Australian expats are achieving incredible things for the music industry from the US. To celebrate the countless Australians crushing it in America, we interviewed four industry figures about their roles, the differences between the two territories, and their hot tips for artists set to make it big overseas.

Lani Richmond

Currently: Member Relations Representative, APRA AMCOS / Day to Day Manager to Aloe Blacc

Location: Los Angeles, California

Why did you relocate?

I wanted a job in the music industry either in management or A&R, and being a huge fan of R&B and Hip-Hop back in 2006, I felt the best place to land a job in that genre of music would be in New York. So I packed up and moved from a 1500 square foot apartment in Sydney to a 150 square foot apartment in Manhattan.

What does your current role entail?

I am the Member Relations Representative in Los Angeles for our songwriters, composers and producers. My role is to connect with our members based in Los Angeles and members that are passing through for sessions or touring. I work on developing opportunities and nurturing our up-and-coming talent and established members, advising them on transitioning to the US, creating special projects and programs for our writers to benefit from.

With LA being one of the biggest music hubs, opportunities are vast with all the major record labels and publishers housed out here, film and television studios, the ever-growing digital entertainment companies, producers, writers, recording studios, award shows, concerts.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I am excited to launch my first ever LA Connect Event on Tuesday October 17 for our APRA AMCOS members! Titled Success in the U.S., the program will kick off with a panel of top industry executives in the music industry from Australia and the U.S., followed by a speed dating/networking round. Our guests will include Amanda Berman-Hill from Sony ATV Publishing, Donna Caseine from Revolver Publishing,Sara McCann from Primary Wave and moderated by our Nathan McLay, manager of Grammy Award/ARIA winner, Flume. We are also pleased to welcome back Milly Petriella who will co-host the event with me.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the first month after relocating?  

The positive lesson was “Be As Aussie As You Can Be” as I found that my accent helped to open doors! The toughest part was immigrating out here. I found a lot of potential employers didn’t want the burden of sponsoring a foreigner nor the legal fees that come with it. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to land a job. But you have to be persistent. After a year and half, I finally found my wings and opportunities I never ever thought I’d have.

What’s the biggest difference between the Australian industry and the one in your city? 

Diverse opportunities in music. In LA, you have so many record labels, publishers, managers, songwriters, artists, synch companies etc, and also the diversity in music – pop, rock, hip-hop, soul, R&B, EDM, trap, Christian, world music and more. That being said, I am absolutely proud to say that Australian’s are some of the most talented and successful songwriters and artists out here in LA.

 

What’s the best tip you could give an Aussie looking to move and work in your city?

“Network and Work”. Be ready to try all the live music spots and conferences, and brave the scene and sign up for open mics. Be open to collaborating with various writers. From my experience with successful songwriters be prepared to write 40-50 songs before one song may make the cut. Never stop writing!

If you’re an APRA AMCOS member or working with Aussie talent, then I’d have to say the best tip is to give us the heads up! Whether you’re relocating permanently or just here for sessions – contact your local Rep or let me know via la@apra.com.au

Best career mistake you ever made?

Not sure if you could call it a mistake, more like an absolute fuck up! When I was on tour working with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, I was so excited when they played “Pink Cadillac” I ran over to tell him…. Except I said, “So awesome you’re playing a Natalie Cole song!” Clarence Clemons started laughing and let me know that it was a Bruce Springsteen song. Thank god Bruce found that funny too! I could have been on the next flight back to Sydney.  By my 100th 3.5 hour Bruce Springsteen show, I was a fully fledged Bruce Springsteen fan!

Give us your hot tip for the next big Aussie artist to break overseas…

Tash Sultana. I haven’t seen her live yet, but she is impressing audiences across the US and is selling out shows! I am definitely looking forward to catching one of her shows!

Jaddan Comerford

Currently: CEO & Founder, UNIFIED Music Group

Location: Venice Beach, California 

Why did you relocate?

I wanted to create more opportunities for our clients and our company. In 2013, I did nine trips from Melbourne to America and two to England. It was becoming inefficient, time consuming and just exhausting!

What does your current role entail?

I run our company as the CEO but I’m also a manager and work very much day-to-day in the company.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

As a manager, my major focus in the US right now is The Amity Affliction, Amy Shark, Tash Sultana and Vance Joy. All four artists are touring America next month and they are all a huge focus. I’m also continuously focused on the development and continued success of long-standing clients such as Illy and Violent Soho.

As the CEO, I’m overseeing the global expansion of the company. I’m very lucky to have such an amazing team in Australia who hold it down while I’m asleep on the other side of the world.

Now the goal is America. We now have two people full-time in the office alongside Rachael and myself, so we are growing and looking to add more and more value to our clients.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the first month after relocating?

It can be very lonely. I moved with Rachael but she travels even more than I do, so for the first few months I was mostly on my own. And when you’re in your 30s, making friends is harder than it looks because 1) you’re so busy working and 2) because it just is. No one needs more friends. Especially some weird career obsessed guy from Australia.

What’s the biggest difference between the Australian industry and the one in your city?

It’s just bigger over here. In Australia we know everyone. We walk around BIGSOUND or the ARIAs and hug or high-five pretty much everyone. But over here it’s just so big and you could spend your whole life getting to know everyone.

What’s the best tip you could give an Aussie looking to move and work in your city?

Just do it.

Best career mistake you ever made?

I’m more inclined to focus on positives. We make mistakes every day and we learn from them. But I don’t think I can put my finger on one thing.

Give us your hot tip for the next big Aussie artist to break overseas…

Amy Shark… Obviously!

 

Tony Buchen

Currently: Producer, songwriter, composer, arranger, mixer and bassist

Location: Los Angeles 

Why did you relocate?

I’ve been coming out to LA once or twice a year for about nine years working on one project at a time always with the view to eventually move out here for an extended period. LA is Mecca for anyone interested in the art of recording music.

There are incredible studios of every level and there are countless intersecting scenes of musicians and as a record producer being able to hand pick from amongst the world’s finest when curating a session is a great luxury and privilege.

LA is currently in the midst of a cultural renaissance that is seeing its food, fine art and cultural calendar lifting to great heights and this is attracting really talented people from all over the globe making the city a very exciting, fertile place to be as someone working in a creative pursuit.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

Quite an eclectic bunch of projects on the boil. Some TV composing work with James Iha (of the Smashing Pumpkins) and a short horror film. Producing a new artist from the Bay Area called Sugi Dakks (think Anderson Paak meets D’Angelo) and a new LA band called Candio. Also a bunch of Australian artists who have either been coming out here or sending me tracks to work on remotely.

What’s the biggest difference between the Australian industry and the one in your city?

I think Australia is one of the greatest places to make music. Its relatively small size and isolation make it an incubator for making records that really speak loudly. The US is a massive place both literally and culturally and you can’t underestimate the huge effect this difference in scale has on the way that music functions as part of the cultural life here.

Music is everywhere in the US and is deeply ingrained in the culture. Musical styles go extremely deep with subsets of musicians, studios and labels catering to any one genre or scene. In Australia we tend to cherry pick from these scenes which can be a really freeing way to make music too as we can feel more untethered to the expectations of any one style.

What’s the best tip you could give an Aussie looking to move and work in your city?

Hone your craft before moving. LA is full of talented people doing incredible things so you want to come here with the skills and creative openness that allows you to jump in and ultimately have something to say creatively. And… don’t forget your roots. As I said Australia is a great place to make music and to an extent the eyes of the industry here are always cast towards what’s coming out of the Aussie scene.

Always ask yourself – where is my music coming from? Is it an expression of me or a reflection of something else? Success is more likely if your focus is on the music first and foremost, and all the other noise second.

Best career mistake you ever made?

Never being afraid to annoy the many engineers, producers and musicians I’ve met over the years by asking questions about their craft.

MIRO Mackie

Currently: Freelance Producer and Engineer

Location: Los Angeles

Why did you relocate?

Los Angeles seemed like such an obvious place for me to develop my career in music. It’s a global centre for entertainment and it’s a place where I could be constantly surrounded by amazing artists, writers, producers and labels.

What does your current role entail?

I’m a record producer and engineer and my goal is always to help artists make their best work with me. There is a technical component to what I do in terms of operating in a studio but my job is mostly listening closely to the artist, understanding their intention and guiding them through the process of making a record.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I’ve recently been involved in projects with The Neighbourhood, St Vincent, Young M.A and Run River North.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the first month after relocating?

My Australian discography doesn’t count for shit here!

What’s the biggest difference between the Australian industry and the one in your city?

Los Angeles has a scale that is so different to anywhere I’ve been. This brings with it increased competition but also much more opportunity to learn and grow. This is a place where it is important to excel at what you do.

What’s the best tip you could give an Aussie looking to move and work in your city?

Come with an open mind and no ego and be willing to help others first and foremost.

Best career mistake you ever made?

Not saying no to projects I should have. I believe you get what you put up within life and it’s important to understand where your professional boundaries are.

Give us your hot tip for the next big Aussie artist to break overseas…

Alex Cameron, Waax, Didirri.