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Report: Musos Make $12k From $1.2b Industry

News posted Monday, September 19 2011 at 05:00 PM.
Related: SLAM, Music Victoria, Live Music Report.

Report: Musos Make $12k From $1.2b Industry

If you make live music in Australia, you’re probably earning little more than $12,000 a year.

This from a new report – yes, another – detailing the economic benefit of venue-based live music to the Australian economy. Launched today (September 19) by accounting firm Ernst & Young, the report concluded that live music fuels the Australian economy to the tune of $1.2 billion, generating about 14,800 full-time jobs.

The cut for musicians, however, is rather grim: $277 million out of the venues' profit and salaries of $652 million equating to a mean average of $12,200 per performer. “Life is better with live music for everyone, except the practitioners, Australia’s musicians, who continue to earn much less than the dole,” Helen Marcou, co-founder of industry lobby group SLAM, said.

In the wake of the report, she said SLAM would be calling on equality in arts funding for contemporary music, as well as the distribution of revenue from the Alcohol Excise and Wine Equalization Tax to musicians. “Whilst alcohol remains the currency of live music, the government and alcohol companies continue to reap huge rewards, however, our musicians who provide the draw card, the background, the ambience, the excitement and the passion are cut out of the profits.”

The announcement follows the recent $1.88 billion figure estimated by Live Performance Australia for big ticket concerts (festivals, stadium shows, opera and theatre), as well as last month’s landmark report into the contribution of live music to Victoria’s economy. That report suggested Victorian musicians make around $19,500 a year, prompting a controversial op-ed from Kim Salmon, which was echoed on M+N by label manager/musician Andrew Keese.

While the new figures might not make good reading for musicians, Music Victoria CEO Patrick Donovan said putting a dollar amount on live music will help shape government policy.

“Music Victoria commends APRA, the Australia Council, Live Performance Australia, Arts Victoria and Arts NSW for commissioning the national live music report. It is long overdue and will help inform the national regulatory framework and policy direction of governments. The industry will be seeking funds to undertake a similar report biennially so the industry can measure any changes or trends.”

Another positive to come out of the report is the finding that venues have been hosting live music for an average of 13 years, making an even more compelling case for the adoption of the “agent of change” principle, which protects established venues from gentrification and the resultant rise of noise complaints. “[Venues] need stronger protection in planning law to ensure that they can’t be shut down by one complaint by a new neighbour in a hastily built new apartment,” Donovan said.

Music Victoria will be making submissions to next month’s Tax Summit and National Cultural Policy arguing for live performers to receive a share of the alcohol excise tax which they help fund, as well as working with Centrelink to recognise musicians’ work as a legitimate career.

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Your Comments

untold/animals  said about 2 years ago:

I hereby call on SLAM to change their name.


Pex  said about 2 years ago:

how do I get the remaining $11,900 that, apparently, I am making a year from playing music?


untold/animals  said about 2 years ago:

Gotye has it.


ghoti-max  said about 2 years ago:

Is true, mug gotye.


ghoti-max  said about 2 years ago:

(But not ghoti, i'm nice and don't have paint all over me)


anonymous  said about 2 years ago:

as well as the distribution of revenue from the Alcohol Excise and Wine Equalization Tax to musicians.

ugh, blank media tax anyone?


FrankieTeardrop  said about 2 years ago:

Hang on... you can make a profit from music???


liamsnice  said about 2 years ago:

As long as you don't blow it all on booze after the gig! And the cycle continues.


MarkAntony  said about 2 years ago:

So the average is 12k and I'm guessing my earning capacity as a musician is way below average. Reckon that'll stop me making another rekkid? How dare any holier than thou hipster give me shit for being a 'hobbyist'?


untold/animals  said about 2 years ago:

What's your point, hobbyist?


SGH  said about 2 years ago:

In the wake of the report, she said SLAM would be calling on equality in arts funding for contemporary music, as well as the distribution of revenue from the Alcohol Excise and Wine Equalization Tax to musicians.

How about... Free booze for musos!


tugboat  said about 2 years ago:

anonymous said 1 hour ago:
ugh, blank media tax anyone?

Anonymous is a very very dangerous man.

SGH said 1 minute ago:
How about... Free booze for musos!

Free women/men! (if you join Wilful Damage)


temporarybenbutler  said about 2 years ago:

FrankieTeardrop  said 24 minutes ago:

Hang on... you can make a profit from music???

Well, no - not if you're a musician, clearly.

Obviously the ideological question is: should you be able to, if you're a musician?


dirtylover  said about 2 years ago:

venues take a split for hiring, PA, promo, door, etc etc yet the buggers rarely give back a % of the bar takings, even when I've played a gig and spent double what I've ''earned'' at the bar

I remember the Hoey used to do this years ago, and even the Lansdowne of old too

no wonder I started to BMO to any gigs I played with shitty or non existant riders


FrankieTeardrop  said about 2 years ago:

Well, a lot of musicians still seem to be dumb enough to accept operating at a loss as part of their ''artistic development''. I'm just happy to break even cos I know there's a limited audience for most things I do.


FrankieTeardrop  said about 2 years ago:

Ooops. X-post. I was responding to tempben.


temporarybenbutler  said about 2 years ago:

Is it just that there's a large supply of musicians and a very limited demand for their performances (ie open gig slots per week)?

If that's correct then entry level fees aren't going up any time soon/ever.

However, another thing to consider is that the venue business is pretty concentrated - a small number of operators control a fair number of venues.

That could also depress prices.

Doing something about either scenario is pretty difficult.


ImBored  said about 2 years ago:

One day I'd like to earn enough money from playing gigs to break even on the money it costs to play gigs.


denialdemonicdisrup  said about 2 years ago:

Well, a lot of musicians still seem to be dumb enough to accept operating at a loss as part of their ''artistic development''. I'm just happy to break even cos I know there's a limited audience for most things I do.

Well, Frankie, tell me how does one go about operating at a profit or breaking even without playing the covers circuit or doing session work, or if you aren't in an already established band with a following?

And even those cases aren't guaranteed to be profitable. I don't think it's a case of muso's being dumb enough to 'accept' the situation.

Hell, even players in the MSO earn below a teacher's wage, so I hear.


FrankieTeardrop  said about 2 years ago:

Well, ddd...

I think it comes down to organising gigs with a line-up which will attract enough punters to generate a door take that will go far enough to cover your costs. Bands at this level are really operating at a micro micro micro level here, so $10 might just make the difference between being able to catch a cab home from the show you just played or lugging your stupidly expensive Fender Twin down the road by hand.


SGH  said about 2 years ago:

I worry that a move to redistribute money, while great in principal for performers could lead to even less possibilities for bands who don't play super-popular music.


FrankieTeardrop  said about 2 years ago:

I dare say you have a point there SGH. Marginal music will become even more marginal. We had it lucky for the last few years where totally unpalatable, unpopular acts could still get a show at the Bumfuck Hotel on a Tuesday night and take away 20 bucks to buy some rancid potato cakes to eat on the way home.


mule  said about 2 years ago:

deja vu?


yoghurt  said about 2 years ago:

so thats around $230 per week, per band member. So your typical 4 piece band is pulling $920 a week, consecutively, for 52 weeks a year. I think either these stats are up the shit, or I need a new band!!


whale  said about 2 years ago:

it'll always be extremely inflated on the upper end. Think of the biggest venues and how much they make. I mean, modular was only paying tame impala twice that amount when innerspeaker came out and they were massive


Dick_Wadd  said about 2 years ago:

Salllly Seltmannn seems to have made a fair whack, what with Fiest covering her song for an i-pod ad! On top of that the government have given her generous handouts.

SO there are heaps of Aussie musos making heaps of cash.


hinterlandt  said about 2 years ago:

ok let's say it might one day dawn on me that the live performers are usually the only people in the venue who are not getting paid. then what. put down the guitar and work at the bar?


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