A completed PhD investigating the geography of live music in Sydney and Melbourne between the 1980s and 2000s.
Hi everyone –
I’m quoted here in The Guardian today with regards to the recent lively discussions of Sydney lockout laws. The datablog team at The Guardian have also quickly and very impressively put together some maps of live music in Sydney before and after the lockout laws came into effect.
The introduction of lockout laws in March 2014 falls outside my PhD study timeframe, but I commented on the longer historical and geographical story of live music which preceded this legislation, and which will no doubt continue to interact with it in interesting ways (some good, some bad).
The inner city and surrounds now host a much greater share of live music events than in the 1980s. Musicians perform less often and in a smaller area. With the exception of (powerful) festivals and (overwhelmingly self-financed) intercity tours, musicians play close to home and pool their own resources to do so. That this would result in geographical concentrations, and a fear of changes to the inner suburbs, is not surprising.
Few musicians I talked to regarded Kings Cross with particular fondness, but it was in the mix, so to speak, and ecosystems are very important for live music. “Slightly seedy” and “a bit of an edge” are some of the quotes attached to playing at places like the Manzil Room and Candy’s Apartment. But, of course, it’s an area with a rich history, and if nothing else, it was open late at night and accessible on public transport. Plenty of places aren’t.
Looking at The Guardian maps of 2014/2015 Sydney live music it’s also really useful to direct one’s eyes away from the hotspots, to the “great plains”. This can help thinking about the bigger picture of where live music is less present, and why the inner city acts as such an overflow entertainment option, particularly for young people.
Not all entertainment options are so concentrated in the inner city. Poker machines are present in inner Sydney, but they are also found in abundance in the middle and outer suburbs. See map below.
Poker machines aren’t like musicians – sure, they make noise and light up at night, but they also have a lot of help with distribution. They aren’t “locked in” to the inner city.
I been locked out
I been locked in…