Live Nation’s ‘Dream’ & ‘Intention’ Behind Its Ones To Watch Program

13 June 2023 | 11:26 am | Mary Varvaris

“It really is that discovery platform, and it enables Live Nation – or enables these artists to leverage the global reach that we have at Live Nation."

Bella Amor, Sam McGovern & Lola Scott

Bella Amor, Sam McGovern & Lola Scott (Credit: XingerXanger, Cedric Tang & Maya Luana)

After holding a successful event in Melbourne on 29 March, Live Nation’s Ones To Watch program is hitting Sydney on Thursday, 22 June.

The showcase event promotes three up-and-coming Australian artists who will receive a $10,000 grant from the touring giants as part of Live Nation’s dedicated commitment to propelling local music.

The Melbourne showcase hosted rising stars PANIA, Mitch Santiago and Boy Soda, three artists who were selected based on “buzz” they’d built, Live Nation’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Michelle Lucia confirms.

Zooming in from the new Live Nation office in Melbourne – a slick office with her desk situated by a brown brick wall in the trendy suburb of Collingwood, Lucia says that Live Nation receives a multitude of submissions from labels, managers and agents sharing new music. “And these three particular artists we felt were perfect together.”

She goes on to call the music released by PANIA, Mitch Santiago and Boy Soda “great,” while the company’s promoter, Paul Lynch, “runs all the curating for the showcases [we] come up with. We also look for artists while they're emerging, but they've got some sort of team around them.

“So, whether they're represented by [a] label or they've got agents or managers, or they’re getting any local kind of word of mouth in the industry, we’re interested.

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“We have lots of catch-ups with different people to see what kind of buzz is around, and if they've got some sort of local following. Those three artists stuck to the bill for that, and that's why we had them on the showcase. I think that it worked really well, and it was a great night.”

When we chat with Lucia, Lynch was still in the process of narrowing down the artists for the Sydney Ones To Watch showcase. They’ve since been announced, and next week, Live Nation will see talented performers Lola Scott (Sydney), Bella Amor (Gold Coast) and Sam McGovern (Perth) hit the Oxford Art Factory stage, primed to impress with a collectively diverse set of sonic styles and influences.

Scott, with her “sharp blend of dream-pop, ‘90s grunge and a wickedly fresh take on chaotic pop,” is promoting her EP Breakfast For Dinner, released last year.

Amor has been turning heads since 2020, garnering comparisons to soul legends Matt Corby and Yebba. Her candid and fascinating tunes, last year’s can’t get laid and all my friends are high, display a hilarious side to Amor, while sentimental is a gorgeous and emotional track.

McGovern is a WAM (Western Australian Music) Song Of The Year nominee for his debut track Grow, and achieved viral notoriety with his single Memory – a song that has amassed over 20 million views across social media platforms, and propelled him further onto radars right around the country.

“We're really excited because it's our first one [Ones To Watch] in Sydney – we did do one at [South By] Southwest [Sydney] last year,” Lucia says. “We had a lot of great artists, specifically from Western Sydney. So, it's going to be a great lineup.”

Lynch added in a statement, “This has been a long time coming for us, as it will be our first time coming to central Sydney. It is a destination with such a vibrant music scene with so many of the industry’s biggest exports coming from the great city. We look forward to showcasing three of the best up-and-coming artists in the country as part of Ones To Watch.”

Meanwhile, Roger Field, the President of Live Nation in the Asia Pacific, continued, “The touring landscape for new and emerging artists can be challenging, and Live Nation Australia is continually looking for tangible ways to support artist development and make life easier for acts to get on the road. 

"This small gesture is just another way to help these hugely talented artists make their way onto stages around the country, and beyond.”

The Ones To Watch program kicked off in the US in 2017, beginning in Australia in 2021.

“We've been able to use that as our case study – you're seeing how that's launched a lot of artists in the US, so artists such as Dua Lipa, Halsey – even BENEE was on Ones To Watch in the US,” Lucia explains.

“It really is that discovery platform, and it enables Live Nation – or enables these artists to leverage the global reach that we have at Live Nation.

“We can really use that marketing and that that audience that we have to talk to these artists, and the showcases really give these artists an opportunity to play live, and then start their live music journey.

“Our intention is that we would love these artists to tour with us beyond our festival bills, and support other larger artists as they're starting their journey and kind of work and grow from being at club level to theatre to arena to stadium.

“That's the dream for us as part of this program, and that's what we're already starting to see.” For reference, the ever-rising PANIA performed before Illy at a recent Warner Music Australia showcase in Melbourne after a songwriting session in the UK.

Lucia continues, “Some of the artists that we've had on the platform in Australia and also New Zealand have started to tour, which is really great. It's a platform that enables us to leverage our Live Nation audiences to give them eyeballs across Australia, obviously, but then also across the world and into Asia and into the US.”

To get the Ones To Watch artists their all-important reach, Live Nation have them feature at showcases, develop content, and then post that content onto their websites and social media platforms before utilising Live Nation's US channels to really promote and put some paid advertising behind it.

“It's great to see the kind of opportunities we can get for these artists using our data and the traffic to our site,” Lucia says.

“We're really trying to leverage that, especially if we've got a big announcement. We really try and push our Ones To Watch content around those big announces.”

Ones To Watch still has a long way to go, and the program is still expanding, but “It's really encouraging to see that month [after the Melbourne event], the audience interaction is growing.”

Live Nation’s Ones To Watch event in Sydney is on Thursday, 22 June, at Oxford Art Factory. You can find out more about the global Ones To Watch program here.