Book Review: Andrew Watt’s Welcome To The Jungle – Navigating the Music Business in Australia

Detailed, well-researched guides to the music industry are hard to come by, but what is even rarer is a volume devoted to the contemporary Australian context. This is what makes Andrew Watt’s Welcome To the Jungle: Navigating the Music Business in Australia so special. Watt is an entertainment lawyer, writer and educator by trade, and is currently the managing director of his company Music Business Education, and director of Ravens Nest Consulting.

First published in 2014, Watt wrote Welcome To The Jungle as an ‘anecdotal textbook’, which takes huge steps towards improving the lack of stand-alone educational books on the Australian popular music industry in the 2010s. Watt draws from an extensive range of interviews with high-level industry influencers working in local, national and international spheres, including Michael Gudinski, Millie Millgate, Jaddan Commerford, Cath Haridy, and Michael Chugg. In an incredible feat, the 4th edition published in 2017 boasts an interview count exceeding 100 participants. Us here at Music Industry Inside Out have blissfully spent the past weeks immersing ourselves within the 600+ pages of Welcome To the Jungle. Read on to catch a glimpse of this unprecedented collection of Australian music industry experience and insights!

Watt lays out the opening pages of Welcome to the Jungle in an easy-to-digest, conversational style. To clear up any confusion, he quickly points out that this book is not designed as a ‘step-by-step’ guide or ‘tour-itinerary’ to being successful in the music business. He succinctly states: “If [this book] helps you crystallise your own thoughts, look at your career in a different way, speak the language of the industry or de-mystify those people whose names you see in the liner notes of albums, then it’s done its job” (p.xii). Got it? Got it.

This volume is broken into three dynamic sections.

Part 1

The first section focuses on broader perspectives surrounding the music industry, including a short history of the recorded music business, copyright, and a discussion on the relationship between the realms of the recorded and live music business.

Part 2

Watt then delivers a thorough and anecdotal breakdown of the diverse jobs which are available as part of the music industry ecosystem. For those of you looking to embark on a career in the music industry, or even those of you looking for a change of pace, this section helps you to reflect on where your place in the industry might be…and where it might NOT be!

Part 3

The final segment is structured to tries and shed some light on possible paths into the industry. In this section, Watt discusses the reality that getting a job or developing a career in the industry is not an exact science, and ‘unintentional careers’ are definitely a thing. Basically, you can never know what opportunity will get your foot in the door, so don’t be afraid to give something from left field a go!

Watt gets very practical in the third section and isn’t afraid to highlight the benefits of formal, usually tertiary-based training. To elaborate, he includes an interview snipped with David Williams who lays it all out on the table: “The good thing about the music industry is that you don’t need any sort of certificate to work in it…you can get into the industry without knowing anything. The bad thing is there are too many people in the music business who don’t know anything” (p. 510).

Brett Murrihy goes on to talk about in his business that while a mind for innovation and entrepreneurial skills are highly regarded, he believes higher-education is an important cog in the machine of offering a professional service and lifting the professional landscape of the industry (p. 512).  For those who wouldn’t touch further academic study with a ten-foot pole, Watt discusses the benefits of on-the-job training through internships and work experience. Sure it’s usually free labour – but it could just give you the edge to score that dream job down the track! Also, imagine the new professional relationships and friendships you could build! Remember that at the end of the day, the industry is a network of people.

Throughout the remainder of the section, Watt offers advice on what can be gained from attending and participating in industry events, takes a look at possibilities in the music media, and unpacks how mentoring works and how to keep it in mind with the relationships you build.

Watt rounds off his magnum opus by drawing together final pieces of guidance from his interview pool to discuss the future leaders of the Australian popular music industry, and how the current industry is ready to embrace the next generation of industry professionals. Welcome To The Jungle has taken leaps forward in filling the gaping hole in readily available, up-to-date, print-based resources on the Australian music industry. The value of this text and the treasure trove of collective experiences held within its pages cannot be underestimated. So, if you’re game and ready to sink your teeth into this smorgasbord of industry insights, head here to pick yourself up a copy!

If you want to learn more about Andrew Watt and what he has to say, you can, with just a click of your finger! Watt has shared his experiences and insights with us here at Music Industry Inside Out and you can find this material as part of our current course content, including his introductory spot, and in the upcoming Season 3 of educational content to be released next month. The countdown is on!!

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