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Does the Australian Music Industry Turn a Blind Eye – Part 1

Does the Australian Music Industry Turn a Blind Eye – Part 1
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Sticky Fingers are big-name festival announcements
Sticky Fingers are triple j’s Feature Album
Sticky Fingers are programming Rage
Sticky Fingers are getting interviewed by Rolling Stone
Sticky Fingers are getting rave reviews for their album

Sticky Fingersbad boy reputation is continually celebrated

Except in proving them with the oxygen of publicity, the Australian music industry has managed to avoid any mention of the allegations made against the lead singer of the unbelievably-awful-and-yet-unfathomably-popular Sydney band, Sticky Fingers, claiming that he racially abused the band DISPOSSESSED during a show they were playing.

DISPOSSESSED’s singer/guitarist, Birrugan Dunn-Velasco posted about the event on his Facebook page on 29 July.

This news story took a few days to break on social media, but come the afternoon of Thursday 4 August, it was all over Twitter and Facebook.

Any time a public figure is accused of racial injustice, it should be a massive news story. And yet shockingly there was absolutely no response whatsoever from the collective Australian music media at the time. If this had been an incident occurring anywhere other than Australia involving any popular/known band that wasn’t Australian, there is no doubt that it would have been reported as a new item by the Australian music media, no doubt using the tried-and-tested approach of creating content through copying and pasting the story from an overseas online publication.

And yet the embarrassing cowardice of the Australian music media to even make it a news story that published the allegations is not really much of a surprise.

As we all know (and Collapse Board probably knows it better than anyone), the golden rule of the Australian music industry is “Don’t rock the boat”. The lack of anything being written about this incident is because it goes against the primary remit of the Australian music press that “EVERYTHING IS BRILLIANT IN AUSTRALIA”, “AUSTRALIAN BANDS ARE KILLING IT”, “THE DEPTH OF TALENT IN THIS COUNTRY IS STAGGERING”, “THE AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE IS THE GREATEST IN THE WORLD”. The chronic lack of any dissenting voice is a large part of the reason why Collapse Board exists.

It took until Thursday 11 August, 14 days after the event, and 7 days after the story was all over social media for one of the mainstream music outlets to cover it. The Music posted it as an ‘Exclusive’ interview with the band, but, in the modern media environment, it was one that lasted a few minutes before the website Music Feeds had copied and pasted the salient points. Although you would have expected that once one outlet had written about it, the others would all follow suit, so far the likes of marketing-company-masquerading-as-a-music-website, FasterLouder, unofficial-triple-j-and-Tame Impala publicity company, Tone Deaf, “Three stars (minimum) for everyone!” Rolling Stone Australia and all the other smaller websites have remained silent on the matter. It’s been business as usual regarding Sticky Fingers.

Although The Music deserves some credit for actually writing something about the incident, their ‘Exclusive’ still leaves a lot to be desired. Firstly, as there was never a ‘Breaking News’ story, it puts Sticky Fingers in an advantageous position that’s more than just giving them their right to reply. It allows them to set the agenda. Secondly, the interview is with members of the band who aren’t the person the accusations have been made against and who weren’t even witness to the incident. Their defence is weak, as it refutes the claims as a misunderstanding before continuing to say that some things were said that shouldn’t have been. Further, using the defence “you can’t be racist if you’re not white” is embarrassing, as are the comments that Sticky Fingers can’t be racist because some of their friends aren’t white.

The band’s defence takes a further turn for the worse when they start trying to turn the issue around to make themselves the victims of the incident, firstly saying it’s not fair to blame the band (“We didn’t really feel like them character-assassinating not just Dylan, but the entire band was really fair”) and then turning it back on the members of DISPOSSESSED and saying they didn’t respond to their efforts to reach out (“Since [DISPOSSESSED] haven’t really gotten back to us we’re still trying to arrange to meet up with them and, sort of, settle it peacefully, rather than just create some bullshit hype crap on the internet“).

Although there’s been no follow up coverage, Birrugan Dunn-Velasco has responded with his scorn for Sticky Fingers’ comments in The Music’s ‘Exclusive’.


The depressing fact is that there won’t be any further discussion of the events, and there won’t be any repercussions for Sticky Fingers. The Australian music industry didn’t care when the accusations were first made, and they’re hardly going to have any interest now. The Australian music industry has learned well from politics: news stories only last a few days, and then everyone forgets and moves on.

Sticky Fingers are the No. 1 album in the ARIA Charts
Sticky Fingers are selling out tour dates all over Australia
Sticky Fingers are nominated for triple J’s album of the year
Sticky Fingers are being covered by The Jezabels on triple j’s Like A Version

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