Claire Hodgson is the Industry Development Officer for West Australian Music. Passionately committed to championing Western Australia’s thriving music industry since 1987, WAM (West Australian Music) is the peak music body responsible for supporting, nurturing and growing all forms of contemporary music in WA. Western Australia already has an established reputation for producing exceptional and unique world-class contemporary music artists. WAM harnesses this potential by creating increased opportunities for WA contemporary music to be created and consumed. WAM is an advocate for the cultural, economic and social benefits of a supported music scene, with their long-term goal being for contemporary music to be recognised as a leading cultural identifier for Western Australia. Their diverse programs, events and actions are all committed to doing this.
What does a normal day look like for you?
A normal day for me starts by going through new emails accompanied by one of my all-time favvy fav breakfasts – vegemite on toast and a flat white! Because a lot of my role involves event coordination, there’s always hundreds (or thousands?!) of tiny admin tasks that build the overall event, so any given day is all about chipping away at those with input from the relevant stakeholders and sometimes doing quite a bit of research too, which can be fun when it involves finding and listening to new WA music!
Which artist do you relate to and why?
Oh there are so many! But if I have to choose, one artist that springs to mind is Patti Smith because she was a band leader in her own right, a bohemian who didn’t compromise her art because of commercial pressure and became an icon because of this. In the mid-seventies her androgynous style was almost entirely unique for the time and paved the way for different versions of femininity to be explored and represented in popular culture.
What have been some high notes (highlights) in your journey?
Having the opportunity to work with and learn from the many amazingly interesting, bold, successful (and often hilarious!) people that I’ve come across in my various roles over the years has been a privilege and one of the definite highlights of working in music. Also having responsibility over large projects that I coordinate as part of my role at WAM, such as WAM’s music conference WAMCon and the WAM Song of the Year Competition & Awards, has been wonderful because I’ve learned so much and I really enjoy the challenge of producing such major and complex events every year. Also, being able to branch out into presenting on RTRFM has been interesting because I’ve had the opportunity to learn the craft of broadcasting while also having the chance to promote lots of great WA music in the process. Creatively I came to music later in my late 20s and learning the music making side and collaborating in band projects has been as interesting as it’s been rewarding! All of these experiences I feel very grateful for and I hope to share what I’ve learnt with others who are trying to tread the same path as a way of paying back the music community that has supported me for so many years.
What have been some low notes (challenges) in your journey?
Earlier in my career I think confidence (or lack thereof) was a real barrier, I remember being really afraid of getting things wrong, where actually I didn’t realise those mistakes where solid gold learning experiences that would go towards building my skills and confidence in the long run. And now that I’m more established I think the main challenge is managing time and energy, especially in music where it’s so easy to be tempted by new opportunities that seem exciting but in reality, if you don’t have the time to focus on them properly then it’s not worth it. I’ve definitely had to learn to say “no” and it’s made a huge difference to my job satisfaction and focus – it’s actually a very powerful thing you don’t realise haha!
When things get tough, which songs do you turn to for inspiration/motivation?
Oh it really depends on the mood I’m in! But instrumental tracks like John Carpenter’s “Night” and Russian Circles’ “Youngblood” are really good when you need to power through and focus on important tasks.
How does music keep you motivated?
Motivation for me definitely comes from the strong sense of community in music. There are so many amazing artists and peeps working behind the scenes who work so hard all for the love of music. I think we’re especially lucky in WA as it’s a close-knit community and everyone’s pretty supportive of each other, which for me is endlessly motivating and lovely to be around!
What tips can you share for emerging artists?
Go to heaps of local shows to find the artists/music scenes you like and meet people that can help you with your music. Tour and record as much as you can for as cheaply as you can. Be open and responsive to negative feedback and look at it as an opportunity to do better. Support and promote the work of others, not just your own projects. Do a mood board of visual elements which represents you and your music in its most authentic and unique way, use this as the foundation to brief photographers and designers when getting visual elements designed for online – great branding is key! Be humble and respectful – you never know who will be the people who can help you down the track, so best to build bridges not burn them. Also having a sense of humour is always a good thing!
What advice can you give for those interested in working in the music industry?
Most people that land jobs in the industry are so passionate about music that they’re usually working in 2+ different aspects of the industry on an unpaid basis before getting their first paid job (ie playing in a band, booking for that band, volunteering or working at music events and/or for music orgs etc), so volunteer as much as you can when you’re starting out to gain experience and networks, and be reliable and professional so people want to offer you paid work opportunities when they become available.
What’s currently playing on your Spotify?
Heaps of locals! Bolt Gun, Sad Hill, Nerve Quakes, The Volcanics, Hussy and waaaay more!
Find out more about WAM, click here.