Music lives: 10 years on since the SLAM Rally

Friday, 21 Feb 2020

It was 10 years ago when Melbourne rallied for live music and showed how a community movement can make a statement and bring real change.

2020 marks the decade anniversary of a series of important milestones for the music industry in Victoria, including the Tote and SLAM Rallies and the incorporation of Music Victoria.

A recap:

The enforcement of licensing conditions later in 2009 that meant any licensed premises providing live music were considered high risk and also required security became a catalyst for widespread community activation in early 2010. With mounting costs, many venues were unable to cover the additional expenses to continue live music. Dedicated venues presenting original live music were hardest hit of all.

As the Tote Hotel in Collingwood announced it could no longer trade and would close its doors after a 500% fee increase, a crowd of between 2,000 and 5,000 people rallied outside the venue on 17 January 2010 to protest.

The music community in Melbourne quickly organised from here, with the established Fair Go 4 Live Music (FG4LM), advocacy group joined by SLAM (Save Live Australia's Music) as a Live Music Accord document with the State Government was developed and the state peak music body Music Victoria was also being incorporated.

On 23 February the SLAM rally began at 4pm outside Victorian State Library which proceeded through the city to the State Parliament. Crowd numbers are estimated at between 10,000 and 20,000 people, with speakers including Paul Kelly,  Quincy McLean (SLAM) and Jon Perring (FG4LM). Also in the rally were industry representatives such as Tote Hotel owner Bruce Milne and co-organiser Helen Marcou, and many profile artists including Missy Higgins, Dobe Newton, Tim Rogers and Claire Bowditch. Music was provided by the Rockwiz Orchestra with placards and banners featuring slogans including ‘I Tote and I Vote’ and the logo ‘Don’t Kill Live Music’.

"From what was a year of great change, community activism and engagement, Music Victoria, SLAM and FG4LM led an agenda that saw a list of fundamental reforms to music policy in Victoria," said APRA AMCOS Chief Executive Dean Ormston.

Key milestones in 2010 included:

  • ­   The Tote Rally (17 January)
  • ­   Signing the Live Music Accord (22 February)
  • ­   The SLAM Rally (23 February)
  • ­   The incorporation of Music Victoria (9 March)
  • Petition delivered to the Legislative Assembly "calling on the State Government to overturn the link between live music and 'high risk' conditions on liquor licences for live music venues" (April 2010)
  • Recognition by Liquor Licensing that live music is not dangerous and that blanket security licence conditions would not be imposed upon live venues (June 2010)
  • Commitments from the November state election to establish the Live Music Roundtable, and introduce an object into the Liquor Act recognising the contribution of live music on the state (November 2010).
  • Momentum for 2011 research funded by Arts Victoria into the Economic, Social and Cultural Contribution of Venue-Based Live Music In Victoria

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