Gemma Bastiani has quite the resume. Wearing many hats in Australia’s music industry, she sure keeps herself busy. She shares her experiences and knowledge with us, as well as sharing all the exciting ventures she has planned for 2019. From starting multiple projects herself with another one on the way, Gemma is an inspiration to those looking to get into, and already working in, the music industry.
How did you get your start in the music industry? What was your entry point?
I started out volunteering at a bunch of local festivals out of high school, and then began managing a band called The Trotskies to really get my foot in the door. Other things that really helped move me along was The Push’s Mentoring Program (Mel Dine is an absolute angel and the reason 90% of Melbourne music industry people are where they are today) and being the editor of blog Casual Band Blogger.
How important is having formal education in your career path?
In all honesty, I learned a lot more from volunteering and programs like those run by The Push than I did at uni. Poor experiences at uni pushed me away from the industry for a few years and it took external programs to bring me back. I wouldn’t say don’t go to uni, but it’s not the be all and end all, and you should be doing a bunch of other stuff not expecting your degree will earn you a job at the end.
You wear many different hats throughout your day-to-day, could you tell us a little bit about them and how you got involved?
My day job is as the Operations Lead at crowdfunding platform Pozible. It’s a really cool job to have because I get to work with a bunch of creatives as they raise funds for their projects – and this includes a whole lot of musicians.
I sell merch for local artists under my little business name Riot Expert – this just started as a way to help out my pals and became a way to earn a little extra money.
My music podcast Australian Jams kicked off mid-2017 because I missed talking about local music after leaving Casual Band Blogger in 2016. It’s been so much fun to create and I’ve been able to chat to some really brilliant industry heads on it, while also trying to teach myself the intricacies of sound recording and editing.
When/how did you decide you wanted to start up your own venture?
Most of my family works for themselves and that kind of felt like the right way to go. It’s also bloody tough to get paid work in music so, hey, why not work out something for yourself?
What are your top tips for managing multiple projects and avoiding burnout?
Realise what you really want to do, and make sure each of those projects are bringing you happiness in the long term. If you’re putting all this time into a project like management for very little financial return, it needs to be making you happy. Don’t be doing ten different things when only three of them are making you happy.
Don’t be scared to say you can’t do it all – people will understand, and if they don’t, they really don’t deserve your time.
How do you ensure you maintain a healthy work/life balance?
Ahh, I’m probably not the right person to ask because I’m not totally sure I’ve ever been able to achieve this. Having good friends who are there to listen to you when you’re frustrated, and make gigs not all work but a bunch of fun does help, though.
What advice would you give to any young people looking to enter the music industry?
Pace yourself early on. I see young people starting these really cool little businesses with the best intentions, but take on way too much right at the start (out of enthusiasm, no doubt) and then they develop a dislike for the industry as a whole because there’s just too much. If you’re wanting to do management, don’t sign five artists straight off the bat, start with one and build from there.
2019 looks like we’re in for a big year for music. What are you excited about working on this year?
Right now (yes, literally right now) I am launching a new online radio station called Play On Radio – focused on discussion of footy and music. I’ve been working on this for a fair while, and it’s born out of my love for the two, and frustration at the imbalanced coverage of footy (particularly the women’s game) in the media right now. It will feature a number of current podcasts as shows – including my own Australian Jams – as well as new shows from a diverse range of presenters, and music playlisting from myself and the brilliant Sosefina Fuamoli.
Which three acts should we have on our Spotify playlist right now?
Oh man, only three?
One of my favourite local artists is Alexander Biggs. He’s an incredibly talented songwriter and his single ‘Close Enough’ will make you weep.
The queen of Melbourne electro-pop (and another stunning songwriter) Eilish Gilligan. I am truly expecting her to have a huge year.
Angie McMahon is a proper powerhouse, and the kindest, most down to earth person to boot.