A Week In The Life Of… Esti Zilber, Associate Producer at Sounds Australia

The widely loved team from Sounds Australia spend their days advancing and repping Australian music to international music markets – setting up introductions and meetings, showcases and opportunities for Australian artists all over the world. Their schedules are ridiculous, they literally skip across international borders on an almost daily basis and their hard work is a huge part of why Australian artists are really pushing exciting new levels internationally. We were delighted when Esti and Millie agreed to give us a glimpse into a typical workweek for them as they roamed around Europe for some of the big music conferences a few weeks back.


Literally spent the entire day on our long haul flight to the UK via Dubai. It’s not unusual to find ourselves working out of airport lounges and looking after last minute details for our upcoming events. In this instance, we are finalising RSVP lists for our networking lunch for The Great Escape and putting in details of additional artist showcases to our SOUNDS AUSTRALIA app so it’s ready to go and as relevant as possible once we are in market.


After landing and checking in to the hotel, we have a meeting with CIMA, who are equivalent to the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) but also take on export activities similar to SOUNDS AUSTRALIA. We catch up on the markets we are working in around the world and discuss final details for the pre-TGE event in London we are cohosting with them and other export bodies (NZ, Ireland) at Metropolis studios. The rest of the day is spent trying to combat jetlag while simultaneously staying on top of emails coming in regarding our activity beyond The Great Escape, including MIDEM, A2IM Indie Week and Primavera.


We check out and head straight to Metropolis Studios in London for a UK Synch Focus panel and networking event. It’s a beautiful space where we learn Adele, Amy Winehouse and Freddy Mercury all recorded in the room where the panel is being held. The panel is moderated by Jon Skinner, Music Publishers Guild/Music Gateway and consists of UK synch companies including Imagem, R&G Synch, Goldstein, Secret Road Publishing and Carbon Logic. There’s some really insightful conversations around covers, music discovery, fee negotiations and brand/artist integrity. After the event and networking wraps, we head to Brighton for The Great Escape, which will officially kick off tomorrow.


Today is the first day of The Great Escape, a showcase and conference event that takes place annually in Brighton. SOUNDS AUSTRALIA has been on the ground here for the past nine years, so there is a great working relationship in place with the event organisers, and their festival programmer is always on point with the Australian acts he selects to play every year. This year, the Australians in market are: Ainslie Wills, Alex Cameron, Betty Who, Confidence Man, Dean Lewis, George Maple, Geowulf, Gold Class, Gordi, Jack Ladder, Lisa Mitchell, Middle Kids, Olympia, Parcels, Sampa The Great, Sarah Belkner, The Goon Sax and Tired Lion. We kick off our activity at midday with our first SOUNDS AUSTRALIA showcase; SOUND GALLERY. Returning to KOMEDIA, a great venue where we utilise two stages and secure additional performance opportunities for other Australian acts. We arrive for sound check at 9:30am. Typical of our showcase events, and because all backline is shared and changeovers are short and sharp (15 minutes), most bands do not get a sound check, so this is just for those first up on the day. We set the venue up with our branded materials and are walked through how the changeovers will occur, go over security procedures in the event we hit capacity, and make sure everyone is on the same page with how the day will run. We quickly dash down to registration and grab our delegate passes before it’s time to open doors to the public. And then it all begins. There are industry and delegates patiently waiting for doors to open and once they do, the crowds stream inside steadily throughout the day, at times lining up in the rain when the rooms are too full. That night we have dinner hosted by a UK PR firm, and head back to the hotel to catch up on emails, and send one last reminder out to all the Australian and UK industry invited to our networking lunch the next day.


The SOUNDS AUSTRALIAN LUNCHEON is today. We host one of these at SXSW (for US industry) and one at The Great Escape. Every year we invite UK industry to sit down for a catered meal at a brilliant Indian restaurant (shout out to our buddies at the Chili Pickle!) for an opportunity to meet the Australians in town for the festival. We have seen some truly incredible business done over dahl- professional relationships that are still going strong, and it’s always excellent to see a mix of familiar faces and new UK delegates from every music sector including labels, agents, festival bookers, PR agencies, synch and publishers. Co-presented with the High Commission UK, there is a constant hum of conversation and laughter throughout the meal. Towards the end, Millie thanks everyone for coming and the Deputy High Commissioner Matt Anderson says some lovely supportive words, as does Martin Elbourne (creative director and co-founder of The Great Escape and one of the main bookers for Glastonbury Festival). The lunch wraps up and everyone heads out to the festival, to discover new acts, or in our case, check out some of the panels going on as part of the conference, including one on Music Export, and another on “Getting the Most from Showcase Festivals” (where we learn PIAS’s Pip Newby discovered and signed Spookyland off the back of seeing them showcase at BIGSOUND).


It’s an absolutely perfect Brighton day, nothing but blue skies. It’s our last day at The Great Escape and we are producing THE AUSSIE BBQ at a new venue called Patterns, close to the Pier. Whenever we showcase in a new venue there’s an extra level of apprehension around how the day is going to run. Due to extremely tight changeovers, and a BBQ running simultaneously, a little extra effort always has to go in to ensuring the everything runs smoothly and staff understand exactly how we want the day to roll out. We have sound checks, set up the venue, run staff through our processes and then open the doors. There’s a good mix of Australian and international delegates enjoying the BBQ outside between sets and ducking in to catch the Aussie artists in action. We alternate between networking and brokering introductions throughout the venue and stay close to the stage to make sure the sets are running on time and artists are ready and waiting. We pack down the venue and head straight to Brighton Station to make the train back to London. We meet Glenn, Export Music Producer at SOUNDS AUSTRALIA, to debrief and go over any last minute details for THE AUSSIE BBQ happening in East London the next day. We hear all about the 20+ Australian composers and classical music businesses he has been working with at CLASSICAL:NEXT. Working with the Australian Music Centre, it sounds like he has also had a packed few days, networking and promoting Australian artists and companies to European buyers in Rotterdam, Netherlands.


Lobby call for the SOUNDS AUSTRALIA team at 9:00am and we head to Hoxton Bar and Grill, for a full day and night of Australian music. The day starts with strong coffee and setting up the venue for the last SOUNDS AUSTRALIA event in the UK for the year. While the day still draws a strong industry presence, it’s ultimately a public facing event. It has sold out and we station ourselves at the door and look after guest list and hosting any industry and associates we expect will come throughout the day. Glenn is managing the stage with the venue staff and it all runs like clockwork. It’s our eighth year producing a London BBQ, and the fourth time at this venue. The vibe is great, the artists sound excellent, and the audience are lapping it up and in some instances, much to the surprise of the artists, singing along with their favorite tunes. It’s a brilliant way to cap off the week. Taking to the London BBQ stage were Ainslie Wills, Confidence Man, Dean Lewis, Geowulf, Gold Class, Gordi, Joel Sarakula, Olympia, REMI, Sampa The Great, Sarah Belkner and Tired Lion. After REMI closes the night we head back to the hotel and pack our bags. Tomorrow we’ll start the journey back home. It was a really packed and productive week. We won’t know the full extent of how our Australian artists fared for at least a few more months, but if the crowds and industry feedback is anything to go by we’ll be hearing a lot more from these artists around the world in the not too distant future.

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