First Nations inclusion in the music business should be more than tokenism

The results of colonisation have seeped into all things built on the blood of our ancestors’ massacres. The music industry is no exception

We are seeing unprecedented change within the music industry of so-called Australia at the moment. Indigenous representation has expanded in the past couple of years. There are lineups, playlists and more First Nations artists.

At the Big Sound Music Festival, the largest new music festival and conference of its kind this year attending, I – performing as DRMNGNOW – am part of a group of 12 Indigenous acts among 150. This is roughly 8%, sitting at close to triple the percentage that First Nations peoples contribute to contemporary so-called Australian society. Some may deem this as exceeding the “quota”. However, looks can be deceiving – this is an increase on previous years. Yet reel back in time to pre-colonisation, and the percentage of Indigenous acts performing music anywhere on this land was a very significant, and you guessed it, 100%. Sharing sacred songs is an intrinsic part of our holistic societal structures. Ushering in seasons, paying homage, elevating, transcending, keeping us attuned to the sacred.


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