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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chugg Entertainment - Linking Thailand and Australia

Michael Chugg’s Chugg Entertainment is one of One Movement For Music’s three major players, alongside David Chitty’s Sunset Events and Sat Bisla’s A&R Worldwide. Andrew McMillen caught up with the internationally-acclaimed promoter to discuss One Movement and the changes Chugg has seen within the industry over the decades.
Andrew: What can you tell me about One Movement’s origins, Michael?
Michael: In Western Australia, we’re looking for some sort of music-based event. David Chitty from Sunset Events mentioned it to me. I’d just been at an amazing event in LA called MUSEXPO. It was a really fresh and exciting conference. I go to a lot as you’re probably aware.
I met Sat Bisla, the guy who ran that, and he was telling me that he had some interest from Asia about doing a conference in Asia. We got talking, and for me, my experience in Asia and how each country is different and how they work, the perfect place for an event like this was Perth. I told David, and the three of us got together. And here we are.

I’m specifically interested in the event’s Asia focus. You mentioned that it is a big focus or goal of the festival and conference to have some outcomes for artists who want to either explore Asia or for Asian artists coming to Australia. What provoked that interest, other than the fact that you’re based in Thailand, I believe?

Victoria harbor, from Victoria Peak - Hong Kon...Image by ttstam via Flickr

I live between Thailand and Sydney. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff up there for a long time. It’s always sort of frustrated me that the interaction between the Western music industry and the Asian music industry was pretty negligible. It’s only started to change in the last few years, slowly. That’s always been a frustration.

For me, this event was always about an Asian-Pacific focus. The Government makes no secret that we need to be part of Asia. The Socceroos play in Asia. It’s all slowly changing, and we just thought a music event would be attractive. It’s certainly neutral ground for the different Asians that are coming. We thought it would work and the support we’re getting from Asia is showing us that it probably will. It’s very exciting.
We’ve got acts coming from Japan, India, Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong, China, and we’ve got both delegates and speakers coming from all those countries. Malaysia and Singapore, have bands coming as well. There are probably bands from ten or twelve countries, plus you have South Africa, England, Scandinavia, Germany, the States, and Canada. There are bands coming from all over, and there are some huge Australian acts playing there, as well, along with a lot of the new breed.
People in on the east coast are really blown away by the quality of lineup of acts. That was the whole idea, to put acts from all over the world in front of fans in Perth so the industry can actually see them in front of a lot of people, not in a club with only five people there, which is what happens in a lot of these showcase conferences. I spoke to Myke Brown recently.

Oh yeah, from Thailand, Tata Young [pictured below]’s manager.
We talked at length about how he sees the way Asians do business is much different from the way that westerners do, in that it takes a long time to build trust. It’s not the kind of thing where you can fly into a festival and make a connection and do a deal in a day. It’s kind of built up over time.

Definitely, there is no doubt about that. It’s a bit different in some countries, but yeah, it’s all about being respected and having relationships. That’s why Sat Bisla and I certainly – because of our international work - have that respect. These people trust you enough to come down, which is a really great step.
It’s big face for us in the Asian world, to have the lineup we’ve got coming. A lot of them are really wanting to tell people about how it works in their countries. It’s already starting; out of what we’ve been doing it’s starting to be discussed between Australia and acts in Asia. It’s great. There are a couple of other initiatives that will be announced shortly. They’re all along the same line. It’s very exciting and interesting.
What are your goals with this first One Movement festival?

To do a great event, and with the things we attempt to do, go to the top level and to make it as exciting, doable, and interesting as possible. And certainly, to give the fans a great show. You’re going to have 80 bands who are all there to do a great show. It’s pretty special from that point of view.

It’s also about we’ve got the Independent Times stream, which is the indie panels. For young musicians and people wanting to get into the business and the industry, they still may be doing courses about music business. That little conference will be amazing for people wanting to get in and learn about the industry. This will be a great learning place for everybody.
I go to conferences and I learn stuff all the time. You never stop learning in this business. Just to have the opportunity to listen to the Asians tell us about the digital download, because Asia is so far in front of the rest of the world and Americans and British tell me this themselves; the Asians are just so far ahead with all the downloads and delivery of digital music. They’re way ahead of the western world, and that’s going to be a big learning curve for us.
I think the other thing about Asia is, like [GMM] Grammy Records of Thailand, and a couple of the big ones in China, they have amazing networks around the world selling music to ex-pats in their countries, in every city in the world. Grammy has two acts a week somewhere in the world working. We’ve got those people coming to tell us about that. All their music sold around the world is sold digitally. It’s quite incredible.
This is something I’ve been asking everyone I’ve spoken to for the event, so far. One Movement’s motto is “Artist, Industry, Fan United.” What do you think needs to change in order to bring those three elements more together to unify them?

Map of Australia with  Western Australia highl...Image via Wikipedia

I think that’s happening naturally because of the Internet. I think that’s something that is happening anyway and what we’re doing is bringing it all together in real time. You know, the amount of acts that we tour that barely get played on radio, press, or TV. It’s amazing these days, the amount of kids that have turned onto these acts. I think this is certainly an event where they can learn more about the industry, but the industry is being forced to get closer to the fans and the artists because of the changing way of the industry, certainly, from the recording business side of it. So I just aim to bring those elements closer. For me, the internet is the radio of the 21st century. There’s no doubt about that.
I just want to see that get closer and for people to understand it more. You have so much going on these days. There is a new business that actually originated out of an Evermore concert in Perth, a new business called Posse, where fans sell tickets to one another. It’s fantastic. Things like that, there is so much going on that people need to learn about and it’s changing so quickly. It’s incredible.
I was shown a presentation by PRS in London, by this young economist, Will Page, about the changing face of where the money is coming from. They collect from records, downloads, and gigs and all of that. It’s an incredible thing and hopefully he’ll do a presentation of that, which will just blow peoples’ minds. It’s pretty exciting. There’ll actually be shit there I want to see!
To learn more about One Movement For Music Perth in the lead-up to its October 2009 debut, you’re in the right place. To learn more about Chugg Entertainment, click here.

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