COMMENT: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY AT THE 2017 ARIA AWARDS
It was a night of heavy hitters as the Australian music industries VIPs shuffled over the obligatory red carpet to attend this year’s ARIA awards at the Star City Casino in Sydney.
This is THE big event for the Aussie music business and adding some additional star power were international guests Harry Styles and Lorde, who both performed along with many of the Australian artists who took home the somewhat menacing looking dark chrome, pyramid-shaped trophies.
The big news this year was the continued rise of Gang of Youths who took out three awards. The Sydney indie rock group, whose second studio album Go Farther in Lightness topped the ARIA charts when it was released in August, bagged the coveted ‘album of the year’ award, as well as ‘best group’ and ‘best rock’ album.
PHOTO: Gang of Youths arrive at the 31st ARIA Awards at The Star, in Sydney. AAP: Dan Himbrechts
With a strong show of support hip-hop duo A.B. Original took out the best urban release, and best independent release for their provocative album Reclaim Australia.
Melbourne rapper Illy clinched best Australian live act - upsetting Grammy award-winner favourite, Flume. The Gold Coast’s talented and independent artist Amy Shark grabbed two ARIA’s for breakthrough artist and best pop release for her debut EP Night Thinker.
It was also a night for the old guard of the Australian Music industry with seemingly timeless Paul Kelly taking home pointy trophies for the best male artist, and best adult contemporary album ‘Life is Fine.'
And not to forget Daryl Braithwaite, who was inducted into the ARIA hall of fame. It’s been fascinating to watch the recent resurgence of interest in Braithwaite 90’s hit ‘The Horses,' which has become something of an unofficial anthem of millennials this year in the twitter-sphere.
As we tuned to Channel 9’s FTA coverage along with more than half million Australians, a few other interesting factors stood out for us. One trend was the dominance of Sony Music Australia (SMA) in the management of artists as the record label of choice. Some independent labels got brief mentions, as did Triple J, yet most of the award winners thanked Sony Music Australia’s CEO Dennis Handlin who is also ARIA’s Chairman.
Second, was Apple Music. With multiple streaming services now available, it was instructive to see Apple own the space as the streaming service of choice. Not one other alternative streaming service was mentioned during the ARIA broadcast.
But perhaps the most intriguing thing about the lead up to the awards and throughout the broadcast itself was the complete absence any Hi-Fi advertising or branding associated with the event.
Whether it be for a system, a speaker, a source or a headphone; there was not one single manufacturer or piece of equipment that's used to listen to the very music the event exists for (if you exclude the Apple association) promoted.
ARIA’s official partners and sponsors for the event which are proudly displayed on their website include two different government agencies, three alcohol suppliers, one soft drinks partner, an airline partner, the (gambling) venue partner, a jewellery partner and media and telecommunications partners – yet no HiFi partner?
This does beg the question as to why there aren’t any HiFi manufacturers associating a brand or product with (to quote ARIA’s own copy) “the flagship event of the Australian music calendar.” Perhaps events like the ARIA’s have just become too prohibitively expensive to sponsor? Or maybe there's some kind of exclusivity arrangement in place with HiFi brand advertising given the Sony association?
What we do know is the HiFi business is very difficult in the retail environment. Purchases are highly discretionary, and one of the first categories to wobble when consumer confidence gets shaky.
But this is all the more reason why HiFi manufacturers need to be on the front foot to maintain relevance and mindshare, particularly amongst younger audiences.
The lack of promotion around the advances and the joys of creating an immersive high fidelity listening experience that does justice to the very artist’s music that was that was being awarded at the ARIA’s, is a completely missed opportunity for our industry at such a high profile event.
The full ARIA Awards list for 2017 can be found here.
More reading: Music & Streaming Services Forum.
Len's experience within the Hi-Fi and Audio Visual industry in Australia extends more than 40 years, and Len is the proprietor of one of Australia's leading and most successful specialist outlets, Len Wallis Audio, established in 1978. Len has been recognised with numerous awards for excellence in business both nationally and internationally.
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