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Leah Flanagan provides insight into operating as an Independent Artist and connecting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Musicians

During National Reconciliation Week 2020, we chatted to acclaimed singer-songwriter, Leah Flanagan, about her experience in the music industry and her recent appointment as the APRA-AMCOS National Manager for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Music Office.


A proud Alyawarre woman from Darwin, Leah has been performing, writing and creating for most of her life, working with artists such as Paul Kelly, Ursula Yovich and Archie Roach.

Leah was appointed to her new position at APRA-AMCOS in December 2019. We asked Leah about her position as National Manager and her passion for providing opportunities and support for artists:

“What drives me to work for APRA is to try and create more opportunities and pathways for my mob. I want to see people have opportunities and I don’t want them to not have those [opportunities] because they don’t come from afluent backgrounds or they don’t come from a city…”


Within Leah’s role she also educates various industries how to recruit better, educating about copyright and intellectual property handling as well as cultural sensitivity education and community engagement. When asked about her role Leah explained “I try to represent creators in the best way possible”


“Part of what I’m trying to do with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Office is to create opportunities for people but to also work with the music industry to get them to be a little more culturally aware of why there is a lack of indigenous representation in this space”

First Nations Connect <br>and Songwriter SpeaksSalamanca Arts Centre

image sourced vis Salamanca Arts Centre


Leah provided us all with an important reminder of how to connect with our First Nations people and how to better ourselves as artists and within our communities.


How can you get involved with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and music?

  • Listen to local and community radio such as Koori Radio in NSW. You can find your local community radio station here on the First Nations Media Australia Page

  • Engage with local events and get to know the local musicians in your area

  • Engage and listen to curated playlists on Spotify like the one we've added here

  • Educate yourself and learn about the traditional people within you community - both past and present

IngigiTUBE is another great resource for local radio station lists, incredible music and artist highlights. 

If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island musician, Leah would love to hear from you, your music and your ideas! You can contact Leah via: lflanagan@apra.com.au


Leah, the Independent Artist



Leah is completely independent and pours her heart and soul into her music. Being independent means Leah chooses who she collaborates with as she wants the musicians playing with her to love her music just as much as she does. Leah commented that she is always striving to be the best musician she can. Advising AIM students to do the same! 


“I used to think that I would always need a manager but now the further on in my career that I need it I am really really glad that I haven’t had a manager do everything for me because I can look after myself and I understand the business side of music…”



Leah’s tips for musicians and groups:

  • Identify your audience 
  • Generate your own momentum
  • Know your theory
  • Play with people who love your art
  • Be independent 
  • Be ready to work
  • Trust the people you work with


Thanks for all of your advice and your work within the industry Leah!


You can catch up on our live streamed chat with Leah below, and be sure to check out her new single Broken