The Queensland government's strategy of funding local music acts abroad is continuing to pay off, according to a statement from the state's minister of trade John Mickel and minister for the arts Rod Welford.

The state government has focused on Musexpo in Los Angeles as the main entry point into the U.S. market. It spent A$113,163 ($109, 043) annually from 2005 to 2008 to get delegates and showcasing acts to the event.

The three acts showcasing at this year's Musexpo, April 27-30, have all signed deals, Mickel says. Alt-rock group Small Mercies, whose debut album "Beautiful Hum" was released in May in Australia by Sony BMG, secured U.S. management with Alan Wolmark, of New York-based CEC Management, and booking representation with Joe Berman, of Los Angeles-based Sumo Music. Its track "Innocent" was included in the DVD for hit TV show "Las Vegas."

Brad Buisson, an executive at the act's Australian management company Melodic Music, tells Billboard.biz that Small Mercies has firmed a Japanese release through Sony BMG and is "close to finalizing a U.S. deal with a major label." Small Mercies returns to play the U.S. late 2008.

Art-band The Red Paintings is working with California-based tour coordinator Lippman Entertainment on a U.S. tour late 2008.

Folk-rocker Gin Club is negotiating a U.S. distribution deal and discussions are underway to tour the U.K. and Europe this year.

Brisbane-based Plus One Records secured representation for Los Angeles-based publishing company pigFACTORY in Australia. It is also in discussions with Fontana Distribution for U.S. and Canada distribution for its acts the Gin Club, and indie bands Mary Trembles and Intercooler.

Other delegates are negotiating U.S. management, podcasting and film/TV placement deals, Mickel adds.

Alt-rock outfit The Boat People's appearance at the May 15-17 The Great Escape festival in England resulted in the act being signed to concert promotion giant Live Nation. It will release a vinyl single in the U.K. through an unspecified label to coincide with a planned tour of the U.K. and the U.S. in October and November.

Queensland's leading music association QMusic was represented at The Great Escape, and identified a number of U.K. music executives to be panelists at its Big Sound Music Industry Summit, Sept. 10-12, in Brisbane.

Welford says: "Following this initial success, we are planning to build an ongoing collaborative relationship with The Great Escape Festival as an entry point for Queensland artists into the U.K. music industry."

Of the A$209 million ($201.3 million) that the Queensland government claims that it spent on the arts sector in 2007/08, $1.3 million ($1.25 million) was on contemporary music, according to QMusic.

Its program manager Stephen Green tells Billboard.biz: "The government's spend on contemporary music has been growing steadily over the years, and we expect a further rise as they see returns like this."