Pressing play on local talent

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By Kaia Wallis

Frustrated by a lack of South Australian music on the airwaves, podcaster and former radio host Luke Penman decided to start a radio station solely dedicated to Adelaide’s live music scene.

play / pause / play showcases only Australian music from local artists and musicians touring the state, with listeners able to tune in for free via an online browser or mobile application.

“We’ve got all the major festivals here and events like WOMADelaide and the Fringe, but there’s also a live music scene that goes 365 days of the year and it’s so easy for it to be missed,” Luke says.

“I really want to make it easy for people to discover that.”

The online platform came to fruition in June 2018 after a campaign on fundraising site Pozible raised $12,000 for the project from 334 backers.

The venture was also the recipient of a Live Music Enterprise grant from the City of Adelaide, which funnelled $5000 into the project and has developed into a strategic partnership.

“It’s very much about celebrating Adelaide, it’s a way to encourage people who live outside the square mile to come in more often,” Luke says.

“From a city council and State Government perspective, the idea is just to get more people out to more gigs and doing that simulates the economy on a very local level.”

Creator of play / pause / play Luke Penman. Image: Andre Castellucci

Luke has also taken his start-up through Flinders New Venture Dorm program – an eight-week class designed to accelerate start-ups – and will soon travel to the US on a scholarship after being awarded the silver medal at the program’s award night.

The trip will take Luke on a business study tour of San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Austin in March, where he will meet business founders and leaders while attending events including South by South West, an annual festival of film, tech and music conferences.

“The whole thing will be a very tech-entrepreneur incubator kind of experience,” Luke says.

“I’m going to get there, and it will blow my mind, I think there’s going to a be a lot more listening than talking.”

To celebrate 1000 app downloads in December 2018, listeners were invited to digitally vote for their favourite local songs in the station’s inaugural Heaps Good 50 countdown. play / pause / play received 1100 votes for the countdown and Luke says app downloads have now risen to 1500.

“A big part of the growth was doing the countdown and giving people an opportunity to get involved, it’s like saying ‘let’s do this thing on this date’ and it brings everyone together,” he says.

The station also serves as something of an online gig-guide, with artists given the opportunity to introduce their songs and talk about their next live show in the state.

“There is so much great Australian music and maybe these bands are playing at The Metro, The Grace Emily or Jive and not selling anywhere near as many tickets as they should,” Luke says.

“The introductions are about striking while the iron’s hot, you have an engaged audience that’s about to hear your song. So, here’s an opportunity to tell them where you’re playing next.”

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