News 8 November 2021

2021 ARIA Week Presented By Heaps Normal: Full Panel Details

The 2021 ARIAs Week presented by Heaps Normal program at a glance.

2021 ARIA Week Presented By Heaps Normal: Full Panel Details

All ARIA Week activations will be hosted live on YouTube at

Presented by Point Blank Group
11:00 AM AEDT - Friday, 19 November

Sian Van Der Muelen from Point Blank Group (also known as Miss Blanks) has brought together Alethea Beetson (Digi Youth Arts, Blaksound), Uda Widanapathirana (Artist Manager, Sukuya) for the Cultural Change Panel moderated by Jim Malo (Journalist) to discuss representation, equity and inclusion in an effort to ignite change, hope, unification and community-building.

Sian Van Der Muelen – Director at Point Blank Group / Miss Blanks

Sian Van Der Muelen is an award-winning events producer, brand and communications specialist, and director at the creative services agency Point Blank Group. Sian's practice works at the intersections of art and culture.

With more than 10 years experience producing culturally-attentive and site-responsive projects, Sian holds extensive cultural community development experience and is passionate about promoting excellence in community spaces, positively impactful programs, ethical institutions, and assisting partners and stakeholders by providing access to expert support and creative solutions, as well as enabling potential.

Alethea Beetson – Digi Youth Arts

Alethea Beetson (Kabi Kabi/Gubbi Gubbi and Wiradjuri) is an artist and producer who has worked extensively with Indigenous communities across multiple art forms to inspire new works responding to societal issues, cultural heritage and colonisation.

Over the last four years she was the First Nations producer at QMusic/BIGSOUND. As a freelance producer, Alethea has curated the First Nations programs for Festival 2018 Brisbane (2018), Horizon Festival (2019, 2020), Yonder Festival (2019), Jungle Love Festival (2018) and Brisbane Street Art Festival (2019, 2020).

Alethea has almost completed her Doctorate in Creative Industries (QUT) exploring the function of ritual, resistance and resurgence in the creative development and production of Indigenous performance and is currently the Lead Artistic Director of Digi Youth Arts, the First Nations Curator (Music) at Brisbane Festival and the founder of multi-arts company, BLAK SOCIAL.

Uda Widanapathirana – Artist Manager at su:ku:ya

Udaravi Widanapathirana likes Kinder Buenos and is also an artist manager, curator and publicist. At su:ku:ya they work management for Jesswar, Gordi, Willaris K and Romero – among others. They have formerly held roles as a music curator at Dark Mofo, and as a publicist at PIAS/Inertia Music where they worked on campaigns for Danny Brown, Bonobo, Caribou, Little Simz and Flying Lotus. Having pursued an economics degree they are passionate about alternative financial models within the music industry. They are curious about the intersection of identity politics and value pluralism in the arts, and its influence upon meaningful social change.

Jim Malo – Journalist

Jim Malo is a multi-disciplinary journalist from Melbourne (Naarm). His interests lie in social justice, politics and race. Most recently he has worked as the deputy editor for Pedestrian.TV but has done stints at the ABC, Triple R, Junkee, and the Nine papers.

Presented by MusicNT and The NIMAs
11:00 AEDT - Monday, 22 November

MusicNT in collaboration with The NIMAs will discuss the future of the music industry and awards in a conversation led by Arian Pearson (Mulka Centre, Yirrkala), Leah Flanagan (Director, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Office, APRA AMCOS), Emma Donovan which will be moderated by Ben Graetz.

Arian Pearson - Mulka Centre, Yirrkala

Arian Pearson has been Mulka Projects head studio engineer and Director since he commenced in 2015. He works with a wide range of local artists across three generations. A crucial part of his job is to record songlines of the elders remotely and in the studio. He has produced sound designs for many of The Mulka Projects exhibitions and films and also works closely with school groups from Yirrkala and Nhulunbuy as well as hosting workshops in the Mulka Studio. Arian has produced local artists and bands such as Marrtjala, Ezy 5, Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu and other up and coming artists. Arian has helped female Yolŋu musician Dhapanbal Yunupiŋu’s musical career flourish. In 2019 she released her debut album Biḏiwiḏi which she produced in the Mulka Recording Studio with Arian mentoring her along the way. Arian is

continuing to develop Homeland based programs and workshops to help students become competent in music production and hopes to one day see even more Yolŋu music producers and musicians. Arian has also worked closely with the Australian Film Industry and film producers helping with liaising and recording actors. Arian Pearson is not only a producer but a musician himself and is part founder of the band East Journey. East Journey are an exciting and dynamic rock group from Indigenous music rock royalty beginnings in North East Arnhem Land, who deliver an exciting fusion of rock and acoustic tempered with the earthy traditional sounds of the yidaki (didgeridoo) and bilma (clapsticks), that is forming a vibrant and fresh direction for Australian music.

Arian performed alongside Yothu Yindi and Paul Kelly at the 2013 Deadly Awards, picking up several awards including Film Clip of the Year at the 2014 National Indigenous Music Awards for ‘Bright Lights Big City’ (the first single from ‘The Genesis Project’) and the GR Burrarwanga Memorial Award at the 2012 NIMA’s, East Journey have firmly cemented their place as a key rock act in Australia.

Most recently, ‘Song of Arnhem Land’ won the NT Rock Song of the Year; and was nominated for Music Video of the Year. East Journey won the Traditional Music Award at the 2015 National Indigenous Music Awards.

Leah Flanagan - Director, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Office, APRA AMCOS

Leah Flanagan was born and raised in Larrakia land and is of Alyawarre decent. She is a singer songwriter and arts manager as well as the Director of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Office for APRA AMCOS, the Australasian music rights organisation and First Nations Music Producer for Australia’s music export organisation, Sounds Australia.

Emma Donovan - Artist

Emma Donovan is an acclaimed Indigenous Australian singer and songwriter best known for her work with soul bands, The Putbacks and The Black Arm Band project. She has also toured and recorded with Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, Spinifex Gum, Christine Anu, Yothu Yindi, Jimmy Little and Paul Kelly among others. On her mother’s side, Emma is part of the famed Donovan family of singers of the Gumbaynggirr people, of what is now known as Northern New South Wales. On her Father’s side, Emma is of the Yamatji people, of what is now known as Western Australia.

Ben Graetz - Artist and Creative Producer

Ben Graetz was born and raised in Darwin, Northern Territory and is a descendant of the Iwaidja and Malak Malak Clans in the Northern Territory and of Badu Island on the Torres Strait Islands of Australia. Ben has been working in the performing arts sector for close to 24 years and has established himself as one of this country’s most dynamic and influential arts makers, working as a performer, director, producer, writer, MC and artistic director.

One of Ben’s career highlights is starting Darwin’s first ever Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander multi-arts major festival – Garrmalang – while working at Darwin Entertainment as their Creative Producer. The festival worked with Larrakia Nation and surrounding communities to create a 3-day long festival which celebrates first nation arts and culture both Territory and nationwide. Most recently Ben was the Artistic Director of the Arafura Opening and Closing Celebrations in Darwin in April/May this year. Ben is also the Founder of BRG Productions & Co-CEO of PARTY PASSPORT which is responsible for the award winning NT Mardi Gras Float “Northern Territory Stars”.

02:00 PM AEDT -  Monday 22nd November

Mardi Caught (The Annex), Jaddan Comerford (UNIFIED), Joel Connelly (Blackbird) and Holly Rankin (Jack River) come together to discuss what it takes to start your own business in music while providing insight into their own journey in the music industry.

Mardi Caught – Founder and Director of The Annex

Formerly International Marketing and Promotions Manager for EMI (UK),  General Manager for Warner Music Frontline Marketing, Vice President of Talent and Music at MTV UK, General Manager of Columbia Music Sony UK and GM of Day One Entertainment at Sony Music Australia; Mardi Caught now owns and runs Australian marketing services company ‘The Annex’. Mardi carries a weight of global and domestic experience and has been the brains behind some of the country's most inspiring and ingenious marketing strategies.

Jaddan Comerford – Director, CEO and Founder of UNIFIED

Jaddan Comerford is the Founding CEO of UNIFIED Music Group, a globally renowned multi-service music company. Today UNIFIED provides a range of services including artist management, label and distribution services, publishing, touring, festivals and merchandise to a diverse roster of local and international artists. With its head office based in the heartbeat of Melbourne’s live music scene, UNIFIED also has offices in Sydney, Los Angeles and London as the company continues its worldwide pursuit.

Joel Connelly – Creative Director and Head of Blackbird Foundation

Joel Connolly is the Creative Director of venture capital firm, Blackbird. They invest in everything from software to space. Joel is also the Head of the Blackbird Foundation whose mission is to unleash creativity in young people. Prior to Blackbird Joel Connolly co-founded and was festival director for Sydney Craft Beer Week, as well as co-founder of Umbrella Artist Management. Their roster of bands included The Rubens, Cloud Control and Urthboy.

Holly Rankin – Jack River

Holly Rankin is an Australian artist and producer best known by her musical nom de plume, Jack River. More than just a successful musician, Rankin is a writer, entrepreneur and promoter. Holly started the annual Grow Your Own Festival in her hometown of Forster to promote local and sustainable culture, as well as co-founded Electric Lady in 2017, a movement that has her curating all-women stages and festivals and creating opportunities for female acts that previously didn’t exist. Her advocacy for local music kicked off a viral campaign resulting in Our Soundtrack Our Stories, an open invitation from our country's music community to the rest of the country to discover, champion, share and consume more local music.

11:00 AM AEDT - Tuesday, 23 November

Emerging artists and aspiring music executives are invited to join Wendy Ong, Tony Bracy, Ricky Simandjuntak, Amber Horsborough and Nooky as they discuss all things music. Whether you are about to release your first track or want to know how to craft the perfect radio campaign, this is a unique opportunity to learn from some of the industry’s best. Attendees will also have the chance to win a place in Amber Horsborough’s Deep Cuts program as well as the opportunity to be paired up for one on one mentoring sessions with a suited industry executive.

Wendy Ong – President of TaP Management and Records

Wendy Ong is a preeminent modern music executive with an unprecedented track record of breaking artists in every corner of the globe and a personal journey that led her from Singapore to leadership posts at the industry’s top labels. As President of TaP Management and TaP Records, U.S. she oversees all U.S. related management and label activities for a diverse roster of artists, including Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Hailee Steinfeld, and many more.

Tony Bracy – VP Marketing & Promotions at SB Projects

With a career spanning close to 20 years including highlights at Virgin Records, over a decade at Capitol Records in promotions and now the role of Vice President of Marketing & Promotions at SB Projects. Tony Bracy has helped shape the radio campaigns behind Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and Chance The Rapper.

Amber Horsborough – Music Strategist and founder of Deep Cuts

Amber Horsburgh is a music strategist who's spent the best part of the last decade working in NY and LA. As former SVP Strategy at Downtown Records she helped artists build brands including Mura Masa, Smino, Tommy Genesis, Chet Faker/Nick Murphy, SOFI TUKKER, and Cold War Kids. On the flip side, she’s helped brands like YouTube Music, Spotify, SoundCloud, Sonos, Samsung and Google Play connect with audiences through music. She now runs Deep Cuts, a music strategy newsletter for artists and marketers breaking down strategy, insights and tactics for artist marketing. It is read by over 7,000 music industry professionals globally.

Ricky Simandjuntak - Artist Manager

Ricky Simandjuntak is an artist manager from Sydney Australia who has been involved in the development of artists like Becca Hatch, ONEFOUR, The Kid Laroi and Sampa The Great.

As a Western Sydney youth, the idea of pursuing a career in music was never really presented to Ricky,  leading him to dedicate his professional career in music to creating pathways for emerging creative talent to thrive in Australia.

Nooky – Rapper and triple j presenter

Nooky is a proud Yuin and Thunghutti man, rapper and future Mayor of Shoalhaven. His motto is minimum effort, maximum results. Nooky has made a name for himself with his no-holds-barred, hyperactive brand of rap known for intricate flows and stinging social commentary. His music has led him to collaborate with The Herd and Taboo of Balck Eyed Peas as well as earning him Australia Council's prestigious Dreaming Award at the National Indigenous Arts Awards. Nooky has recently become the host of triple j’s Blak Out and is gearing up to release his Lyrebird Park EP.

The 2021 ARIA Awards in partnership with YouTube Music are proudly supported by the NSW Government through Destination NSW. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements in the coming weeks.