Festival Hall has stood as a central pillar of Melbourne’s entertainment scene for more than 100 years. Known as The Stadium back then, it was a home for sporting events, but in the last century, it has shifted to become synonymous with the best in live music. Since being renamed Festival Hall in the early ’60s, the venue has hosted everyone from The Beatles to Rage Against The Machine, Johnny Cash to Oasis – the list goes on and on. Having been a part of the venue for almost seven years, Mel Morris knows a thing or two about Festival Hall, and with almost two decades spent in the music industry, she brings a wealth of knowledge to her new role as Assistant Venue Manager. Almost two years into the role, we sat down with Mel to get an insight into what it’s like being a part of one of Melbourne’s premier music venues.
How long have you been Assistant Venue Manager of Festival Hall and what does that involve? I’ve been the Assistant Venue Manager at Festival Hall for approximately 18 months now, though have been at the venue in other roles for six and a half years. My role involves the coordination of the entire venue and ensuring everything runs smoothly. This includes liaising with venue hirers, ticketing, staffing, stock management, and fun things like WHS and risk management.
How long have you been working in the music industry? What got you started? I’ve been working in the industry on and off for around 15+ years (wow!). I started with dabbling in management in the local scene and have touched on record labels, venues, and event management throughout this time.
Festival Hall is such a historic venue. What makes it so special within the Melbourne music scene? I think it’s the memories that patrons have. Festival Hall is one of the few venues that are able to run all-ages events, so it’s one of the first venues a lot of people visit to see their favourite artists and I think that’s pretty special.
Since taking over this role, what are your visions for Festival Hall over the next 12 months? Just to keep doing what we’re doing. We have a lot of great shows already locked in for next year from a range of hirers, so to grow this and be able to provide a space for artists who are wanting to take the next step up into a larger venue.
What do you think makes the Australian music space so unique? The artists, fans and the teams behind the artists (so everything!). Everyone is so passionate about what they do, as well as being so hardworking, I don’t think the industry would survive without that dedication.
What have been some of your biggest career highlights thus far? Queens of The Stone Age back in 2017 was a big highlight, as well as Ellie Goulding back in 2014 as she’s one of my favourite artists, so that was pretty exciting.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career? Juggling jobs throughout the early years. Working multiple jobs, in the industry and not, just to get by. That’s pretty challenging and can be a little defeating at times.
What has been your best memory as a live music fan? Throughout the last 12 months, I’ve really enjoyed tours from Paramore, Amy Shark, Bloc Party, and John Mayer as a fan. The roof opening at Bloc Party was something pretty special. Work-related, having acts come through that I have no idea about and having the crowd hang onto their every word, singing louder than the PA, and just the joy on their faces as they exit the venue.
What advice would you give to young people who would like a career in the live music space? Get involved in your local scene. Victoria has The Push which is a great resource for youth looking to work in the live music space and has been quite valuable for a lot of people I know.
We always like to finish with this one – who are the three artists we should have on our radars right now? A friend recently turned me onto the new track from The Griswolds which is really cool, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Halsey and new Taylor Swift lately.
You can take a look at what gigs are coming up at Festival Hall at Ticketmaster.com.au