From Labels to Management and Everything in Between: Pete Carroll.
Pete Carroll has held several roles in the Perth music industry since coming to Perth in the early 90’s. He currently manages The Panics (who are in the UK ahead of the release of their latest album there), managed RTRfm for a few years, worked for Sony Music for about a decade, developed Offworld Sounds and littleBIGMAN records and helped secure In The City UK for Perth.
After travelling through Australia as part of a lengthy trip through India and Asia, Pete returned to our shores to work for CBS Records (later taken over by Sony Music) for a year.
“I enjoyed my time here so much that I kept extending my stay,” he says.
During Pete’s time at Sony he helped sign Ammonia, Yummy Fur and Jebediah to the label.
“I would have liked to have brought other bands to Sony but it was always difficult and time consuming to get anything over the line. I’d been talking up Jebediah for about a year before we signed them – there were plenty of other bands during that period that I thought had great potential,” he explains.
The development of new technologies coupled with a change in structure at Sony, lead to his decision to leave the label after a decade.
“I knew the industry was on the verge of a major change as a consequence of emerging new technology. I also felt that the majors were becoming more centralised in their approach, which would limit the level of involvement I had always enjoyed and I had little desire at that time to move full time to Sydney head office. I was ready for a new challenge and wanted to develop some of my ideas elsewhere,” he explains.
After leaving Sony, this Manchester native returned to the UK, developing products and creating marketing initiatives for premier league football clubs such as Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.
During this time Pete also released a few records on Offworld Sounds (the label he developed with Steve Mallinder to release underground electronic music from Perth), worked on an album with his cousin Shaun Ryder from The Happy Mondays and started the littleBIGMAN label with Gaz Whelan also from The Happy Mondays. It was around this time he started managing The Panics after seeing them on the bottom of the bill at the Inglewood Hotel.
Returning to our shores, Pete took over the role of general manager of local community radio station RTRfm for several years. As he explains, the station was in need of change when he started.
“RTRfm was at a critical point when I was there. It needed to change; most importantly we needed to find a new location. From the moment I arrived at the station I put a lot of emphasis on finding a new location, which was always going to be contentious with some RTRfm members. But UWA [the University of Western Australia] were about to increase our rent three fold and the station’s lease with UWA had run out many years earlier, which meant our position was very precarious. Quite simply, the university, which wasn’t prepared to renew the lease, could have given us a months notice to leave.”
He continues: “RTR also badly needed a new transmitter, which is an enormous expense. In those days the station ran from year to year with very limited funds, therefore any major new financial demands could be overwhelming. I eventually found the station’s current location in Mount Lawley. It had been suggested to me as an option one night when I was out having a beer with Haydn Robinson, the owner of Planet Video. Before I left RTRfm I had negotiated the move with the board and members and worked towards an agreement with Haydn. It’s a legacy I feel particularly proud of. The move took the station out of the back water of the university and positioned it in a high profile spot on one of Perth’s busiest intersections. It gave the station a new lease of life; street frontage and the potential to grow. Also around this time I had begun talks with ArtsWA [the Department of Culture and the Arts] for funding to pay a local music producer [Dave Cutbush took on that role], which was later approved and initiated. It’s a great station, the best community radio station in the country. It is one of the reasons the Perth music scene is so progressive. It’s the heartbeat of this town and it’s the first place a local band and many national and international is likely to be heard. Long may it continue.”
A few years ago, Pete was instrumental in securing In The City UK to come to Perth. A plan which was abandoned following the death of Tony Wilson.
“It is a great tragedy that In The City never made it over to Perth. We had very successfully negotiated an agreement with In the City and secured the necessary funding from the government and Eventscorp. We actually launched the Perth event to media in Manchester.”
He continues: “Tony Wilson was very enthusiastic and totally believed Perth was the best place in Australia to position In The City. Wilson was one of the industry’s greatest characters. The ethos of Factory records and the music Tony released was legendary and respected around the globe. He would have brought not only his own credibility and skills to the event but, the cream of the industry from around the World. When he died I was devastated and lost my enthusiasm for the event. The money we secured for In The City has since been passed on to another event.”
Having been in Perth and a part of the local music industry for almost two decades, Pete has seen it change tremendously.
“Government funding has really helped bands to record and tour – the cost of touring was always a major problem in the past. The infrastructure has also massively improved. We now have some great managers and a growing number of indie record labels… We have a brilliant TAFE music course that is helping to bring a much needed level of professionalism to the way ‘band business’ is done at a grass roots level. WAM is now a much more focused body and is doing great things to bring a spotlight to this town with it’s well organised Festival events. Perth now has the attention of the industry on the east coast and WA music is respected by audiences nationally.”
He continues: “When you start to roll out the number of bands from this town who have sold over 35,000 records in recent times it’s quite amazing. Then when you consider the constant flow of great new emerging bands you realise just how special this place is. But the fact that the people of Perth are slowly realising that the bands on our own doorstep are as good as anything Nationally or Internationally is the most satisfying. I think we are slowly moving towards a sustainable industry, which is essential. The fact that we can now start to call it an industry is something that some people in the past would always dispute.”
Home Copyright (C) 2009 Christina Ballico.