Entertainment Consulting: Karen-Lee Goody’s Secrets To 25 Years Of Success In The Aus Music Industry |

todayNovember 30, 2023 4

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What’s the secret to surviving and thriving in the Australian music business for 25 years, owning and running your own business? And 35 years in the industry in total! Is it stamina? A can-do attitude? A love of music? A ruthless combination of both? Quiet achiever and industry legend Karen-Lee Goody (aka KL) has it sorted.

“Ultimately, at the end of the day now, I only will work with someone and on something if I really like the artist or project and see potential,” she says. “I mean, hitting 54 years of age last week has really cemented my ethos that I’ve always had – life’s too short to work with arseholes!” 

KL delivers the mantra with a warm laugh, but also kids, take notes. There aren’t many people who keep on in creative industries – the reasons vary, but burnout is high and conditions can often be rough. As CEO/Director of Entertainment Consulting Pty Ltd, she’s a manager and tour promoter, and currently on the phoning in after a long night (or a long day, however you want to look at it).

14-plus hour days are not unusual. But then, it’s work with people she loves, in an industry she loves, too. Now, 25 years in as an owner-operator, not only has she survived but thrived in the enviable position of being able to pick and choose (and knock back work that doesn’t suit). 

“Fortunately for me, from a business point of view, I’ve been very successful … there’s been ups and downs along the way like with any business. There’s always that option of, like, expanding and putting on more staff, but know, I have had contractors come in and help over time, and they’ve been great, but adding more staff adds another layer of work and complexity to running a business. I’m cool just being boutique, staying under the radar, and just picking and choosing who I want to work with and how.” 

KL’s roster is diverse and has covered a huge part of Australian music, including Casey Donovan (360 Management) and Beccy Cole (consulting manager), as well as Marina Prior and David Hobson, The Church, Deni Hines, Anthony CalleaAmber LawrenceThe McClymonts and Dami Im over the years as a promoter. With a particular love of touring regional centres, her artists and her commitment to bringing music to as many people as possible – not just in major centres, her mantra has been, “Take the show to the people, and they will come”. The regional markets of Australia are starving for great shows, and they cannot often afford to come to the city, especially in these current times.

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Although she’s been an important support to artists and audiences, KL’s place in the industry was first as a musician. “I was a drummer since the age of 13 and also studied production at years 17 and 18, and I played with The Clouds in the early days at the Hopetoun and other bands and session stuff in Sydney,” she explains. Accepted into the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and lined up to go after school at the age of 18, her Mum saw an ad for a royalty job at Warner Music in the newspaper that required three years’ experience and encouraged her to apply for an interview. On spec, she decided to apply just for experience. The interview was with John Brommell, who, apart from being a legend already, noticed she was a drummer and, as a drummer himself, asked her to play as part of the interview.  

“So we’re sitting there we’re doing flams and paradiddles and all these things, having a bit of a duel off, and he turned around he says, ‘You’ve got the job; you start next Monday’!” 

Starting in royalties and admin, KL worked in just about all aspects of the business, least of all seeing as much music as possible while also maintaining her own place as a musician. Eventually, she moved on to band booking with BAAS Network, then A&R assistant with BMG as well as being the youngest national publicist at BMG Records at age 21, looking after the roster of not only BMG but also MCA/Geffen (prior to Universal Music), Trafalgar Records and Warner Music; then onto adjacent industry areas with big internationals like Harper Collins Publishers and Virgin Interactive Games. Somewhere in there, too, KL also began a law degree. The takeaway? Her experience is wide and deep, and there’s not much the changing industry can throw at her.  

“I think the cowboys are going out of the industry too now. There’s still a few schisters around, but they’ll go soon,” KL says. “You have to be passionate in this industry and in for the right reasons.” For KL, passion translates to a love of learning, too – including still now, where she can perform multiple roles as needed.

“What [all this experience] enables me now as a promoter and a producer of shows and tours, and I do this quite regularly if I have to. If I’m at a show and something I’m hearing is not right, I can go up to the sound person and say, ‘Can you whack another 1.5 [decibels] on this? Can you take the gain off that?’ And I can talk to them in a language that makes sense to them to change it, as well as all the other stuff.”

She explains, “I also can do 95 [per cent] of contracts without the artist incurring major legal costs, but always have the legal as a final back-up to go over, but also quickly identify a shit or poorly procured contract at the same time.”

KL can still be caught drumming along on the car dashboard or office desk whenever music plays, showing that part of her musical life will never go away. But for now, building artists and audience connections are still the main game.

“For me, it’s just about doing the work and getting self-satisfaction out of the results, not only for myself but the Artist and Talent. And, you know, when there hasn’t been a great result, it’s like, okay, what can I learn from that? What could we have done differently? And sometimes, there are things that you can’t do differently. It is what it is, and you just have to move on, but keep moving and looking forward!”

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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