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Face The Music Conference: DayOne

Melbourne’s music scene was diverted from the sticky carpets and dodgy toilets of it’s usual haunts and put up for the weekend in a far more deserving environ – The Arts Centre precinct – as The Push’s Face The Music Conference & Industry Summit saw over 70 of Australia’s industry delegates assembled to create dialogue with the next generation of performers, promoters, managers, labels bosses, Artist & Repertoire representatives, tour managers and journalists. This writer’s only problem was trying to decide which sessions to attend and which to miss out on.

Over the course of two days a who’s who of industry players enlightened the music scene’s 'yoof' as to what mistakes to avoid and what it really takes to make it in a chosen field. Yet the overarching line of advice was clear: Work hard, honour promises, be humble, and PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.


Patrick Donovan – long time music critic for The Age, now CEO of recently formed Music Victoria – introduced Michael Parisi (who’s CV is extensive; Sputnick label boss, A&R at Warner Bros., MD at Festival Mushroom Records and more) as Victorian music’s Svengali.

The duo’s rapport was clear and as the hour whirred by, Parisi’s instinct is evidenced with a tale of the time when, against strict company orders, he pressed 20,000 copies of the controversial Nine Inch Nails track Closer, only to see the song hit number 1.

Parisi and Donovan recalled the night they saw an unknown band from England called Muse play to fifty people at The Evelyn. Earlier, when Michael had phoned London to ask why no one had offered this trio a hometown deal, he was stunned to hear the disinterested reply: “They’re just Radiohead with guitars.” Incredulous, Parisi fired back, “And the problem is?” signing the band immediately.

Parisi knew he could survive in the typically cutthroat record business after being headhunted to work at Imago. On his first day, his mentor and label boss handed a green Parisi a list of phone numbers, a set of keys and announced he was going away for three months. Michael never looked back.

Other career headscratchers included Regurgitator knocking back a Green Day tour slot (when Dookie broke) because The ’Gurg’s main man Quan had a personal rule to only tour two-weeks at a time, and Max Sharam shooting her career in the foot by bagging her label boss on stage, then icing the cake by asking said boss’s voluptuous wife if she was “expecting.”

Donovan highlighted Parisi’s involvement with Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Jane’s Addiction asking, “What was it like babysitting junkies?” Michael’s instructions were to, under no circumstances, secure drugs for his charges, a direction tested by Chilli Pepper Dave Navarro who greeted Parisi at the airport with, “Hey chico, where’s the drugs?” A later endeavour to meet Perry Farrell’s request for a kangaroo encounter saw the Jane’s Addiction frontman boxed in the face by the huge roo. After a terrified Farrell dashed into the bush to hide, a frantic Parisi searched for him for hours.

And how did Parisi get his start? As a lowly Inpress writer in 1988. An insatiable collector of Australian music, interviewing his idols, he says, was an “excellent preface to working in the industry” because as it turned out, his idols were just human. His advice for the audience? “Love music first and foremost, and apply yourself: work really hard. It’s 24/7.”


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JeremySC said on the 23rd Nov, 2010

Such a thorough, interesting account. Some pretty vital stuff there for musicians & writers who are just starting out. Looking forward to part two!


sarahanne said on the 23rd Nov, 2010

Really great piece of work here Mel!


CarbieWarbie said on the 23rd Nov, 2010

this is an excellent informative read! ㋡


jbiz said on the 23rd Nov, 2010

"$5.65. this is the amount you will – if you are lucky – have to share between the band and the management. "lolz!!!please see 'the problem with music' http://www.mercenary.com/probwitmusby.html

Melanie Lewis

Melanie Lewis said on the 23rd Nov, 2010

Ooh, that's a sweet article. Thanks!