TRNSMT is a Melbourne based online streaming platform that is now in its fourth year of operation. After thousands of streams and countless artists coming through it’s doors (or stairs), TRNSMT looks to the future of online operation within Australia and the world. We recently asked the creator and director of TRNSMT, Sam Carmex, about the history of the platform, what the inspirations are behind it and where he sees it heading.
Could you tell us a little bit personally about what influenced you to start TRNSMT?
Back in early 2012, I saw the incredible Melbourne (& Australian) electronic music scene and thought that it was majorly underrepresented in the online world. I wanted to create something that both documented and shone light on these amazing talents while ensuring Melbourne would have a solid online hub for electronic & underrepresented music. I was finding myself listening to a plenty of UK radio stations & live video streams at the time (see: NTS, Boiler Room, Radar, Rinse, etc) and really enjoying the culture/styles they were supporting. All of these stations/businesses were completely dedicated to the underground music scene in the UK, originally stemming from pirate radio stations. I saw these models and decided that I wanted to replicate something like that here in Melbourne – it didn’t exist, so why not create it?
With my knowledge of video production, electronic music and IT nerdery, the idea for TRNSMT was heavily schemed and I decided that it would consist simply of studio & event broadcast. Just a few weeks later I had set a launch date and by November 2012 we were broadcasting live video/audio of DJ Sets every night from the storeroom at Lounge in the CBD. Bring it forward a couple of years and I am now a 23 year old managing 130+ artists monthly as part of TRNSMT, creating 36+ hours of audio content and 40+ hours of live video content every week. My passion is truly in taking the Australian music/creative scene and projecting it to the world for people to see, hear & interact with.
Being based in Melbourne allows TRNSMT the ability to endorse and immerse itself in an amazingly vibrant music scene. What changes have you noticed yourself amongst the scene? And would you care to stroke the crystal ball for us and let us know where you see things heading?
The whole process of being so involved with the local scene has really opened my eyes to see the true potential of the incredible talent we have in Melbourne & Australia. The biggest changes I’ve seen over the last few years is everyone really embracing the place they are from. For a while, I felt that people were trying to replicate the music styles they were seeing in the UK or US (myself included) – so it was almost like artists & DJs were musically embarrassed to be from Australia. I think that this positive culture shift is going to be more & more aggressive over the next few years and I’m sure it will see the Australian music landscape very strongly represented on an international level. The most exciting part is that Melbourne seems to be the leading Australian city comparatively when it comes to creative output – and TRNSMT will be right there to harbour that continuing movement. It’s really great to think about the passion for our culture represented so strongly through our musical output – it’s all positive progression for sure! The plan is for TRNSMT to support this ongoing movement through our existing website & streaming platform – you’ll just have to wait and see how exactly we go about that.
Working with a mixture of both up and coming and established artists in Melbourne, can you share with us some stories of people/artists you have had the pleasure of watching grow?
Over 4 years, we’ve broadcasted more than 6000 DJ sets from hundreds of DJs, Producers & Creatives. I don’t think one of those hours was wasted – everyone who’s stepped into the studio or played at a covered event has been able to use the positive platform of TRNSMT to grow as an artist, collective or business. The beauty of TRNSMT is that we’re able to facilitate up and coming acts to appear alongside established acts and connect on a level that you won’t see at night clubs or events.
There has been a plethora of collectives and artists that we’ve watched grow immensely over the course of TRNSMT’s existence – quite literally too many to mention. One that sticks out for me is probably the success story of Cool Room – a crew that are actively dismantling the cookie-cutter club night and turning it into something so much more. They are a forward-thinking group who are hell bent on ensuring every single person feels welcome in the club space they have so generously created. The introduction of Safety and Inclusivity Coordinators, as well as a textline just goes to show that they are serious about shifting the clubnight standard here in Melbourne. I’m incredibly proud of what they have achieved since being there to record & stream the very first ‘episode’ – it’s definitely a privilege to capture the absolute magic that goes down consistently via TRNSMT.
You recently took part in the Online Radio Festival and flew the ozzie flag alongside Boiler Room, NTS Radio, and Red Light Radio to name a few. Tell us a little bit about this experience and how important events like this are for online radio.
The Online Radio Festival was an awesome opportunity that came up through one of our presenters, Polat. I think our inclusion in the festival shows that even alongside some of these very large-scale online broadcast & radio stations, TRNSMT holds a place within the international DJ streaming culture. It’s so important for events like this to take place in order to grow the larger movement we are part of. It’s not a groundbreaking statement, but online streaming is the way forward – whether that’s picking your own tracks on your phone apps or enjoying curated content on an online station. Therefore, I think it’s always important to celebrate this shift in our consumption of content, while also creatively representing ourselves as Australians. Connecting all of these online stations in one place really helps to expand the movement and inspire others to get involved too – so hopefully there are plenty more opportunities of this nature that we can get involved with!
I’m aware that at the moment you are currently streaming every Cool Room party, are there any plans for further expansion like this outside of the HQ? Or is 6 nights a week a Lounge and other special events enough for TRNSMT?
There are definitely plans well underway to expand both our event coverage and studio programming. Being a volunteer-driven organisation, we’ve been restricted by things such as funding & the right equipment. Due to these limitations, we haven’t endeavoured to chase more external events & programming opportunities just yet. We have however been recently working hard to overcome some of these issues, so everyone should be seeing more and more content being produced as we wind up the rest of this year (& leading into 2017).
Often projects like TRNSMT that rely on the helping hands and pro-bono passion of many inevitably encounter some roadblocks. If this is the case then can you tell us a little bit about what these hindrances taught you personally and how they have (for better or worse) affected the progression of TRNSMT?
Roadblocks would be an understatement – I’ve definitely learnt a lot in my 4 year journey.
Looking back on when it started, it’s crazy to think that TRNSMT is even still around. I started TRNSMT as an unemployed teenager on Centrelink living on noodles and free cheeseburgers from the club nights I’d play at. I managed to get some money together for some audio equipment and built the computers I needed out of the spare parts I had. The final piece of the poor man’s puzzle was finding a centrally-located studio that I didn’t have to pay for – that’s when Lounge came through and offered us some spare space to set everything up. As you can imagine, TRNSMT quickly took over all of my time and I found myself constantly drained & broke. I basically ended up getting a job just to pay for TRNSMT, as it was only (naturally) growing larger & more hungry for time and dollars. If anyone wants to know how not to start a business, this would be how. That said, I’m glad I made the decisions I did and don’t regret the way it progressed. It was incredibly gratifying to begin and grow a project completely solo and watch it turn into something that now seems to be a staple for DJ culture in Melbourne. However, the rate of progression for TRNSMT has always remained relatively slow given the reliance on volunteers and no incoming profit. At the start of this year, I made some decisions to really improve how TRNSMT moves forward and have brought on a number of great people to really get this thing moving. We don’t want to give away too many details – but rest assured we are doing something big (and I’ve never been more excited for the future of TRNSMT than I am now).