NOVOCASTRIAN BMG music label boss, Heath Johns, wants his hometown to become known as the Austin, Texas of Australia through a partnership with the University of Newcastle.
Following the successful design by UoN students of an animated music video last July for rock band The Living End, BMG has committed to an ongoing partnership with the university's School of Creative Industries.
Students Reid McManus and Daniel Cooper have both worked on yet-to-be-released music videos for ARIA No.1 punk band Dune Rats and Grammy Award-winner Wolfmother and other students are designing projects for indie acts Dope Lemon and Hockey Dad.
However Johns, who is the BMG managing director for Australia, and the university's head of the School of Creative Industries, Paul Egglestone, have even loftier ambitions for the union.
Johns' older brother, Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns, arguably did more than anyone to boost the international profile of Newcastle. Heath Johns hopes BMG can also put the city on the musical map.
The university is building a new recording studio at the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music to be used as a practical-learning space. Johns also plans to send BMG artists to the studio to record and experience Novocastrian culture.
In time, Johns believes, Newcastle could possess a similar reputation for music as the Texan city of Austin, home of the world renown South By South West Festival.
"People are really blown away by how much the city has to offer in terms of lifestyle, dining options, experiences, art culture and music, and our view has always been that Newcastle could be to the Australian music scene what Austin is to US music scene," Johns said.
Johns said 20 foreign and Australian BMG acts had agreed to record with UoN students.
"It puts the artists in a new environment which would generally stimulate new ideas and new music, but outside of that, we would have the artist immersed in Newcastle culture which we all genuinely believe is severely under-rated globally and domestically," he said.
The benefits to students are obvious. They gain practical and professional experience in the competitive music industry, and some students like Reid McManus, have gained paid freelance work with BMG.
BMG have plenty to gain too. Johns said students brought fresh creativity.
"We're acutely aware that young people have ideas, and maybe a freedom of expression, that can be somewhat blunted after years of being around the traditional machinations of the music industry," he said.