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Looking after Australian songwriters is music to Jana Gibson’s ears


Sharlene King
23 May 2018

As a uni student in a regional area known for its dynamic music scene, Jana Gibson spent countless hours at gigs at the university bar and local pubs. Now her passion for live music and well-honed skills in events management has landed Jana a senior role in the Australian music industry.

The Southern Cross University business alumnus has been appointed the Head of Member Services at Australia’s largest music organisation, APRA AMCOS, effective June 1. As part of a senior leadership team who reports directly to CEO, Jana will be leading a team of 80 staff who advocate for 95,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers across the country to ensure, among other things, they receive royalties for their works.

It’s been three years since a female has held this level of leadership at APRA AMCOS, in the famously male dominated music industry.

“It is important for me as a person to get to this level at APRA AMCOS, I’m excited by the opportunity and the organisation’s belief in me,” said Jana.

Jana’s quiet confidence and highly organised, solutions-driven way of getting the job done caught the eye of APRA AMCOS more than 15 years ago.

“When APRA expanded its suite of award events, it created an in-house events position and they asked me to come and work for them. I was the events manager managing our three big awards events: APRA Music Awards, Art Music Awards and Screen Music Awards. In the six years I’ve been working in Member Services, I’ve progressed from deputy director to director and now head of a whole area of the business."

In her new role Jana will lead the Writer Services, Member Relations, Publisher Relations and Repertoire, Sounds Australia, Live Music Office teams and will oversee other member initiatives such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Office, SongHubs, SongMakers, awards and outreach programs.

“We need to be present in the lives of music creators throughout their careers and through business cycles. We are a vital part of the industry ecosystem as we provide services, opportunities and advocacy to support their livelihoods,” Jana said.

“In a time of diversifying income, increased access to data and market disruption, we are continually partnering with our publisher, composer and songwriter members and the wider industry on opportunities to ensure their works are heard.”

One of APRA AMCOS’ goals - engaging with educational institutions - has seen it fund the APRA AMCOS Songwriting Masterclass at Southern Cross University for 12 years. The series sees talented Australian musicians – like Bernard Fanning, Mr Percival, Lior, Harry James – visit the Lismore campus to share their insights with the next generation of performers enrolled in the contemporary music program at Southern Cross.

“To have the big names in Australian music associated with the program and the University is very important, particularly to give regional students that sort of access and equity,” Jana said.

The former Mullumbimby High student said when she finished school she was tossing up what to study at Southern Cross University, but decided on a degree in business and tourism to open her horizons.

“The strong practical component of the degree in the event and hospitality space kickstarted my career. I also loved studying at a regional university. Because I moved out of home to live in Lismore I was in an environment where I had to be definitely independent and I found that conducive to building a strong social network. I’ve made lifelong friends.

“The degree had a strong reputation in the industry when I graduated. I am very proud to say that I went to university at Southern Cross.”