way too long!”


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Australia-NZ bubble to ‘revitalise’ touring

Australia and New Zealand have welcomed the announcement of a trans-Tasman bubble which will allow artists to travel between the two nations without having to quarantine from 19 April.

Live Nation New Zealand managing director Mark Kneebone​ told Stuff that the promoter has already booked four of five tours for Australian acts over the next month, which are yet to be announced.

“We’ve been lucky to have so many performers in [New Zealand] to be able to fill stages and sell tickets,” Kneebone said. “At this point, however, audiences do want some variety. And while New Zealand acts will continue to perform and do really well, the chance to bring over Australian acts and bands is great for the industry,” he said.

Lucy Macrae, a music publicist and owner of Auckland venue Whammy, told Stuff: “We are now starting to experience some touring fatigue with our local artists. Having a bubble open up between countries will revitalise live music.”

Since October, New Zealand travellers have been allowed to enter most Australian states without quarantine but this had not been reciprocated.

“At this point, however, audiences do want some variety…the chance to bring over Australian acts is great for the industry”

Brent Eccles of promoter Eccles Entertainment, told IQ back in February that without the trans-Tasman bubble, NZ’s relatively small live industry was having to recycle the same acts.

“New Zealand’s limited talent pool has already been used – to great effect – but venues throughout the country are struggling to fill their many vacant diary dates,” he said.

From 19 April, New Zealand will bring in “green zone” conditions similar to those that its citizens face entering Australia.

Passengers travelling to New Zealand will be required to have spent the 14 days before the flight in Australia only.

Those with cold or flu symptoms will not be allowed to travel, and all passengers must wear masks and give details to New Zealand authorities of where they will be staying.

Australia has recorded 909 deaths since the pandemic began, while New Zealand has reported 25.

Read about the opportunities and challenges New Zealand’s post-pandemic bubble has presented its live industry here.


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