Adelaide's top audiophiles to discuss high-tech creative music cluster

By / 17th of April, 2014

SOUTH Australia’s most respected audiophiles are being encouraged to join forces and form a creative, high-tech music cluster in Adelaide, in an effort inspired by its American sister-city Austin.

The initiative is led by the South Australian Government’s department responsible for innovation (DMITRE), which aims to attract audio businesses like VAF Research, Krix, Halcro, Ascension Speakers and Sonique Audio to attend discussions later this month.

The plan is they will form a bridge with Adelaide’s best audio engineering outfits such as Mix Masters Studios and Disk-edits, and Novatech, a leading event production company.

There will be a focus on linking the creative and cultural side of music with high-technology and R&D companies in an effort to drive innovation and attract national acts to record in Adelaide.

DMITRE is quick to point out that any creative music cluster will depend on the industry driving it – their involvement is simply putting the right people together and providing support.

Comparisons are drawn between what the cluster could be and Adelaide’s sister city in the United States, Austin. As the ‘rust belt’ enveloped many of the United States’ previous industry areas such as Detroit, Austin avoided that trap by becoming a high technology hub.

An overview document from DMITRE about the possible outcomes of the cluster points to South by South West (SXSW) music festival in the sister-city, where cultural output like music, film and interactive media are linked with start-ups, entrepreneurship and the technology to power those industries.

The document states “it is just as likely to see NASA, Seagate and Sennheiser at SXSW as it is to see live performance, comedy and alternative films.”

“Just like Austin’s experience with SXSW there is the opportunity to link world class music and festival activity with hi-tech manufacturing,” the document says.

“Imagine people coming from around the world to experience the best audio equipment in the midst of cultural and technological creativity, a place where audio engineers and music producers work with audio equipment manufacturers to push the boundaries of what is possible in sound reproduction.

“This would be a place where high quality sound is influenced by music culture as much as it influences the types of music produced, and where beneficial spin offs impact the film industry as much as live music.”

The recommendation results from a combination of the South Australian Government’s Our Jobs Plan (.PDF) policy paper and Martin Elbourne’s ‘Thinker in Residence’ report on live music in 2013.

Our Jobs Plan highlighted the benefits of industry clustering – likeminded businesses working in close proximity with each other and educational institutions to create economies of scale and foster innovation.

This has already been done with some success with the Edinburgh Defence Precinct, North Terrace Health Precinct and the more recent Tonsley Precinct amongst others.

Martin Elbourne, UK festival organiser and WOMAD co-founder, conducted a 90 day project in 2013 to produce a report on the South Australian music scene and industry.

Amongst his recommendations were major regulatory reform for licensing laws to encourage more live music venues to open, increased resources in education, subsidised under-age shows and a regional music pilot program.

"It's about creating better bands, having managers and having artists with successful international careers that still base themselves in Adelaide," he said. "That's the biggest thing that's lacking,” Elbourne said at the time.

The meeting will take place on the 29th of April at St Paul’s Creative Centre in Adelaide.

Martin Elbourne’s “The Future of Music in South Australia” Report (.PDF)

Follow @DMITREsa, @MUSICSA, @VAFResearch, @KrixSound