All posts tagged independent

  • IGN Australia story: ‘This Vertigo-Inducing VR Game Will Scare The Crap Out Of You’, May 2017

    A feature story for IGN Australia that was published on May 28. Excerpt below.

    This Vertigo-Inducing VR Game Will Scare The Crap Out Of You

    Meet the Australian couple behind ‘Richie’s Plank Experience’, a hit indie VR title unlike any other.

    IGN Australia story: 'This Vertigo-Inducing VR Game Will Scare The Crap Out Of You' by Andrew McMillen, May 2017. Photo by Scott Patterson

    I hear a bright tone – ding! – and then the elevator doors open to reveal a vast cityscape stretching out before my eyes. Protruding in front of me is a wooden board, about three metres long and thirty centimetres wide – just thick enough to accommodate both of my feet, side-by-side. The task here is straightforward: just like the maritime method of execution, I’m meant to walk the plank.

    First, I must step up onto the board. I tentatively put my left foot forward, seeking the raised edge. I shift my weight and bring my right foot up to the timber. What’s most surprising is the immediate physical response that I encounter: my heart beats noticeably faster beneath my ribcage, and I begin sweating. My brain has suddenly thrown my balance into question, because never before in my regular life have I found it so hard to put one foot in front of the other.

    Heights have been problematic for me in the past: when I moved into a seventh-floor apartment in 2015, it took weeks for me to be able to stand by the edge of the balcony without gripping the railing or leaning backwards, away from the void. I had supposed this was an inherent self-preservation instinct retained from my ancient ancestors, who were smart enough to stay away from high places in favour of keeping contact with the earth. In the parlance of software development, I rationalised that this inbuilt aversion to heights was a feature, not a bug.

    A helicopter passes overhead, not far from where I’m standing. Out on the plank, eighty storeys in the air, I’m holding the two wireless controllers up above my waist, like ski poles. This is mostly for balance, I suppose, but also because my mind has been gripped by a set of emotions that I’ve yet to encounter in any other form of visual entertainment. It’s a cocktail of fear, exhilaration and anxiety, and it’s because my eyes and ears are taking in sensations which I know intellectually to be false. This is virtual reality, after all, and I’m playing a game named Richie’s Plank Experience. Yet out here, on the plank, real and fake are all but indistinguishable. All my brain is concerned with is survival.

    I only manage to shuffle about halfway across the length of the plank before giving in to the fear. My heart pounds, my skin prickles with sweat, and I’m completely out of my comfort zone. Before I put on the headset and headphones, I was just another guy standing in a building near the Brisbane River, watching a bunch of strangers attempt to walk a board that sits just a few centimetres off the ground, held aloft at one end by a hardcover copy of Steve Jobs, and a few stacked kitchen sponges at the other. Yet even after having watched these interactions and reactions play out on the faces of strangers, I was completely unprepared for the sensory overload that comes wrapped in the immersion. It’s simply too real.

    With careful consideration, I remove my right foot from the timber and reach out into space. For a moment, this act sends my mind reeling once again, and I give a clumsy shimmy from my hip before moving my left foot off the edge, too. For about four seconds, I fall toward the hard bitumen and slow-moving inner-city traffic. I turn my head to take in the last sights I’ll ever see. When I hit the ground, everything turns white.

    To read the full story, visit IGN Australia. Above photo credit: Scott Patterson.

  • guest post: ‘In praise of earplugs’, September 2011

    A guest post for, the online home of the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR). Excerpt below.

    In praise of earplugs: A live music reviewer’s perspective

    Anyone who regularly witnesses live music and doesn’t wear earplugs is an idiot.

    This is non-negotiable. No ifs, no buts. If you watch bands playing their music through amplifiers on a regular basis and you don’t wear earplugs, you’re silly.

    It’s the aural equivalent of staring into the sun. Sooner or later it’s going to hurt, and it’s going to make your life worse.

    Human nature being what it is, I completely understand why people are hesitant to take proactive measures to protect their hearing. The conversation tends to go something like: “If there’s no problem besides the occasional ringing ear after a concert, what’s the problem? Ringing ears are part of the live music experience, right?”

    Right, to an extent. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

    Picture it like this. You started life with 100% hearing. By exposing yourself to prolonged periods of loud noise – like, say, The Drones owning The Corner Hotel for 90 minutes on a Saturday night – you’re consistently chipping away at fractions of that 100%. Human hearing has no natural regenerative properties. Hearing aids may work in some circumstances, but that’s a reactive measure; something you might look into once you’ve made the mistake of standing next to the speaker stacks once too often.

    Like mental illness, hearing loss is easy to overlook because it’s something experienced by the individual, and rarely observed by outsiders. Tangible evidence is rare. If you start losing your hearing, your friends might even notice sooner than you do. They’ll see you straining to hear them talk in noisy environments – like, say, a music venue – and they might mock you for being hard of hearing.

    They have every right to – as long as they’re wearing earplugs. Because hearing loss is preventable, even among the most avid live music fans, as long as certain precautions are taken.

    Like wearing earplugs.

    I generally encountered two main concerns when I raise this topic.

    One: “I’ll look like an idiot while I’m putting them in and taking them out”.

    And two: “They’ll ruin the gig’s sound quality”.

    To read the full article, visit

  • guest post: ‘Artist patronage’, September 2011

    A guest post for, the online home of the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR). Excerpt below.

    Artist patronage: What does it mean to be a fan in 2011?

    If you tell me you’re a fan of The Jezabels or Kanye West in 2011, what might you mean by that?

    Let’s assume that you mean that, at a base level, you enjoy listening to music written, recorded and performed by a particular artist or band. You identify with their music, or lyrics, or image, for whatever reason. And so you elect to align yourself with this artist or band by listening to their music, ‘liking’ them on Facebook, telling your friends about their music, following them on Twitter, buying a ticket to their nearby shows, buying a t-shirt advertising their name, and perhaps, buying their music.

    The latter three are optional, nowadays; the last one, especially so. In 2011, buying music is like the ‘maybe’ you select on a Facebook event invite so as to not offend your friend, even though you immediately know you don’t want to attend. You know that you can buy an artist’s music, but you know that you can just as easily hear their music without making a transaction. You know that YouTube, streaming services and torrents are the most efficient methods of listening to music without having to pay for it.

    In 2011, it’s easier than ever to be a fan of an artist without ever parting with your money.

    This is a problematic situation for all but the biggest artists, many of who were already established before Napster smashed the piñata with a sledgehammer and left the entire music industry scrambling on the ground for pennies.

    It’s a bizarre situation where you can know all the words to your new favourite band’s debut album and catch their buzz-driven set during summer festival season without ever making an explicit donation into their wallets. They’ll get a performance fee from the tour promoter, of course, but generally speaking, the road to the Big Day Out is paved with poverty and hardship for every artist without wealthy benefactors supporting their art.

    Historically, this role has been inhabited by the record label: the wealthy benefactor who provided cash for talented musicians so that they might grow and mature as songwriters and performers. So that they might sell more records, play larger venues, and eventually provide a return on the record label’s initial investment. Labels were banks, signing mortgages to artists who might someday be able to own the house outright.

    Labels are banks, still, but they’re no longer the only service provider. Canny media platforms and service providers like Bandcamp and Topspin can become surrogate record labels for artists by distributing and marketing their music on a worldwide basis. Canny artists, too, can manage their own affairs, if they’re willing to invest significant attention into the business side of creativity. A third – and often overlooked – option exists: fans as artist patrons.

    We Are Hunted co-founder Nick Crocker defines patronage as, “One that supports, protects, or champions someone or something, such as an institution, event, or cause; a sponsor or benefactor: a patron of the arts.

    This notion of artist patronage is what we need to foster among the next generation of music fans. That music is valuable, because talent isn’t free.

    To read the full article, visit

  • The Weekend Australian story: ‘Independent bookshops: Holding the line’, March 2011

    A feature story for The Weekend Australian Review. The full story is included below.

    Independent bookshops: Holding the line

    Some of the big boys may be in trouble, but independent bookshop owners are stubbornly hanging on, writes Andrew McMillen

    “We’re all a little bit crazy. We’re all a little bit obsessive. We all work far too hard. We’re really passionate about what we do. We all do a huge amount of unpaid work in the community. We’re all literary award judges. We talk to schools. We’re passionate about literacy.”

    Fiona Stager, co-founder of Avid Reader in Brisbane’s inner south, is describing the sort of people who own and operate independent bookstores across the country.

    Suzy Wilson, owner of Riverbend Books in Bulimba, an inner-east suburb of the Queensland capital, wouldn’t argue with that assessment. There’s “a certain addiction to doing this”, she says. “I love it and believe in it. I believe in how important bookshops are in communities, to the extent that I’m not prepared to disappear.” With a laugh, she adds an afterthought, “Which my accountant thinks would be a really good idea.”

    Entrance to Riverbend Books is gained by passing through the bustling Teahouse, Riverbend’s cafe. Monday morning business is brisk and walk-ins are hard-pressed to find empty seats. Inside, dozens browse the shelves; among them, young professionals and mothers with babes in arms. The sound of children laughing and playing echoes throughout the space. Handwritten staff recommendations hang from every other shelf. Overhead, a jazz soundtrack is played at just the right volume.

    A former schoolteacher, Wilson knows “a lot about literacy and the ways of leading children towards books”, but had “less than zero” business knowledge when she decided to open the store in 1998. Based on what she gleaned from books on the subject — and what other medium would a prospective bookshop owner use to increase her knowledge? — it became clear that since her business would not be based in a shopping centre or an area with a high passing trade, Wilson needed “some other thing to make it a destination”.

    Hence the Teahouse. Initially, a relaxation of Bulimba’s town planning laws allowed her to sell coffee, sushi and sandwiches, but not hot food. Since then, the overall store space has doubled and the Teahouse is now a restaurant in its own right, serving breakfast and lunch daily. Its earnings account for about 30 per cent of Riverbend’s overall business, but Wilson hopes the books and food split will return to 50-50, as it was in recent years. The two operations “complement each other really nicely”, she says.

    Visiting authors have commented on the bookstore’s atmosphere. Children’s author James Maloney regards it as the “community church”, and another writer compared it with an English pub, referring to the store’s power as a social space. “I really like that role,” says Wilson, eloquent and generous in conversation, and with her praise of others.

    Last year Wilson travelled to New York with Stager and two other bookshop owners, Mark Rubbo and Derek Dryden. Dryden is owner of Better Read Than Dead, in Sydney’s Newtown and Rubbo is general manager of independent chain Readings, which operates six shops across Melbourne. “He’s one of the few who’s significantly increased his online sales,” Wilson says, with unbridled admiration.

    Rubbo makes the point that “people will always want to have some face-to-face contact and the pleasure of going into a bookshop, discovering things and talking to people. I think it will always be important. But that aspect of the business is losing market share to internet retailers.”

    In New York Rubbo, Wilson, Stager and Dryden were the Australian contingent at Book Expo America, the largest annual US book trade fair. Calling it a place where “many interesting minds come together to talk and think about the book industry, and where it’s going”, Wilson found conversations there were the impetus for “facing the music”; for adding up the risks involved in continuing and the chances for survival.

    Wilson nevertheless gives the impression she would rather not have to deal with questions about her business and its future, whether asked by her accountant, her customers or a journalist. The mere existence of pleasant, inviting bookshops such as her own should be punctuated with an exclamation point, not a question mark. After all, what else but passion could fuel the pursuit of an endeavour such as hers?

    The business concerns of bookshops have been widely discussed of late, due largely to the mid-February announcement that REDgroup Retail — the company that oversees book chains Borders and Angus & Robertson — was entering voluntary administration. REDgroup chairman Steven Cain pointed his finger squarely at the federal government for its refusal to lift import restrictions or enforce GST on online shopping.

    When this topic is raised, Wilson is unequivocal. “I regard it as grossly, grossly unfair that Amazon doesn’t have to collect GST. Canada make them do it, so why can’t we?” she asks. “I’ve written a few letters to politicians over the years. I’ve been bamboozled as to why no one wants to do anything about it.”

    To Wilson, Amazon — the world’s biggest bookshop, whose storefront exists solely online — is “that horrible word we don’t like to use too often”. No wonder. Businesses such as Amazon and the Book Depository, an emerging online bookshop based in England that offers heavily discounted titles and free shipping to Australia, have altered the way customers buy books.

    Wilson tells a story about book-club members who had been buying titles at the store for 10 years. Discovering the Book Depository had the same books for half the price, members “took me to task”, Wilson says. “I asked if they’d let me put up a spirited defence of my situation because they actually thought I was ripping them off.” She sighs. “That hurts. So I put up my defence, but they’d already ordered the books, so they went away a bit sheepish. I said, ‘If you buy from them, you’re saying that this place has no value in our community.’ I completely understand that you have to watch your dollars, but it’s a choice about where you watch them and what you value in your community. I think you have to look at the bigger picture and say: ‘Do I want a community without a local bookstore?’ ”

    But this is all business talk. Wilson would much prefer to discuss Riverbend’s role as a community hub; how, for instance, seven local school principals use the Teahouse for their monthly breakfast meetings. Wilson regularly sits in with them. “They’re a really interesting group,” she says. In their most recent meeting, the topic of social media came up. It turned out that none of them — all “oldies”, according to Wilson, who lumps herself into that demographic — uses Facebook or Twitter. She realised last year all of her staff were “competent and involved” with such networks; at the time, she was blissfully ignorant yet aware of the necessity to keep her finger on the digital pulse. So, with the school principals as the first guinea pigs, Riverbend will soon begin hosting social media classes.

    These are the kinds of gaps Wilson loves filling: an in-demand service, provided for a greater good. An example is the Indigenous Literacy Project, which Wilson founded in 2004: since the start of the project more than 60,000 books have been delivered to 200 remote communities across the country.

    Wilson believes social projects at independent bookshops across the country are about “all of us putting our minds to building this community to be as strong as possible, so that we’ve got the best chance of surviving”, although she acknowledges they require a huge amount of work, which is “not really reflected in the returns”.

    However, the pursuit of what Wilson dubs “the tipping point of profitability” will determine the years ahead. By hosting school principals for breakfast and helping indigenous children, perhaps these community-focused measures, in a roundabout way, will help Riverbend’s doors stay open.

    Riverbend is not the first bookshop to realise the importance of leveraging its floor space beyond the basic act of stocking and selling books, and certainly won’t be the last. Stager sees the Avid Reader’s bulging events calendar as one of its key strengths. “We’ve put a greater emphasis on our events, which is what we’d started a couple of years ago. I’ve always been very event-driven; that was one of the core principles I started with, using Gleebooks in Sydney as a model.” Seeing as an example the growth of live music within an industry affected by declining physical sales, Stager decided to concentrate on what she deems “the live experience”; usually, visiting authors giving readings and conducting question-and-answer sessions with readers. Successes in the past 12 months include 400 payers attending a Shaun Micallef book launch at the Hi-Fi, a couple of blocks down from the bookshop on Boundary Street in West End, as well as more than 600 attending a Paul Kelly launch at the same venue.

    David Gaunt has managed Gleebooks since 1978. “We’ve been around for a long time and I don’t think we’ve ever been unaware that the best chance for independent bookstores to survive is to place a strong emphasis on social engagement in the community,” he says. “In our case, this includes heavy representation at festivals and conferences, events outside the shop, as well as the country’s biggest in-store author event program.” Such events sustain customer interest year-round, he says, but especially when the going’s “really tough, which it certainly is at the moment”. For Gaunt, the act of bookselling, online or off, has barely changed during his time in the industry. This year, the only real difference is that Gleebooks promotes its events program through social media channels.

    Enticing though such events are to so many, reading is still, by and large, a solitary pursuit. As to whether Stager views online bookstores as competition to the service in her shop, she responds cautiously. “Yes, they are. And that’s because everybody in the media has told the readers that Amazon and the Book Depository are our competition. I think they get millions of dollars of free advertising, which they don’t warrant.”

    It’s perhaps an irony that so many Australians have gained knowledge of these alternative, online retailers through the act of reading the news, and the growing profitability of online sites is proof people do still read; more than ever, perhaps.

    According to Stager she has “one big advantage over Amazon. If it’s on my shelf, you can buy it, there and then. I’ll gift wrap it for you, beautifully. I offer events and interaction with other readers through great customer service. There is more to retail than just getting something. Retail is an experience, and I have to make sure that when you come into my shop, you’re having an experience.”

    Stager is adamant book consumers shouldn’t support independent retailers just because they’re smaller and thus perceived to be vulnerable. Instead, she says, “They have to support us because of what we offer: customer service, our range and a whole lot more. We have to be good citizens as well, so we have to be doing the right things by our staff, by our community.

    “That all comes into play. Don’t support me just because I’m small and an indie; support me because of the things I do.”

    For the full story, visit The Australian’s website. Thanks to all of the helpful independent bookshop owners I spoke with for this story, many of whom I had to omit. Please note that the above photo was taken by Lyndon Mechielsen.


  • Mess+Noise story: ‘Lofly Hangar: 2007-2010’, January 2011

    A feature for Mess+Noise about a much-loved Brisbane venue.

    Lofly Hangar: 2007-2010

    ANDREW MCMILLEN laments the loss of short-lived Brisbane venue Lofly Hangar, which shut its doors in late 2010.

    Nestled under a party goods store on Musgrave Road in Red Hill, the Lofly Hangar always seemed an unlikely meeting place for Brisbane’s independent music community. Located far from the dedicated entertainment precinct in Fortitude Valley – where the majority of the city’s live music venues are based – Red Hill is very much a residential area. Yet since it first opened its doors to the public in 2007, the Hangar built a reputation for delivering quality music to curious listeners in an intimate setting.

    From the beginning, $10 got you inside – a cost which was maintained through until the final show in December 2010, except for the occasional special event – and since it was classed as a private residence, there was no liquor licensing regulations involved. You’d bring your own booze, and since the main area was adorned with couches, it didn’t feel dissimilar from your living room. Such was the charm of the Hangar: interesting people and new sounds, experienced in comfort. Upon entering, you’d be almost guaranteed to have a great – and cheap – night out.

    The line-ups were curated by the Lofly brains trust – Phil Laidlaw, Andrew White, Greg Cooper, Chris Perren, and Joel Edmondson – and even if you’d never heard of the bands playing, the sounds emanating from the adjoining band room were almost always diverse and intriguing. The stage, however, was non-existent. The bands played on the floor, set up in front of a wall of old televisions. The venue’s PA wasn’t amazing, but it got the job done. An unspoken, Meredith-like “no dickheads” policy seemed to be in play throughout its existence. To visit the Hangar was to be among open-minded music fans. It was a beautiful thing.

    The final Hangar was held on December 11, 2010; coincidentally, it was the 100th public show held at the venue. A few weeks beforehand, three Hangar co-organisers – Laidlaw, White, and Cooper, each musicians themselves with aheadphonehome, Restream, and Toy Balloon, respectively – reflected on their time at the forefront of the Brisbane independent music scene.


    Andrew White: We got a warehouse and leased it to practise and record in, and have parties with our friends’ bands. Then we started having more people coming. The idea came about to have it as a regular thing, every month. We were interested in putting on music that we liked. Having the parties has been a way of paying the bills. It was never a profit thing; it was just something that we wanted to keep going.

    Phil Laidlaw: At the time [2007], there were around three or four venues [in Brisbane] – The Troubadour, Ric’s, The Zoo. So we’d approach people asking them to play, and they’d respond with, “What are you talking about?” The model of warehouse party shows wasn’t happening. There wasn’t a lot of faith in it. It was very difficult to get bands that we thought were good bands to play. But the culture of the space evolved from the parties we were having. There was no need for security, because we knew everyone here.

    For the full article, visit Mess+Noise. For more on Lofly, visit their website.

    With this story, I tried something I’d never done before: I went for an ‘oral history’ angle. I chatted with Andrew, Phil and Greg for over an hour on the evening of the last Hangar nights, and shaped the best / most relevant bits of that conversation into a narrative structure. I think it turned out OK.

  • The Vine interview: John Butler, September 2010

    An interview for The Vine. Excerpt below.

    John Butler at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Colorado. Photo by Tobin VoggesserInterview – John Butler

    It’s a pretty safe bet to name John Butler Trio as Australia’s biggest independent act. Since their humble beginnings with the 1998 LP John Butler, the singer/guitarist and his regularly-rotating musical partners released Three to wide acclaim in 2001 and have continued to grow in stature ever since.

    Butler [pictured right] owns Jarrah Records, an independent label created to release his band and The Waifs; in 2005, he and his wife inaugurated the JB Seed grant program to support artistic expression and encourage social, cultural and artistic diversity in Australian society. In the last five years, Butler and his supporters – including Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins and Blue King Brown – have given away somewhere in the vicinity of $500,000 to Australian musicians, managers and social activists through (the recently-renamed) The Seed.

    Above all else, though, John Butler is known for his music, a heady mix of blues, roots, rock, and – more recently, with the release of April Uprising – pop. When TheVine reaches John Butler, he’s on a tour bus somewhere in France, having just played at a music festival. He and his current band – drummer Nicky Bomba and bassist Byron Luiters – have spent much of 2010 overseas. The trio completed their most successful US tour thus far, which included their biggest headline show to date at the sold out, 8,500-capacity Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. Ahead of his biggest Australian tour since the release of 2004’s Sunrise Over Sea, there’s a lot of ground to be covered. Butler is up to the task; he speaks with TheVine for over 40 minutes.

    Andrew: It’s been interesting to follow you over the years, because it seems your outspoken nature and what you and your name stand for are all ideas that many Australians can identify with. Besides your music, which obviously resonates with people, I wonder if this idea, that people feel like they can identify with you, speaks to why you’ve achieved so much as a public figure. What do you think John Butler stands for in the eyes of the Australian public?

    John: Wow, what an introduction. That’s great. A real journalist, this is refreshing. Well first of all, who I am and how I define myself is a work in progress. And in another way I think it would be kind of pretentious to think of what I stand for to people. It would be almost a little bit too self-concerned to presuppose what anybody thinks about me.

    I think to some people I’m a loud-mouthed fringe hippie who hugs trees. I think other people think I’m a blues artist. Some people think I’m a sensitive new age guy who writes songs about his children and his family. Some people think I’m somebody who’s lived in Australia for 24 years, and is Australian, and loves Australia but still has an American accent. [laughs] I think I’m many things to many different people. I think some people hate me and some people love me and there’s probably a lot of people who don’t give a shit and that’s probably a healthy thing.

    Full interview on The Vine.

    More John Butler Trio on MySpace. Music video for their song ‘Revolution‘ embedded below.

  • Reflections on UnConvention Brisbane 2010

    UnConvention Brisbane 2010 happened 12-13 June at The Edge in South Bank. It was a grassroots music conference aimed at fostering a dialogue between like-minded members of Brisbane’s independent music scene. I co-organised the event alongside Dave Carter, Maggie Collins and Brett Wood. To read about how it all came together, read this blog post written a week beforehand.

    I also moderated the music & media panel. You can view some highlights here, or embedded below:

    From left to right (click their names for more info):

    Myself, Michelle Brown (4ZzZ radio), Christopher Harms (Rave Magazine), Graham Ashton (Footstomp Music), Matt Rabbidge (LickIt Media), Steve Bell (Time Off), Crystle Fleper (FasterLouder QLD), Paul Curtis (Valve Records / Consume Management) and Matt Hickey ( / The Vine). Chris Johnson (AMRAP) and Sophie Benjamin ( had to pull out at the last minute for personal reasons.

    To listen to the full music & media panel conversation, click here to use the embedded audio player on the UnConvention Brisbane website.

    UnConvention Brisbane 2010 posterIn whole, UnConvention Brisbane 2010 was a winner. I’m thrilled that 120 (or so) members of the city’s independent music scene were willing to spend their weekend – or at least, part of it – listening to and engaging with fellow venue operators, band managers, musicians, business owners and label representatives. For mine, this was the highlight: bringing people together, and putting them in a low pressure social space where they felt comfortable interacting with one another.

    While it wasn’t a perfect event – the free showcase attracted a smaller audience than the paid panel discussions, which was disappointing – I feel it was a great start to what we intend to shape into an annual event.

    I’m told that the first year’s always the hardest; having never been involved with a project of this scale, I’ll have to take my friends’ word for it. Our ‘next year’ list of learnings and recommendations is huge, though, and we’re confident that UnConvention Brisbane 2011 will surpass what we achieved this time around.

    Thanks to all involved – you know who you are. If you met me on the weekend and want to a continue a conversation, contact me via the link at the top of the page. If you want to be involved with next year’s UnConvention Brisbane in any capacity, please visit the website and click ‘contact us’. Any and all feedback and support is welcomed. Thank you for giving a shit about independent music, Brisbane.

    There are plenty of video clips taken during the weekend at the UnConvention Brisbane website, which can be found here.

    To conclude, I’ll leave the summarising to a bunch of bloggers who took the time to record their feelings on the event.

    UnConvention Brisbane by the Bloggers

    Here’s some of the cherry-picked highlights. If you’d like to add to the conversation jump on Facebook or Twitter and let us know your feedback – we’d love to hear it.

    The Good

    “I had suspicions at first that it would be simply a congratulatory circle jerk but I was wrong. Having a panel discussion allowed for an array of often divergent views to focus attention on what may be good and what may be not so good about the local music scenic. Furthermore, I also got to say ‘hey’ to some fellow bloggers, including Bianca from Music For the Laundromat and Jodi from Plus One. It’s always great to put faces to names. Congratulations to Andrew McMillen and Dave Carter for organising what was a great and badly needed conference that I hope returns next year” –  Darragh, Parallel Lines for a Slow Decline

    “Unconvention was fantastic. I’ve been involved in several “creative” conventions, and find that they’re not usually worth the hundreds of dollars per ticket, so at $20 including a sausage sizzle, Unconvention was the best value convention I’ve ever encountered. It was filled with smart, creative, fun, talented people, who were all super approachable, and keen to share and network” – Jaymis, Oxygen Kiosk (and UnConvention Tech Nerd)

    “The weekend was an invaluable experience for me. It was enlightening to hear people’s views on the ever changing music scene in Brisbane, and it certainly gave me a more positive perspective on it. If you didn’t get to make it this year, I would highly recommend it for next year” – Bianca, Music for the Laundromat

    “Undesirable questions received a Capella singing in response. Fifteen or so minutes were dedicated to stories about hair and rock stars. Tom Hall advised aspiring promoters that you could get up ‘100 posters in an hour at a good run’. Everyone ranted about the state of music in Brisbane and nobody agreed. I don’t know what happened but hell, it was good fun.” – Jodi, plusonebrisbane describing the Music as Culture panel.

    “I went and really enjoyed the whole thing. I learned a lot about how this music industry operates. … I can’t believe the whole thing cost $20. If they have one of these things in your local area you really should go.” – Brendan, Turn It Up to 10

    “I have learnt a lot, but it has also affirmed my belief in punk rock, and its ability to work outside of any conventional music industry” – Matt, Papercuts Collective

    “If their intention was to inspire, I would say, “mission accomplished.” It really was quite an experience to realise that these people who are ingrained in the industry, and who are doing great things for independent artists, had an idea and followed through with that idea, making mistakes, grasping opportunities and making contacts along the way” – Shayne, Cowbell Music (and UnConvention panelist)

    The Not So Good

    “I can’t speak for whether Unconvention was indeed unconventional in its otherwise pristine imitation of a Music Business Convention. Somehow I suspect not. But, um, good on them for bringing attendance prices down or something” – Everett True (UnConvention Panellist)

    The Plain Weird

    “Five weird things that happened to me on the weekend:

    1. I went to the Down Under Bar. Worse still, I dimly remember being pretty excited about it.
    2. Unconvention Brisbane took place for the first time. I chaired a panel on Music As Culture and during which Andrew Stafford, the author of Pig City: The Saints To Savage Garden, broke into song. Fellow panelist Everett True had decided that if we were asked a question we didn’t wish to answer, we had to sing. What did I ask Andrew? Oh just something light and breezy: ‘So what was the worst thing that happened to you because you wrote Pig City?’ (I made Everett sing as well).
    3. I walked around Highgate Hill at 3am with a cocktail.
    4. A taxi driver told me that we should just shoot people who wish to immigrate to our country. ‘Just shoot them, it doesn’t cost a lot to shoot people.’ And I tipped him. This morning I couldn’t remember why. Then I did. I tipped him because I was scared he was going to kill me and dump my severed body parts in the river.
    5. Walking up Merthyr Road last night, not 15 minutes after Ted Bundy the taxi-driver, a car pulled up next to me as I walked along. The driver said ‘You want a lift.’ I told the driver I lived closeby so it was cool. I was eating a packet of crisps. Then the driver said ‘Do you want me to suck your cock?’ and I said ‘Nah man, I’m good’ and he drove off”

    – Ian, Ambrose Chapel (and UnConvention ‘music as culture’ panel curator)

  • UnConvention Brisbane 2010, a grassroots music conference

    Twelve months ago, my friend Dave Carter came to me with a concept called UnConvention, which originated in the UK a couple of years ago. He described it thus:

    UnConvention celebrates music. It’s purpose is to provide a forum for those of us who work at the grassroots. For artists and musicians that want to understand how to get their music heard and how to practice their craft. For labels who want to champion this music and to spread the word. For people who want to work with music whether they be promoters, publicists or creatives.

    UnConvention understands that the most interesting stuff happens on the margins. We don’t mind the mainstream. We just don’t find it relevant.

    UnConvention is a forum for ideas, for creativity, for shared experiences and knowledge and for seeing and hearing great artists.

    UnConvention doesn’t believe in ‘do it yourself’. We believe in ‘do it together’.

    Dave is a lecturer at the Queensland Conservatorium in music technology, and an acclaimed researcher (check out his online marketing research paper here, which was presented at last year’s Big Sound music conference). So I said: sure, let’s make this happen here in Brisbane.

    We asked Brett Wood – managing director of local indie label Starving Kids Records – if he wanted to get on board; he said the same thing. And as we set a date and found a venue and ironed out who we wanted to be involved, Maggie Collins – triple j radio presenter and manager of Brisbane bands DZ, The John Steel Singers, and Skinny Jean – approached us with enthusiasm. So we said: sure, you’re welcome to join us.

    UnConvention Brisbane 2010 posterNext weekend, 12-13 June 2010, the first UnConvention Brisbane will take place at The Edge, the State Library of Queensland’s digital culture hub. As the venue is in the heart of the city’s arts precinct, it’s the perfect location. There’s a poster to the right which describes what will take place: click for a closer look. Some information from the event website is below.

    UnConvention Brisbane is a grassroots-led music conference for independent promoters, labels, entrepreneurs, writers, technologists, innovators and artists. The goal of UnConvention Brisbane is to bring together like-minded individuals to discuss the future of independent music and how it will develop and flourish in the technological age. The weekend event will comprise panel discussions and networking events focussed around creating sustainable careers within the music industry.

    Access to both days costs $20, and tickets are available via OzTix.

    On the Sunday, I’m presenting the music & media panel discussion, which features the following lovely people.

    Sunday June 13, 2010, 1pm – Music and Media

    Music journalist and blogger Andrew McMillen will discuss the opportunities for mixing a passion for music with blogging, journalism, radio, marketing, publicity and other shady practices with:

    Check out the full program details here.

    We’re also proud to be presenting a free, all-ages showcase of some of Brisbane’s best independent acts on the Saturday night, which is sponsored by creative media educational institution, SAE.

    The showcase will feature:

    UnConvention logo. 'Do It Together'It’s a pleasure to be involved with an event that seeks to investigate how to sustain careers within Brisbane’s independent music industry. It’s important than ever to have these conversations. After spending a couple of years working in and around the local scene, I’m glad to be in a position to give something back.

    Follow UnConvention Brisbane on Facebook or Twitter if you’re so inclined. The weekend Facebook event is here, and the free, all-ages showcase event is here; keep an eye on the website to see how it all unfolds.