Australian artists are breaking on the US airwaves faster than ever before, according to a report from a US publication that posits how the culture of Australian music listeners has catapulted Australia into its role as a global music trendsetter.
According to Peter Szabo, Shazam‘s head of music, along with the US, Italy, the UK, France, Germany and Spain, Australia sits as one of the top countries influencing global trends. “They embrace the idea of breaking music first,” Szabo told USA Today. “They’re very open to new music and love new technology. They love being on the leading edge.”
The report accounts how Australia can be a “proving ground” for music that doesn’t yet fit in to an existing American radio format. Songs or artists, both homegrown and international, often find audiences and break out as hits in Australia, before ever being played in the US of the UK.
“The Australian charts are something I look at constantly,” said Pete Ganbarg, who heads talent discovery and artist development for Atlantic Records. “There’s a kinship in the listening habits of the Australian listener and the American listener. If a record is exploding down there, chances are it’s got a real good shot at exploding here.”
Case in point is Gotye‘s international smash Somebody That I Used To Know, which was already enjoying widespread airplay on Australian stations before it saturated the American radio waves and skyrocketed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, nabbing two Grammy Awards for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Record of the Year along the way.
“Songs that are not obvious for top 40 can develop a story [in Australia] before finally breaking here,” said radio industry analyst Sean Ross, Vice President of music and programming at Edison Research. “As in the early ’80s, Australia makes the type of alternative rock that the current version of the (US) format is playing.”
Other acts who have more recently translated their Australian success into the American market include local acts Vance Joy, Boy & Bear and Birds of Tokyo as well as international artists Lorde, Canadian group Magic!, American duo MKTO and British singer/songwriter Passenger who moved to Australia where he launched his global smash Let Her Go.
“People really wouldn’t listen to him in the UK, so he went to Australia, and that’s where the door opened for him,” Mark Jowett, co-founder of Nettwerk Music Group, which released Let Her Go in the US, told USA Today. “We licensed the record from an Australian label, because we really loved the record. He really broke in Australia, then in Europe and eventually in America.”