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Oz scene at ‘crisis point’ after 1300 venues close

Australia’s live music’s scene has reached “crisis point” after it was revealed that more than 1,300 venues closed permanently since the start of the pandemic.

The sobering statistics were laid bare in collection society APRA AMCOS’ 2022/23 Year in Review report, which warns that emerging artists now have “markedly fewer places to perform, hone their performance skills and develop an audience and fanbase”.

Nightclubs crowds have also almost halved since 2019 – down to 1.6 million clubbers from over 2.8m pre-Covid.

“There remains considerable concern regarding the decimated venue-based live music market,” says the organisation’s CEO Dean Ormston. “We have lost more than 1,300 live music venues and stages across Australia and crowds at nightclubs have almost halved than prior to the start of the pandemic.

“We are lobbying state and territory governments to legislate for the establishment of special entertainment precincts to foster and protect new and existing live music venues. We are also calling on the Australian government to commit to a live music venue tax offset to act as a catalyst in jump-starting live music nationally.”

Speaking to the Guardian, Ormston adds: “The market has been decimated and we’re asking the government to look at this with some urgency. It really is a simple ask, it’s affordable and it will absolutely jumpstart businesses presenting live music on a national basis, and that’s what we need. We can’t wait for years and years for venues to organically come back online, we need something more immediate than that.

“Pubs and clubs are really where Australian bands get to cut their teeth, develop their own audiences, build their own profile and fan base and develop their own careers. With so many venues now lost, it’s absolutely a crisis point. We need an intervention.”

Despite the mounting concerns, the APRA AMCOS Australia and NZ Group reported an otherwise strong financial year, with revenue up 12% year-on-year to an all-time high of A$690.5 million (€411m).

Notable tours mentioned in the report include Ed Sheeran Elton John and Harry Styles

In addition, revenue from major concerts and festivals jumped 400% in the period – the first full post-Covid year – which covers July 2022 to June 2023. Excluding concerts and events, public performance revenue – e increased 23.5% to $87.8m, while the society’s membership has now grown to more than 119,000.

Notable tours mentioned in the report include Ed Sheeran Elton John and Harry Styles; Rufus Du Sol, Crowded House, L.A.B. and SIX60, as well as festivals Listen Out, Laneway and Knotfest.

Meanwhile, Sounds Australia executive producer Millie Millgate has been named as the inaugural director of national music development agency Music Australia.

Music Australia was established by the Australian government as part of Creative Australia to support and promote Australian contemporary music and develop the industry’s markets and audiences.

“I’ve worked with Millie Millgate for nearly 15 years and watched her develop and evolve the music export programme Sounds Australia from an idea and a blank piece of paper to an internationally recognised and admired music export office,” adds Ormston.

“I’m so excited for Millie, and for the industry, that she’ll be heading up Music Australia. Millie has big ideas, a big heart, the respect of the industry, and the drive and determination to make big things happen. Millie’s appointment as the inaugural head of the agency is a testament to her dedication and vision over many years.”

Veteran promoter Michael Chugg was appointed to the Music Australia Council earlier this year.


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