I’m with the band: How brands can elevate artists and reach Aussie Gen Z through live music

Australia’s live music scene is undergoing a transformation right now. Lucinda O’Brien, senior creative strategist at Amplify, explains how brands can leverage this to reach Gen Z.

Australia’s live music scene is undergoing a transformation right now. While homegrown festivals like Falls, Groovin the Moo and now Splendour in the Grass are being cancelled, international acts are selling out stadiums across the country.

In a time where it’s becoming near impossible to leave the house without spending at least $50, Gen Z continue to prioritise live music as part of their spending – they’re just prioritising going big on single acts over multi-genre, multi-stage festivals. There’s no better example than when Taylor Swift came to Australia earlier this year. We saw first-hand the economic phenomenon that is the Eras Tour. Whereby fans spent not only on tickets across multiple nights but also investing in custom outfits, interstate travel, and accommodation.

So as audience preferences shift and the broader Aussie live music scene continues to adapt, what role can brands play to reach Gen Z and build cultural credibility sustainably?

Gen Z music consumption in the age of the algorithm

We first need to discuss how Gen Z preferences have been defined by the algorithm. While for Aussie millennials music discovery in their youth was defined by sharing Limewire downloads, planning for festival presale and tuning into Triple J, Gen Z is characterised by endless discovery and curation on digital platforms like TikTok and Spotify.

The TikTok algorithm, in particular, is immensely influential in shaping Gen Z’s musical preferences. Artists can quickly transition from obscurity to stardom within weeks, thanks to viral trends fuelled by the platform. Though radio remains a significant platform for introducing new music to broad audiences, the impact of TikTok on fostering cultural relevance with Gen Z is undeniable.

Case in point, the symbiotic relationship between TikTok and Triple J in influencing the meteoric rise of Royel Otis’ Like A Version cover of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Murder on the Dancefloor – a song that was already trending on TikTok because of the film Saltburn. The cover’s success on TikTok in part catapulted the band from Aussie indie darlings to the international stage with a global tour for their new album, Pratts & Pain.

Cultural exchange between artist and brand

The foundation of this type of work lies in bridging artistry, brand values and the broader cultural landscape. Essentially, effective collaboration between artists and brands hinges on nurturing a mutually beneficial cultural exchange. Whereby, the work is built upon the belief that acting in the best interests of the artist and their craft aligns with the best interests of the brand. Ultimately, it’s not about jumping on a trending song or appropriating cultural codes of different artists or genres, but rather about co-creating something meaningful with the artist.

Brands amplifying storytelling and emerging artists

The algorithm also provides a way to go backstage and dive deeper into the artist’s world. To be an artist today, it’s not just about the music–it’s about the storytelling, the causes they stand for and what they represent to the fans. Here brands have the opportunity to create a positive cultural exchange by amplifying the meaningful storytelling that resonates with Gen Z and aligns with core brand values. As we look to the state of the live music landscape right now, there is a real opportunity for brands to spotlight emerging local talent here in Australia. Moreover, brands also have the opportunity to invest in emerging artists and help them reach their cultural potential.

Creating space for live music brand experiences

As Gen Z continues to prioritise live music, there will continue to be opportunities for brands to drive relevance by delivering experiences with music programming at the centre. In a recent study by Live Nation, it was revealed that 90% of Aussie Gen Z prioritise spending their money on experiences rather than tangible possessions.

Music’s enduring relevance to youth audiences

Live music will continue to be a powerful tool for self-expression, connection, and identity formation, especially among youth audiences. According to the aforementioned study by Live Nation, right now a staggering 89% of Aussie Gen Z believe that music plays a central role in shaping their identity.

As we look to the future, the significance of live music will endure as brands will need to prioritise an audience-first approach and collaborate with artists to promote positive cultural exchange.

Lucinda O’Brien is a senior creative strategist at Amplify.


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