Australia’s Live Music Capital – Winner Declared In The Sydney Vs Melbourne Debate

Australia’s music industry leaders have now declared a winner in the feud that’s as old as our country itself – where is Australia’s live music hub? Well, according to recent figures from promoters and band managers, the numbers have been crunched and the cold hard facts speak for themselves – Melbourne is Australia’s rock city.

As a devout New South Welshman it breaks my heart to report on this but here goes. The great Michael Gudinski has revealed to The Age that “it’s very rare that Sydney outsells Melbourne, very, very rare”. Just by looking at Gudinski’s Frontier Touring roster from recent tours, it’s hard to deny the claims. As reported, Foo Fighters ended up performing two shows in Melbourne but just one in Sydney while touring with Frontier, Neil Young shifted an extra 5000 tickets for his Melbourne gig than the Sydney one and a further nail in the coffin is the fact that The Boss performed 5 shows in Victoria and only three in New South Wales.

“That’s overall tickets and number of shows. I’m not talking 60-40 – it’s much more in Melbourne’s favour,” Gudinski says.

If you look at Michael Coppel Presents’ books you’ll find much the same thing. The numbers reveal that their recent big international tours such as U2, Roger Waters and Taylor Swift also outperformed Sydney when they rolled through Melbourne.

Coppel has explained that there are circumstances where Sydney will come out on top in terms of ticket sales:

“At the more niche end of the concert market Melbourne tends to do better unless the Sydney shows are played at the Opera House.”

So we’ve got that on our side.

While there are many possible reasons why this could be the case, popular opinion seems to indicate that Melbourne’s venue management is far superior to that of Sydney. Local artist manager Troy Barrott tells The Age, “I would attribute it to Melbourne venues who manage their clientele in a superior fashion: databases, EDM [electronic direct marketing], targeted marketing and the like.”

Management company Mucho Bravado’s Ben Preece has also weighed in, but backs the school of thought that the difference is simply a cultural one:

“It’s a cultural city and the audiences genuinely love going to shows – small, big, whatever; Sydney is more business-focused,”

On the smaller scale, venues in both Sydney and Melbourne seem to be fighting a similar struggle with diminishing attendance but, as we saw with The Tote, Melbourne peeps are far more active in terms of championing the fate of their live music venues.

So, fellow Sydneysiders, it looks like we’ll have to settle for superior beaches, a far grander city skyline and the peace of mind that we won’t ever get hit by a rogue tram.

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