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Josh Pyke & Elana Stone: “It’s Time To Reimagine What We Want Our Industry To Be”

Between them, Josh Pyke and Elana Stone (All Our Exes Live In Texas) have spent 40 years carving out sustainable careers in the Australian music industry. During that time they’ve written hundreds of songs, released a dozen records, won numerous industry awards (including six ARIAs) and played more shows than they can count. They’ve learned more lessons than they can count as well.

In a brand new podcast series, starting today, these icons of Aussie music share all that they’ve learned about making it as an artist in Australia, in the hope that you’ll be able to take that knowledge and use it to make it too. The podcast, It’s Raining Mentors, pops the hood of the Australian music industry, providing crucial insights and refreshing perspectives that every musician and music fan will want to hear. Hosted by Josh and Elana, the show delves into the complexities of record labels, booking agents, the live scene and much more. For indispensable insider knowledge, It’s Raining Mentors.

We caught up with Josh and Elana to find out what inspired them to produce It’s Raining Mentors and what we can come to expect from the series.

Music Feeds: What inspired you to start It’s Raining Mentors?

Josh Pyke: Elana and I have known each other for a long time and we’ve done so much songwriting and performing together, that whenever we chat we inevitably end up talking about the industry and its challenges. When we both started out, there was no one really to ask these questions. I mean, you could ask other musicians, but it was pretty hard to have access to musicians of a certain level and industry people of a certain level, so we just wanted to try and remedy that in some small way.

Music Feeds: Those are wonderfully pure intentions. The show starts this week, what do you hope listeners will get out of the first few episodes of It’s Raining Mentors?

Elana Stone: When I came out of music school, I had no idea what a manager does, what a booking agent does, what publicity is and whether you need it, what the difference between publicity and publishing is, how mechanical royalties and copyright work, how to handle accounting, it is just such a deep well of information, and it is really important as an artist that you get your head around it or that you have someone representing you that does have their head around it. This podcast is important because it starts at the very beginning and explains things slowly and clearly.

Music Feeds: It is called the music business for a reason, and that’s the part that I think most aspiring musicians don’t come to terms with all that naturally. So having two vets asking the important business questions, also installs a bit of BS protection too. Listeners know they can trust the advice and the source.

Josh Pyke: Especially after the last few years coming off of the back of COVID, where the world outside of the industry has more broadly come to terms with the idea that we’re all small business owners. Those sorts of things are good to get your head around at the beginning, as opposed to a couple of years into a career as a band or a solo artist. We want to alert emerging musicians to the idea that they are a business and prepare them to handle that side of it very early on.

Music Feeds: Will you be touching on interpersonal relationships? Both within an act itself and the broader team that represents them?

Elana Stone: That’s such a good idea for an episode, I’m writing that down. One of the most important things is just finding and working with ‘your people’ and knowing when to move on. Issues happen in small businesses too, but when music is involved, there’s often a lot of pro-bono work being done and a lot of friendships, deep personal friendships involved, so it becomes complex.

Josh Pyke: The idea of crowd-sourcing ideas for episodes is important to us as well because we have been doing this for a long time. We might not be facing the same challenges as emerging artists, but we have the capacity to reach people to answer those questions.

Music Feeds: Elana and Josh, I’m curious, over the first few episodes you’ve produced, have you learned anything yourselves?

Josh Pyke: I’m a musician, I haven’t worked on the industry side, so I felt the biggest takeaway for me, was just how emotionally invested industry people actually are in the careers of artists. As artists we write these songs, they’re from our hearts and we’re investing our souls, our images, our personas into this, and I’ve always thought that industry people can move on to other artists, but as artists, we can never move on from ourselves, so the level of investment is always going to be different. So it was really refreshing to hear how emotionally invested people like Katie Rynn and Stephen Wade are in the careers of their artists. They really highlight that there’s no reason to be in the music industry unless you’re passionate about music.

There’s been a few instances where we’ve asked what’s your advice for emerging artists and the response has been that this career isn’t for everyone, this job can be heartbreaking, it is an emotional rollercoaster, that can have a lot of wear and tear on your mental health, so be careful about whether or not you actually want to enter this industry and if you’re doing it for the right reasons. Hearing that from an industry person’s perspective was quite refreshing.

Elana Stone: I found it interesting talking to Dan Rosen from Warner and Marihuzka Cornelius from Ivy League, as both of them have moved from the performer side of the fence. It was good to hear how satisfying those careers could be and how it is actually possible to do both. I found that quite heartening. That you don’t have to choose one or the other, you can do both.

Josh Pyke: Back in the day, I worked for EMI publishing for a year and I was pretty much told that you had to make a choice because other artists are going to think you’re suss, while industry people won’t take you as seriously if you’re an artist, because they’ll assume you’re looking for a way out. But it was refreshing to hear from two people who have superseded that notion.

Music Feeds: The name It’s Raining Mentors, whose genius brain can we thank for it?

Elana Stone: It was a long process of coming up with many hilarious puns. We ummed and ahhed a bit as to whether it had too much of a masculine feel to it, but in the end, it is just a really good title.

Josh Pyke: This whole idea has been in the works for a couple of years, it was quite challenging because everything had to be done by ZOOM, we had to figure out how to get the best audio quality out of guests, so for us, as ‘veteran’ artists learning new skills, this was good for that too. Having many strings to your bow is something that all creatives need in 2022, even industry veterans like Elana and myself.

Music Feeds: Speaking of important considerations in 2022, is the podcast going to branch out into issues of diversity and representation?

Elana Stone: Very much so. We put all of our guests on the spot with a question like that. One of the advantages or the positives of the pandemic is that we have all had a chance to press reset and we have been able to create an awareness of the need for more diversity. As we get gigging again these are things we can now address.

Josh Pyke: Especially coming off the back of beneath the glass ceiling and all the events of last year. The industry has needed a shakeup for a while. In terms of diversity, First Nations people and representation of minorities, that’s definitely something that we want to cover.

Music Feeds: Is there anything, in particular, you’d like to share with prospective listeners?

Josh Pyke: The main thing for me is that this is aimed primarily at emerging musicians. But there’s going to be something to be gleaned for everybody. Like we were saying, Elana and I have been doing this for a long time, but we’ve been learning from our guests and getting new perspectives.

Elana mentioned, COVID being an opportunity for a big reset. It is time to reimagine what we want our industry to be like. That’s part of what we want these discussions to kick off. There’s a whole swathe of young artists entering the industry and there’s a lot more education for young artists available, which is fantastic. That education coupled with the experiences of people that have been doing this for a long time can be really valuable, not just for young artists but for artists that have been doing it for a long time as well.

Elana Stone: Artists and industry professionals. Because this is aimed at people who want to get into the industry and do anything, be it selling records, promoting gigs etc.

Josh Pyke: We don’t want it to be doom and gloom as well. We want it to be hopeful. With all of the guests so far, there’s been a sense of optimism, which I think goes with working in creative industries. I think that’s an important message to take away as well. It may not be the most positive time in history, but if you have passion and drive, then there are still opportunities, and that’s definitely something that we want people to take away from it.

‘It’s Raining Mentors’, presented by Music Feeds and the Australian Institute of Music, pops the hood of the Australian music industry, providing crucial insights and refreshing perspectives that every musician and music fan will want to hear. Hosted by revered independent musicians Josh Pyke and Elana Stone, the show delves into the complexities of record labels, booking agents, the live scene and much more. For indispensable insider knowledge, It’s Raining Mentors. Listen here.

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