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Aussie live industry reports strong resurgence

Australia’s live industry rebounded from two years of Covid restrictions to post its second highest attendance and revenue on record in 2022, according to a new report.

Live Performance Australia’s 2022 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report shows total revenue for the year was A$2 billion (€1.2bn), while ticketed attendance reached 24.2 million. The largest markets of Victoria and NSW accounted for 67.8% of live performance revenue and 62.4% of attendance.

Combined, concerts (average ticket price $87.01) and festivals ($169.53) made up close to half of total revenue ($940m) in the country’s live arts and entertainment industry, and almost 42% in total attendance. Contemporary music led market share for revenue (35.2%) and attendance (35.9%).

“Australians love live performance, and more people attended a contemporary music performance than the AFL, more saw a musical theatre show than the NRL [National Rugby League],” says LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson.

“We saw many audiences come back to their favourite shows, venues and festivals in 2022 as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted and borders reopened, especially in Victoria and New South Wales. There was also a lot of pent-up demand in 2022 for shows, tours and festivals that had been delayed or rescheduled from the previous couple of years due to Covid-19 restrictions and border closures.”

“Despite the strong improvement in attendance and revenue in 2022, many parts of the industry are being impacted by ‘long Covid’”

More than 1.5 million people attended music festivals in 2022 – the highest ever recorded for this category – although 2022 revenue has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels for contemporary music as major tours only resumed in the second half of 2022.

However, the report notes some categories showed declines in some states and territories, adding that the industry is grappling with “long Covid” impacts in 2023 and into 2024, with particular pressures for small to medium companies and the not-for-profit sector.

“Despite the strong improvement in attendance and revenue in 2022, many parts of the industry are being impacted by ‘long Covid’ and grappling with critical workforce shortages, soaring production and touring costs, and shifts in audience behaviour alongside deepening cost of living pressures,” continues Richardson. “We know these problems are particularly acute for some sectors of live performance, especially our small to medium and not for profit companies.”

Australia’s live music’s scene was recently said to have reached “crisis point” after it was revealed that more than 1,300 venues closed permanently since the start of the pandemic, prompting the NSW government to launch its first “live music audit” to help revive the region’s concert scene.

“It’s pleasing to see governments recognising the economic, social and cultural importance of live arts and entertainment through arts and cultural policy frameworks at the federal and state levels,” adds Richardson. “It will be absolutely critical moving forward that governments match their policy ambition with the level of strategic investment in our industry to achieve these goals over the longer term.”


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Live Performance Australia’s message for new PM

Trade body Live Performance Australia (LPA) has called on newly elected prime minister Anthony Albanese to deliver targeted support to the sector as it navigates a fresh set of challenges in the wake of of the Covid storm.

Albanese’s Labor party defeated Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition in the Australian election on 21 May and went on to secure a majority in parliament this week.

Congratulating the PM and his team on their victory, LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson says the live arts and entertainment industry is looking forward to forming a productive partnership with the government.

“Our industry is not looking for handouts”

“LPA stands ready to work with a newly formed Labor government to advance the economic, cultural and social interests of our nation,” says Richardson. “The first priority must be to deliver a revitalised cultural policy this year, with clear strategic priorities and investment to rebuild the industry. We are ready to hit the ground running.

“Our industry is not looking for handouts. We strongly believe that public investment in arts and entertainment delivers significant economic and cultural value. Australia needs a vibrant arts and entertainment industry to contribute to our economic recovery and drive social and cultural wellbeing – at a time when it’s never been needed more.”

Covid-19 stripped the domestic live entertainment industry of AUS$1.4 billion in revenue during 2020, according to a study published last year by the LPA’s Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report. Australia imposed some of the world’s strictest travel bans after shutting itself off in March 2020.

And despite the country reopening its international border in February for the first time in nearly two years, Richardson warns the business is not out of the woods yet.

“We’ve lost billions in revenue plus thousands of people across the industry and now face a severe skill and labour shortage”

“Our industry faces a new set of challenges as we manage the ongoing challenges of transitioning to living with Covid,” she says. “Before Covid, our industry was a vast ecosystem of small, medium and large businesses, sole operators and tens of thousands of performers, artists, creatives and technical crew. We’ve lost billions in revenue plus thousands of people across the industry and now face a severe skill and labour shortage, the worst ever experienced by the industry in living memory.

“Targeted support to rebuild skills, and to underwrite and attract investment will enable us to create jobs, create new work, get more shows on stage, our touring networks re-established, and broaden our audiences both here and internationally. This will support not just our artists and industry, but all the associated upstream and downstream businesses which depend upon live events as stimulus.

“We look forward to working with a new, energised government that values who we are and what we contribute, in the months and years ahead.”


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The Great Refund Debate

With fans still sitting on event tickets that they bought as long ago as 2019, the industry is facing a dilemma when it comes to who merits a refund and who does not. And as Covid becomes endemic, should refunds remain obligatory for ticketholders who test positive? James Hanley investigates.

The race to contain Covid-19 outbreaks and variants over the last 24 months has been likened to a game of Whac-A-Mole. But as the international live music business begins to emerge from the horror of the pandemic, it will need its own mallet at the ready to combat the litany of fresh problems popping up day-to-day.

One of the more mundane but contentious debates to be sparked in recent months surrounds the matter of refunds. The issue was brought to the fore by Dead & Company and promoter CID Presents’ Playing in the Sand destination festival, which was set for Mexico’s Riviera Cancún over two weekends in January this year.

Amid the omicron surge of late 2021, organisers opened a 48-hour refund window for fans having second thoughts about attending (all ticketholders were ultimately refunded when the event was pulled at the 11th hour due to a spike in infections). However, CID declined to repeat the offer for its other January festivals: Crash My Playa and HootieFest: The Big Splash.

“If, at any point during the two weeks leading up to a particular event, the CDC Risk Assess- ment Level for Covid-19 for the Quintana Roo (Cancún) region of Mexico rises to a Level 4 or Mexico designates the area unsafe to hold an event, we will be offering full refunds to those not wishing to attend the particular event,” said a statement by the promoter. “We continue to recommend buying travel insurance, which may help protect against the risks of Covid-19 and travelling internationally during the pandemic.”

It was a similar situation at Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky “concert vacation” in Mexico, also in Janu- ary, produced by Cloud 9, The Bowery Presents, and Higher Ground Presents, which stressed its no-refund policy and encouraged festivalgoers to purchase travel insurance. “A refund, or the ability to hold one’s spot for a rescheduled date, will be available to purchasers if the event were to be postponed,” Cloud 9 told Billboard.

But far from limited to sun-drenched getaways, the refund question is pertinent at all levels of the industry, in every market across the globe. “There is a set Live Nation policy across the board,” explains Barnaby Harrod of Mercury Wheels, part of Live Nation Spain. “When an event is cancelled, you get an automatic refund. With reprogramming, the original tickets are, of course, valid for the new dates. However, if some- body can’t make the new show, or doesn’t want to, they have 21 days to ask for a refund, and that has been applied across the pandemic.”

Certain events and promoters also offer refunds or a voucher for anyone who is unable to attend due to testing positive. Harrod advises that every claim is assessed on its own merits.

“For exceptional refunds, which are requested outside the established timeframe, we work on a case-by-case basis,” he says. “So in the current climate, where the government has restrictions in place for people who have Covid, if somebody can certify that they have Covid, then they should be entitled to a refund.”

Elsewhere in Europe, AEG Presents France GM Arnaud Meersseman points to France’s “very protective” consumer laws, which allow customers to claim refunds up to five years after the event.

“Obviously, if a show is rescheduled or can- celled, it’s an automatic refund and there’s no discussion there whatsoever,” he tells IQ. “As for no-shows, as of today, they can warrant a refund. But we’ve seen in practice that it’s not really the case, as a lot of people don’t ask for them.

“The last big show I did was December at the Zenith Paris, and out of 6,000 tickets, we had 20% no-shows. The only other big shows I had be- tween September and December were two nights of Nick Cave, but they were seated shows at 2,000- cap each, and we had almost zero no-shows.

“Over here, what most people have done in practice is wait out a month in terms of refund requests, and if those refund requests haven’t come in during that time, we settle off the show basically. But that’s not really the law, I mean, people can ask for refunds after five years. But we’ve noticed that essentially, past one month, there’ll be the odd refund request here and there, but it’s really rare.”

DEAG executive Detlef Kornett says it is difficult to make general statements due to the fragmented nature of the German market but suggests most promoters have maintained a flexible approach to refunds.

“We have demonstrated a lot of flexibility and offered customers the opportunity to re-book their ticket if and when possible, use it for a different show, get a voucher, or in certain instances, even reimburse the ticket value,” he says. “That was true also if they were unable to attend due to Covid.”

DEAG’s UK subsidiary Kilimanjaro Live returned to action in August 2021, staging two arena dates by Gorillaz at The O2 in London. Kili CEO Stuart Galbraith attempts to sum-up the story so far.

“We never get 100% attendance – between 3% and 5% of people indoors and up to 10% outdoors buy tickets and then just don’t come – but we were back up at 95-97% attendance rates all the way through September, October, and November,” he says. “Then as omicron started to come into play and we headed into Christmas, those rates started to drop again to as little as 70% on some occasions.

“When we came back after Christmas, almost instantly, those attendance rates went back up to 95-97%, and that’s where they’ve been ever since. But what was very interesting is that virtually none of the customers who didn’t attend the shows before Christmas asked us for refunds. They’d just decided they weren’t going out and would take it on the chin.”

He continues: “The analogy I’ve used over the last couple of years is that, if you had an EasyJet flight booked that cost you £20 to £40, in my personal experience, I haven’t bothered to ask for a refund on that because I can’t be bothered. It’s just one of those things. However, if I’ve got a transatlantic flight, which is worth several hundred quid or thousands of pounds, I do want a refund on it. And I think that tickets and concert tickets fall into that EasyJet category – I don’t think people can be bothered to ask for the refund, to be quite frank.”

“People have almost been treating a ticket like something they bought off Amazon and saying, ‘Oh, we don’t really fancy that now,’ the day before. And at that point, what do you want the festival organiser to do about it?”

Paul Reed, CEO of the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), reveals the organisation took legal advice with regards to refunds last year on behalf of its 90 members – and reached a definitive conclusion.

“The fact is a consumer is not legally entitled to a refund if they’re isolating and not allowed to travel, in the same way as if they were unable to travel for any other reason,” asserts Reed. “The view was that, ultimately, the customer is not due a refund, but I think it’s a decision that has to be up to the individual event. It is entirely at their discretion and there is no obligation. But from speaking to others in the industry, my sense is that it is being assessed on a case-by-case basis, irrespective of the legal situation.”

Reed adds that some AIF members have ex- pressed concerns that a “refund culture” has seeped in among punters.

“Perhaps it’s understandable, but people have almost been treating a ticket like something they bought off Amazon and saying, ‘Oh, we don’t really fancy that now,’ the day before. And at that point, what do you want the festival organiser to do about it?” he sighs. “You’re not due a refund, but I think that mindset has permeated a little bit more throughout festivals and live experiences – customer expectation shifting – and people feeling more entitled to a refund when it is more complicated than that.

“When you buy a ticket, it is binding, and that is all very clear in the Ts and Cs. I think customers need to understand a little bit more about what they’re committed to when they buy a ticket, so I don’t know whether some education is needed around that.”

Fans no longer able or willing to attend events are encouraged to sell on their tickets via face-value resale sites.

“Specific insurance is also available to the customer as a voluntary upsell, and I believe some travel insurance policies also cover it,” says Reed.

Guy Dunstan is MD, ticketing and arenas for Birmingham-based NEC Group, which manages five of the UK’s leading indoor venues including Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena and Utilita Arena, as well as national ticketing agency The Ticket Factory. He tells IQ the company has been proactive on the issue by offering ticket insurance with Covid cover included.

“I know that some venues and ticketing companies have been hit harder than others with regards to the refund situation,” says Dunstan. “We’ve been offering ticket protection insurance to customers for a significant period of time, so the refunds we’ve given have been pretty minimal because we’ve been able to point customers to the fact that they were offered the insurance at the time when they purchased the tickets.

“We were able to get that as cover quite early on in the pandemic through the ticket insurance provider that we work with, and it’s been of real benefit to us. So our sense is that we’re well protected from that moving forward.”

Down under, Live Performance Australia (LPA) administers the ticketing code of practice for the entertainment industry that outlines consumers’ rights to a refund. First released in 2001, the trade body reviewed and updated the code in 2020.

“While the impetus for the most recent changes was the Covid-19 pandemic, LPA was conscious to ensure any updates have a life beyond Covid-19,” says the group’s CEO Evelyn Richardson. “The ticketing code was widely used by the industry pre-Covid and will continue to be the go-to resource about refunds as Covid-19 moves to becoming endemic and beyond.”

Richardson says the LPA expects its members to treat ticketholders fairly if shows are forced to can- cel or are postponed due to government mandates.

“Whether ticketholders are entitled to a refund, exchange or other remedy will depend upon the ticket terms and conditions applicable when tickets were purchased,” she states. “Many companies have a Covid refund and exchanges policy, which sets out if ticketholders will get a refund, exchange or credit note if they are un- well with Covid symptoms, unable to attend the event due to contracting Covid, awaiting test results, [have been] in close contact, or [due to] border closure.”

With the world slowly emerging from the pandemic, the conversation turns to how flexible the live industry will be as things return to something like normal. Richardson indicates there could still be room for a little leeway.

“Ordinarily, if a ticketholder is unable to attend the event because they are unwell or other personal circumstance, they are not entitled to an automatic refund under Australian consumer law,” she says. “However, event organisers always have discretion to provide a refund or other remedy, if they wish, even though there may not be a legal requirement to do so.”

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has already announced the ‘Living with Covid-19’ plan, which has put an end to the legal requirement in England to self-isolate after a positive Covid test. Free testing has also been scrapped, although that isn’t an issue everywhere.

“They’ve never had free Covid tests in Spain,” testifies Madrid-based Harrod. “You would always have to go to the chemist to buy one.”

For Galbraith, however, the ramifications for the sector’s refund policy are obvious.

“Realistically, now that Covid has no legal status over and above any other disease, then that’s it, life is back to normal from an event organiser’s point of view,” he offers. “If somebody has flu, chickenpox, mumps, or whatever, and they can’t go to the show, then, unfortunately, that’s just part of life, and I think the same will be true of Covid.

“In the last two years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of customers taking out personal insurance on their tickets. For a very small percentage of the ticket cost, you can insure your ticket in the way that you can a holiday or anything else. That insurance, in many cases, does actually give you illness cover. So I think that is an easy customer solution going forward.”

“Now the isolation rules have changed, and you don’t have to isolate, then I think it just becomes like any other illness,” agrees Dunstan. “We all have to take a sense of responsibility to make sure that we’re healthy and well [enough] to be going to events. But as for venues and companies that have been offering refunds if you can demonstrate you are Covid positive, I can just see that going away.”

On that point, there appears to be something approaching a consensus.

“Once it is endemic, Covid would most likely not be a reason that entitles you to a refund as such anymore,” muses DEAG’s Kornett.

“At the end of the day, if somebody has gastroenteritis or common flu, or gets grounded by their parents because they have bad grades, do you refund them?” concludes Paris-based Meersseman. “At some point, there is no law in this, it’s going to be commercial practice. Once this virus becomes endemic and breaks out of the pandemic stage, I don’t see us offering refunds for people who have Covid.”


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Australia facing live music shortage over summer

Trade body Live Performance Australia says the country’s cautious reopening has left it facing a shortage of touring artists over the summer months.

The organisation’s CEO Evelyn Richardson says the December to February summer period is shaping up to be a quiet one, with music events not expected to return “in a major way” until well into next year.

“We’ve missed the opportunity to bring in a lot of our international touring acts for this summer, and with our domestic artists, many of those are touring internationally so we haven’t got those people touring either,” Richardson told ABC. “We probably won’t see live music come back in a major way until later 2022.”

Major international artists including Kings of Leon, Rod Stewart and Kiss are due to tour the region from March next year, while acts such as Billie Eilish, Tame Impala and Dua Lipa are expected in the second half of 2022.

A recent report revealed that Covid-19 stripped Australia’s live entertainment industry of AUS $1.4 billion in revenue during 2020

New South Wales festival staple Splendour in the Grass is set for North Byron Parklands from 22-24 July, headlined by Gorillaz, The Strokes and Tyler, the Creator.

A recent report revealed that Covid-19 stripped Australia’s live entertainment industry of AUS$1.4 billion in revenue during 2020.

Following record years in 2018 and 2019, the pandemic had a “devastating impact” on the live sector, according to Live Performance Australia’s Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report. Ticketing data showed close to 70% of revenue and attendance was obliterated after the industry was shut down in March last year.

In 2020, the number of tickets issued to live performance events fell by 68% to under eight million, ticket sales revenue fell by 69% to $600m, and the average ticket price fell from $92.89 to $87.14.


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Evelyn Richardson & Glen Rainsbury

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with LEIF’s Evelyn Richardson and Glen Sainsbury, who follow Paul Reed of the Association of Independent Festivals.

In late May of 2020, when it was clear that the industry was looking at a long and uncertain return to normal operations as Australia came to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic, the concept of the Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF) was brought to life by TEG chief executive Geoff Jones and Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific.

They enlisted key players from across the music, sport and venues sectors to form an executive committee that was representative of virtually every industry sector and each state and territory across the country – the first time that parties from the full breadth of the entertainment industry had gathered around a table to collectively advocate for the industry.

One of the key deliverables identified in the first meetings was to develop guidance for the industry to which venues and promoters could operate as safely as possible in the new Covid world – a task that Frontier Touring’s Glen Rainsbury was asked to co-ordinate.

“Working with LEIF chairman James Sutherland, we developed a structure that included ten separate working groups led by subject matter experts,” says Rainsbury. “The teams were tasked with developing guidance specific to their areas of expertise and which had to be general enough to be applicable to a broad range of event settings and reflect the regulatory advice of every state and territory, and venue types from clubs to stadiums. It required a very particular approach and discipline.”

“The work has been used by clubs, arenas, stadiums, festivals, and promoters in the development of their Covid-safe plans”

Rainsbury says the commitment of the 50+ contributors was immense. In a matter of weeks, the heavy lifting was largely complete and it was a case of honing the mountain of submissions into a cohesive work. “As it stands, the work has been used by clubs, arenas, stadiums, festivals and promoters in the development of their Covid-safe plans on their way back to operating,” he says.

Various states and territories have also drawn upon the guidelines in drafting their solutions, while Rainsbury and Tim McGregor, also from LEIF, have become the sole representatives from the commercial sector on the National Covid-19 Arts and Health and Advisory Committee.

“It was a privilege to work with the extraordinarily talented people from across the industry who gave their time and IP to deliver something that has assisted the industry to bounce back so quickly. It was the team’s fine work and effort,” adds Rainsbury.

As the chief executive of Live Performance Australia, Evelyn Richardson’s dedication to the live entertainment sector has never been in question, but while many in the industry were forced to pause their careers, Richardson doubled down on her workload to help LEIF lobby for assistance.

“It was a privilege to work with the extraordinarily talented people … who gave their time and IP to deliver something that has assisted the industry to bounce back so quickly”

With LEIF’s support, the LPA led the industry advocacy for federal government to provide emergency funding to the live entertainment industry. The A$250 million (€156m) package provided by government included $75m in grants and a $90m loans scheme targeted at the commercial sector.

LEIF and LPA have further called for the establishment of a business interruption fund to offset risks of cancellation or postponement over the next three years as the industry rebuilds.

Richardson tells IQ, “The most significant achievements of LEIF have been, firstly, the collaboration with our sporting colleagues with information sharing and support during a tumultuous period across the country and globally; and secondly, providing a united voice to governments with respect to advocacy, and raising the profile of the commercial entertainment industry, both in terms of its economic and social contributions to the broader economy.

“As we move forward, we hope to build on this, so our industry is recognised for the significant role we play as employers, providers of content to commercial and government-owned venues, and our critical economic alignment with other industry sectors such as tourism and hospitality.”


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LPA designs AU$345m live business recovery plan

Industry body Live Performance Australia (LPA) has designed a live business rebuild and recovery, outlining the financial aid needed from the Australian government to get live back up and running.

The LPA is asking for an AU$345 million (€213m) recovery package, including $170m (€105m) of capital investment to help restart tours, support live industry workers and support regional venues; $30m (€18.5m) for funds focused on innovation; $70m (€43.3m) for the Australia Council for the Arts; and $75m (€46.4m) for consumer-focused campaigns.

As well as urging a six-month extension for the Australian JobKeeper scheme, currently set to expire in September, the two-year recovery plan also includes longer-term initiatives including tax incentives for pre-production costs and live music venues; an arts and entertainment loan scheme; the waiving of visa fees for international performers; and a contingency fund to support events which may be impacted by future restrictions due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

To offset a potential weakening of consumer confidence, LPA proposes a $55m (€34) ‘See It Live’ e-voucher scheme to encourage Australians to attend live events.

“Unlike some other parts of the economy, a gradual re-opening process is not commercially viable for most of our industry”

Although individual states have dedicated resources to aiding live’s recovery, such as Victoria’s $150m (€92.7m) experience economy aid package and $50m (€30.9m) arts and culture funding in New South Wales, the national government has yet to offer sector-specific support.

Now in the twelfth week of widespread event shutdowns, and with strict capacity limits in place where venues are allowed to reopen, LPA says the government must do more to support the live entertainment industry.

“Unlike some other parts of the economy, a gradual re-opening process is not commercially viable for most of our industry,” says LPA chief executive, Evelyn Richardson. “We can’t re-open venues that only have dozens in the audience. That’s why we will need a sustained and strategic investment by government to get our industry up and running again.”

LPA is aiming for venues to reopen fully by September, a timeframe believed to be “achievable” given the progress made by neighbouring New Zealand, which is gearing up to restart events without social distancing int he next week.

“Our $4 billion dollar industry will be a major driver of economic activity, jobs and cultural tourism recovery. Our number one priority is getting our venues open and our people back to work. We look forward to working closely with governments at all levels to make this happen in the coming months.”

Full details of the package are available on the LPA website.


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Victoria steps up, but wider Aus response “woeful”

The state of Victoria has dedicated a sizeable financial aid package to kickstart its experience economy, as industry organisations continue to criticise the lack of support from central government.

Australia embarked on its three-step Covid-19 recovery plan last week, with gatherings of up to 100 people permitted, along with the reopening of venues and clubs, in the final stage, but many have criticised the lack of support for the industry from central government.

According to the I Lost My Gig website, which tracks event cancellations in Australia and New Zealand, over 280,000 shows have been affected by the crisis so far, with over $340m (€202m) lost in contracts by the end of April alone.

In the state of Victoria, home to the city of Melbourne, the government has recently dedicated a AU$150m (€88.2m) package to help get the “experience economy” back on track, including $4m (€2.4m) earmarked for the live music sector, $2m (€1.2m) for the sustaining creative workers fund and $32m (€19m) for the wider creative industry.

“In partnership with Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group, The State of Music is a new weekly livestream celebrating the Australian music community.”

The state has also launched Together Victoria, an online hub to support the population through the coronavirus response. Along with hosting content from state museums, galleries and wellness practitioners, music and comedy features highly.

In partnership with Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group, The State of Music is a new weekly livestream celebrating the Australian music community. The second episode takes place this Saturday from 18:30AEST and features Tim Minchin, Paul Kelly, Kate Miller-Heiske, Mahalia Barnes, Mia Wray and Missy Higgins.

However, the support given by Victoria has not materialised in other states.

In New South Wales, where bars, pubs and clubs were permitted to reopen today under strict social distancing measures, little has been done to help the cultural sector.

“Our largest state has been missing in action so far in the battle to protect our cultural sector from the devastation being wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson.

“The response so far from both NSW and the Commonwealth has been woeful.”

“Some of our state governments have put in place targeted measures to support our cultural industries, but the response so far from both NSW and the Commonwealth has been woeful.

“Our world-class cultural industry was the first to be shutdown by Covid-19 and will be one of the last to recover, although for all the talk from the Federal Government of helping people cross the bridge to the other side of the pandemic, we see precious little evidence of that support for our cultural sector.”

Despite individual efforts like that seen in Victoria, the central Australian government has received criticism from the shadow arts minister Tony Burke for its $27m (€16m) arts sector stimulus package, which has been deemed insufficient to “save the industry from decimation”.

LPA has proposed a $750 million (€413m) emergency support package to support the industry through the crisis.

This week, the Australian Greens party proposed a $2.3 billion (€1.4bn) economic stimulus package for the arts sector across the entire country. The package includes the $1bn (€595m) Australia Live fund for the country’s festival, music and live performance sector.

“The arts and entertainment industry will be absolutely vital to our economic recovery,” says Greens spokesperson for the arts, Sarah Hanson-Young.

“If we are going to restore our social fabric we need to bring people back together through live performance, when it’s safe to do so, and that is going to take funding support. But it will be worth it as the return on investment from this sector will be enormous and in more ways than one.”

Photo: jetsetkiwi/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (cropped)


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times. 

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Ticket sales grow 88% in Australia in record-breaking 2017

Major international tours, including stadium and arena shows by the likes Adele, Paul McCartney, Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Bieber, Drake and Ariana Grande, drove ticket sales to new highs in a “record-breaking” 2017 for the Australian live entertainment business, according to new figures from industry body Live Performance Australia (LPA).

LPA’s latest Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report reveals that ticket sales revenue from contemporary music concerts grew a staggering 87.8%, from A$440.1 million (US$312m) in 2016 to $826.1m (US$585m) in 2017, reaching its highest level since LPA began compiling the figures in 2004. The increase was fuelled by both significant growth in attendance (+49.6%, to 8.5m) and a 23.9% increase in the average ticket price, to $105.73 (US$75).

“The growth in contemporary music revenue is primarily due to the large number of prominent acts with arena or stadium tours that attracted large crowds and toured to almost all the five major cities [Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide] in 2017,” according to the report. Other arena- or stadium-level acts on tour last year included Sia, Elton John, Midnight Oil and Cat Stevens (Yusuf).

The figures do not include contemporary music festivals, although they also experienced strong growth, with the sector posting a 26% increase in revenue, to $100.7m (US$71.3m), and attendance, to 850,000.

“The live performance industry continues to contribute significantly to our economy and cultural ecology”

Overall, across all live performance categories – ballet and dance, children’s/family events, circus and physical theatre, classical music, comedy, contemporary music, festivals (multi-category), festivals (contemporary music), musical theatre, opera, special events, and theatre – ticket sales revenue increased 31.7% and attendance 22.6%.

“The live performance industry had a record-breaking year in 2017,” according to LPA’s chief executive, Evelyn Richardson.

“The live performance industry continues to contribute significantly to our economy and cultural ecology,” she comments. “In 2017, 23 million tickets were issued to live performance events, generating total ticket sales revenue of $1.88 billion. That’s more than the combined attendances at AFL [Australian Football League], NRL [National Rugby League], soccer, Super Rugby, cricket and NBL [National Basketball League] in 2017.”

An infographic, courtesy of LPA, showing figures for the last nine years in contemporary music, is below. For more information, read the full Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report here.

LPA Contemporary Music 2017


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