Don’t Kill Live Music: Protest Rally @ Hyde Park, Sydney

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have heard stirrings about the New South Wales government’s handling of live music events. What seemed to begin as calling for pill testing at festivals evolved into unrealistic fees and pressures put upon event organisers, and the real threat of losing live music events – killing live music.

NSW premiere Gladys Berejiklian is the focal point of these issues, refusing to consider pill testing, despite the option being supported by many, including the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, as well as Kerryn Phelps.

It was when the Mountain Sounds festival was cancelled due to a last minute $200,000 police fee that the Don’t Kill Live Music movement began with tsunamic gusto. An online petition grew rapidly with numbers of support currently at almost 120,000 at the time of writing this. With the threat of live music events becoming extinct in NSW, people mobilised passionately; encouraging friends and acquaintances to back the cause, for the love of music.

While we’re not typically politically motivated here at Depth, we clearly value music and live music events feel like a ‘home’ to us. Whether it’s local gigs or larger events, these experiences are bonding and life-changing. We make friends, we look out for one another, we have a good time, we feel a sense of belonging and importance in our communities. And, once it’s over, we count down the days until the next time we get to do it! Exorbitant fees to run an event severely hamper the vitality of live music in NSW. This is a scary thing that we’re on the cusp of losing, unless things change!

With confusing/contradictory rules about festival operation –  for one, we know first hand that not all music festivals should be treated equally – it seems decisions have been made without thorough research or thought, nor clearly understood the benefits of music and dance for a population. And if we want to talk economy (because politicians seem to understand that more than they understand the value of the arts), there are countless workers and small businesses that benefit from festival events. While not in NSW, my thoughts go to Tarwin Lower and the influx of attention to the area and opportunity with the presence of Unify Gathering every year.

Hyde Park saw the gathering of Sydney music fans last night in protest of this relatively careless handling of live music. “Don’t Kill Live Music” is an attempt to hit home what the changes in regulations have the very likely potential to do. Using their presence, voices, and signs, people showed their passion to keep live music alive, and shared their frustrations and concerns in a peaceful environment. Many staying until after sunset, they stood firm for what they believed in.

Ivan Souriyavong snapped these photos of the rally shown within this piece, which clearly demonstrate the determination to not allow knee-jerk responses to weaken an industry which does so much more for people than ‘make a quick buck’ for organisers. As for what happens now? We hope that decision makers are watching and listening and recognising what’s at stake. We’re grateful for those in Sydney who were motivated to stand up for live music on behalf of many.

If you haven’t yet, sign the petition here via

[Photos courtesy of Ivan Souriyavong]


Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it. [Loved the read? Shout Kel a latte.]

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