AAM Call For Reinstatement of ‘Michael’s Rule’ To Help Promote Australian Music

At last year’s AAM Awards, renowned Australian manager Michael McMartin OAM was given the Legacy Award for lifetime achievement. In his address that day, McMartin called for the reinstatement of a policy for which he and others had campaigned in earlier decades which made it compulsory for at least one local artist to the among the support acts on every international tour that visits Australia. 

Michael passed away last month after a long illness. In his memory, at this week’s AAM Awards, the organisation and its members, representing essentially every major artist in the country, called on Australian concert promoters to reinstate what they are now calling ‘Michael’s Rule’ under which:

1. Every International Artist must include an Australian artist among their opening acts

2. The Australian artist must appear on the same stage as the International artist using reasonable sound and lighting 

3. The Australian artist must be announced at the same time as the tour so that they benefit from all the marketing and promotion

“Everybody knows that there are less Australian songs on the charts right now that at any time since the early 1960’s. Local artists and their managers are also facing other historic challengers including a slew of recent festival cancellations”, said Maggie Collins, Executive Director of the AAM. “These challengers have been recognised by governments across Australia in recent years. Promoters received significant public funding during the pandemic and they understandably continue to receive public support for some of their major events. We think it is only reasonable that, in return, they should ‘do their bit’ to help give Australian artists a leg up by the simple means of including at least one local act on every international tour.” 

‘Michael’s Rule’ used to be a well known industry code after much lobbying by artist managers in the early 2000’s. Senior managers and the AAM are calling for this voluntary code to be brought back now at this of crisis for Australian Music. If promoters are not wanting to agree to this, the AAM are then planning to call on the federal government to step in and make it a condition of issuing visas that international touring artists in Australia must agree to comply with ‘Michael’s Rule’. The AAM also noted that while local media are required to include local content quotas, major international tours such as SZA, Taylor Swift and Niall Horan are free to proceed without featuring one note of Australian music.

“Every time this happens it is a major missed opportunity to allow local audiences to discover local artists. In memory of Michael McMartin OAM we are therefore making this public request today to every major promoter and we eagerly await their reply. If they are unwilling to resinate ‘Michael’s Rule’ as a voluntary code then we will be making formal representations to government to use the visa system instead.” – Alastair Burns and Jess Keely, AAM Co-chairs. 

Some of the artists represented by the AAM members that endorse the reinstatement of Michael’s Rule: Tame Impala, Vance Joy, Amyl & The Sniffers, Budjerah, G Flip, Powderfinger, Teskey Brothers, Paul Kelly, Spiderbait, Alex the Astronaut, Kate Miller-Heidke, Graace, Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil, Birds of Tokyo, Gotye, Missy Higgins, The Presets, Panama, Touch Sensitive, Ta-Ku, Chillinit, George Alice, One Four, Telenova, Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers, Bodyjar, Boy & Bear, Dan Sultan, Jack River, Ocean Alley, Tash Sultana, The Amity Afflication, The Rions, Violent Soho, Style Fuego, Ball Park Music, Kasey Chambers, Andy Golledge, Miss Kaninna, John Butler Trio, The Waifs, San Cisco, Thelma Plum, Karnivool, The Paper Kites, Grinspoon, Electric Fields, Dobby, Grievous Bodily Calm, Ngaiire, Wallace, Eleanor Dixon, RVG, Good Morning, The Avalanches, Sampology, The Living End, Something For Kate, Paul Dempsey, Baker Boy, Vika & Linda, Liz Stringer, Vacations, Alex Lahey, Folk Bitch Trio, breathe, WALKER, Yb and hundreds more.

In a virtually unprecedented moment of consensus, leaders from the music industry’s peak bodies and major organisations have publicly voiced support for the reinstatement of Michael’s Rule. In alphabetical order, leaders from The Australian Live Music Business Council (ALMBC), The Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA), The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and the newly formed Music Australia have all got behind this initiative. Leading concert promoters Michael Chugg, Danny Rogers and Ben Turnbull have also already expressed their support. 

AAM Members can add their names to the list of managers who support the reinstating of ‘Michael’s Rule’ below: