Music Matters & Australia shines at the first day of the 11th annual All That Matters conference in Singapore

Day One of All That Matters in Singapore brought the music industry together at the Marina Bay Sands. Now in its 11th year, the 2016 event saw a lot of changes to the iconic conference and festival, with the event merging with their Sports Matters stream to coincide with the annual F1 race in the city, which starts as this event ends later this week. This means that Branded – the company behind the event – have moved us from May to September, following on from BIGSOUND in Brisbane, and moving to the iconic Marina Bay Sands and its state of the art theatres.

Song Australia’s Denis Handlin started the day off, which focused entirely on the Music Matters stream, following the introduction from Branded’s CEO Jasper Donat, “I believe without music, life would be a mistake… It can be an anthem of our lives because it touches our hearts and our souls. We should never underestimate the true value of a song.” “It’s great to see that there’s a lot more confidence in our industry right now.” He talked about uniting the industry against the challenges that are facing us from outside the industry, and wants to encourage people he works with to ‘swim outside the flags’. There were a pile of inspirational quotes, with the overall messages of  “It’s a great time to be driving change”, and “There’s never been a better time to break artists.”

Australia’s favourite twin sisters The Veronicas popped up next for the first performance of the day, singing their recent hit “You Ruin Me” with just a backing keyboard, and then “In my Blood” with drums added and guitars. In between then shared a story about them joining Sony, working with Denis and their ‘revenge’ song in “You Ruin Me”.

Dave Jordan from Format Entertainment talked about music sync for their broad catalogue, including Marvel, in conversation with Mark Frieser from SyncSummit. His message was that there’s more music than ever out there, the good news there’s more opportunities for artists than ever before. He reflected on some of his experiences. A lot of the lesser known artists get picked last minute when a big name drops out last minute. If you pitch to the coordinators at a music sync company, important it needs to be pre-cleared, be says given the above, they need something they can incorporate very quickly. Especially on TV.

The day continued as Ralph Simon spoke to Arthur Fogel of Live Nation, who talked about working with and touring some of the world’s biggest artists, and the Senior VP of MTV in Asia, Paras Sharma, who looks at MTV’s positioning in the Asian music scene, which seems to be more prominent than in some other territories. Dom Lau, who interviewed Paras, pushed the discussion in the direction of the enthusiasm of the youth market around Asia when it comes to music.

We moved to Japan after lunch, with Haryhiko Miyano from Amuse Entertainment talking with Graham Perkins, looking specifically at some of the success of Baby Metal, which saw the group play Wembley in the UK. He also runs Millian, a new venue in Singapore (“It was my dream”). Next, we had a frequent visitor to the Music Matters conference, Steve Lillywhite, who was here to talk about his work with the Thailand band Slot Machine, which was preceded by a video which seems to be a bit of a trailer about a film about the iconic producer.

He’s been in Jakarta for two years; “Singapore (the first city in Asia I visited) reminded me of Disneyland, I was disappointed… I went to Indonesia and it was sticky, smelly, smokey and gridlocked, something I had lost in the West.” “I think I would make a fucking great Sigur Ros album. I want to work with good people, that’s my thing. Having a hit record allows you to work with good people. I want to work with intelligent, wonderful, creative people.”

The first panel of the week went on to look at transparency in streaming, which featured Simon Moor from Kobalt Australia, and a performance from New Zealand artist Aaradhna continued the afternoon – who was the highlight of the opening night party the night before. She wowed the crowd here. The day finished with the QQ Music China Forum, taking us through a Keynote from QQ Music’s Andy Ng, a panel that looks at streaming and digital in China and looked at how money can be made in the market.

With the conference over it was onto the live music of the night with the annual Aussie BBQ at Millian being one of the evening’s biggest attractions. Run for six years at Music Matters by Sounds Australia, the event serves as a showcase opportunity for the official and unofficial showcasing Australian artists at the festival, with eight diverse artists lighting up the stage tonight. Indigenous act The Merindas – who started as a Motown tribute act and are now creating dance music of their own – were a late edition to the lineup, kicking off the event with two tracks, as was Alice Springs’ Dave Crowe, who performed as Resin Moon. His ethereal vocals sat over his live beats and keys, in a brief but powerful set that included “Salt”, which won NT Song of the Year earlier this year.

Sydney Five piece Bad Pony rocked the room, with set closer “Zombie” proving a highlight of the night. slip-on stereo brought together hip hop, rock and great vibes while Perth’s Sydnee Carter and her two piece band sounded beautiful in the excellent acoustics of the venue, with tracks like “Under My Skin”. Also from Perth, Rag n’ Bone – arguably the best band you’ve never heard of – impressed with one of the night’s heavier (also: Short, Fast, Loud) sets, with Keira‘s lead vocals and entrancing stage presence helping make the group stand apart as they travel to Shanghai for the Concrete and Grass Festival. Maefire kept those rock vibes strong and then fresh from playing Ultra Music Festival in Singapore over the weekend, EDM outfit Slumberjack closed things out in fine style.

All That Matters continues at Marina Bay Sands until Thursday, 15th September. “Marketing Matters” and “Sports Matters” will start tomorrow alongside the music stream, while “Digital Matters” will take place on Thursday.


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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.