VROOM: a new direction for live music touring. Except in Canberra

ginganinja 4 May 2009 16

Hi All – this is my first post ever. I don’t get pissed off very often, but here goes.

As a musician living in Canberra, I find it very frustrating how this state always manages to be overlooked in terms of the music “industry” (please note use of inverted commas). APRA have posted on their website this link:


Which is a link to the “new” (actually I believe it’s been around in a very shabby state for a couple of years) VROOM touring site. (www.vroom.net.au) This is a website supposedly abundant with information on venues, touring circuits, and general logistical information for touring musicians, or musicians who are thinking about taking their music on the road.

Now as a muso who delights in getting on the road and playing to new audiences in different cities, I find it very frustrating that:

    a) the ACT is not even included as part of the VROOM site (what, we don’t have any live music venues down here ??? Does the rest of Australia think the ACT doesn’t have anybody producing good music ???)

    b) every other capital city (bar Perth, although they are including it as part of their WAMI festival) are having a “series of information nights” except Canberra.

I dunno. Maybe I’m just off my rocker, but I hold a strong belief that the Canberra music scene is very vibrant and exciting, particularly due to hard work on behalf of a lot of people, and as muso who busts his gut doing something he loves, to have his home (i call it home now having moved here a number of years ago) state overlooked in this regard is a bit disheartening. The number of bands that start here and then have to “make the move” to Melbourne or Sydney is very high, proving the point that no one feels Canberra to be “worth it”

Now I’m not interested in being a “star”, not at all. I just find it very frustrating when all this hard work goes into something that perhaps no one else in Australia gives a crap about.

Canberra in my eyes is worth it, and I feel it is consistently overlooked in this regard.

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16 Responses to VROOM: a new direction for live music touring. Except in Canberra
tracyred tracyred 7:23 pm 11 May 09

Hey ginganinja, just thought i’d give you some background into the vroom project from behind the scenes.
You are quite right when you say that it has been around for a few years in a ‘shabby state’, sorry but it is the work of one person on a part time basis trying to come up with a free national touring resource for all musicians, on a tiny budget!

It has now been rolled out nationally, with details of over 1300 venues australia wide (including the ACT)

The national launch of the first stage of the project, VROOM Beta, happened this week (May 09). VROOM as a project has so much potential and has grown organically to this point, but still has a long way to go…

Funding for the panels has come from state and territory music associations.

Unfortunately, there is no such body in the ACT. Details of over 25 venues in the ACT can be accessed via VROOM NSW / ACT. As much as we would love to have a dedicated ACT site, without the support of government or funding in kind, this is the best we can do. If and when a body is formed in the ACT we would be more than happy to get them on board.

We, as musicians ourselves, have conceived and created this resource to help musicians and to develop touring circuits to spread live, original music.

So please, complain to your local member. Lobby the ACT government for funding for the arts. Start up an association supporting music in the ACT.

Absent Diane Absent Diane 3:47 pm 05 May 09

the size of canberra is not the problem. its the density or lack of that is.

p1 p1 11:10 am 05 May 09

History has shown that artsACT don’t seem to value music as an art in comparison to dance or theatre….

….or big random spinny bits of metal…

magella magella 8:35 am 05 May 09

Great post, Ginga. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. In the late 90s, I remember barely a month would go by when there wasn’t a national or international touring band playing at the ANU bar or similar, and these were often all ages shows. They would use the whole refectory and it would be packed out. Of course, these were the days of the gypsy bar, finigans (?) and when the UC refectory was also still regularly used for gigs.

I went to the Vroom site to send them a message, but they only allow for 300 characters, and I couldn’t find any email address. They do however have a myspace if anybody feels the need to contact them: http://www.myspace.com/vroomaus

trevar trevar 7:47 am 05 May 09

I think it’s got a lot more to do with population size, although I don’t agree that 340,000 is not a lot of people. It is a lot, it’s just not in the millions. Australia only has three other cities with a similar population, and the others are all within cooee of a metropolis, so our promoters don’t understand cities of this size. They understand small cities like Goulburn, and they understand large metropolises (metropoli?) like Sydney, but cities like Canberra are not overlooked because they’re too small, but because they don’t fit the mould of other Australian cities.

It’s not unique to music, Australia is one of very few countries with hardly any medium-sized cities, so those ivory-towered promoters (who mostly live in overgrown metropoli) have a cultural cringe towards cities like Canberra because they are used to either marketing to a metropolitan audience or to a regional one. We’re not either, and they don’t market to medium-sized cities regularly, so if a marketing person is looking at metropoli, we are often excluded because we’re too small, and if they’re looking at regions, we’re often excluded because we’re too big.

So, not only do we need more suitable venues, we should also be making those who live in the overgrown metropoli more aware of the normalcy of medium-sized cities.

Thumper Thumper 6:15 pm 04 May 09

Not easy to get a gig in this town due to the lack of venues.

shiny flu shiny flu 4:55 pm 04 May 09

340,000 people, is not a lot.

Small market.

Go figure the rest out for yourself.

Dante Dante 4:38 pm 04 May 09

RandomGit: I’ve been saying that for years (along with many others). Tried to convince the proprietor of Toast to move down there to escape the noise issues with the Waldorf, no luck.

What we need is less talk and for someone with the balls (and the capital) to get in there and do it.

astrojax astrojax 4:34 pm 04 May 09

good rant ginga, but mebbe better aimed at the site that this one? and mebbe get some back up from musos and entertainers from here who have ‘made it’ – mebbe cc them in? (mike nock, DAAS, for starters…)

RandomGit RandomGit 4:09 pm 04 May 09

Set up a venue in the old Electric Shadows theatre. Two sound proofed stages with a raked floor underground and a concessions stand for booze.

Tonka Tonka 3:48 pm 04 May 09

Venues people…. the distinct lack thereof.

We’re not missing out on tours because of the lack of an industry body… I’ve been involved in these bodies before and there’s not much going on there except people talking a lot and doing squat. Every new one which has come along has pretty much been the same.

There’s squat all APRA can do about a place with no place to play. Ditto for ARTS ACT.

People aren’t coming here because they don’t think it’s worth it financially and there’s bugger all places to play of appropriate quality. Where could the BA have played except the uni bar, which may have already been booked on required date or too expensive for them to hire.

The scary thing about the BA not coming here is that with cd sales plummeting, bands are touring everywhere they can to make money… the fact that they’re not coming here even under these circumstances bears thinking about. This is bad.

In terms of the music and bands of canberra… yes vibrant, exciting and so on…


I mean no disrespect at all to people operating the smaller pub/venues etc… but we really do lack a dedicated licensed music venue with a professional set up like the Greennroom. For their great work, these places aren’t dedicated venues, they’re pubs etc that sometimes hold music. All of the cities mentioned above have at least one or more dedicated venues… we have zip.

That’s what is hurting us more than anything.

Bands of the size of the BA (or any real major touring band) will look at what’s available here in terms of capacity, set up, money and so on… if they can’t find what they require, they just wont come here.

But as I said… Kudos to the people who are holding bands at their venuues, even if they are small pubs etc… you are the slender thread keeping Canberra music alive.

Thank you.

eyeLikeCarrots eyeLikeCarrots 3:40 pm 04 May 09

storm + teacup = ?

I understand your frustration at feeling left out, I lived in Tasmania for years and hell, we often got left off the damn map.

Get in contact with the webmaster and say g’day. The muso’s of canberra couldn’t hope for a better advocate than someone who feels passionatley about his region’s inclusion.

What is there to touring anyway.

1 Get Van
2 Fill with gear and musos
3 Book gigs
4 Apply hamburger and beer when muso’s complain of weakness ?

Dante Dante 3:27 pm 04 May 09

VROOM seems to have associations with State and Territory music organisations/associations:

Music NSW
Victoria Rocks (Arts Victoria)
Tas Music
Music NT

Is there a similar organisation in Canberra? Only think I can seem to find is Music in the ACT (MITACT) but it’s for industry networking, not so much music and venue advocacy.

This could shed some light on why the ACT isn’t involved. History has shown that artsACT don’t seem to value music as an art in comparison to dance or theatre.

justbands justbands 3:19 pm 04 May 09

> Is this why Canberra missed out on the recent Baby Animals tour?

They should have come here…back in the day they always had good support here.

fnaah fnaah 3:13 pm 04 May 09

Is this why Canberra missed out on the recent Baby Animals tour?

justbands justbands 3:04 pm 04 May 09

I couldn’t agree more. I do hope that you’ve sent these comments to APRA themselves.

As far as “industry” goes…we did have the national office of the Australian Songwriters Assocation here, I’m not sure if it still is (I’m a bit out of the loop these days) & at one time at least a healthy number of active members in the local branch of the Music Managers Forum (once again, not sure of the current state of it).

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