Want some advice and insight into performing live? Our Q&A with NLMAs founder here

Feel very honoured to be nominated alongside these ladies. ALL KILLER and I just want to point out #allfemale fronted nominees and predominantly #womenofcolour !!! Go #nationallivenusicawards #nlma ! We all already won something today babes. Xx
— Mojo Juju, RnB artist, Twitter
Artist Mojo Juju - one of the all women nominees in the R&B/Soul category for the NLMAs

Artist Mojo Juju - one of the all women nominees in the R&B/Soul category for the NLMAs

The National Live Music Awards will be held around the country tomorrow night. Read all about the awards, the women who are nominated as well as the venues and our exclusive chat with future soul artist Ngaiire here. Additionally, Music Love wanted to have a bigger discussion about live music, so we quizzed founder Larry Heath about women in live music, and the scene in general. But first some facts about the NLMAs: 

  • One category - the R&B and Soul Category - is almost exclusively women of colour. 
  • 44% of nominees are either female or have a permanent female member in the band. 
  • 51 Awards will be handed out across 8 events on 29th November 2016.
  • 23 of these will be handed out at the Sydney Gala.
  • 2,000 free event tickets are being made available via an RSVP system which you can access at nlmas.com.au/tickets.
  • GA tickets to the Sydney gala are $39+bf.
  • $5 from every ticket sold in Sydney will go to support Support Act
  • If you don't RSVP to the free events, you will have to pay $5 to get in - and all that money will go to Support Act. We'll also be encouraging donations on the door.
  • One event will be happening in every State and Territory - giving cities like Darwin and Hobart the opportunity to celebrate the national live music scene alongside the usual suspects; the national scene is, after all, so much more than the East Coast capitals.
  • All events will be live streamed and engage with a digital audience in addition to those in attendance at both the Sydney gala and the free events around the country.
  • More than 20 performances will take place across the 8 events, including one off collaborations and surprise appearances - plus a series of surprise DJ sets.
  • These are not the first live music awards in Australia, but they're the first significant awards to recognise contemporary live music on a national level in some 10 years. The last were "The Jack Awards".
I know we’ve played a few more places around town... and interstate even... but this nomination for a National Live Music Award - R&B or Soul Live Act of the year has got my head spinning. And it’s mostly because. it’s a national award... it’s about live performances (we aint got enough recordings to warrant any awards or nominations) ... and also look at them fellow nominees!!!
— Odette Mercy, R&B/Soul artist, Twitter
Odette Mercy, nominated for an NLMA

Odette Mercy, nominated for an NLMA

What would you tell people who would rather stay home and watch Netflix than go and see a live show?

Experiencing a live show is one of the greatest privileges we have - the ability to see an artist bare their soul on the stage and share in that experience with dozens, hundreds or thousands of strangers. But it's more than that - in heading out to a live show, you're also helping support that artist in their career as a performer, the venue and the music industry at large. We all need some time to Netflix and Chill, but there is no equivalent to experiencing a live performance in its natural environment. 

What advice would you give an independent artist who wants to get their music out there, but nervous about booking a show to perform?

Every band and artist you see on stage started somewhere. Chances are they played to almost no one but their parents and a couple of friends for the first shows. And those shows were probably pretty average. The best way to get your music out there is to play shows - practice practice practice - grow your audience. Tour the country. Play regionally. The fans you make in those first shows will stay with you forever, and will be the ones who give you a career. And the only way to get better is to keep playing. Keep touring. Keep improving your craft. And if you suck, just remember all the great bands did at the start too. 

How would someone who is an independent artist get booked to perform?

On the NLMAs? Play shows! We base all our performance bookings purely on the quality of the artists performance - and the vast majority of those performing are nominees. In 2017, we'll be revealing some ways you can engage with our judging panel throughout the year to help convince them you're worth a nomination. Once nominated, that's your best chance to get invited to play one of the shows. 

Don't know how to get a show? My best advice, if you don't have a booking agent, is to reach out to bands you like (that you feel you are in the same musical realm of) and venues you enjoy and see what opportunities there might be to support the bands or play some free shows at the venue. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to find a performance opportunity if you look, and ask.

Why are the shows other than the Gala in Sydney free?

We wanted to make this event as accessible as possible, for as many people in the country as possible. The Sydney event is our industry focused, slightly more formal event with food, drinks, a VIP event and 23 awards being handed out. The rest of the events are public focused, showcasing some of the finest performers in the State or Territory alongside the announcement of 4 domestic awards at each event. We are, however, encouraging everyone who attends our events to donate to Support Act on the door - and if you didn't RSVP through nlmas.com.au/tickets you'll be required to donate $5 on the door!

Do the NLMAs cover other genres like jazz or classical music?

Not this year. We do have a traditional stand up bassist (Jonathan Zwartz) nominated under best live bassist, and some other nominees have flirted in the genres, but we made the decision to, in our first year, focus on a limited amount of genres, with "contemporary live music" being the focus. We expect to expand our reach in 2017, but as we already had 51 awards, we needed to find ways to limit ourselves - at least in our first year! 

What’s the live music scene like in Tasmania?

It's a vibrant regional scene that has produced some incredible talent. Organisations like MONA in Hobart have only added to the opportunities that are available, and the exposure that we're seeing for Tasmanian artists on a national level. It was important to us that we included Tasmania, Northern Territory and ACT into the nominations - we want to encourage more musicians, venues and events in these areas, by putting them on the same level as cities like Melbourne and Sydney. As we see them as just as important. There's so much amazing talent in all of them. 

Do the ARIAs accurately reflect the music scene in Australia?

It depends on what aspect of the music scene you're talking about. The ARIAs, in theory, reflects what people listen to at home - the recorded music that they consume digitally, physically (e.g. CD, Vinyl) and on radio. But if you're talking about the live scene, it's not always the case. Some of the artists that win rarely tour in Australia (either because they're enjoying success overseas or they're the sort of artist that just doesn't play live very often - common in the pop scene) - while others represent the heartbeat of the live scene. It's certainly a unique cross section of the music scene in Australia to say the least!

Some of the women nominated at the NLMAs. Alex Lahey, Camp Cope, Happy Axe, Millie Millgate, Odette Mercy and Mojo Juju. Source: Facebook and artists' websites

How important is triple j to Australian live music?

Though triple j is a fantastic supporter of live music in Australia, putting on amazing events throughout the year and helping kick start careers, a recent study conducted by triple j showed that their average listener only went to something like 2 shows a year. 

The reality thus seems to be that triple j has become something of a barometer of quality and/or success that the rest of the "tastemakers" in this industry pay attention to. Once triple j get on board, you'll find that a lot of the other stations and media outlets jump on board as well, which may have more power in getting people to live shows than triple j might - if this survey is to be relied on. 

So while we can't understate the value of triple j to the live music scene, we also shouldn't overstate it. An artist can have a highly successful live career without triple j support and musicians who are told to "wait until triple j come on board" before they start touring, should seek better advice. And to the contrary - just because you get triple j support doesn't mean you're going to suddenly have people at your live shows! Especially if you haven't been touring in the lead up. 

When it comes to the grassroots live music scene, however, I believe Community Radio stations have much greater power than triple j - and they usually precede the js in support of the artists who end up becoming success stories around the country. None of this is to be seen as a stab at the js - they are imperative and incredible supporters of the Australian live scene and music. But they're only one piece of puzzle and artists shouldn't get clouded by the idea that the js are the be all and end all for a career.  

For more info about the NLMAs, read our interview with Ngairre here and check out the NLMAs website