In Melbourne tonight

Pop/rock histories and futures


  • Shane Homan Monash University
  • Seamus O'Hanlon Monash University
  • Catherine Strong RMIT University
  • John Tebbutt Monash University



Melbourne, music cities, music heritage, popular music


In recent decades the ‘music city’ has emerged as an important series (and exchanges) of representations, capital, labour, sounds and commodities. City heritage and histories—particular narratives of music development, genres, venues and personnel—continue to inform contemporary city branding, tourism and industrial strategies. This article explores how both the practices and discourses of the ‘music city’ circulate in terms of specific histories, and how, in turn, they might inform contemporary practices and future intent. Melbourne, the self-proclaimed music and cultural capital of Australia, is examined as a case study in how the past and present circulate. The article also explores the challenges in documenting the emergence and development of popular music in Melbourne from the 1950s to the present as a three-year Australian Research Council Discovery project, Interrogating the Music City: Cultural Economy and Popular Music in Melbourne, funded from 2016 to 2018.  

Author Biographies

Shane Homan, Monash University

Shane Homan is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Monash University, Melbourne. His latest book is Popular Music Industries and the State: Policy Notes (Routledge, 2016) co-authored with Martin Cloonan and Jen Cattermole. Shane is the lead Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council project Interrogating the Music City: Cultural Economy and Popular Music in Melbourne.

Seamus O'Hanlon, Monash University

Seamus O’Hanlon teaches contemporary urban and cultural history at Monash University, Melbourne. He is currently researching the history of rock and pop music in Melbourne and writing a history of the globalization of the Australian city since the 1970s

Catherine Strong, RMIT University

Catherine Strong is a Senior Lecturer in the Music Industry programme at RMIT University, Melbourne. Her research focuses on popular music history and heritage, and gender inequality in the music industry. She is the author of Grunge: Music and Memory (Ashgate, 2011) and co-editor of Death and the Rock Star (Routledge, 2015) and the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Popular Music History and Heritage. She is the Chair of IASPM-ANZ and Review Editor for Perfect Beat journal.

John Tebbutt, Monash University

John Tebbutt is a communications scholar and audio producer. His research interests focus on the cultural history of Australian media, in particular public service media. John’s research has been published by Media Culture and Society, Media History and Australian Studies. His current Australian Research Council research includes the history of the ABC’s Radio National network (Macquarie/Monash) and Interrogating the Music City (Monash/RMIT). John is a Managing Editor for Continuum.


Australian Labor Party. 2014. ‘Music Works: Supporting Local Acts and Jobs’. Online at (accessed 6 April 2017).

Bader, Ingo, and Albert Scharenberg. 2010. ‘The Sound of Berlin: Subculture and the Global Music Industry’. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 34/1: 76–91.

Bradley, Harriet. 1999. ‘Seductions of the Archives: Voices Lost and Found’. History of the Human Sciences 12/2: 107–22.

Burgoyne, Robert. 2003. ‘From Contested to Consensual Memory: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’. In Contested Pasts: The Politics of Memory, ed. K. Hodgkin and S. Radstone, 208–220. New York: Routledge.

Cohen, Sara. 2007. Decline, Renewal and the City in Popular Music Culture: Beyond the Beatles. Aldershot: Ashgate.

—2013. ‘“From the Big Dig to the Big Gig”: Live Music, Urban Regeneration and Social Change in the European Capital of Culture’. In Musical Performance and the Changing City: Post-industrial Contexts in Europe and the United States, ed. Fabian Holt and Carsten Wergin, 27–51. New York: Routledge.

Creative Victoria. 2016. ‘Australian Music History—Straight from the Vault’. Online at (accessed 10 April 2017).

Deloitte Access Economics. 2011. The Economic, Social and Cultural Contribution of Venue Based Live Music in Victoria. Kingston, ACT: Arts Victoria.

Dingle, Tony, and Seamus O’Hanlon. 2009. ‘From Manufacturing Zone to Lifestyle Precinct: Economic Restructuring and Social Change in Inner Melbourne, 1971–2001’. Australian Economic History Review 49/1: 52–69.

Du Noyer, Paul. 2002. Liverpool: Wondrous Place—Music from Cavern to Cream. London: Virgin Publishing.

Engleheart, Murray. 2010. Blood, Sweat and Beers: Oz Rock from the Aztecs to Rose Tattoo. Sydney: HarperCollins.

Feldman-Barrett, Christine. 2014. ‘From Beatles Fans to Beat Groups: A Historiography of the 1960s All-Girl Rock Band’. Feminist Media Studies 4/6: 1041–55.

Flew, Terry. 2012. The Creative Industries: Culture and Policy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Florida, Richard. 2002. The Rise of the Creative Class. New York: Basic Books.

Florida, Richard, and Scott Jackson. 2010. ‘Sonic City: The Evolving Economic Geography of the Music Industry’. Journal of Planning Education and Research 29/3: 310–21.

Giuffre, Liz. 2016. ‘Not Just Boys and Rock and Roll: Rediscovering Women on Early Australian Music Television’. Journal of World Popular Music 3/1: 17–37.

Glaezer, Edward. 2012. The Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier. New York: Penguin.

Haslam, David. 2000. Manchester, England. London: Fourth Estate.

Hohnen, Mike. 2013. ‘Australia’s Live Music Capital—Winner Declared in the Sydney vs Melbourne Debate’. Online at (accessed January 17, 2017).

Homan, Shane. 2003. The Mayor’s a Square: Live Music and Law and Order in Sydney. Newtown: Local Consumption Publications.

—2010. ‘Governmental as Anything: Live Music and Law and Order in Melbourne’. Perfect Beat 11/2: 101–16.

—forthcoming 2018. ‘The Music City: Australian Contexts’. In Made in Australia and New Zealand: Studies in Popular Music, ed. Shelley Brunt and Geoff Stahl. New York: Routledge.

Homan, Shane, Martin Cloonan and Jennifer Cattermole. 2016. Policy Notes: Popular Music and the State. New York: Routledge.

Homan, Shane, and Tony Mitchell, eds. 2008. Sounds of Then, Sounds of Now: Popular Music in Australia. Hobart: ACYS Publishing.

IFPI/Music Canada. 2015. The Mastering of a Music City: Key Elements, Effective Strategies and Why It’s Worth Pursuing. London: IFPI and Music Canada with MIDEM.

Johnson, Bruce. 2000. The Inaudible Music: Jazz, Gender and Australian Modernity. Sydney: Currency Press.

Keightley, Emily. 2010. ‘Remembering Research: Memory and Methodology in the Social Sciences’. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 13/1: 55–70.

King, Geoff. 2010. ‘Becoming Yesterday: Changes in Music, the Music Industry and Musicians’ Careers in 1960s Melbourne’. Musicology Australia 32/2: 285–99.

Kruger, Diane. 2005. ‘Melbourne for a Song’. Melbourne Weekly Magazine, August 3-9.

Kruse, Holly. 2010. ‘Local Identity and Independent Music Scenes, Online and Off’. Popular Music and Society 33/5: 625–39.

Leonard, Marion. 2010. ‘Exhibiting Popular Music: Museum Audiences, Inclusion and Social History’. Journal of New Music Research 39/2: 171–81.

Markusen, Ann. 2014. ‘Creative Cities: A 10 Year Research Agenda’. Journal of Urban Affairs 36/2: 567–89.

McCormack, Ange. 2016. ‘By the Numbers: Women in the Music Industry’. Triple j Hack, March 8. Online at (accessed 15 March 2016).

Mean, Melissa, and Charlie Tims. 2005. In Concert: Newcastle-Gateshead as a Music City. Demos, London, 16 May. Online at (accessed 10 April 2017).

Murray, Lisa. 2016. The Role of History Today. Making Public Histories seminar series. Joint initiative of the State Library of Victoria, History Council of Victoria and Monash University. 18 August. Melbourne: State Library of Victoria.

O’Donnell, John, Toby Creswell and Craig Mathieson. 2010. 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahan: Hardie Grant Books.

O’Hanlon, Seamus. 2005. ‘Where All the Action is Man: Youth Culture in 1960s Melbourne’. In Go! Melbourne: Melbourne in the Sixties, ed. Seamus O’Hanlon and Tanja Luckisn, 45–57. Beaconsfield: Melbourne Publishing Group Pty Ltd.

—2009. ‘The Events City: Sport, Culture, and the Transformation of Inner Melbourne, 1977–2006’. Urban History Review/Revue d’Histoire Urbaine 37/2: 30–39.

O’Hanlon, Seamus, and Simone Sharpe. 2009. ‘Becoming Post-industrial: Victoria Street, Fitzroy, c1970 to now’. Urban Policy and Research 27/3: 289–300.

Roberts, Les, and Sara Cohen. 2014. ‘Unauthorising Popular Music Heritage: Outline of a Critical Framework’. International Journal of Heritage Studies 20/3: 241–61.

Rogers, Ian. 2008. ‘“You’ve got to go to gigs to get gigs”: Indie Musicians, Eclecticism and the Brisbane Scene’. Continuum 22/5: 639–49.

Sassen, Saskia. 1994. Cities in a World Economy. Michigan: Pine Forge Press, University of Michigan.

Scott, Allen J. 2006. ‘Creative Cities: Conceptual Issues and Policy Questions’. Journal of Urban Affairs 28/1: 1–17.

Smith, Graeme. 2005. Singing Australian: A History of Folk and Country Music. Sydney: Pluto Press.

Stafford, Andrew. 2014. Pig City: 10th Anniversary Edition. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press.

Steedman, Carolyn. 1998. ‘The Space of Memory: In an Archive’. History of the Human Sciences 11/4: 65–83.

Strachan, Robert. 2004. ‘Editor’s Introduction’. Popular Music History 1/1: 5–8.

Stratton, Jon. 2007. ‘“Do you want to know a secret?”: Popular Music in Perth in the Early 1960s’. Illumina 2: 1–11.

—2008. ‘The Difference of Perth Music: A Scene in Cultural and Historical Context’. Continuum 22/5: 613–22.

Strong, Catherine. 2014. ‘“All the girls in town”: The Missing Women of Australian Rock, Cultural Memory and Coverage of the Death of Chrissy Amphlett’. Perfect Beat 15/1: 149–66.

Strong, Catherine, Fabian Cannizzo and Ian Rogers. 2017. ‘Aesthetic Cosmopolitan, National and Local Popular Music Heritage in Melbourne’s Music Laneways’. International Journal of Heritage Studies 23/2: 83–96.

Thornton, Sarah. 1990. ‘Strategies for Reconstructing the Popular Past’. Popular Music 9/1: 87–95.

UK Music. 2016. Wish You Were Here: The Contribution of Live Music to the UK Economy. London: UK Music.

UNESCO. 2014. ‘Creative Cities Network—Music’. Online at (accessed 8 April 2017).

Watson, Allan. 2008. ‘Global Music City: Knowledge and Geographical Proximity in London’s Recorded Music Industry’. Area 40/1: 12–23.



How to Cite

Homan, S., O’Hanlon, S., Strong, C., & Tebbutt, J. (2017). In Melbourne tonight: Pop/rock histories and futures. Perfect Beat, 18(2), 95–109.