Maria Amato: The inspirational GM of the Australian Independent Record Labels Association
Maria Amato is the General Manager and CFO of AIR (Australian Independent Record Labels Association). She is at the forefront of the music business, dedicated to growing a flourishing independent recording sector in Australia. Once upon a time, an artist looking for new markets would be heavily reliant on major record labels, but technology has created platforms and channels direct to audiences, so the business of independent record labels is a very dynamic place to be right now. Multi-national record companies increasingly prioritise their international acts which provides great opportunities for local artists and markets, but, the major labels still control a disproportionate percentage of the market overall. As the AIR website reads, "In a global business environment where multi-national companies control an overwhelming percentage of the market, AIR believes, through collective action, the independent sector can strengthen its position and collective muscle." It's a big vision and one not without its challenges, but one meeting with Maria Amato, and her passionate desire to see this vision come to pass is infectious. Maria brings her impeccable, tried and tested accounting skills to the arts industry. Historically, she has worked in public and private organisations, and recently as CFO and CEO of Melbourne International Film Festival, as well as a board member for Music Victoria. Last week, Maria inspired a room full of women who work in the music industry in Glebe as part of the Sydney Women in Music networking breakfast series when she was interviewed about her life and career with Sydney Women in Music and Jaxsta Music founder Jacqui Louez Schoorl.
Maria spent some time with Music Love offering timely advice, inspiration and explaining the music business for our readers.
Have you always worked in the arts?
I have worked in the arts/entertainment/not-for-profit sector for the past 25 years. Prior to that I worked as a management accountant for some private and public companies, including Orica & Ford Australia
What do you believe are the biggest challenges for Australian musicians today?
That depends on what stage of the journey they are at, as there are many. But for those starting out, I would say getting your music heard, getting an audience to follow you, come to your shows and buy your music, finding the funds to take you on tour and securing a good manager
What are the greatest opportunities?
The ones we have not yet discovered. Forward thinking possibilities that can create the future.
In your experience, what are the most common mistakes made by creative people working in music and in the arts?
I don’t like the word mistake – I prefer looking at everything as learning and development. I do recommend investing in a great tax accountant and lawyer that specialises in the media and entertainment field so that they start their journey properly and that they educate themselves on how to run a small business as an understanding of the overall big picture will help them maximise their potential for success.
What does music mean to you?
Music to me means stimulating, creative and emotional expression that transports, uplifts and energises me. It is therapy for the heart, mind and soul.
Who are your favourite Australian women in music?
The list is very long and I feel it is unfair for me to leave any out as there are literally so many.
Are you a musician?
What draws you to the arts?
The Arts represents the cultural heart and soul of society. I admire people who bring their passion to life and live it. It is inspiring to see people courageously determined to choose to do what they love and earn a living from it, in turn they enrich not only their life but all those who enjoy and are touched by their craft.
What advice would you like to give our readers?
Do what you love!
If you are an artist or have a record label, you can find out more about AIR and its membership benefits at www.air.org.au