Contemporary music in Australia: What needs to be done at the Federal level

Deliver on election commitments to the contemporary music sector (Status: In progress)

  • Issue: The Federal Government has provided support for the live music sector including: provided funding to establish the National Live Music Office to review regulation and identify best practice; recognised the importance of live music in Creative Australia; increased funding artists to tour nationally and internationally; and restored funding for community radio. Further information on these initiatives is provided below. However, the Federal Government has not delivered on several commitments made to Australian musicians at the last two elections.
  • Action: If re-elected, the Federal Government  must deliver on outstanding elections commitments which are:

1.    Develop a Strategic Contemporary Music Industry Plan (Election promise 2007 and 2010).

2.    Establish the Australian Contemporary Music Industry Advisory Council to develop a coordinated investment strategy and include representatives from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Arts Office, Australia Council, state arts agencies, Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN) state associations, Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and the Australian Music Association (AMA).

3.    Amend the Migration Regulations 1994 for the Temporary Entertainment Visa to require Australian supports for all international acts (Election promise 2007).

4.    Review Social Security and the Arts policy – Art Start (Election promise 2007).

5.    Introduce music education in the national curriculum.


Provide ongoing funding for the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (AMRAP) (Status: Completed)

  • Issue: The Federal Government has acknowledged the valuable service AMRAP provides and the success of this initiative. After funding changes in 2012 that threatened to end AMRAP, the Federal Government granted six months of funding at the eleventh hour for AMRAP to continue until 30 June 2013. 
  • AMRAP distributes the music of Australian recording artists to community radio stations across the country. Since 2008, AMRAP has supported Australian music by helping community radio stations increase their Australian content from 25% to 37%.
  • If AMRAP funding is not continued it becomes very difficult for artists to distribute music to stations around the country in a financial viable manner.
  • Action: The Federal Government restored funding to continue operation of the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap) and committed $2.4 million over four years in the 2013 Budget.

Restore full funding for community digital radio  (Status: Completed)

  • Issue: The Federal Government provided funding to establish community digital radio services that were launched nationally in May 2011. There are currently 37 metro-wide digital radio services in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.  
  • In the 2012 Budget, the Government allocated $2.2 million per annum for four years from 2012 to 2016 to continue the digital radio project. However, this amount is $1.4 million less than the minimum required each year to maintain current community digital radio services. 
  • This shortfall in funding means that many community radio stations will have to reduce the service provided or cease all together.
  • Action: In response to the successful ‘Commit to Community Radio’ campaign, the Federal Government committed $6 million over three years to ensure community digital radio services continue.

 Adopt a whole of government approach to live music (Status: In progress)

  • Issue: The Federal Government uses a piecemeal approach to initiatives to support the music industry. Issues affecting the music industry touch upon many portfolios including arts and culture, planning, education, employment, business, export, tax and technology.
  • Action: The Federal Government must establish a national taskforce for live music, performance and creative spaces to set a best practice template for regulation, to be adopted and supported by the National Arts and Culture accord.
  • The recent establishment of a National Live Music Office is a positive step toward adopting a more holistic approach to the music industry within government.

Recognise the value of the live music sector to the Australian economy  (Status: Completed)

  • Issue: Live music contributes more than $1.2 billion to the Australian economy. Australians attended around 48 million live music performances in 2009-10 and live music performances are the nation’s most popular live performance activity.
  • However, when it comes to funding, policies and initiatives, live music isn’t given the same standing and recognition as other cultural activities.
  • Action: The Federal Government recognised the cultural, social and economic contribution live music makes to Australia in ‘Creative Australia’, the national cultural policy released in May 2013.

Support Australian artists to tour nationally and internationally (Status: In progress)

  • Issue: The Federal Government has increased touring funding through the Australia Council and Sounds Australia. However, there are still barriers to Australian artists to tour nationally and internationally. Touring the nation with an established foreign artist provides many opportunities for Australian artists including exposure to new fans and developing new networks.
  • It is also expensive for domestic artists to tour overseas due to the high cost of visas.
  • Action: Amend the Migration Regulations 1994 for the Temporary Entertainment Visa to require Australian supports for all international acts.
  • Identify and implement ways to reduce the cost of visas in terms of fees and the red tape involved to submit an application and have it approved.


 Increase export assistance (Status: Completed) 

  • Issue: The Australian domestic market is small and an artist must break into overseas markets to be commercially viable. This requires a proper export strategy to be implemented with sufficient support and expertise, including management networking, marketing and market research.
  • Action: The Federal Government provided additional funding for the Sounds Australia music export program in the 2012 Budget  to better meet current demand for touring support and ensure export strategies are successfully implemented.

Establish tax offsets (Status: Outstanding)

  • Issue: The Federal Government provides the film industry with tax offsets to encourage investment and help reduce the costs associated with film production. Such tax offsets are not available in the music industry to reduce the costs associated with producing a record, tour or festival.
  • Action: The Federal Government should develop a refundable tax offset scheme for Australian expenditure associated with the production of recorded and live music.

 Establish an Australian contemporary live music TV show (Status: Outstanding)

  • Issue: Despite an increase in the number of digital TV channels available for both the ABC and SBS, there has not been a corresponding increase in the number of opportunities for music TV. ABC3 in particular, which only airs from 6 am to 9 pm, has undeveloped cultural real estate that should be made available for creative Australians.
  • Action: The Federal Government should allow ABC3 to screen Aussie content between 9 pm and 6 am and help establish a prime time live music show. 

Establish new mentoring schemes (Status: In progress)

  • Issue: Existing knowledge within the music sector needs to be better shared to build professional communities. This can be achieved through mentoring schemes with experienced industry figures sharing their knowledge with small businesses and artists to ensure their long term survival.
  • Action: Implement a nation-wide mentoring scheme for small music businesses and artists to encourage long term planning. 

Lift the 1% cap on radio broadcast royalties (Status: Outstanding)

  • Issue: The 1% cap on radio broadcast royalties requires commercial radio broadcasters to pay artists and labels no more than 1% of the station’s gross annual revenue. The cap was introduced in 1969 as a protectionist measure to support a new industry.
  • Commercial radio is hardly an emerging industry anymore and doesn’t need government support.
  • Action: Lift the cap and allow an uncapped market. 

Review local content quotas for commercial radio broadcasters (Status: Outstanding)

  • Issue: Commercial radio tends to fulfil its local content quota by playing Aussie classics like Cold Chisel and John Farnham late at night instead of new, emerging Australian artists during prime time.
  • Action: If the content quota cannot be increased, then obligations should be tightened in relation to when and how Australian music is played. 

Establish content quotas for digital/internet radio (Status: Outstanding)

  • Issue: Local content quotas only apply to traditional radio broadcasters and not digital/internet radio. The same quotas should be consistently applied to ensure Australian music has a prized place on radio, regardless of the format.
  • Action: The Federal Government should extend the local content quota rules to all radio mediums.