What International music scene is making an impact in Australia this year?

SXSW Sydney

SXSW Sydney’s Music Festival is about discovery and an opportunity to be surrounded by the very best artists – emerging or established. This year SXSW Sydney’s Music Festival promises to be as inspiring and global as ever and encourages artists from all cultural backgrounds to sign up to play at SXSW Sydney this year. But what international scene is being talked about the most?

Indian Music Scene

Over the last ten years, India’s music scene has become unstoppable, with music heavily being influenced by Western Music. Amongst the Indian independent music albums and EPs that were released in 2022, hip-hop dominated, accounting for 36% of acts uploading the genre, followed by pop with 20%, electronic with 19%, and rock at 14%. Although Indian music is being influenced by Western Music, we are seeing a new generation of artists like Diljit Dosanjh entering global stardom and making their impact in Australia.

The rise of Diljit Dosanjh in Australia is proof that Australian audiences are deeply interested in foreign music, with the Indian rap icon packing out arenas around Australia. Massive Indian Ex-Pat audiences also attended these arena shows, leaving Australian audiences who missed out wanting to know more about this superstar. This amazing achievement was also off the back of Diljit playing Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, becoming the first Punjabi artist ever to play at the festival. In March 2024 Diljit appeared onstage with Ed Sheeran, who sung in Punjabi for the first time in his career in Mumbai.

Statistics from the ABS show that 385,000 visitors from India visit Australia in short term stay (less than one year) and India is ranked #4th overall in international visitors to Australia. India also has a deep ancestral community within Australia with over 780,000 people. With these statistics in mind, the desire for the Indian community to attend Indian live entertainment events is at an all-time high.

Western Music festivals are also starting to emerge in India. In 2023, Lollapalooza India was created to showcase western music to Indian fans. It was a great success with notable names like Diplo, Imagine Dragons and The Strokes playing its inaugural year. Lollapalooza India returned in 2024 with the Jonas Brothers, Halsey, Sting, Caribou, One Republic and was hailed ‘as bigger and better’ than its first edition.

South Korean Music Scene

South Korea exploded on to the scene with its K-Pop genre in the last ten years. But K-Pop has been around for decades. It’s only been over the last 5 years that western audiences are picking up on this exciting genre. K-Pop is known for its catchy brand of pop, usually featuring a Male or Female pop-music crew, with dancing and large-scale productions.

Artists like BTS, BLACKPINK, SEVENTEEN, XG are only a few of the K-Pop artists that are breaking through to western listeners. Additionally, this can be highlighted in the massive collaborations that we are seeing BTS making. BTS have collaborated with western superstars and household names like Coldplay, Charli XCX, Charlie Puth, Steve Aoki and The Chainsmokers, allowing the group to enter international charts and fanbases.

XG, are a great example of how K-Pop is making its impact in Australia. XG, are an all-female Japanese group that performed the genre, playing last year’s SXSW Sydney to a packed-out crowd at Sydney’s – Hordern Pavilion. Australian audiences were treated to an amazing production and performance.

XG’s rise to fame has been incredible. Since their inception in 2022 they have amassed a large following, with over 6.5m fans and 600M views on YouTube and were the first Japanese artist to enter the US Radio’s Top 40 in 2023. The band also features an Australian / Japanese performer, Amy Harvey, who was inspired by Miranda Kerr to pursue modelling, and transitioned to hip hop dance, eventually learning how to rap.

In March 2024, Seventeen, a high-profile South Korean act was announced as the first K-Pop artist to ever play Glastonbury. This was a significant moment, as it shows the demand for diverse lineups from western audiences. With Glastonbury being one of the biggest music festivals globally is a great sign for the genre.

Japanese Music Scene

Japanese music has always been a diverse, interesting and constantly developing scene. Pop, Rock and J-Pop dominate Japanese charts and record sales. Although these genres are dominating the charts, Japan has had a rich history of Heavy Metal, Jazz, Punk Rock, R & B and Rap. In Japan, the underground scene has been lauded as one of the best in the world with its mix of influences and constantly evolving sounds.

One of the Japanese bands making their mark on the international scene is Otoboke Beaver, an all-female punk rock band from Kyoto. The band gained fame in the western world for their SXSW appearance in 2017, with the following year travelling over 39,000 kms in one week to play two slots at Coachella Music Festival. Otoboke Beaver returned to SXSW Sydney in 2023 and lit the stage ablaze with Double J’s, Dan Condon, describing the show as “astounding, charming and it’s hard to imagine any artist on this lineup as fun as Otoboke Beaver”.

Another artist that is exciting western audiences is Joji. Australian audiences were treated to a recent performance at last year’s Laneway Festival with the R&B rapper-singer releasing his album ‘Smithereens’ which went 2 times platinum on the ARIA charts and ‘Glimpse Of Us’ going to #1 in Australia. The Half Japanese, Half Australian artist is much-beloved on Tiktok with his tracks featuring heavily on the platform.

It should also be noted, Japan consumes an incredible amount of music. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), Japan is the largest market for music on physical media and the second-largest overall music market. Interestingly, the most consumed western artists from Japan include Shania Twain, Michael Jackson, The Backstreet Boys, Lady Gaga, The Beatles and Bon Jovi, with Mariah Carey the best-selling western artist in Japan.

As we start to see more western audiences familiarise themselves with Japanese music, we will continue to see these artists making Australia a destination for touring. It is no doubt that SXSW Sydney this year will be on the cusp of emerging artists in the Asia-Pacific region and continues to be the conduit to new and exciting cultures, genres and international scenes.

Latin Music Scene

Latin Music has played a major role in western audience’s music tastes over the last 30 years. Artists like Shakira, Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias paved the way for Latin Music to reach the masses globally. What made these Latin music artists so accessible was their ability to cater to English speakers with songs sung in English and a Latin influence in their music.

Since the 90s and 00’s the Latin music scene has again exploded with the emergence of artists like Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Karol G, Rosalia, Peso Pluma and Maluma, to name a few. The one difference to the previous generation versus the new generation, has seen western fans adopting Latin music sung predominately in Spanish. This shift has shown that Western Audiences are willing to listen to foreign languages in music and broaden their music listening horizons, although they don’t speak or understand the language.

Bad Bunny, a Singer and Rapper from Puerto Rico has impacted global charts on a scale never seen before from the Latin music community and was the first non-English act to be Spotify’s most streamed artist of the year – 2 years running. As of December 2023, his album ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ is the most streamed album on Spotify with over 14 billion streams. The artist completely sold-out concerts all over Europe, Latin America and the US. Incredibly, Bad Bunny sings and performs all his songs in Spanish.

Spanish is the 5th biggest spoken language globally with over 548+ million speakers. According to US census data, the Spanish speaking population, with over 60 million Hispanics living in the US. This figure is significant with close to 20% of the entire US population able to speak or understand Spanish. With the scale of the US music industry combined with a large portion of Spanish speakers in the nation, this contributes to how powerful this flow-on effect of popularity can have on other western nations like Australia.

The Hispanic and Latin American community in Australia is also significant with over 300,00 total people residing in Australia. Regions with significant Hispanic and Latin American populations include Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. This diverse population includes people from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, El Salvador and Ecuador.

With the popularity of Latin music, a global phenomenon, and platforms like TikTok pushing Latin music to younger demographics, Australia may be the next big destination for Latin Music and their artists to perform.

Indonesian Music Scene

With almost 279 million inhabitants, divided into some 1,340 ethnic groups, speaking over 700 different languages, Indonesia is the fourth largest country in the world in terms of population, and its size and scale of music industry should not be underestimated. The talent of Indonesian artists is something we are seeing develop more as the Indonesian economy continues to grow rapidly.

The Indonesian Music scene is incredibly diverse and dynamic. It blends traditional Indonesian sounds with modern influences, resulting in a rich tapestry of genres. The Indonesian music scene has been described as vibrant and a rapidly evolving scene that reflects the cultural diversity of the country.

SXSW Sydney was fortunate last year to host ‘Isyana Sarasvati ‘, a standout performer who played to a huge audience at the festival. Isyana describes her own music as a “fusion of various genres, often blending pop, progressive rock, and classical music.” Isyana has a huge fan base of millions across social media and a fan group called “Isyanation”, who fervently support the artist.

There is no doubt that the Indonesian music scene is developing at a rapid rate, with the country’s digital economy booming. It is expected to reach a value of $130 bn and is up by 22% YoY. This growth can also be seen with online music consumption with 38% of Indonesians using a music on demand service in the last week.

According to Spotify, Indonesia’s most streamed artist ‘Tulus’, boasts almost 2 billion streams on the platform and is a singer-songwriter of Minangkabau descent from West Sumatra and sings exclusively in Indonesian. The Indonesian audiences also love international pop with Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Ariana Grande, BTS and Justin Bieber in their most streamed artists.

It’s no surprise that Indonesian music is on the rise, with its diverse melting pot of genres and cultures this makes the scene rich tapestry of artists so interesting. Definitely keep your eyes on Indonesian music before it explodes into the mainstream.

SXSW Sydney continues to inspire and help push discovery of the next biggest talents in International Music and Australian Music. It’s a melting pot of genres, whereby the next biggest thing could be right next door. It’s an opportunity for the music community to come together and support one and other and discuss the state of the industry.

As we countdown to SXSW Sydney 2024 on the 14 – 20 October, attendees can look forward to seeing the best emerging talents, worldwide superstars and international music scenes converging to Australia for the festival. SXSW Sydney is looking for the best emerging and diverse artists lineups to host at this year’s edition – if you are an artist with something to say, sign up here to join the hundreds of artists, creators and speakers for SXSW Sydney’s biggest year yet.

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