Newcastle Music Collective, by Brooke Tunbridge / by Brooke Tunbridge

Four creative-minded friends, a shared passion for music, and an idea. This is how Newcastle Music Collective began.

The Newcastle-based music business focuses on ‘nurturing and articulating the career goals of artists, specialising in: artist management, venue booking, distribution, tour production, promotion, sound production, merchandising and event management’. After I spoke with them, that business lingo translated to a bunch of laid-back yet professional people providing creatives with a safe and positive environment to develop their ideas and turn them into a reality.

Zac Rushbrook, Alex McWhirter, Ben Campbell and Grace Walker met through their music business course at TAFE this year, and with the guidance and support of their close mentor Ben Steer, they shared ideas that led them to create this new and exciting venture.

Newcastle Music Collective (NMC) held their first event at the Cambridge Hotel at the beginning of September, presenting a line-up including Vacations, Mount Defiance (Melbourne), Voodoo Youth and The Dershwins. A common goal within the group is to address the unrepresented music in Australia and encourage artists to make a tour stop in our town. ‘Nobody stops in here on a tour… We want to start getting some variety and diversity within the scene,’ says Zac.

Ben agreed, adding that they want to spread and promote independent music within Newcastle and on a national level, as they did by having Melbourne band Mount Defiance on their first line-up.

‘There’s so much unrepresented music, and to be able to look back in the future and see that we’ve contributed to Australia’s musical footprint, so to speak, would be pretty unreal,’ Alex admitted.

If you’re thinking their names sound familiar, it’s probably because they’re all involved with the creative culture of Newcastle. You’ll find Alex playing bass in Yours Alone or singing in Buoy, Oh Buoy. Zac can be found supporting live music every chance he gets, Grace helping out creative folk like Arcades & Lions, the band she currently manages. Ben manages Newcastle’s own Raave Tapes and Hypenotic, as well as working on Grouse House and other projects.

These talented individuals are working together to provide their knowledge and experience to help other creatives.

‘We just want artists to feel like this is a place that they can come and be helped, but not feel like it’s a pressured business sort of thing – more of a creative flow,’ says Ben.

Elaborating on what they do, Alex mentioned they’re able to help people with contacts relating to social media management, photographers, designers and artists of all forms. After chatting with them, it became clear that their aim is to take the pressure off the artists so that they can focus on creating rather than being pinned down with the business side of things.

The members of NMC noted they all have ‘different stylistic tastes and so in effect [they’re] all going to chase after different kinds of musicians’. Zac continued, ‘It’s not like we don’t like particular genres – we’re all appreciative of music itself.’

Alex says they’re hoping to get some bands to play their first ever shows but also work with people who are ready to tour, collaborating with both ends of the spectrum.

These passionate music fans have already put on two events in Newcastle, the first being the Cambridge gig in September. The second event, ‘Sunday Arvos’, was at the Headphone Project in Darby Street, which utilised the space perfectly.

‘We’re trying to change what people conceive an event to be… This Sunday Arvo project that we’ve got going on is a more intimate music event, not based on alcohol, trying to branch free of what people conceive music events to be,’ Zac explains.

Their diverse range of tastes in music will show in the line-ups of future events as they aim to try and change what acts/genres will come through Newcastle to suit it to the atmosphere of the venue.

A venue they spoke fondly of is the Lass O’Gowrie Hotel, which is where their upcoming (and unannounced) event will take place. ‘The Bandapalooza’, which they were excited to reveal to me, is happening on November 19th and will feature nine ‘awesomely talented’ bands as well as large-scale art installations and projections. The collective has been working with Tim Buchanan from HoboTechno to bring these projections to life.

NMC are confident that their event will show punters ‘The Lass like they’ve never seen it before’. With what they’ve delivered so far, I believe them. Remember the name Newcastle Music Collective – it’s about to change the music scene in our town.

With talented and passionate people such as Zac, Alex, Ben and Grace taking charge, the future of Newcastle’s creative culture looks bright.


Zac, Alex, Ben and Grace wanted to mention and thank ‘the music scene and the lovely people that come to gigs’.

Stay updated with NMC and their events through their Facebook ( and Instagram (@newcastlemusiccollective).