Support Local: 7 ways you can sustain Australian musicians

Make Music Day, scheduled for 21 June, is a felicitous reminder of the importance of live music in our country.

sound check for Paul Kelly at Ukaria Cultural Centre | Copyright ©2018 Jennifer Trijo

In August 2018, Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications and the Arts, asked the House of Representatives Standing Committee to inquire into and report on the factors contributing to the growth and sustainability of the Australian music industry, both domestically and internationally. Their research was subsequently published in the Report on the inquiry into the Australian music industry in March 2019.

Luke Horwarth MP, Chair of the committee, stressed that “[…] Investment in the support and promotion of Australian artists is essential to the retention of talent and, ultimately, the sustainability and growth of the Australian music industry.”

“It is essential that Australia supports and safeguards its ‘talent pipeline’, ensuring that Australian artists are able to create great music now and into the future.”

In its 2019 report, the committee suggested several ways in which the Australian Government could support the Australian music industry. Its key recommendations were to:

  • remove the pricing cap on license fees for the radio broadcast of sound recordings, which ultimately disadvantages Australian artists;
  • invest in support for artists to tour in Australia, both in regional and major cities;
  • invest in the Live Music Office to continue advising best practice regulations in live music at a local and state level;
  • make it easier for Australians to access and encounter Australian music – hear it on the radio, find it on streaming playlists, hear it on television and film;
  • encourage streaming services to publish clear, consistent, and transparent information regarding how payments for artists are calculated;
  • encourage streaming services to work with the Australian music industry to establish benchmarks for Australian content on locally curated playlists;
  • monitor the application of Australian music content quotas for commercial radio;
  • invest in Sounds Australia’s music exports program;
  • prioritise and support Australian music at government activities and events;
  • invest in initiatives aimed at training and supporting Australian artists and industry professionals to grow and develop their businesses and create new recordings;
  • invest in initiatives such as Support Act to deliver crisis support for artists experiencing financial hardship, ill-health, injury, or mental health issues;
  • develop mutually beneficial visa arrangements with the United States of America to allow artists from both countries to more easily showcase and tour

At present, the arts sector is calling on the government’s investment to ensure its survival post COVID-19. The Support for Australian Arts and Entertainment Workers petition can be signed here until 8 July 2020.

“For Australian music to flourish it must be heard at home and around the world.”

– Luke Horwarth MP
Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall, independent Australian artists | Copyright © 2019 Jennifer Trijo

What can I do? 7 Ways to sustain Australian musicians

Based on the aforementioned recommendations, there is a lot that we can do to ensure that Australian musicians and industry workers can have sustainable careers.

[We] currently estimate that 40 per cent of internet users access unlicensed music content.”

– the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)

Aside from signing The Support for Australian Arts and Entertainment Workers petition here, you can help artists sustain their careers in the music industry when you:

  • Buy Australian music and Australian musicians’ merchandise;
  • Buy a license to play music at your business through APRA AMCOS or OneMusic Australia, royalties go to the music creators;
  • Play licensed Australian music at your next event;
  • Engage with your favourite Australian artists through social media: watch their live streams, make a donation towards their original content, stream and share their content, and encourage them to keep creating great music;
  • Invest in young Australian musicians to develop their performance and production skills;
  • Donate to initiatives such as Support Act, Carclew, Helpmann Academy, Country Arts SA;
  • Purchase tickets and attend live performances by Australian artists (when it’s safe to do so)

Personally, I’m going to continue to put my energy into developing Australia’s ‘talent pipeline’ by training young singers in my studio. I’ve donated to organisations who educate and support Australian artists, and I’ve commissioned and published several articles highlighting the richness and diversity of Australia’s arts sector. I will continue to write and record original Australian music and support my favourite emerging and established Australian artists.

Every effort counts as we walk the road to recovery together so mark 21 June, Make Music Day, in your calendar and tune into a live stream to support your favourite musicians.

For more on this matter, read about the music industry’s open letter here.

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