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First Nations conference maps out inclusive future for musical youth


BLAKSOUND will provide a platform for representation and conversation for young Indigenous artists in the industry, including co-curation by First Nations youth musicians Sycco, Jem Cassar-Daley, DOBBY and Loki Liddle leading the charge.

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The conference has been designed first and foremost for young Indigenous artists, with workshops and networking opportunities, to offer support in navigating the music industry.

Speakers include artists Naomi Wenitong, Emily Wurramara, BARKAA, Bianca Hunt, DRMNGNOW and radio personality Rhianna Patrick.

Designed by and for young Indigenous artists, the conference is co-curated by a handful of First Nations musicians, mentored by Lead Artistic Director of Digi Youth Arts (DYA) Alethea Beetson.

“Indigenous young people are so incredibly important as they are the youngest generation of the oldest surviving cultures in the world,” said Beetson.

BLAKSOUND provides a much-needed space for them to share their vision of the future, connect and demand change within the music industry.

“Within most music spaces the conversation hasn’t moved beyond tokenism. Very few organisations that I have worked across have put in the real action that backs up the changes they speak about.”

Beetson said the conference is a continuation of conversations had in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for many years.

“We’re just carrying on the work of our Aunties, Uncles, Brothers, and Sisters and continuing to ensure that there are spaces for these conversations and that young people, as well as Elders, are given a platform.”

Loki Liddle, local musician with Selve and The Ancient Bloods and co-curator of BLAKSOUND, said the conference is an opportunity for First Nations youth to talk back and challenge the music industry at large.

“It is charged with powerful conversations that will shine a light on the issues we face, and the future we plan to create,” said Liddle.

Alethea Beetson, Lead Artistic Director of Digi Youth Arts (Image: Supplied)

Beetson said the conference is firstly a space to provide support mechanisms for Indigenous artists but also a platform to share long-had conversations about the treatment of Indigenous people within the music industry.

“The conversations that we’re going to see at BLAKSOUND are around our processes when it comes to our storytelling, and how we need to be given more resources for this from what is essentially stolen wealth.

“There will also be conversations around cultural and intellectual property as the music industry model around ownership and copyright does not factor in Indigenous constructs of cultural and intellectual property.

“There will be visioning for the future and, importantly, conversations on what happens if we turn our backs on the industry. Looking at our processes and models and the spaces that we’re building, or rebuilding, to continue our culture forward through song.”

Workshops will be hosted by industry leaders such as Jono Harrison from Spotify who will address navigating the platform as a young First Nations musician.

Hosts of Triple J’s Blak Out Karla Ranby and Nooky will present a virtual networking opportunity and Ditto Music’s Jinaya Walford will discuss distribution, DSPs and playlisting, providing a behind the scenes look at how DSP’s work, and offering a how-to for First Nations artists who want to make the most of Ditto to distribute their music.

BLAKSOUND has emerged as a collaboration between Digi Youth Arts (DYA) and Vyva Entertainment and is proudly supported by BIGSOUND, an annual music conference which has been cancelled due to Covid-19.

“Vyva Entertainment is excited to be collaborating with DYA to present BLAKSOUND,” said Vyva Entertainment’s Director Vyvienne Abla.

“We invite you to learn, listen and grow as we dissect our current ecosystem and take a look into the future of our music industry from the perspectives and experiences of our youth and First Nations industry and communities.”

BLAKSOUND runs virtually from 6 September to 9 September, for more information visit BLAKSOUND’s website.  

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