With two decades of involvement under her belt, Sarah DeBorre is a bonafide music industry veteran. From community radio to The Push, and now Music Victoria, Sarah has viewed the industry from many different sides – and the best part is, so much of her time spent in the industry has involved helping other people get a leg up. Her latest project Cultivate is centred around exactly that. As we head into our March To The Music celebrations, what better person to get the lowdown from?
How long have you been working in the music industry, and how did you first get involved?
It’s the big 20 years this July. In ’99 I moved to Melbourne to get involved in community radio and I haven’t looked back! As soon as I arrived I started volunteering at both RRR and PBS and it wasn’t long before I was presenting a weekly hardcore and metal show on PBS 106.7FM. From there I convinced them to give me a paid job!
What do you love about working at Music Victoria?
I love assisting people in achieving their goals, which is pretty much what I do with the two projects I run at Music Victoria. One is a women’s leadership program, Cultivate, and the other is a business coaching program for the live music sector, Live Music Professionals.
Tell us about your latest project, Cultivate. How did the idea come about and what do you hope to achieve through it?
Music Victoria conducted a survey to seek insight into the experience of women working in the Victorian contemporary music industry and part of the examination included looking into the number of men and women in senior positions in the industry.
We found that only half of the organisations had 50% or more females in senior positions and several organisations had no females in senior roles. That paper can be accessed on our website and it was the starting point for Cultivate.
Through the program we’re aiming to assist mid-career and senior women in the industry to build networks, and access high-level mentoring and leadership coaching to enhance their skills. From there we hope they go on to have an impact within the Australian music sector by influencing and empowering other women to do the same.
Why is a program like this so important in today’s music industry?
We need a diverse spectrum of voices, minds and talent right across the industry, not just in senior and leadership positions. When you have limited diversity, things stagnate. There’s also plenty of research that supports the relationship between women’s representation in leadership positions and positive outcomes in organisations and businesses.
What advice would you give young women looking to start out in the music industry?
The same advice I’d give to anyone who dreams of working in any industry, music or otherwise – anything is possible if you want it enough. Have a goal and work backwards; figure out what skills you need to get there and start acquiring them. Never say no to any opportunity because you never know what doors might open for you, and be nice to everyone. Never piss anyone off because you never know when and where they might be able to help you.
What do you believe are the challenges the Australian Music Industry is facing right now?
The glaringly obvious two, that go hand in hand are the pill-testing debate and the new licensing scheme for ‘high-risk’ festivals in NSW. It will be interesting to see how everything unfolds in both these areas over the next few months.
What is the best gig you’ve ever been to and why?
Rage Against the Machine playing their home show at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in LA at the end of their Evil Empire tour in ’97. I got to watch from side of stage and the energy of that band at that point in time was ridiculous. They’d been touring on that record for close to two years and were super tight.
Are there any other upcoming projects you’re excited to work on in 2019?
I’m really excited to launch the third year of our Live Music Professionals program. So far we’ve had 40 participants come through it and that means a bunch of amazing new people to get to know and work with.
Which three acts should we have on our Spotify playlist right now?
Clowns are getting ready to drop a new record and I can’t look past them as one of my favourite Aussie acts.
I’m a little late to the party on this one but I finally discover Kylesa a few months ago (Spotify is great for discovering artists you missed at the time) and so I’ve been thrashing their entire back catalogue of records.
It’s kinda like binge-watching but binge-listening. And lastly, Baker Boy has been on high rotation for me – what an absolute legend.