Meanwhile, over in Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, there are slightly more people, but with that comes other difficulties. Joy brings up Sydney’s lockout laws, which were introduced in February 2014 with the intention of reducing alcohol-related violence. They require bars, clubs, and pubs to stop serving alcohol after 3:00 a.m., and they restrict people from entering venues in many areas after 1:30 a.m. Many local businesses believe they do more harm to the nightlife economy than help and blame them for the closure of various venues. (Restrictions for some venues have been relaxed in the past year.)
“That has taken a massive toll on music venues,” Joy says. “It’s been tough for young emerging artists, because there have been no small to mid-level venues to play. Not just in Sydney, but as a whole, there's not a heap of opportunity.”
Still, Lahey says the Australian music scenes are anything but competitive. “It's actually more supportive,” she says. “If someone gets up and hits their stride, people celebrate it. Everyone's rooting for Courtney Barnett. She blew up and everyone thinks it's fucking awesome.” Musicians, Lahey says, don’t subscribe to “tall poppy syndrome,” the Australian version of crabs in a bucket: When there’s “a popular flower” that's taller than the rest of them, it has to be cut down. “It's a really shit part of Australian culture, to be honest. I think it's awful,” she says. “But for some wonderful reason, it's not so much a thing in music.”
Help From Home
It’s tricky for artists with tight resources to tour within their own continent, since many major cities are at least a plane ride away from one another. Fortunately, there’s one entity that links them all together: Triple J, the government-funded, national radio station focusing on alternative and Australian music. It’s as instantly recognizable to an Aussie as, say, Z100 is to New Yorkers, while maintaining the cool factor of Apple Music's Beats 1.
“Any Australian that loves music worships that station,” Shark says. “That’s what keeps our whole country connected.” The singer-songwriter counts the station as one of her earliest supporters — a few years before she broke out with “Adore,” Triple J played her 2014 track “Spits on Girls.” "I thought I’d made it after that," she says with a laugh.
Cut Copy's Mitchell Scott explains that Triple J is a “stepping stone to basically anyone knowing about what you're doing” because without its support, they had a hard time getting played on commercial radio. “It was pretty instrumental in us having a career in Australia,” he says. (Still, Triple J can sometimes be slow to recognize certain native talent: Mandagi says Temper Trap didn’t get traction on the station until they moved to the U.K. and started building buzz over there. “When we came home,” he says, “We were Triple J heroes.”)