What we learned at the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Australian Music (PFOAM) event

Politicians and Musicians don’t often see eye to eye, especially of late in NSW, but on Wednesday night at the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Australian Music (PFOAM), songwriters, musicians, recording artists and key industry leaders joined forces in Macquarie Street to illustrate the importance of contemporary music for Australia – not just for starting parties but for our economy, community and culture.

Icehouse accompanied by Australia’s foremost Didgeridoo player William Barton, Leah Flanagan, William Crighton and KLP took to the stage showing that they are not only great performers but have the brains to go with it, discussing the most pressing issues in the contemporary music industry.  The most prevalent issues raised included the importance of a strong live touring circuit, support for music in a wide range of venues, music export opportunities, Australian content on radio and streaming services, music education, and the value of copyright.

Fittingly, the AHA NSW Rockin’ The Puburbs competition also announced its winners on the night, a great competition initiated to support live music throughout NSW and to create opportunities for the next generation of NSW musicians. Vibrant Sydney band Spruced Moose deservingly took away the win in the competitions second year and we look forward to see them rise up the ranks over the next few years thanks to this initiative.

Only really seeing the Rockstar side of muso’s lives, these numbers summarise the NSW contemporary music industry and give us an idea of the huge effect it has on our country. Here’s just some of the facts they wanted to impress on the night:

  • There are over 23,000 APRA songwriters in NSW.
  • Nationally, an estimated 65,000 full and part-time jobs are created by monies spent on live music, with taxation revenue generated for all tiers of government. (Uni of Tas, 2014)
  • The same research identified live music attendance in 2014 in NSW conservatively at: 16 million attendees in total (2.3 million at concerts; 433K at festivals; 3.3 million at ticketed shows; and 10 million at free events).
  • Live Performance Australia’s 2016 research values NSW contemporary music live concert revenue + festival revenue at $201 million (and this is just ticketed concerts – doesn’t include free events or door sales at club gigs!).
  • Every dollar spent on live music circulates three dollars back into the broader economy (Uni of Tas, 2014). More Australians attend live music than sport. (Uni of Tas, 2014)
  • Nationally, the contribution of live music to the economy (including commercial, cultural and well-being value) has been valued at $15.7 billion. (Uni of Tas, 2014)
  • NSW is currently the commercial centre of the music industry – with the majority of major publishers and record labels located here, as well as the head offices of the major societies and industry associations.
  • Since 2009 SOUNDS AUSTRALIA has participated in 69 different international in 63 cities across 22 countries. 1,404 Australian groups have showcased at international events under the SOUNDS AUSTRALIA banner, and of those on average, 34.33% hail from NSW, fielding the largest number of industry participation each year.
  • SOUND AUSTRALIA’s showcases have been the launching point for some of the State’s greatest global success stories. NSW artists such as Flume, The Preatures, Julia Jacklin, Middle Kids, DMA’s, Alex the Astronaut, Dean Lewis and Gang of Youths all used the SOUNDS AUSTRALIA program to catapult them in to the consciousness of the world’s most influential music industry.
  • This year so far, across 7 cities, 43 NSW acts (note this is different to artists, they range from solo to five pieces) have showcased with SOUNDS AUSTRALIA.
  • Since 2016 Create NSW has supported the Live and Local micro festival initiative in three funding rounds – providing funding for local councils, local businesses and local musicians to together stage free, family friendly micro festivals. A statewide initiative, micro festivals ran over two years throughout Western Sydney and regional NSW councils.

The diverse range of speakers on the night, all with varying experiences had different ideas about how to best support the industry. KLP talked about the importance of music education and the SongMakers program saying “Because of SongMakers, you don’t have to fumble your way into the music industry. You learn terms like booking agent, artist manager, topliner, which you really can’t in any other classroom. And it helps set you on a career pathway to being a songwriter, a musician or maybe an industry professional.”

On the other hand, Leah Flanagan explained the effect of Copyright on artists saying “Copyright lasts your lifetime and then some – luckily. You get royalties every time your song is played on the radio, every time you play live there’s a royalty attached to it, and because of the amount of work that goes into just a basic live performance, you’re not ever really compensated for that, for the hours of study, the hours you spend crafting your songs, money that you have to spend in the studio to get your music out there. Royalties, for me, makes a dramatic difference to my life, whether it be paying my office bills, or my rent for a week, or the power bill, copyright and the royalties that it facilities make a huge impact to me as an artist.”

With over 100 APRA Members, Ministers, Senators and Parliament House staff in attendance, we hope they take something away from those in the industry, so that we continue to see our great Australian music scene grow, because it’s far to say it’s been a hard time being a musician living in NSW – especially in recent years.

They made a point not to dwell on this fact though throughout the event, or the lack of funding NSW provides the sector compared to other industries, but focus on the positives, and the importance of music for the sector. It’s an important exercise that will only grow, but with only a few members of Parliament in attendance, and the Premier – who seems hell bent on shutting down festivals in the State – was no where to be seen, it’s hard to say what impact it will make in the short term. But it’s clear that everyone in the room is there for the long haul.

To check out more about this event, hear more about what the speakers had to say and find out how you can help head to the APRA AMCOS website HERE.

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