Simone, you’re the CEO of Music Victoria. Please tell us your story! How did you get to where you are today?
When I got this gig, my high school friend pointed out that in the graduation yearbook it said “don’t forget to be famous in punk band”, so music has obviously always been close to my heart. I started out in production, moved into festival management, and then into more office based arts management.
When the organisation I was working for closed as a result of changes to cultural policy – that’s when I became interested in advocacy. The through line I draw is that I have always played a supporting role in enabling creative expression. It feels like it all makes sense now, but I actually only applied for this job because my mum said I was getting old (and up until recently I wasn’t even eligible for AstraZeneca).
We’d love to know more about Music Victoria! Tell us, what does the organisation do and why should people join as members?
Music Victoria is an independent, not-for-profit, industry peak body, operating under the oversight of a Board. Founded in 2009 and emerging in response to an identified gap, we take on the role of conduit between the industry, its participants and Government.
In practical terms that means we do research, advocacy, run professional development programs, and celebrate the great work of the music industry in Victoria. Our unique bird’s eye view of the industry gives us the ability to see, hear, distil and address the most pressing challenges.
Why should people join? Because you are the reason we exist – we are here to service you – to help you, help yourselves. Plus – it’s free!
Tell us about your role with Music Victoria, what does your day-to-day entail?
As a CEO, my work feels different to other jobs I have had. I have lots of meetings, phone calls, and never ending emails, but the aim of all that work is to join the dots, share information, address the challenges, and keep my finger on the pulse.
I am focused on the future, managing the risks, maximising our impact, strategising, and basically finding ways to make music in Victoria better.
I see my role as responsible for establishing the culture, pace and expectations of the organisation. In action, that means walking the talk. But right now, my day-to-day also includes entertaining/schooling my four and six-year-old.
What’s your favourite thing about working with Music Victoria?
I love being able to make a difference. I love the people I work with, the people we represent, and it’s just a bonus that my job requires listening to music and making playlists!
How have you seen COVID affect members in the past 18 months?
It is really horrible. People are angry, frustrated, lost and alone. It’s also a double whammy when your identity is so closely tied in with your job.
What change would you like to see to help aid the live industry’s recovery?
Maybe it’s too simplistic, but I don’t want to see any guest lists for at least a year and I want ticket prices to increase. Let’s start valuing our people more and pay some serious money for music.
Who are your top three ‘artists to watch’?
– Cry Club
– FACE FACE
What has been your proudest career achievement so far?
At the very start of the pandemic, I was part of a team that raised over $300k in donations, which was then distributed to independent performing artists in need. It felt really important to take action to try and address the injustices and gaps that were only exacerbated by the pandemic. I am really proud because we were not only able to make it happen so quickly and effectively, and obviously because it really helped people in need, but also because it united the industry in ways not before seen. Music peeps – don’t ever take Support Act for granted!
Who are your role models in the industry, be they international or Australian?
Right now I am fan-girling for Jackie Antas. She is a powerhouse and has been doing a lot of heavy lifting for the industry’s #VaxTheNation campaign. I respect hard work and this campaign is everywhere!
What advice would you give someone just starting out in music who would like to pursue a career like yours?
Let your values guide you. That way you will end up working for and with people who will make it all worthwhile.
What is your big picture career goal?
I really enjoy this advocacy work but the urgency to use these skills to address the climate crisis is certainly building. I just want to keep making a difference in whatever my sphere of influence is.
What is the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
I consider myself a real doer, am action-focused and will speak up. So naturally it has taken me a few listens to learn the fact that: Sometimes the right response, is to pause. Sometimes it is not your place (think First Nations self-determination) or people are not ready to hear/value your response just yet. It also works on a personal level; remembering to make time for reflection, as well as not rushing to make decisions or taking action simply to resolve what feels uncomfortable. Pausing needs to be in your tool kit.
If you could time travel and see any artist perform at any time or place, who would it be and why?
Queen at Wembley stadium for Live Aid on 13 July 1985. I have watched that call and response so many times!
What does the rest of 2021 hold for you? Anything exciting you can tell us about?
I am pretty excited about the Music Victoria Awards. To see what people have been able to do IN SPITE of the pandemic is very much worth celebrating! I’ve seen the nominees and it’s a hot list.
What is your go-to karaoke song?
Outkast’s Hey Ya!