Australia’s dance music exodus: “You can’t do anything from here”

Passions ran high at Sydney’s Electronic Music Conference yesterday during the discussion on ‘Australia’s Dance Music Exodus: Why is Everyone Moving Away?’ Nima Nasseri, The Stafford Brothers’ American manager, put his view bluntly: “You can’t do it from here, you can’t do anything from here…you have to be in the mix of everything. Even in America you can’t be in Ohio or Kansas, you have to be in New York or LA. You gotta be there. It’s like you’re on another planet out here, you’re just like so on your own island. You just can’t be here.”

Fellow panellists Andrew Jackson, manager of The Aston Shuffle, and Karl Thomas AKA ShockOne, didn’t quite agree. “There’s just less people here, but it’s a great breeding ground,” Thomas said. “Australian crowds don’t take any bullshit, they really respond to quality… It’s different for everybody, there’s plenty of amazing artists in Australia. Flume is the obvious example, he still lives in Australia and he’s touring everywhere really successfully.”

Jackson agreed, citing his band The Aston Shuffle as an example. “They’re deeply entrenched in the local electronic music scene and they’ve got so much room in there for what they want to achieve domestically. [Australia is] a proving ground for acts like The Presets and Flume… America is an unforgiving market but Australia is a great testing ground…it embraces the underground scene and it’s a good rite of passage.”

“There’s definitely a ceiling here and there’s not one over there,” argued Matt Stafford, who’s been based in LA for the past six months, “You’ve just gotta take a chance.” Neil Ackland, CEO of the Sound Alliance, which recently launched inthemix in the USA, concurred: “In many ways the market here [in Australia] is quite a bit more mature…but fortune favours the brave.”

The panellists did all concur on one point though: That whether you’re trying to build up a profile in Australia or crack the US or Europe, as Nasseri put it, “You’ve gotta generate buzz, doesn’t matter what your fan base is.”

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