IT was December 1979 and CBS Records' Australian branch was preparing to release The Clash's seminal London Calling.
It was a double album that would redefine the scope and intelligence of punk rock, influence countless musicians and commonly rate in Rolling Stone's top-10 records of all time.
London Calling was also the introduction into the business side of the music industry for a young sales rep named Ben Steer.
"I saw the light when I heard that record," says Steer, who later became friends with The Clash's frontman Joe Strummer.
It kicked off a 40-year career in the music industry for the Newcastle resident and a lifelong passion.
Steer has worked in A&R - industry speak for talent scouting and the artistic and commercial development of a recording artist - with international record labels Sony, EMI and Warner, and later branched out into promotions, management and publishing.
It carried Steer around the globe learning from people like legendary INXS manager Chris Murphy - who he describes as "a master of everything" and as "extraordinary and dynamic and really inspiring" - and brought him into the orbit of iconic artists like Bruce Springsteen, Santana, Midnight Oil, Men At Work and Cold Chisel.
Eventually Steer was inspired to pass on that knowledge he'd acquired over the decades. For the past 15 years he's taught music business at Sydney's JMC Academy, training young minds in all aspects of the entertainment industry.
Six years ago Steer moved to Newcastle to teach music business at TAFE, settling in the hip urban enclave of Carrington.
Steer has continued to lecture part-time at JMC Academy, making the commute by train, and has also launched his own Australian-first online music business course, Continuous Music.
"I love teaching and getting up in front of a crowd of people talking about stuff," he says over coffee at Carrington's brightly-coloured Ground Up Espresso.
"Not just the old war stories of Midnight Oil, INXS or [Bob] Dylan, but the potential. What's the new world going to hold for music people?
"Even though touring is difficult and hard, the creativity doesn't stop. People are still writing songs. COVID was a really busy time as people were writing and madly registering their songs.
"You can't dampen creativity. It's still going. It's just how do you get it out there and what's that going to look like?"
His infectious enthusiasm for the music industry has also translated to the Newcastle scene. Back in September Steer became a co-director for the livestream show Music People and later this month he'll launch a workshop series in Newcastle to educate people on various aspects of the industry.
The Music Biz Is? involves a series of five workshops beginning on February 25 at Woodriver Studios covering Music Industry Overview, Artist Management, Copyright & Publishing, Touring & Live Music and Marketing, Publicity and Promotion.
Wallsend's Hiss & Crackle Records and Carrington's Novotone Studios will also host sessions before the final Networking Night is held on April 1 at the Hamilton Station Hotel.
The Music Biz Is? is a collaboration between Continuous Music and Newcastle online music publication and booking company, Temporary Dreamer, run by Steer's former JMC Academy student Tara Campbell.
Ever since the 1970s when Steer shared a Kings Cross flat with Newcastle's "godfather of rock'n'roll" Mark Tinson, he's known of the Hunter's thriving music creativity.
But serving as a director on Music People has provided a clearer picture of Newcastle's wealth of talent.
"There was the old Newcastle like Tinno, who I love dearly, and the old world of Heroes and Screaming Jets," Steer says.
"Then I saw all these new bands at places like the Lass [O'Gowrie Hotel] doing incredible things. It was like the rain had just fallen and all this wonderful stuff was coming up out of the ground."
Steer believes the likes of dave the band, Vacations, Raave Tapes, Ben Leece and James Thomson are as talented as anyone in Australia. However, he believes most Newcastle artists are selling themselves short due to a lack of management, promotion and national booking agents in town.
"Young people are fabulous, I love them," he says. "They go, 'Ben, I've released a single and it's up on Spotify.'
"I'm not dampening their enthusiasm, but I'll go, 'While we've been talking probably 4000 other people have put their music on Spotify.
"I don't want to run them down as they're making good music, but you need something to drive people to Spotify and what's that gonna be?"
With better promotion Steer says Newcastle could become the "Austin [Texas] of the east coast" and host Brisbane's BigSound music festival and industry conference.
"ARIA or Music NSW, any of those bodies, they're all going, 'What's going on in Newcastle?'" he says.
"They ask me, 'What's happening there? We keep hearing all this great music on triple j Unearthed getting lots of plays and it seems to be a good scene'."