Ruel urges fans to buy Australian music
If there was ever a time to buy Australian music, 18-year-old pop superstar Ruel says it is now.
The fresh artist with the old soul sound, which has won support from a raft of champions from Elton John to Kendall Jenner, will showcase his latest single As Long As You Care on the relaunch of The Sound on Sunday.
The track, which introduced his new EP Bright Lights, Red Eyes, has already amassed more than 10 million streams and two million YouTube views for its 70s-style throwback video.
But most of those streams are generated by his fans in America, Asia and Europe.
The latest ARIA singles chart paints a disturbing picture of how local artists aren't given a level playing field to compete with releases from international acts, with just five Australian songs in the top 50.
The Sound, which debuted in July, is the brainchild of passionate promoter and label owner Michael Gudinski who has been an outspoken critic of the lack of support for homegrown talent on Australian television or commercial radio stations.
For Ruel, the show is the only opportunity to perform his new single live ahead of the relaxation of restrictions on concerts to pre-COVID crowd levels.
"I think a show like this is overdue. This was a chance for me to perform with my band for the first time since February," he said.
"It was exactly what I needed and I learnt about so many new artists through the first season as well as seeing new music by friends like Benee and Cub Sport."
Ruel said a buy Australian campaign dedicated to homegrown music would boost the spirits of artists who had performed online for free to help their fans get through lockdown.
Most musicians make their living from playing gigs and festivals, with that income decimated by the pandemic shutdowns.
"It has been hard for artists all around the world to stay afloat … and I know the arts has been regarded as non-essential during this time and I can see why," he said.
"But it is such an important thing for people who are feeling lonely in this time or have mental health issues, music and art is so important to people."
There is light at the end of the concert shutdown tunnel for Ruel and his peers with AusMusic Month in November marking a return to gigs around the country.
He will perform a concert to the world from the MCA Rooftop in Sydney on November 27, with a test run to a limited audience on November 13 for the Great Southern Nights festival.
He has already experienced the voracious appetite of his fans for his new music when he crashed more than 100 Zoom parties held by his followers when the Bright Lights, Red Eyes EP was released last week.
"Fans sent me links to their listening parties and I crashed as many as I could, in Australia, through Asia, Europe and America," he said.
"I had over 100 tabs opened on my Zoom and it was great to see their reaction to a few songs people weren't expecting to hear in terms of the music and production styles.
"I like testing people and luckily people liked what they heard because I feel like it's another step up in terms of who I am as an artist."
The Sound's return episode on Sunday at 6pm on ABC will also feature Midnight Oil, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave, The Rubens and Mia Wray.
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Originally published as Ruel urges fans to buy Australian music