The Australian music industry in 1988 was very different to what we know now. CDs were relatively new, cassettes were all the rage, records were still mostly vinyl, FM radio was dominated by 'blokey' blokes and Countdown had just left TV.
Richard Kingsmill and 2SER
To capture the moment was Richard Kingsmill – then working for Sydney community radio station 2SER FM. Kingsmill would go on to become an extremely important part of the industry he so carefully documented here – on and behind the microphone at triple j.
There he did hundreds, if not thousands of interviews, pioneered the series The J-Files, wrote a couple of books and generally continued to champion all that is good about music. Now the Group Music Director of the music teams at triple j, Double J, Unearthed, ABC Radio and ABC Country, Kingsmill is an important cog in the big wheel as it turns.
Kingsmill’s 1988 documentary, Money, Not Harmony, is a four-part series focused on different aspects of the music industry. The mainstream commercial players of the time were given particular airtime (and analysis) – the type of commentary that only independent media like community radio could provide.
The sound of the series is quite sedate by today’s standards, with editorials by Kingsmill delivered with a formality that music radio doesn’t hear today. There’s also a clear lack of diversity, with the documentary completely dominated by male voices. This is not a criticism of Kingsmill or the piece necessarily, but a sign of where power was thought to lay in the industry at the time.
The NFSA holds a copy of the series as part of its community radio archive, and we're publishing excerpts from it as part of the 40th birthday celebrations for 2SER. This is a station that has also contributed pioneering programming to the LGBTQI community, various musical genre specialities (from country to dance) and independent news and current affairs.
Money, Not Harmony – Excerpts
The first episode of Money, Not Harmony looks at the music press and its influence. In particular, Kingsmill explores the relationship between major record companies, advertising and favourable (or not) reviews.
It’s all very different to how the music industry and the press interact today – not least because there are so few print outlets left to cover this type of news. To create the picture there are lively interviews with journalists from the Sydney Morning Herald and RAM magazine, as well as EMI and CBS records. As this short excerpt reveals, there’s more than a little tension in the relationship between the music press and the record companies: