While the British teen market singlehandedly keeps Neighbours on the map long after many of its homegrown viewers abandoned the Aussie soap, it seems that this trade in entertainment culture is not all one-way.
The Independent reports that British music – by which, inevitably, I mean pop and sort-of rock – is doing so well Down Under that the British Phonographic Industry is organising a trade mission to those shores, banking on the fact that the 22% of the Australian music currently belonging to UK artists can be exploited and increased. (Read more here...)
Adele is one of the British artists to enjoy equal success in Australia
So why is British music doing so well in this far-off land? As of recent times, a lot of credit must go to those two pop bookends Adele and One Direction, with Adele’s 21 album going 13-times platinum in Australia, and the cherubic quintet stopping traffic when they attended Melbourne’s Logie Awards in April.
But they are by no means the first British acts to break the red land. These pop behemoths walk in the steps of Duran Duran, George Michael, Coldplay, Simple Minds, Robbie Williams, all of whom enjoy an enduring love affair with their Aussie fans.
Cameron Adams, music journalist with Melbourne’s Herald Sun, explains how these acts came and conquered...
“Basically, they made the effort to get here,” he says.
“Coldplay are massive here now, but they came for their very first record and played at the Big Day Out Festival, so Aussies feel they have a relationship with them since the early days. We like bands who show they can be bothered to travel the distance, vast though it may be.
“Robbie Williams is another example. Take That were never big here, so when he released Angels – three times! – it did nothing. But he got on a plane, played to gigs of 20 people, and bit by bit he did it. Australians invest heavily in their music, emotionally as well as buying records, so he’s become a massive star and forever will be, as far as we’re concerned. George Michael did the same thing with the Faith tour back in the 1990s, and that brought him a lot of enduring popularity.”
One Direction were treated like mini-Elvises when they visited Australia earlier this year
Adams, a music aficionado on all things pop, can even provide examples of massive Brit-bands who owe it all, in some way, to their experiences Down Under.
“Duran Duran came here and appeared on Molly Meldrum’s music programme Countdown (think an Aussie version of Top of the Pops, but with only one host and hardly any other telly – you cannot overestimate its influence on teenagers back in the day).
“So that’s why they had their first hit Planet Earth.”
Meldrum, who kick-started the career of many others too, has suffered with ill health this year, a fact not forgotten by Duran Duran when they took their tour to Melbourne.
“They dedicated one of their shows to him when they got here. Twenty years later, loyalty returned,” reports Adams.
Australian music has long been typified as the untiring rock of bands such as AC/DC, but there has been a sea change in this recently.
“We’re more impressed these days by bands like Empire of the Sun, Angus and Julia Stone,” says Adams. “It’s all a bit more polite.”
One thing that hasn’t changed though, is Australian fans’ demand that bands can cut it live.
“There’s a perception that British bands can be a bit fey, a bit twee, whereas Duran Duran proved they could do it.
“And Simple Minds had a renaissance here too. They were treated like a punk band, until they had Love Song become a hit out here. Suddenly they were performing songs like Promised You a Miracle in big arenas, and being treated like rock stars. And so they turned into rock stars.”
Duran Duran - enduring favourites
The other thing to remember is the thriving live music scene in Australia at the moment, meaning festivals are ten a penny, and it’s relatively simple for even indie bands to get a gig.
With Triple JJJ in Melbourne providing national radio coverage and the strong dollar, it makes it financially viable for even the smallest bands to head off to Australia, get on the radio and find themselves a fresh audience from Sydney to Perth, and a quick detour to Darwin while they’re about it.
“A 1000-seater is a big deal in Australia, unlike in London,” adds Adams.
And there’s one more thing, apparently – the ex-pat factor, the growing number of Poms heading off to cities like Melbourne and Brisbane and taking their music choices with them.
So basically, if you’re a British band the moral of this story is a simple one – if you want to make it big Down Under: shift yourself and get on the plane, find your home-grown fans when you get there or take your own, get yourself on the radio and on the festival circuit, and make sure that, once you’re on stage, you can cut it.
Do all that and success is assured.
So it’s just like Neighbours in reverse, then? “Err… sort of,” Adams wholeheartedly concurs.
Plus some other Aussies who've made it big overseas...