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The Value of Mentors in the Music Industry

Wild Turkey Music 101 called on Matt Corby, Killing Heidi and Busby Marou to share tips on how to trust your spirit and showcase what makes you unique.

Wild Turkey’s Music 101 platform was designed to celebrate established and emerging musicians who trust their spirit and do things their way. Through exclusive live sessions with artists such as Killing Heidi, Wild Turkey Music 101 illuminated local musicians’ bold creativity and inspired fans to trust their own spirit.

Through its mentorship program, Wild Turkey Music 101 connected Melbourne-based Palestinian soul artist YARA with Killing Heidi’s Ella and Jesse Hooper. Killing Heidi also took part in a virtual mentorship masterclass with Matt Corby and Busby Marou. 

The music industry is a notoriously inscrutable place for young artists – even those with manifest talent and boatloads of motivation will find the path to success to be a hard slog. This is why it’s imperative to find supportive mentors and a network of like-minded peers.

Killing Heidi’s lead vocalist Ella Hooper encourages young artists to trust their spirit and stay true to themselves. Artists should work to highlight “the uniqueness that comes from within,” said Hooper. This means zeroing in on “what is unique about your voice, your style, your songwriting.”

Artists will be better served if they don’t get seduced by external influences. “Make sure it’s authentic to you and push that to the forefront,” said Hooper. 

For singer-songwriter and producer Matt Corby, the best way to unlock one’s unique voice is to play as many shows as possible. Corby encourages young artists to put more of their energy into gigging than recording, streaming and creating content on social media.

“I think you can have good streaming numbers on one thing and it doesn’t mean anyone’s going to come to your shows,” he said. “I feel like you don’t make that much money off streaming and your recordings anymore. But you can definitely make an income from playing live.”

Corby emphasised that the execution of a quality live show depends on in-the-flesh experience. “Being assertive and creative in a studio is very, very different to having to be on stage and command that stage and be in control of your nerves and your heart rate and deliver. Like, that takes time,” he said.

Killing Heidi’s Jesse Hooper offered some advice about posting live videos on Instagram and YouTube. For starters, said Hooper, it’s important that they look good. “I would say hang a sheet up, pull your guitars out and put them in the background, rather than like your pile of dirty laundry.”

Jesse acknowledged that performing straight into a camera can be intimidating, but Ella provided a simple trick for making it seem less awkward. “It was just so helpful for me to draw a little face – like, literally draw the cartoon of the guy whose nose sticks over the edge and it’s just eyes,” she said, referring to the camera lens.

Jeremy Marou, a Torres Strait Islander man and one half of APRA Award-winning blues and roots duo Busby Marou, has been working in the music industry for over 15 years. He’s learned how to maintain a sense of forward progression and not get discouraged by industry indifference.

“Make sure you’re creating short term goals that act as small stepping stones to help you get to your long term ones,” said Marou.

Working in the music industry means accepting that a lot of things are outside of your control. It’s therefore essential to trust your intuition and put energy into illuminating what makes you unique.

“The most important thing is to put your energy into the things you can control and to do everything in your power to always remember why you got into music in the first place,” said Marou.

Musicians will benefit from embedding themselves in a community and observing the activities of their peers, said Marou. “Make sure you always remain a fan of your favourite bands and learn from what they do well,” he said. “And most importantly, make sure you find ways to nurture your love for music.”

The Wild Turkey Music 101 mentorship program was set up for precisely this reason – to give rising artists a sufficient support base to trust their spirit, follow their intuition and work hard to actualise their musical vision.

To keep up to date with Wild Turkey Music 101’s events and the mentorship program for 2024 coming soon , sign up to receive eDMs via the Wild Turkey website or follow @wildturkeyau on social media.


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