Tarago Diaries #46: Spadework

Mark reflects on Michael Gudinski’s work for the Australian music industry.

Author:  Mark Seymour.

Date: 9 March 2021.

Original URL: https://www.facebook.com/MarkSeymourOfficial


Article Text

(pic courtesy of Michael Roberts)

See this guy? The year is 1975. He’s 23 years old, ambitious, completely obsessed with music and can’t play a note. The truck’s got a mobile recording rig in it, multitrack desk, tape machines, outboard gear. The bands are in the building next door.

Ariel, Ayers Rock, Captain Matchbox, Renee Geyer, Skyhooks, and Split Enz.

His name was Michael and he was heavily involved.

It’s easy to be glib about music. Afterall, you’re never far from it. It’s always coming from somewhere. In the background at Woolies, worksite radio, drivetime in your car, or the stadium at 110 db..
but for most of us the act of making music is a dark art.

Between the first bedroom strum of a stratocaster copy and the ticketek website there’s a whole food chain of labour, skill and passion that is indispensable.

It’s called spadework.

Home truth time:

Stars will rise and fall but like it or not, music doesn’t sell itself..

Someone’s got to make the call, make an offer, or knock it back for that matter, then go looking for a better one, book the room, car, hotel, flights, tune, rig, lift, drag and/or wheel, get to the rehearsal room early enough to set up the mics and turn the amps on, or organize for someone else to do it, depending on cash flow.

Actually, the list of jobs is off the dial. And none of them involve playing a musical instrument.

So you’ve got to wonder, given the sheer scale of a business where everything is transactional..

Who’s holding it together?