Musicians are beating the music-streaming blues by touring regions and playing intimate concerts
It is a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll, but the road to being a career musician is also dusty and involves gigs in backyards, cattle stations and caravan parks.
Australian musicians have been hitting the road as a way of reaching new audiences and making some coin.
The 1990s were the glory days for music sales, with bands and performers being offered lucrative contracts and retainers by record companies, but that golden era is over and sales have crashed because of online music streaming services.
Original songwriters and bands are now travelling around Australia and playing alternative shows in grassroots venues.
Singing his way around Australia
Singer songwriter Chris Matthews calls the East Kimberley in Western Australia home, not that he is there much.
In 2002 Matthews decided to experience travelling Australia and take his songs with him, and 15 years later he is still on the road.
"I first started doing it because I wanted to see my own backyard when I was a younger tacker," Matthews said.
"But after a while I realised there is nothing better than taking music to the people, especially in an age of technology when you can see anything online.
"I love doing it for the connection you get from people who may not experience a lot of music because they live remotely. No amount of technology can recreate the human experience of seeing live music."
The music sale slump is a major issue for career musicians, and even though vinyl sales are on the rise, it is extremely expensive to press a record if you are an emerging artist, so live performance can be the only income bands and singer songwriters receive.
"CD sales have plummeted dramatically so you can't rely on them for an income," Matthews said. "The only real way to make an income is to play live, and in the capital cities you are a tiny fish in a massive ocean of musicians, but you get into the regional areas and the money can be more and the audiences are more appreciative that you have made the effort to get out there. Now with streaming you have to be able to get out there and put on a killer live show, [with] real musicians playing real music for the real people of Australia."
More intimate gigs the way to go
Hayley Marsten is an emerging singer songwriter from Brisbane, who has seen more of her friends taking to touring regionally and performing in caravan parks, and at shows in music fans' backyards and homes as a way of cutting costs.
"You almost need to create your own opportunities for people to come to you for the music," Marsten said.
"I did a house concert tour at the end of last year which was really successful, and it's so much more fulfilling to be in a room with people who want to hear what you say, want to hear your songs, and get to know you as an artist.
"You really need that relationship with your fans, a point of difference, because they can go on Spotify and hear a million different people, but if you have met them and have that connection it makes a whole world of difference."
Melbourne's Andrew Swift has been a singer songwriter since playing his first gig in 2001 as a 17-year-old. Swift has spent the past few years developing a strong connection in regional caravan parks, where he performs his songs while travelling in his own teardrop van.
"The whole idea of playing caravan parks is to take the show to people who wouldn't come and see us in a bar," he said.
"The caravan park audience really feel they are part of your journey and they want to support you.
"I do a lot in summer when they are full of young families. It's a drawcard to have live music and some people even follow the shows from park to park."
While the pub music scene remains strong in country Australia, performers are limited to doing covers.
Performing at alternative venues allow musicians to connect with the crowd and try out their original songs.
"The thing about pubs is, in a lot of those regional spots the pub-goers just want to hear covers or they are out to socialise," Swift said.
"In the caravan parks we are playing to an attentive audience.
"At a show I was playing with my friend Gretta Ziller, an audience member came up and said they don't buy CDs — they stream — and just gave her [Gretta] $25 as in, 'Here is us purchasing your album'."
Touring a win for regional Australia
It is not just the musicians who benefit from the rise in regional gigs — it helps locals in remotes areas to feel less disconnected from the rest of mainstream Australia.
While playing gigs throughout the country, Matthews has seen extreme hardship in parts of Australia and found that music offered relief from some of the issues those communities were facing.
"Get out there and play for the people of this country, they really, really love it," Matthews said. "A lot of places are suffering from drought, financial issues and mental health issues. If you can give them one night off from this hardship, forget these troubles and let them walk away with a smile on their face, that can make the world of difference."
This article and supporting images originally featured on the ABC - you can view it on there site here.