As a singer-songwriter, publicist, venue booker, manager, and Brunswick Music Festival programmer, Emily Ulman's experience in, and scope of, the music industry is second to none. That's why it's so exciting that, in its second year, she has taken over as programmer for CHANGES Festival.
For the unfamiliar, CHANGES is a collaboration between The Push, Yarra City Council, Music Victoria, APRA AMCOS, VMDO and the Victorian music community, focussing on where the industry is currently at and predicting just how far it can go in terms of Music, Tech, Talks, and Ideas.
From in-depth talks to hands-on workshops, and incredibly diverse live music showcases - if you have any interest in Australia's music landscape, CHANGES is the place you need to be.
In the lead up to the 2019 event, we chatted with Emily about putting together the program and what we should be looking out for in terms of the music industry's future.
The CHANGES 2019 program is incredibly diverse and varied – how was the experience of putting it together?
The diversity and variation came naturally in approaching artists and industry figures who are challenging the status quo; who are passionate trailblazers and innovators ensuring the future of our music community stands in good stead. The experience was incredibly fulfilling, and I learned so much in the process. To see it crystalised in the program is both surreal and affirming, I honestly cannot wait for next week when I can see it all come to life.
Your own personal experience covers such a huge breadth of the music industry. Have you found all of your previous roles have really helped to inform the way you’ve approached CHANGES?
Very much so. In so many ways CHANGES is the culmination of everything I have learned and achieved to date. The ethos of CHANGES aligns with my own personal values which I’ve developed and honed over the years. It’s a privilege to implement that into a festival-wide scope and bring together a roster of important voices within music into the same program.
What do you hope attendees get out of the conference?
I hope that CHANGES benefits attendees with an assurance they are equipped to carry the conversation further beyond the summit, with a greater understanding of how the landscape is continually changing and how they can adapt, or even set the agenda themselves, in terms of future promise.
CHANGES really seems to have been programmed for every career level. Was this a real focus from the get-go?
I want the CHANGES program to appeal to the three streams of the music industry: emerging, mid-career, and established, and I also want to engage with people who are interested in, and by, music, but who work in entirely different industries altogether. But having said that, I feel that career levels in the music industry are relatively non-linear and ever-changing, so providing a variety of perspectives in that sense truly benefits everyone. Someone who is only just starting out in their musical journey may well possess insight that would greatly benefit veterans. It’s a level playing field, more so than ever, and CHANGES is a great avenue to highlight that to allow a concerted vision for the future.
The balance between conference and live music is a really great inclusion – do you approach programming each with a completely different mindset or does one inform the other?
It’s a holistic approach in terms of looking ahead, with the live music program leaning towards showcasing the acts set to shape the course of Australia’s bright future. I am hopeful that there will be a natural symbiosis whereby the speakers and delegates in attendance get the most out of the bands showcasing, and concurrently, the bands learn and garner from the national and international delegates in attendance. And hopefully, amazing opportunities ensue.
Do you have any particular highlights from across the program?
When talking about program highlights it would be hard to go past Lydia Lunch's keynote talk(presented by Live Nation's Women Nation fund) on day 1. As far as change is concerned, Lydia embodies what it means to disrupt, to alter the trajectory of sound and space, and the industry altogether.
There will be a conversation titled "Can You Be Ambitious and Happy?"moderated by Nkechi Anele with Jen Cloher, Anna Benefield (Panache Booking Agency/USA), and Clare Bowditch having a look at what it means to be ambitious in the music industry – what it means to chase ambition, or alternatively be chased by it.
Sound Past, Sound Present and Sound Future, presented by VMDO First Peoples, is a conversation with the traditional custodians of the location on which the conference will be held. These incredible Wurunjeri artists will discuss their ancient connection to the land, how it has impacted their practice, and what a perfect future working with sound would look like.
Taking the Con out of Branded Content is a look at what an artist's brand is, how valuable it is and, in turn, what brands have to offer to the music industry. Advertising, branding, and media experts will deep dive into the value of the artist, tastemaker, and creator.
In Sync Idol, four sync experts will each select a different (Victorian) track to the same scene in a short film. In this session, we'll be able to delve into the particular processes involved in the sync world.
Why is having an event like CHANGES so important in Australia, and Victoria in particular?
We can’t take the reputation for being a global leader in music, and Victoria’s as a premier driving force within Australia, for granted. CHANGES not only takes stock of the current climate, but also looks at fostering, and adapting to, progress in an industry, technological, and creative sense.
How do you see the current state of the Australian music industry?
Even looking beyond recent global success stories, Australia is well-placed in terms of adapting to challenges and providing pathways for talent on every level. There are some incredible bands constantly emerging, and while some aspects of the industry have been robust across the globe, Australian acts have been frequently positioned to make an impact on every level. Similarly, and just as excitingly, there are many creative innovations in the tech sphere, some of which will be featured at the CHANGES’ Creators and Innovators session.
What do you hope for the future of CHANGES as an event?
I hope CHANGES will become a staple in people's calendars. That the first week of July becomes synonymous with CHANGES, and that it becomes both a national and international must-attend.
We always like to finish with this one – who are the artists we should have on our radars right now?
Drmngnow, Elizabeth, Sweet Whirl, Hexdebt, Kee’ahn, Nat Vazer just to name but a teeny tiny few.
CHANGES will take over its new headquarters at Abbotsford Convent in Abbotsford on Wednesday 3 and Thursday 4 July. Live Nation’s Women Nation fundpresents the Long Live Lydia Lunch keynote on Wednesday 3 July. Check out the program on the CHANGES website. Tickets available via out mates at Moshtix.