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IAN JOURGENSEN

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WAM Keynote Speaker

New Zealand festival owner, magazine editor, author, photographer Ian and founder of Camp A Low Hum, Ian Jourgensen, takes part in a WAM Conference keynote talk with The Music’s Scott Fitzsimons on Friday, November 7, from 9.45am at the Central Institute TAFE  Main Lecture Theatre. He will also be a panellist DIY Guide to Touring the World session at 11.55am.

Do you feel there’s a similarity between what industry challenges face us here out on the West Coast and what you experience in New Zealand?

I’ve always felt a real kinship with bands from Tasmania and Perth. I find the music scenes to be very similar to NZ. Bands don’t take themselves too seriously and tend to be a little bit odd. Bands on the East Coast often turn me off surrounding themselves with a team of industry vultures before getting to the point it’s actually needed. There is a type of natural selection that occurs where for a band from an isolated place like Perth to make it to Sydney for example, it requires much more effort than a band from Melbourne, so that band is usually much more prepared and can make more of an impact. The problem is where bands make the effort to tour far from home and don’t already have the next tour pencilled in. It takes a lot of effort to get to the other side of the country, you’ve always gotta be thinking three-to-four steps ahead.

What are the main challenges facing bands going on the road these days?

The costs of touring keep going up but the door-charge of shows doesn’t, which makes touring more and more difficult to do viably. In NZ, one of the ways I counteracted this years ago was by very often doing more than one show a day. I’d regularly do matinee shows and on occasion do shows in different towns on the same day. Once I had the same four bands play three shows in two different cities in one day. When I opened my experimental bar a few years ago another way I worked on getting around this was by advertising extremely strict door-times and running two shows every weekend day.

I recently published a book trying to encourage more of a DIY scene in NZ, more house shows and DIY communities. Putting the control back in the hands of bands and away from bars, also as a way of combating reduced numbers of people attending live shows, it’s the only surefire way of getting more people to come see your band, is doing BYO shows, much bigger gigs every-time.

What do most bands get wrong?

They don’t know why they are doing what are doing. Everything needs to be very considered and have a very thorough plan ahead. Thinking two, three to five years ahead should be the norm – not a strict agenda, but a plan in place so when the band gets touring America, that there is already a rough timeline of when to get back to America, again and again, and every other step in a band’s life. There is always room in a plan for major changes of course, but without having a rough sketch of where you’re going it makes it hard to finish anything and get momentum.

You’ve worked in publishing, venue operation, touring, festival management and on CD releases; what have you found to be the most challenging sector of the industry?

Selling CDs. In every other avenue I’ve worked in you can see the effort you put in reflected in its success, whereas being a conventional record label just has diminishing returns. Record labels are still relevant and important, mainly as a curatorial process but there should be much more emphasis put on guidance of an artists career than how to try and sell their new album. The artistic process of making albums is still vitally important, but it’s such a small part of being making a viable career as a musician.

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