Community initiatives are a staple in Ella Hooper's calendar at the moment, "I've got a lot of enthusiasm and I need a channel for it. Sometimes my problem is I get more excited about other people's music than I do my own! I should really be promoting my own album, and I am like, look at this artist ... they are amazing!" Fans of Killing Heidi will remember the lead singer's zest for life and infectious energy. After all these years it hasn't waned, and as the 2014 ambassador for the super cool Melbourne Music Bank competition, she is out there encouraging all Victorian musicians to enter - with a prize pool of up to $20,000 - this is one opportunity not to be missed.
A savvy collaboration between Bank of Melbourne, PBS and Melbourne Recital Centre, the winner will secure:
2 days recording at Sing Sing
Film clip by Wilk
500 copies of your own CD
Song featured in a Bank of Melbourne ad
Open to all songwriters, musicians and composers based in Victoria
[entrants need to work, study or live in Victoria]
The brief is:
Submit an original song on MP3 based on this great city of ours, Melbourne.
The competition closes on Sunday 7th September, with 12 artists to be shortlisted by Monday 15th September.
Lastly, the competition goes to a public vote until Sunday 12th October [round up all your friends, family, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends to vote for you!]
And then … the top four artists will perform at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Wednesday 29th October, where the winner will be announced.
Ella Hooper's advice
Sounds good? Amazing even? It definitely is! For those thinking of entering, Hooper has some words of encouragement, 'oh, I would not hesitate. I think with opportunities like this, you gotta be ready to leap up and take them. It's one which I am confident in recommending. All of the opportunities are things that take you a long time to get otherwise - recording at Sing Sing, the amount of money you have to spend to do that y'know, shooting film clips, it is all very important learning curve material.'
After being in the Australian music industry for well over sixteen years, this singer knows a thing or too. She remembers her first professional film clip session well, a time when her own learning was accelerated, 'it's education - like speed dating! You get all these opportunities crammed into a small space of time.' The landscape has changed significantly and the passionate singer sees young artists now, as being incredibly switched on, "you have to be so much savvier now and I think most young musos I run into, are savvier than I was, WAY savvier. We really struggled because we had no clue, and our parents didn't come from a music industry background. We signed anything that was put in front of us basically. I personally felt like I had to rush at each opportunity, I didn't understand that there was many ways to skin a cat."
The brains behind Melbourne Music bank
Head of Brand and Marketing at Bank of Melbourne, the very affable Jac Phillips, wanted to create a community event that shows the bank 'understands our audience. We spoke to a number of stakeholders about this - Melbourne Recital Centre, worked closely with Ella and our judges on what would be a really attractive prize pool.' Delivering a great outcome for the winners was a big focus, 'we look a lot more laterally and broadly, how are we going to engage people, how do we support them on the things they are passionate about and enjoy.' Bank of Melbourne are proving they not only continue to support Victorian customers, but also pioneer ways to help, 'surprise and delight, this is one of many things we have planned, as we really want to be a bank of the future.'
History of the competition
Last year's winner, Torquay resident Simon Watt, came up with an original composition featured in one of the Bank of Melbourne ads. The competition was a great springboard into a music career and helped harness a talented musician's passion. In terms of responses this year, Phillips excitedly tells me, 'gee, compared to last year, we are already seeing some incredible styles represented, and we are expecting to see it even bigger than last year.' Any indication on the type of entries? She laughs and cryptically reveals, 'the response has been incredible which is not surprising, given how strategic we have been, and how much thought has gone into it. Let's just say we are delivering some impressive outcomes from a community perspective, than this time last year, a good story - we are on steroids!'
Why you've just gotta do it
Hooper sees music as, 'very unifying, that is why brands see the values in being pro-music scene, of course for us musos and music professionals that's brilliant, because we get the funding in a rocky, ever changing industry - we always need to get more support and funding, so it is great.' Music is a cultural aspect of Melbourne that everybody loves, and something that is universal, 'there are so many different kinds of genres, and so many different points of entry to music. You can be a casual fan, festival goer or an artsy, fartsy type who likes to make music and record at home, it's something that appeals, from hipsters to families.'
Her belief is, if you are a muso you should go for it, 'totally, see what happens. There is no barrier anymore. If you've got the spark, we can nurture that. That is what I am excited about, people who do have the spark. There are so many incredible talents out there, talents that we have missed out on because nobody backed them or they didn't have the money, it must be in the millions'. She tells me these are the kind of people the competition is looking for, and the ones who most deserve the opportunity, 'give them that power boost so they can get up there.' Ella Hooper's Official Facebook page has had a huge response 'I've had people say this is really cool - should I enter? Even established artists, it is all on the strength of the song.'
What's Ella Hooper seeing in the Melbourne music scene right now?
With a lot of love and enthusiasm for Australian music, she sees no signs of the current music scene dying down, 'well it is always full of challenges and positives, we constantly weigh up the pros and cons.' She reflects for a while when asked what the pros and cons are, 'pros - we have a scene that is recognised internationally, Melbourne especially is producing some of the best, most coolest, freshest music in the world. I think the internet has been something that is a major factor in that.' The memories of being a young artist starting out are still there, this just didn't exist for promoting music, 'the world is our stage. Cons - a lot of noise, recording has become so much easier, anyone can have a go, and not always necessarily the best talent.' She pauses for a moment, 'there is still the fact you have to cut through amongst all that noise.'
Last parting words?
Phillips doesn't hesitate to send her words of encouragement to would-be up and coming artists, 'absolutely have a go, we want to support talent, Victorians are very humble, it is an opportunity to back yourself, have some confidence and have a go. At the end of the day, it can only be a positive outcome.' She tells me it's a great way for artists to take that next step, 'it's a wonderful support mechanism, to bring all of that passion to life. Music is one avenue of ours, there are many areas we want to support and are looking at areas we can add value quickly and what we can do over time.'
As an independent artist Hooper sees this as the new trend, 'I think it is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger, where you can actually make your own creative decisions and crowd source to get the money you need. Then your artistic product is just not compromised at all, I think that is the way of the future, I really do.' Any other interesting music insights she's onto? 'I think it is diverse, there are always trends that are quite popular, I am listening to a lot of local stuff, gentler, more Gosling sounds, Lisa Mitchell ... the folky thing, that is quite popular as well..
I am hearing a lot of post-Mumford and Sons ... banjos and handclaps!' [makes clapping and Mumford-ish band noises]. I ask if she thinks the Ned Kelly-ish beards that go with folk rock are trending too? 'I'm personally fine with it … I find them quite hot! It's pretty good, I'm from the country, so I am like ahhhhh, finally!'
Philosophy to adopt
And in the wise words of Jac Phillips when explaining how Bank of Melbourne question their approach to campaigns: "What do we want to be famous for, and who do we want to support from a customer and business perspective? Once we are clear on that, we say what are the sort of opportunities we can get behind, invest and support. It was clear to us Melbourne is a real cultural centre.'
Submissions close at 5pm AEST Sunday 7th September 2014.
No late applications will be accepted.
Public voting opens September 15th 2014 and closes Sunday 5pm October 12th 2014.
Finalists will be notified October 15th 2014.
Wednesday 29 October 2014 is the final performance where the winner will be announced!
For any further questions, please contact:firstname.lastname@example.org