Aussie Touring Bits: Eminem Playing Down Under, First Time in Ten Years; Lil Wayne Opening
Aussie Touring Bits: Eminem Playing Down Under, First Time in Ten Years; Lil Wayne Opening

Eminem Going Down Under For The First Time in Ten Years
Slim Shady is returning Down Under for the first time in 10 years to play a handful of stadium shows. Eminem, who last played in these parts in 2001, will play Melbourne Etihad Stadium on December 1 and the following night at Sydney Football Stadium. Paul Dainty's Dainty Consolidated Entertainment is promoting the Eminem shows, which sees Li'l Wayne and local hip hop stars Hilltop Hoods line-up in support.

Like elsewhere, Eminem is a multi-platinum superstar in Australia. "The Marshall Mathers" album from 2000 is four-times platinum certified (280,000-plus units), the "Eminem Show" from 2002 is eight-times platinum (560,000-plus units), "Encore" from 2004 is four-times platinum and last year's chart-topper "Recovery" is three-times platinum (210,000 units).

Virgin Australia Helps Musicians' Gear Fly; Qantas, Not So Much…
Australia's touring artists today learned of a welcome perk with Virgin Australia.

The airline has announced a new pricing initiative which is meant to cut the costs of carrying music equipment on-board its flights.

After discussions led by national body The Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN), Virgin Australia has made an offer to the music industry that includes a baggage allowance of 32kg (across three pieces of checked baggage) for individual artists - with an additional 32kg which can be purchased in advance for $15 Australian ($15.80). Also, bands will be able to "pool" their baggage allowance across their travelling group.

The news was announced - to rapturous applause -- at the opening function for the 10th annual Bigsound conference in Brisbane earlier this evening.

Speaking at the function, Virgin Australia's Group Executive (People) Richard Tanner said Virgin had "embarked on a major change agenda over the last 12 months." He told VIP delegates, "your concern over costs involved in your baggage is over." Q Music Executive Officer and AMIN Director Denise Foley says the impact of the new arrangement "will be significant and ongoing" for artists.

Numerous music industry associations played their part in the new deal, which will be made available only to members of music industry organizations that elect to partner with the airline. A complete list of those organizations will be announced in the coming weeks.

Australia's airlines have taken flak from the music community for what is seen as a rigid policy on musical instruments. Today's announcement ups the ante in Virgin's competitive duel with the national airline Qantas, which has been demonized for its unsympathetic view to musical freight.

Last year, Perth-based saxophonist Jamie Oehlers initiated the Stop Qantas' "No musical instruments onboard" petition, after his tenor saxophone allegedly suffered $1,200 Australian ($1,220) worth of damage when the airline insisted it be stowed in the cargo hold on a flight to Melbourne some months ago.

Acer Arena Is Now Allphones Arena
Australia's leading arena has a new name. Sydney's 21,000-capacity Acer Arena is now coined the Allphones Arena, after the venue's operators struck a new five-year naming rights deal with independent mobile phone retailer Allphones.

The arrangement, effective from Sept. 1, followed an extensive search by venue manager AEG Ogden and joint-venture subsidiary AEG Global Partnerships.

In a note to clients, Paul Sergeant, GM of Allphones Arena, said the partnership with Allphones was "a fantastic fit for both businesses." He added, "With mobile access quickly overtaking PC access the partnership will see the Arena adopt many new initiatives that will be delivered through Allphones stores."