Melbourne’s annual Face The Music conference, nestled for the first time in it’s new home in the Melbourne Music Week Hub, took place on Thursday and Friday last week and, somehow, I found myself with a last minute invitation to go along. I also found myself with a debilitating cold and an unfortunate scheduling conflict, also known as my nine to five, but with a bit of determination I managed to make it to a few panels and learn a few things from some of the sharpest and most exciting minds in the music industry.

So what did I learn?

Live music at a music conference is great

Seems like a no-brainer really but, in partnering with MMW, this year is the first year Face The Music has had live performances as part of the program and honestly, it was a treat to start the first day with a solo performance by the amazing Jess Ribeiro and, with the rest of the conference littered with amazing showcase performances, I’m certain that next year’s FTM will also feature some phenomenal talent.

Music criticism isn’t dying, it’s evolving

No-one is denying that gone are the days when you might read a review or an interview in a printed magazine and that be your introduction to a band, but music writers still see a purpose on what they do. While music discovery has been relegated to whatever streaming service you may be subscribed to, it’s still nice to read another human person’s opinion rather than relying on the robot. And the art itself is evolving, with more diverse voices being heard in the blogosphere than ever, which is something this white male writer is very thankful for.

The battle for safe and inclusive spaces is still raging

We’d all like to think that Melbourne’s music venues are perfectly safe places to visit, but unfortunately for quite a lot of the population that isn’t even remotely true. The LISTEN and SLAM co-led taskforce is making progress with the legislation, but even simple things that venues can do – like offering gender neutral bathrooms – is being ignored. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that, right now, even safe spaces can be unsafe but as punters we can help to turn that around.

EVERYONE is optimistic about the future

Sure, I didn’t make it to many of the panels or keynotes, but of those that I went to everyone was overwhelming optimistic about the future of the industry. From the women and GNC people leading the fight for safe spaces, to the independent label insiders and even music critics, it’s spectacular to see that everyone in the industry has such a positive outlook towards the industry at large, and the local Melbourne scene specifically. We’re in safe hands.

Wes Fahey

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