Please tell us your story! How did you get to where you are today?
There’s a short answer and a long answer.
Short answer – started writing songs as a child, noticed it felt good, singing the same, started first band in my teens, played lots of gigs at lots of pubs, studied Creative Arts, met a guy called John Hedigan at a hippy festival, he introduced me to his housemate Marty, we started a band with our friends called Red Raku, recorded two albums, played more gigs, graduated, realised upon graduation that there is nothing in the whole world I want to do more than write songs, play music and be a mother – all things that require having money – and so, I decided to take this thing seriously, and work out how to make money.
Did Cert 4 in Small Business through NEIS, learned to talk the language of business, applied for a recording grant from the Vic Government, put together a SHIT HOT BAND called The Feeding Set, recorded my first solo album in my back shed with my now boyfriend Marty Brown, and at age 27 released that album (same year Marty and I had out first child), spent three years touring our absolute pants off, lived on beans, invested every spare cent into our career, built my mailing list one person at a time, and then – thanks to the support of community radio, print press, the ABC, various industry champions, and a whole lot of making friends, watching, learning, working on my craft, slowly earning the trust of my absolutely brilliant audience, and doing anything I could to serve and defend the concept that Australian music, and the Creative Industries that depend on it, are valuable – I got here today.
That’s the short answer? That is the short answer.
The longer answer can be found in my partial memoir ‘Your Own Kind of Girl’ – a book about the stories we tell ourselves, and what happens when we believe them.
What are you working on at the moment? What does a typical (if that exists) day in the life of Clare Bowditch look like?
I was invited to speak at the National Press Club this week, and I chose to speak about ‘Music, Meaning & Money’. My main work at the moment is a volunteer role; advocating for the Creative Industries in Australia, who I know already are and will continue to be a huge part of the story of our survival through and recovery from the devastation wreaked on our working lives by COVID-19, and the necessary lockdowns put in place to protect our lives. There is one way forward for us – Australians, get vaccinated. Once you do, we can get our jobs back.
What issues/potential issues do you think the current Australian music industry face? Specifically in your realm of work.
Please see above. Please watch my Press Club speech entitled ‘Music, Meaning & Money’.
Watch Clare’s speech on ABC’s iView platform here.
What advice can you give to artists who aren’t fans of social media? How can they learn to embrace it? Do all artists need to?
Right – I hear you.
Please sit down – we need to talk.
You make music, right?
It’s good music, right?
And you want people to know that your music exists, right?
People are busy. They have a lot going on.
And they are most likely NOT going to listen to, or play, or talk about, or share your music, unless they know that you exist.
YOU HAVE TO BE THE ONE TO TELL THEM YOU EXIST!
Social media is an extremely affordable, cost-effective and targeted way to do that.
If you’re rich, and you have money for a publicist, and you want to let someone else do this work for you, go ahead.
But when you are starting out, I want you to understand that no-one in the world will ever ever ever do a better job of introducing you to your audience, than you.
And unless you get to know your audience, and appreciate them, and connect with them, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to sustain what it takes to make a success of this thing.
Yes it’s awkward, yes it’s annoying, yes it’s terrifying, and – so what?
Do you want to make your living making music in Australia, or not?
If yes, then STEP UP!
This is a JOB!
If you do it right it’s the BEST JOB IN THE WHOLE WORLD!
Your job depends on you finding an audience, period!
So EMBRACE THE AWKWARD!
FIGHT FOR IT!
COUNT YOURSELF IN!
Find your own way to do it – to tell your story and connect with your audience.
Look at the artists you love – look at the accounts of Flex Mami or Phoebe Bridges or Stella Donnelly or Emily Wurramara or Courtney Barnett and Ainslie Wills, see how they do it, and learn from them.
Again – if you want to make your living making music, you have to do what Clypso and Nick Cave and Tame Impala and all the great musicians who came before you also had to do – you have to learn how to let people know you exist, in the most entertaining way possible.
Make good work, tell good stories, share good photos, make good clips, care about your audience, tell good jokes, ask good questions, expect your head to tell you ALL THE TIME that you will never make it, you’re not good enough, this is stupid, WHATEVER, and then just keep getting out there and letting the people who might like and support and enjoy and NEED and maybe pay you money for your music that YOU EXIST.
And FFS – start a mailing list! NOW!
I realise they were strong words but as you can see, I feel very passionately about this…
Do you go to watch live music? If so, where are your favourite spots and who are some local artists you’d recommend we keep an eye on?
Not today – we’re in lockdown. Anyone on the list mentioned above, I would go to see, anywhere.
What is the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
You will survive this. You will use this one day to help someone else.
How do you unwind when you’re stressed?
I sit in a rocking chair and rock.
If you could work alongside an Australian artist that you have yet to work with, which artist would that be?
Heaps. Heaps and heaps. For today, I’d settle for a song and dance collab with The Inspired Unemployed. If you know their manager, please pass this on.
How did you get your start in the industry? Any advice for people starting out?
I got my start the moment I decided to take my career seriously, even if no one else did.
Advice – listen to my Audible Original ‘Tame Your Inner Critic’, and practice.
What has been your proudest achievement so far?
I like the fact that, twenty years in, my husband and I have been able to raise our family in a small family business based on big-hearted principles and a product that actually means something.
What has been the best gig that you’ve ever seen?
Jeff Buckley, 1995? His first tour. Gig was in a record store in Melbourne with only 50 other people and it absolutely changed my life.
Who are your role models in the industry be they international or Australian?
Every single person who has the guts to get up on stage and share the best song they could write with an audience of strangers – they are my heroes.
Who are your top 3 ‘artists to watch’?
So so many.
Maple Glider, Flowerkid, Middle Kids, Baker Boy, Lisa Mitchell, Julia Jacklin, Gretta Ray, Harry James Angus, Maddy Jane, Gordi, Kid Laroi (#obvs), I mean… I could just go on and on and on.
THIS IS AN EXCITING TIME FOR NEW AUSTRALIAN MUSIC!
What has been the most useful career discovery for you recently? (for example a time-saving app, a project management tool, a website/newsletter?)
Canva. It’s fun making pretty pictures for my socials.
What does the rest of 2021 hold for you? Anything exciting you can tell us about?
Working on me album. See you in 2022.
What is your go-to Karaoke song?
‘Fall At Your Feet’ – Crowded House.