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Muso Podcast: S01E03 - Patrick Donovan, Music VIC

Words by Kavina.

Introducing Patrick Donovan


For Episode 3 of the Muso Podcast series we’d like you to imagine a hype Rolling Stones backing track while we salute the Melbourne Music Man and our Chief Agent for Change, Patrick Donovon. The first outgoing CEO of Music Victoria and Past Chief music writer at The Age obliges us with a chat about driving Iggy Pop, taking a took-took wagon to see The Wagons in Texas, and provides us with a Melbourne music history lesson the way only a man who coins a column called Sticky carpet, could tell it.


If you’ve heard the term ‘world capital of live music’ associated with Melbourne lately, that’s because Patrick Donovan put us on the map. All because he found it quite fascinating to hear Austin,Texas proclaim it so, and felt inclined to prove them wrong. 


Patrick Donovan, introduced the principle of the Agent of Change into town precinct planning legislation, champion for women's equality, highlighted regional touring, gave us the Live Music Census, created a voice for Indigenous nations in the music community, started the Age EG Awards(now Age Music Victoria Awards), came up with AC/DC lane at 2am after drunk musings for trying to get AC/DC to come back to town, is the esteemed member of punk rock band Cowsmuff, has taken away many industry awards, plus a nomination for best global live music office. *I needed to get that all out in one breath. 


Summary of episode


We start the Patrick Donovan story at 3 years old, when Patrick heard Skyhooks ‘Blue Jeans’ and ‘Rock’n Me’ by Steve Miller Band which then continued past a tenure symbolic of a labour of love for the scene and reflections from the journey. This was accompanied by 12 years of wonderful stories provided at The Age from interviews with artists like Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, and the “smart and gentlemanly” David Bowie and Mick Jagger. The latter with whom he discussed russian novel ‘The Master and Margarita’ and its muse for ‘Sympathy for the devil’ in a “fairly wanky and pinch yourself moment”. 


We won’t ruin the suspense for the colourful story of the Australian music industry, filled with passion, many seemingly impossible ideas made possible, and a man forging a path where there were merely leaves by channelling his journalistic spirit into pushing Melbourne toward the global spotlight. 


Patrick also discusses the impact of the SLAM rallies on music culture,  what he reckons the path going forward will look like for a post-COVID Melbourne after witnessing its rise and sudden halt in the prime of its music journey, as well as how Victoria has rallied its support to see artists and venues through to the other side. 


Key takeaways


Just like he ended up making the best of a Fu Manchoo situation, “keep striving, discover new music and have excellent taste that you can share with people, and you never know how it will come back to you,” this is how Patrick reckons he connected with Iggy Pop over blues man Junior Kimbrough. 


As for being a songwriter, be honest and sing about your own experiences, which will be unique to others experiences and just focus on the music and forget about the rest. 


Patricks hope for the future includes more regional music, a connected music network that continues to grow and inspire Australia nationally, and a dream for musicians getting better compensation for their craft. 


Check out the full episode here.


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