Image by Phoebe O'Brien

When SYNners move on from volunteering, a lot of them go on to work in the media, taking with them all the skills SYN has instilled in them.

SYN alumni, Rochelle Flack, started at SYN in 2013, working her way through SYN’s radio and TV music programs. Now, she’s the Trade Marketing Manager for AU/NZ at Ditto Music.

This blog asks Rochelle about her career so far, plus how the music industry has been impacted by COVID-19, and what community broadcasters can do to support local music at this time.

What did you do at SYN and when?

I started at SYN in 2013 crewing on 1700! I worked my way through the various tasks of making live to air TV: directing, vision switching, audio, graphics — all of the above, before jumping across to radio in 2015. In my time on air I presented and produced flagship music programs New and Approved, The Hoist and Sunday Sweets. I also pulled my fair share of graveyard shifts and produced two seasonal programs, Liner Notes and The Shortlist. 

After holding a couple of leadership roles and racking up a fair few hours behind the camera and mic, I stepped away from SYN in 2018. 

What do you do now?

I work in a space where music meets technology; distribution! As Trade Marketing Manager for AU/NZ at Ditto Music, I oversee the process of taking music digital. Getting songs onto platforms like Spotify or Apple Music involves working closely with artist and teams to coordinate the rollout of a release. A lot of little details go into this — things like metadata, release dates, liaison with digital platforms and music. So much music!

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Each day involves many things! I find myself jumping between the inbox, project management boards, delivery systems and various platforms back-ends. 

Whether it be via email, phone or Google Hangout, I’m in constant contact with clients throughout the day. I might be answering questions, providing assets, discussing data or planning strategy. 

I’m also in constant contact with the global Ditto team. Cross continent communication 😉 It’s good for me to know what’s happening in other territories, as we’re always looking to export Australian music overseas and vice versa. 

I’ll generally send a few products to platforms each day. This involves inputting all the bits and pieces needed to get a track, EP or album online. Things like track titles, album artwork, artists, copyright owners — all uploaded, formatted and sent via a specialised delivery system. 

I’m also communicating with each digital platform to let them know about upcoming releases. This is so they can plan accordingly when updating relevant playlists or other editorial.  

Each day I’ll devote some time to work on major projects. This includes long-term EP and album campaigns or global Ditto initiatives (like our curated playlists).

How did your experience at SYN help you land your current job?

SYN allowed me to build valuable skills and connections. This, plus hands on experience helped me make the leap into a full time music industry career. You’ve probably heard it time and time again, but there really is so much value in volunteering.  

My experience at SYN helps me day to day. Directing live to air TV and presenting radio helped hone my communication skills. Being able to communicate positively and effectively is absolutely vital in my role. Whenever I need to get a point across, I think ‘what would I say on radio?’

How has the local music industry been impacted by COVID-19?

It’s a devastating time for the music and arts industry. The impacts are so wide reaching: countless people are out of work, venues are under immense financial pressure and events (and the tourism/revenue they bring in) are off the calendar for the foreseeable future. Many artists and industry folk rely on a secondary income with flexible hours, so they often work in hospitality  — another industry hit hard by COVID. It’s hard to know at this stage what lasting effects this will have. 

How have musicians and artists coped and adapted during this time?

Artists and industry have embraced technology to connect with their audiences. A quick scroll of your Instagram or Facebook supports this — social media feeds have lit up with live-streams and innovative content. Artists are going ‘on tour’ in their homes, e.g. one day playing a set in the bathroom, the next day in the lounge. Every weekend a streaming music festival called Isol-Aid goes live with artists from all corners of the Australian music industry. Delivered Live presented by the Victorian Government is bringing high res, studio shot and ticketed gigs to the world wide web. 

Using digital tools such as livestreams and social media have proven invaluable for building and connecting with community during a time of isolation and social distancing. But, it also has caused concern for the cashflow of artists as many aren’t monetised, or return low royalty payments. To help supplement income artists are turning to Patreon for creation paying subscriber databases, optimising their presence on streaming platforms and selling merch. Bandcamp launched an awesome initiative where they waive their usual 10% revenue share from each sale on a nominated day. There’s been 2 #BandcampFriday’s so far, paying out over 10M directly to artists. 

What impact has COVID-19 had on music streaming?

According to the numbers, music streaming has decreased slightly during the COVID period. The decline was most noticeable during the height of lockdown in respective territories, but has eased as people adapt to the ‘new normal.’ 

When you think about how everyday behaviour has changed, this drop makes sense. Many people have adopted working from home and are no longer streaming while commuting. Or, for a sense of normality and source of news, people listen to the radio.

Streaming platforms have shifted to complement user behaviour. There’s now an abundance of ‘Working From Home’ playlists and ‘happy’ or ‘motivation’ playlists are consistently served up on homepages. Certain playlists have even changed titles to encourage people to stay at home — eg. ‘Stay At Home Party’.

At a local level, platforms have launched campaigns to encourage users to stream AU/NZ artists. Homegrown artists are featuring prominently on playlists and their covers, social media and additional editorial as part of Stream Local, Sing #WithMe and Listen Local campaigns from Apple, YouTube and Spotify respectively. It’s been encouraging to see platforms across the board responding to the situation and making a dedicated effort to program AU/NZ music. 

What can volunteers at SYN do to support local music, right now and beyond COVID-19? Further to that, what can community stations do to provide support and show solidarity?

Music industry bodies across the country have put together a collection of incredible resources for the music and wider community. Music Victoria have a great resources specific to COVID — but year round they are important advocates and supporters. Volunteers can join and help spread the word.

Support artists directly where you can. Buy their merch, stream, buy and pop their music into your playlists. Whether it be by Instagram story or retweet, signal boost artists and share their work. Advocate for art, but also remember the halls that host it! Order takeaway from venues you’d usually catch a gig and purchase vouchers for venues/rehearsal rooms/galleries to use when it’s safe to do so. 

Community radio speaks to an audience every day. It’s an awesome platform to champion local music, arts and culture. Pack your programming with local music and continue the great work you already do supporting community. We’ll get thorough this together.


You can keep up with Rochelle and her work on LinekdIn.

📸: Featured image by Phoebe O’Brien