Reinventing music streaming: The Pack Music Cooperative

Antony McMullen talks with with Bunyan Melanie Bainbridge

Interview by Antony McMullen

In the evolving landscape of music streaming, The Pack Music Cooperative stands out as a beacon of innovation and community engagement. Founded by Melanie Bainbridge, this unique platform is rewriting the rules of music streaming to benefit local artists, businesses and listeners. Supported by The Bunya Fund, The Pack is making strides towards creating a sustainable, connected music community.

The genesis of The Pack Music Cooperative

Melanie Bainbridge, a seasoned musician, and social impact advocate founded The Pack Music Cooperative with a vision to transform the music streaming industry. Bainbridge's journey began with her realisation of the plight faced by local, original musicians in the digital era. The dominance of major streaming platforms had marginalised these artists, caused financial strain and diminishing their presence in the music industry.

"The digital transformation of the music industry has left local artists like plankton in a sea dominated by big whales," Bainbridge explains. This disparity prompted her to create a platform that would empower local musicians, ensuring their talents are recognized and financially rewarded.

The impact of The Bunya Fund

The Bunya Fund has played a crucial role in The Pack’s development, offering timely financial support that Bainbridge describes as a "Hail Mary rescue." The fund's flexibility allowed The Pack to redirect resources towards the final development stages of their beta platform, ensuring the project's continuity despite unforeseen challenges.

"The Bunya Fund came at a critical time for us, allowing us to maintain momentum and continue growing our social and narrative impacts," says Bainbridge. This support was instrumental in helping The Pack overcome the setback caused when their original developers went into administration.

"The Bunya Fund came at a critical time for us, allowing us to maintain momentum and continue growing our social and narrative impacts."
Melanie Bainbridge

The Pack’s innovative streaming model

The Pack's streaming model is a radical departure from the traditional prorated system of major streaming services. In this new model, subscriber fees directly benefit the artists being played, creating a fairer and more transparent financial ecosystem for musicians.

"We've turned the streaming system upside down," Bainbridge states. "Our co-operative model ensures that the money goes to the artists our subscribers listen to, not the major label stars." This approach not only supports local artists financially but also fosters a stronger connection between musicians and their audience.

Collaboration with local governments

A key aspect of The Pack's strategy is its collaboration with local governments in Perth. Working with municipalities like Fremantle, Vincent and Subiaco, The Pack integrates local music into public spaces and businesses. This initiative is part of what Bainbridge calls a "living lab," a concept that brings local music into everyday settings, enhancing community engagement.

"These collaborations with local governments are vital. They help us embed local music into the community, from shoe shops to libraries," Bainbridge explains. This approach not only benefits artists but also enriches the cultural fabric of the community.

Melanie Bainbridge: A visionary leader

More than just the founder of The Pack; Melanie Bainbridge is a visionary leader passionate about sustainability, the arts and social impact. With over two decades of experience in strategy, policy, project management and creative development, Bainbridge is well-equipped to steer The Pack towards success.

Bainbridge’s philosophy is rooted in the belief that music is the original social enterprise. She is dedicated to building a new economic model for music streaming, one that prioritises creativity, community and cooperation. "There can never be too much truth or beauty in this world. The more people working together towards creativity, the better," she asserts.

Future outlook for The Pack

The future looks bright for The Pack Music Cooperative. With its innovative model, strong community ties and the support of The Bunya Fund, The Pack is set to make a significant impact on the music streaming industry. The beta platform launch marks the beginning of a new chapter, one where local musicians are given the visibility and financial support they deserve.

As The Pack continues to grow and evolve, it stands as a testament to the power of innovative thinking and community collaboration in the arts. Melanie Bainbridge and her team are not just creating a new platform for music streaming; they are building a movement that reimagines the relationship between artists, communities and technology.

The story of The Pack Music Cooperative is a beacon of hope and innovation in the music industry. It showcases the possibilities that emerge when creativity, technology and community come together. As it moves forward, The Pack is poised to redefine what it means to stream music, creating a more equitable and connected musical world.

Through The Pack, Melanie Bainbridge is demonstrating that with a fearless commitment to independence, localisation and equity, it is possible to co-create a music community that is sustainable, healthy and deeply connected. Her vision and leadership, coupled with the strategic support of The Bunya Fund, are paving the way for a new era in music streaming, where local artists are celebrated, supported and heard.


BCCM CEO Melina Morrison at the 2022 Co-operatives WA conference with Melanie from The Pack Music Co-op, an innovative streaming platform co-op for Australian musicians.