The Australian music industry suffers from "an appalling lack of leadership" and needs to work with government and the business sector to revive its fortunes, according to Aussie veteran record label executive Michael Smellie.

Smellie's keynote speech at the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) Sound Day, a day-long event held June 18 in Canberra, outlined a number of initiatives to spark the industry.

A keystone of this was a new government-run peak association to manage, develop and invest in music at all levels. "The fragmented nature of the business is a major draw back to progress," Smellie said. It would work with national associations as the Australian Recording Industry Association, (ARIA), the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) as well as state and local government bodies, schools, business and community organizations.

Smellie also suggested to arts minister Peter Garrett -- another speaker at the event -- the need for an Australian Music Day. "This would focus on all aspects of the music industry," he said. "It would involve seminars and discussion groups across the range of interests. It would provide a formal interface between, the industry, the community and the government. It would include live performance and educational opportunities." And it was important, he added, to address the lack of interest from the financial sector in investing in new artists, and a lack of awareness of investors in how to monetise copyright.

Smellie was Sydney-based group managing director of PolyGram in Australia 1987 to 1991, before being appointed as MD for BMG in Australasia in 1993. He also served as Hong Kong-based head of BMG's Asia/Pacific Region, moving to New York in 2001 to become its worldwide COO. He became COO of Sony BMG at the merged company's inception in 2004 and left during the end of 2005 to return to Australia. He is currently president of media development, Asia Pacific for German media giant Bertelsmann.

Australia's poor digital performance also needed to be addressed, he commented. Citing 2007 IFPI figures which showed that just 8% of Australia's recorded music revenue came from digital applications (compared to a worldwide average of 15%; and 24% in the United States), the government needed to establish a "digital accelerator" focused particularly on music. The concept includes the establishment of an "Australian Silicon Valley" to stimulate innovation by the music industry in the online and digital environment.

The NFSA's Sound Day also saw Garrett announce ten new entries to its National Registry of Recorded Sound. These included a 1927 version of "Waltzing Matilda", blues-rock band Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs' 1972 chart-topping hit "Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy)", and indigenous reggae band No Fixed Address's anthemic "We Have Survived," from 1981.