Australian Music Vault | Open

Australian Music Vault | OpenAustralian Music Vault | Open

Entry is free into the Australian Music Vault at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Open 7 days, this new exhibition space that tells the story of Australian music.

The Australian Music Vault is being developed by Arts Centre Melbourne in consultation with the music industry, as a celebration of Australian contemporary music - past, present and future.


It's a place to explore your love of music, revisit some of the big music moments of your life, share those memories and discover the exciting new stories of today's Australian music scene.




Australian musicians have long been at the forefront of public debate, addressing concerns and issues that impact society. During the 1960s and 1970s music helped to capture and unite public sentiment at such events as the Freedom Ride for Indigenous rights and the Vietnam Moratorium March, while Helen Reddy's anthem ‘I Am Woman' became an international rallying cry for the Women's Liberation movement.

Events combining social protest with popular music continued throughout the 1980s including the Stop the Drop concert organised in 1983 by passionate anti-nuclear advocates, Midnight Oil. Also performing at the concert were Goanna, whose hit single ‘Solid Rock' tackled the contentious issue of Indigenous land rights.

Yothu Yindi and Archie Roach have been vocal advocates for Indigenous recognition and reconciliation. Their songs ‘Treaty' and ‘Took the Children Away' powerfully reveal the pain and enduring resilience of Australia's First Peoples.

The Australian music community has also shown a willingness to quickly come together in aid of disaster relief efforts. The 1985 EAT (East African Tragedy) Concert was the precursor to the international Live Aid concert and similar events. Other initiatives have included Wave Aid after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and Sound Relief in aid of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

Most recently, the threat to the nation's live music scene has been challenged by activists such as Save Live Australia's Music (SLAM), while the disenfranchisement of minority and migrant groups is addressed through youth engagement projects such as the Mushroom Group's Voice for Change.


The ‘Australian sound' is a bit like the Australian accent: difficult for us to identify but immediately evident to other people. For some it's the incomparable sound of Indigenous language and rhythm, for others the cranked up volume of guitar-heavy pub rock, or the instantly recognisable cadences of Aussie hip hop.

Favourite home-grown songs give voice to experiences that are both distinctly Australian while somehow universal. They come back to us at moments of great happiness or sadness. Their musical expression - the bagpipes in ‘Long Way to the Top', the howling harmonica of Paul Kelly or the virtuosic drumming of Spiderbait's Kram - have the power to evoke memories of time and place.

Local lyrical content also helps feed our musical identity. From open celebrations of place in Skyhooks' ‘Balwyn Calling' and Icehouse's ‘Great Southern Land', to more reflective takes on the Australian way of life with Bliss n Eso's ‘Golden Years'. More recently, Australian music has reached across cultural and geographical boundaries to explore new ways of storytelling and reflect an increasingly diverse population.

Australian music has developed in conversation with both local and international audiences at festivals and in music venues, both big and small. The establishment of Australian record labels such as Festival Records in 1952, Mushroom Records in 1972, and hip hop focused Elefant Tracks in 1998, has also been key in nurturing and promoting an Australian sound that remains a prized calling card both at home and overseas.


The story of Australian music is full of ‘wild ones' who have improvised, innovated and followed sparks of intuition to propel the home-grown industry in new and exciting directions. Early local heroes such as Johnny O'Keefe and Col Joye burst onto the rock and roll scene in the 1950s with a ‘do-it-yourself' approach to managing, recording, publishing and promoting was necessary. If something didn't exist they created it - from flamboyant handmade suits to electric guitars and amplifiers.

Many artists had to overcome social barriers to their success. Australia's first Indigenous popstar, Jimmy Little, became a household name in the early 1960s at a time when Australia's First Peoples were still waiting to be formally recognised as citizens. During the 1970s, gutsy blues singer Wendy Saddington shook up a live music scene dominated by male ‘prog rock' and pub bands.

As the music industry grew so too did the need to innovate. During the 1970s and 80s, Ian ‘Molly' Meldrum pioneered a new way of reporting that combined critical reviews with personal opinion and anecdotes sourced from within the music scene. Michael Gudinski's 360 degree approach to publishing, recording, concert promotion and merchandising fundamentally changed the Australian music business. More recently, producer and sound engineer Tony Cohen's unorthodox approach to sound creation and mixing helped to create unique sound profiles for artists as diverse as Nick Cave, The Cruel Sea and Powderfinger.

Today, online platforms continue to inspire new creative approaches to recording and distributing music enabling independent artists such as Tash Sultana to go from busker to international headliner in just a few years.


The Australian music scene has been immeasurably enriched by the contributions of musicians who have come to call Australia home and those who have made their reputations on the international stage.

During the 1950s and 1960s, many of Australia's best-known musicians arrived as ‘Ten Pound Poms' through a government-sponsored program designed to encourage migration from war-torn Europe. Performers including Olivia Newton-John, Glenn Shorrock, and members of the Bee Gees, The Easybeats and AC/DC all immigrated to Australia and established careers here before venturing back overseas.

During the 1970s and 1980s, an influx of talented New Zealanders such as Max Merritt, Dragon, Mi-Sex, Jenny Morris, and Split Enz re-energised the Australian pop scene. More recently artists such as Tkay Maidza, Remi and Sampa The Great have helped to expand the cultural influences in Australian hip hop by infusing it with their own brand of pop, politics and poetry.

Today, internationally acclaimed Australian performers including Sia and Flume walk in the footsteps of home-grown artists such as The Seekers, Peter Allen, Men At Work, INXS, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave and Tina Arena, whose talent and drive opened up new markets across Europe and the United States. Australian singers, songwriters and musicians continue to be in demand overseas and feature prominently at key festivals, on influential streaming platforms, and more recently on televised events such as the Eurovision Song Contest.



The Australian Music Vault is proud to posthumously honour the achievements of this year's recipient of the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music, the late Rob Potts. The Ted Albert Award is one of the nation's most prestigious music awards. It is awarded annually by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) in honour of pioneering independent record producer Ted Albert, whose company, Albert Productions, was home to music icons The Easybeats, AC/DC, The Angels, Rose Tattoo and John Paul Young. Previous winners of the award include The Seekers, Ian "Molly" Meldrum, Fifa Riccobono, Archie Roach and Midnight Oil.

During his 30 plus years as a manager, agent and promoter, Rob Potts pioneered international country touring in Australia and launched the careers of some of Australia's greatest country musicians. Born in 1952, Potts grew up in Adelaide, then Tasmania where he first began working in the music industry as a manager for local band, Sweet Poison. Relocating to Sydney in the mid-1980s, Potts landed a job booking bands at The Agency, before moving across to Premier Artists where he worked as a booking agent for iconic 1980s bands like Cold Chisel and The Angels, and venues like Blacktown RSL and Sweethearts at Cabramatta.

During the 1990s, Potts began working with a new wave of country artists who would eventually become some of the most significant country stars in Australia. A chance discovery of a talented, bottle-blonde, guitar player on television, led him to Tamworth Music Festival in pursuit of a young Keith Urban. Potts became Urban's agent, and began managing Lee Kernaghan, Tommy Emmanuel and Troy Cassar-Daley, eventually starting his own agency, Allied Artists.


Hip hop has been a vibrant part of Australian cultural life for almost 40 years. Initially dismissed as a fad, hip hop has endured to become one of today's most popular forms of musical storytelling.

Born in The Bronx, New York City, in the late 1970s, hip hop emerged during a period of great social unrest for the African-American, Caribbean and Hispanic communities who lived in the local housing projects. More than just a musical style, hip hop culture developed around four key elements - DJing, MCing, breakdancing (B Boy and B Girl), and writing (graffiti art). Australian audiences were introduced to the culture via commercial music videos such as Malcolm McLaren's ‘Buffalo Girls' and Blondie's ‘Rapture' in the early 1980s.

Dancing and graffiti were the first forms of hip hop to take off in Australia with music-making remaining an underground endeavour supported by independent labels, record stores, community radio stations and fans. Mainstream success would not come until the early 2000s when 1200 Techniques had a crossover hit with the song, ‘Karma' which led to commercial airplay and industry awards.

From its earliest days, Australian hip hop has been enriched by the talents of artists from varied cultural backgrounds with Indigenous Australian, Pacifica and African influences contributing to its unique character. Hip hop artists have also used the art form to encourage debate in Australia on important issues such as racism, climate change, land rights and detention of asylum seekers, in an effort to create a fairer, more compassionate society.

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Happens: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Times: Open 9am - late

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 Australian Music Vault  Events 2 Events
⊜ 100 St Kilda Road Melbourne | Map
Australian Music Vault100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, ,
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Australian Music Vault | Open

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