The Political Economy of the Australian Music Industry

A Case study

Orthentix
Orthentix
Mar 18, 2018 · 27 min read

Abstract

To enter a profession or discipline and be successful, it is important to understand the industry that you are entering. I am an Australian musician, recording artist and Live performer, therefore researching the Australian Music Industry using the Political Economy approach gives a wide objective of the systems of power and wealth within that community and Industry. The purpose of this study is not only to understand the Australian Music Industry Political Economy but also to research the Australian Music Industries biggest trends and exports, to understand the successful times in Australian Music and determine possible outcomes to the issues in the Australian Music Industry, the Industry that I am part of.

Glossary of Key Terms

ARIA: Australian Recording Industry Association.

APRA: Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Music Industry: consists of the companies and individuals that earn money by creating songs, selling live concerts and performances, audio and video recordings, compositions and sheet music, and the professionals, organizations and associations that aid and represent creators (Wikipedia, 2017).

Live music sector: The category of Live Music within the Music Industry.

Recorded and digital music sector: The category of the compositions and productions, physically and digitally created within the Music Industry.

Revenue: income, from an organization, or, a states annual income from a certain Industry, which public expenses are met.

The Political Economy of the Australian Music Industry

“Music Australia estimates music contributes $4 to $6 billion to the Australian economy” (Music Australia, 2017).

A glance at press media reports on the revenue created by the Australian Music Industry has seen substantial growth over the past few years. ARIA has reported a 5.5% growth in the Australian Music Industry revenue from 2015 to 2016, generating $352.2 million (The Music.com.au, 2016). Sydney Morning Heralds reports, “We are the sixth largest music market in the world in revenue terms ahead of much more populous nations like Canada, South Korea and Brazil, according to the Australian Independent Music Market Report” (Taylor, A, 2017). “It is truly exciting times for our local industry, with 2017 already seeing four Australian acts already having Number One Albums, multiple ARIA award winner Flume winning a Grammy, and a growing number of our local artists having success on the international stage” (The Music.com.au, 2016). These reports all look promising for the Australian Music Industry, but what streams is this revenue coming from?

The rise in revenue started in 2015, and was the first rise for the Australian Music Industry since 2012. Reports from ARIA revealed that the overall value of the Recorded and Digital Music Sector in 2015 rose by a total of 5% (Taylor, A, 2017). By 2016 ARIA reported of a further 5.5% growth to revenue since the previous year, with revenue of $352.2 million for the Australian Music Industry (Music Australia, 2017). This growth in revenue is due to streaming, creating a 17.6% increase to the Digital Music Sector, with revenue representing nearly 70% of the total market in the Recorded and Digital Music Sectors’ (The Music.com.au, 2016). In regards to the Australian Music Industry, streaming now represents 38.5% of the overall market, with an estimated growth of 90.5% over the year (Taylor, A, 2017). The ABC reports the Music Industry Stakeholders to really feel the intensity of this growth in revenue were streaming services Spotify and Apple Music doubling their earnings from $23 million to $46 million, representing 62% of the overall Music Industry market. These statistics were mirrored in America with Streaming generating more revenue than album sales for the first time in history (Mack, E, 2016).“Physical formats are still playing a vital role for the industry as well, with revenues of $107.9 million accounting for 30.6% of the total market, while vinyl also enjoyed another successful year, increasing by 70% to over $15.1 million in value. This is the sixth consecutive year that vinyl sales have increased” (The music.com, 2017). When compared to the Australasian music market, vinyl was the only growth in 2015, with a 38% increase. Digital download sales fell by almost 13% and CD sales were down 4% (Mack, E, 2016).

In the duration of 15 years, Australia fell from the 3rd largest world music market for revenues to 6th, due to the digitisation of music, though the Live Music Sector remained profitable (Reid, P, 2016). “Australia’s live contemporary music industry generates revenues of $1.5-$2 billion annually” (Music Australia, 2017). The Live Music Office released national research conducted by the University of Tasmania in 2014, exposing the Live Music Sector contribution of $15.7 billion in value to the Australian community, providing not only commercial gains, but proved a positive impact to Australian culture and society (Live Music Office, 2015). “Our research shows that for every dollar spent on live music, three dollars of benefit is returned to the wider community. This is a significant, and unrecognised, contribution that includes the dollars that flow to the national economy as well as the ways experiencing live music enriches people’s lives” (Dr. Dave Carter, Lecturer in Music Technology at University of Tasmania, Live Music Office, 2015). The research also investigated a 5% drop in live music attendance. The barriers to the live music sector sustainability in Sydney were: licensing conditions, sound restrictions and increased rent. Venues in Melbourne scored competition, location and gentrification as barriers and in Adelaide scored gentrification as the barrier (Live Music Office, 2015).

All reports inform of Aussie Artists doing so well overseas. We can see from the revenue and the Australian Economic position that the music industry is flourishing. But here in Australia Digital download are down, CD sales have fallen and live music is down, due to barriers in sustainability of music in most our major cities. If it wasn’t for the global market, our music industry would be in the trash. So how does the revenue get split from the Australian music industry and who benefits from the profits?

Objectives

The objective of this report is to analyse the current state of the Australian music industry. I will research the Political Economy of the Australian Music Industry to discuss the interaction of political/economic processes in society, the distribution of power and wealth between groups and individuals and the processes that influence such relationships. I will then identify key groups in the Australian music industry to analyse their positions and the amount of individuals that profit or make an income from the Australian Music Industry. I will also consider the impact of these factors on the creative industry and how this may affect industry development, investment, production and creative product consumption. I will also discuss possible solutions to benefit Australian Musicians. I will then analyse a brief History of Australian Music Industry trends and the biggest Australian Musical exports over the years. To gain perspective of the heights in Australian Music and to uncover a cause for the massive drop in the Australian Music Industry revenue, on the home front within Australia and discuss possible solutions to the Australian Music Industry locally and globally.

The approach of this case study are primarily with the research methods Content Analysis, with some Discourse Analysis, Theoretic Frameworks and Auto-Ethnography, as a reflection of my thoughts as an Australian musician. This is also a brief overview of the Political Economy of the Australian Music Industry. To gain a thorough analyze more time is necessary to gain more data and analyze via Quantitive measures to breakdown the financial structure of the Australian Music Industry revenue in its entirety. Following is the analysis on the Australian Music Industry Political Economy.

Australian Music Industry Political Economy

“Music Australia’s Statistical Snapshot, created in partnership with AIR, ARIA, APRA AMCOS and other peak music bodies, reported the Australian Music Industry contributes $4 to $6 billion to the Australian economy. Australia’s copyright industries generate more value to the Australian economy than manufacturing and health care, recorded music is one of the biggest contributors” (Reid, P, 2016).

This is huge revenue, to understand the Political Economy of the Australian Music Industry; the best to approach is to analyze those in power of the wealth and Industry. The Australian Music Industry is a complex system of different organizations, firms and individuals. The three products created and sold are compositions, recordings and media. When a record label produces the recordings, the label owns the recording. In Australia the three major labels are Universal Music Australia, Warner music Australia and Sony Music. These are also major global media conglomerates, so not only receive returns from Australia also receive revenue from artists worldwide. Most music played on commercial radio is from these three labels. “Watters said radio stations did not play enough Australian music, let alone Australian music from independent labels” (Taylor, A, 2017). These major media conglomerates control over 80% of the global music carrier and publishing revenue in the Music Industry (Cvetkovski, T, 2017). This is evidence of their political control on their economic position within the music industry. With the digitalization of music the other global media conglomerates that enjoy a piece of the Australian Music Industry revenue in the new digitalized system are Apple’s ITunes, along with other online stores and streaming services including Spotify and Apple Music, who doubling their earnings from $23 million to $46 million, representing 62% of the overall Music Industry market globally. Independent labels in Australia contributed 57% of the total Australian Music Industry revenue for the Recorded and Digital music sectors. “Two-thirds of the artists in contract with independent labels are Australian, Watters said, small music labels broadened the variety of music produced in Australia, launching the careers of new artists and providing competition with the major music labels Sony, Warner and Universal” (Taylor, A, 2017). This shows evidence of the Independent Record labels political economic position is closing in on the global media conglomerates. The Live Music Sector also contributes massively not only to the Music Industry economy but to other industries. “Nationally an estimated 65, 000 full and part-time jobs are created by monies spent on live music, with taxation revenue generates for all tiers of government” (Live Music Office, 2015). This is another important point; the taxation revenue generated from the Music Industry goes to the Australian Commonwealth Government. A large amount of the Australian Music Industry revenue and wealth is divided between these top forces and their companies, employees and artists.

To identify some of those in power and their positions gives a wider perspective of the organizations and individuals that have power and control in the Australian Music Industry. The Australian Music Directory, AMID released the 50 most powerful people in the Australian Music Industry in 2016. Mushroom Group’s Michael Gudinski was announced as the most powerful figure, while a number of prominent names also featured from record companies to artist managers and even journalists, including; Ben Turnbull — Staple Group, Director, Bernard Zuel- Fairfax, Music Journalist, Brett Cottle — APRA | AMCOS, Claire Collins — Bossy Music, Owner, Colin Daniels — Inertia Group, CEO, Damian Costin — 123 Agency, Director/Agent, Dan Rosen — ARIA & PPCA, Chief Executive Officer, Danny Rogers — Lunatic Entertainment, Owner, Evelyn Morris — LISTEN, Ian James — Mushroom Music Publishing, Managing Director, Jamie Gough/Matt Tanner — Native Tongue Publishing, General Manager/ A&R/Creative Manager, Johann Ponniah — I OH YOU, Founder, Maggie Collins — BIGSOUND Programmer, Manager, Broadcaster , Mardi Caught — Warner Music Australia, Michael Chugg — Chugg Entertainment, Executive Chairman, Michael Newton/Anthea Newton — Roundhouse Entertainment, Millie Millgate — Sounds Australia, Director, Sebastian Chase — MGM Distribution, Tony Harlow — Warner Music Australia, Zan Rowe — triple j, broadcaster (The Music.com.au, 2016).

Therefore the distribution of power in the Australian Music Industry is divided between the major media conglomerates, and companies, Music and Independent Record Labels, radio programmers, festival directors, music publishers, artists & repertoire managers, distributors, and the CEO’s of organizations including musician’s unions, not-for-profit performance-rights organizations, for example APRA and ARIA, who aid the benefits of Australian artist rights and negotiate with the Australian Commonwealth Government. Thought with the Australian Commonwealth Government gaining taxation revenue from the Music Industry, therefore support their best interests and our Economic position, backing those with the wealth.

The interactions of these Political/Economic processes in Society are best described as Capitalism. There is a large number of companies and individuals that control the power and the wealth or the Political Economy of the Australian Music Industry. The media companies that report about the large revenue generated by the Music Industry, are also owned by those in power, therefore control what we hear and see, making the spectacle of huge profits. Though luckily with digitalization and technology, Australians can now create music from their homes with their laptop and distribute their music via online distributors for next to nothing, therefore the Hegemony of those in power is lessening over the Artist and musician, with little effect to production, creative product consumption and distribution, thanks to the Internet. “Australian music is enjoying incredible success overseas and with technology it’s easier than ever before for Australian music to be heard overseas, because you can get your music on global platforms, the global streaming services” (Mason, M & White, D, 2015). The following sections identifies Australian Music Industry Stakeholders, successful Australian musicians and the average Australian musician, to see the amount of career’s that are supported by the Australian Music Industry via profit or income and to gain a view on the organizations, companies and individuals that have a stake in the Australian Music Industry.

Australian Music Industry Stakeholders: The Australian Music Industry consists of; songwriters, composers, producers, singers, musicians, and conductors; the companies and professionals who produce and distribute the music, for example, producers, recording studios, engineers, record labels, publishers, retail and online music stores, performance rights organisations, the organizations and associations that aid and represent creators, for example, live sound engineers, promoters, booking agents, festivals, venues, road crew and stage managers and technicians. There are also professionals in the Music Industry who assist musicians with their music careers including, talent managers, business managers, tour managers, artist and repertoire managers, entertainment lawyers and Copywrite lawyers and broadcasting bodies including; radio programmers, satellite and TV stations, Internet radio stations, music journalists and critics. Other careers include; DJ’s, music teachers, lecturers, musical instrument manufactures and audio equipment manufactures and retailers (Wikipedia, 2017). The Australian Government also owns radio stations; Classic FM and Triple J are Government owned radio broadcasting, both provided and regulated by the Commonwealth. Government owned online radio Broadcasting services include: Classic 2, Triple J, Triple J Unearthed, Double J, Jazz, Country. AM and Radio National. “The Commonwealth gives funds to the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia to assist with community radio broadcasting; this includes funding for a national music support program, AMRAP” (Letts, R, 2007). In addition to the businesses and artists who work in the music industry to make a profit or income, there is a range of organizations that also play an important role in the music industry, including musician’s unions, not-for-profit performance-rights organizations and other associations, with individuals from thee organisations making an income or profit from the Music Industry, including: Music Australia, Association of Artist Managers, Australian Independent Record Labels Association Australian Music Industry Network, APRA AMCOS, Australian Music Association, Australian Recording Industry Association Australasian Music Publishers, Association Ltd Country Music Association of Australia, Folk Alliance Australia, Live Music Office, Live Performance Australia, Music Rights Australia, and Sounds Australia (Music Australia, 2017).

There are a massive amount of careers and jobs Australia wide supported by the Music Industry, but what do the actual artist make in income per year, as without the artist there is no musical product therefore no Music Industry.

Successful Current Australian Musicians: The Australian Independent Music Market Report found independent record labels and distributors made up 30% of total recording revenue in 2014–15, earning $154.8 million, releasing more than 6000 albums and singles. Two-thirds of the artists in contract with independent labels are Australian and contribute 57% of the sector’s total revenue, including bands Northlane and The Cat Empire (Taylor, A, 2017). Other successful current Australian musicians include punk band 5 seconds from summer, with a number 1 album in the US, British and Australian charts. Vance Joy generated $4 million in global sales and 300 million streams on Spotify from single Riptide, here is the Youtube link:

(Vance Joy — riptide (Official video) .Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ_1HMAGb4k).

Perth band Tame Impala and country singer Lee Kernaghan have topped the ARIA album charts. (Max Mason and Dominic White. 2015.). Tone Deaf reports other successful Aussie Acts in the global market include; Courtney Barnett, Troye Sivan, Sia, PNAU, Tash Sultana and Gangs of Youth (Jenke, T, 2018).

This is all promising for the Australian Music Industry though the amount that artists actually get from streaming is around $0.006 and $0.0084 per play and the revenue generated from sales get split between labels, distributors, production and government taxes. Some successful bands are still not even making the Australian minimum wage, with only 16% of Australian musicians earning more than $50,000 per year (Music Australia, 2017). That is quite a small piece of the Australian Music Industry revenue taking into consideration the reported $4 to $6 billion made in revenue. What is the average Australian musicians financial position?

Average Australian Musician Financial Position: Music Australia reported that 15% of Australians created music in 2016 and 56% of all Australian musicians earn less than $10, 000 from their creative incomes (Music Australia, 2017). It is also widely reported and that most musicians make use of Government resource Centrelink to balance out this meagre income. This is such a misrepresentation of our Australian artists considering the huge revenue they contribute to the Australian Music Industry and Economy, as well as the value through social and cultural means. “Music leads to improvement in health, well being and social capital” (Music Australia, 2017). In the following section I investigate the social capital by analysing the Australian audience consumption of music.

Australian Audience Consumption of Music: Music is the most common artform used by Australians to engage with their own cultural background, with 32% of young people between 15 and 24 make music and 14% of Australians playing an instrument (Music Australia, 2016). A 2014 study by Roy Morgan Research found more Australians attend live music than sport, with 99% of Australians listen to music and attend a music event per year and over 40 million people attending contemporary music performances annually (Reid, P, 2016). Audiences travel a significant distance to attend live music, demonstrating the value of Australian music to other industries and regions (Live Music Office, 2015.). This shows the mass benefit music is to Australian culture and society. What government funding and industry grants are there for musicians, considering the small margins they make compared to those in the upper echelons of the Australian Music Industry.

Australian Government and Industry Funding to Australian Music: APRA is a music industry organisation that has grants and funding available for Australian musicians. Music Australia and Arts Hub websites also contain databases of Industry and State, Local and Commonwealth Government grants for Australian musicians. Here in NSW state funding is available from MusicNSW and Regional Arts NSW. The Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts also supports Australian Music, with $14.6 million in funding via the following initiatives:

· Sounds Australia — helps to develop Australia’s national and international contemporary music industry

· The Live Music Office — works to increase opportunities for live music in Australia by identifying and advocating for better policy, regulation and strategy

· Control — a five-stage intensive program for mid-career music managers delivered by the Australian Music Industry Association with the Association of Artist Managers

· Release — a five-stage intensive program for mid-career record label owners delivered by the Australian Music Industry Association with the Australian Independent Record Labels Association

· SongHubs — songwriting residencies in the Australian region, including Asian locations delivered by the Australasian Performing Right Association

· SongMakers — this program engages mid-career artists and producers professionally as mentors to work in schools with Australia’s emerging songwriters in an intensive ‘real world’ music industry experience on the craft of songwriting, studio production and post-production.

· The Australia Council for the Arts administers the Contemporary Music Touring Program which funds Australian musicians to perform their own work on tour in Australia, with a priority on regional and remote locations” (The Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts, 2017).

The $14.6 million in funding seems beneficial, though when taken into account the mass taxation revenue generated from the $4 to $6 billion that was produced by the Australian Music Industry. Australian musicians need Government recognition for their contribution to the industry and Australian Economy. The music industry employs thousands of people, has a major exporting industry, and a major part of the tourism economy. Yet we lag other countries and industries in government backing and investment. To reiterate, only 16% of Australian musicians earning more than $50,000 per year and 56% of all Australian musicians earn less than $10, 000 from their creative incomes (Music Australia, 2017). Music is central to our culture and identity and contributes to quality of life for all Australians, music is the most common artform used by Australians to engage with their own cultural background, music leads to improvement in health, well being and social capital (Music Australia, 2017). Dan Rosen, head of ARIA and the PPCA think that Government tax offsets could help the Music Industry and level out the profit inequality to benefit those that produce and compose the music.

“ARIA has not spoken to the government yet but is considering asking for producer offsets similar to those that many local television productions and films. Some television dramas get a 20%, while feature films receive 40%. The TV industry is lobbying for its offset to be increased to 40%. The tax offsets that apply to film could apply more broadly to the creative industries. Music is a prime example. Let’s increase the amount of Australian voices and stories that we create here and export to the world said Mr Rosen, head of ARIA and PPCA” (Mason, M & White, D, 2015).

This would be of great benefit to the Australian musician, though I also believe that streaming royalties need to rise. In the following section I will briefly analyze the History of Australian Music trends to gain a perspective of the successful times and trends in Australian music.

History of Australia’s Music Industry Trends: The boom in Australian music started in the 70’s with acts like; The Skyhooks, AC/DC, Daddy Cool, The Little River Band, Billy Thorpe and Australian Music television show Countdown with Molly Meldrum. In the 80’s the biggest musical trends were in pub rock, with bands like; Men at Work, INXS, Midnight Oil, Kate Cebrano, Wendy Mathews, Kylie Minogue, Crowded House and by the end of the 80’s Alternative music genres became popular including; The Hoodoo Gurus, Cruel Sea TISM and Molly Meldrum’s music TV show Countdown. In the 90’s music festivals and alternative music were the forefronts of Australian music, with popular broadcasting services including; Triple J radio and television shows rage and Recovery TV. Trending acts of this time including: Silverchair, Cruel Sea, You Am I, Regurgitator, Magic Dirt, Spiderbait, Grinspoon and Powderfinger. Triple J seems to support Australian artists and music substationally during this period. The 90’s also had a trend in pop music with Savage Garden, Natalie Imbruglia, Missy Higgins, the Whitlams and Tina Arena. Most of these bands made it to the top 10 in the Triple J Hottest 100 during the 90’s as evidence of their popularity and Triple J representing our artist on radio (Wikipedia, 2017). Billboards Hot 100 number-ones by Australian artists include; Olivia Newton-John, Bee Gees, Helen Reddy, Andy Gibb, Air Supply, Rick Springfield, Men At Work, INXS, Savage Garden, Gotye, Iggy Azalea and Sia, (Wikipedia, 2017). The majority of Australia’s biggest music trends have been prior to the new millennium, excluding Gotye, Iggy Azalia and Sia. Digitalization of music and illegal downloading has been the blame for the mass drop in the Australian Music Industry Economy during from 2000–2015, though during this time TV shows Countdown, Hey Hey It’s Saturday and Rage had finished broadcasting. There was a mass representation of these musicians visually and sonically on Australian broadcasting services, during the peaks in Australian music. Could this of added to the massive drop in Australian music? In the next section I identify Australia’s biggest musical exports, to compare with our popular music trends and examine if our musical exports were also visually represented on Australian music television.

(Kylie Minogue and Molly Meldrum, 2016. Retrieved from http://musicfeeds.com.au/news/australia-finally-getting-own-music-hall-of-fame/).

Australia’s Biggest Music Industry Exports: The biggest Australian musical exports reported in Tone Deaf include; The Wiggles, AC/DC, Gotye, Human Nature, Danni and Kylie Minogue, Delta Goodrem, Keith Urban and Peter Andre (Newstead, A, 2013). When compared to the popular Australian musical trends there are many similarities including, Kylie Minogue, AC/DC and Gotye. All of these Australian musicians have all been on Australian music television, with Molly Meldrum on either Countdown or Hey Hey it’s Saturday. This proving the importance of Australian musicians represented visually and advocated on Australian media, aiding in creating Australia’s biggest musical exports. There has been a drop in support here in Australia with Australian music, with digital download sales down by almost 13% and CD sales were down 4% (Mack, E, 2016), and the 5% drop in live music attendance (Live Music Office, 2015). Molly Meldrum was a massive support to Australian musicians and the Australian Music Industry, the lack of representation and avocation of Australian artists, visually in the media, contributes to the drop of support in Australian audiences. With music is the most common artform used by Australians to engage with their own cultural background (Music Australia, 2017), the importance of an Australian media representation advocating the Music Industry is crucial. “Globally Australia has a small creative sector compared with our counterparts at between 4–9 percent of GDP, it is well short of the 20 percent for most advanced economies” (Music Australia, 2017). Building Australian pride in the audience aids our music Industry locally and globally.

“Australian music must compete globally with content from the rest of the English- speaking world, and domestic consumption of Australian music is low by international standards. 36 of the top 100 albums in the 2014 ARIA were by Australian artists, nine more than the previous two years and in 2016, 31 of the top 100 albums in the ARIA chart were by Australian artists” (Music Australia, 2017).

In the following section I discuss Australian Music Television, from the approach of Content Analysis and Auto-Ethnography, to reminisce of the days of Rage and my thoughts on the importance of the Australia musician represented visually on Australian TV.

(Molly Meldrum, 2014. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4-6zDX4pT0).

Australian Music Television: Molly Meldrum is an icon of the Australian Music Industry. Music commentator, TV journalist, radio programmer and record producer, producing the classic hit The Real Thing in 1969. He worked on Australian television shows Countdown and Hey Hey it’s Saturday (Bahr, J, 2016), advocating for Australian acts like Kylie Minogue, Delta Goodrem, Pseudo Echo and Peter Andre. He also paved the careers of Blondie, ABBA, Madonna, and John Couger. “Cougar appeared on Countdown in August 1978, and later commented, “My first hit was a record in Australia. Molly was the first guy to play that record. Molly made I Need a Lover a hit. No question” (Adams, C, 2016). Molly has not only been a cultural and musical icon but has also been an Australian social icon an advocate of females in the Music Industry

“Countdown (1974–1987) was groundbreaking in the way it presented different versions of masculinity and femininity to a mainstream audience” (Strong, C, 2016), and the LGBTI communities with masculine identification, “Meldrum’s bisexuality was, for a long time, known but not known. If the series can foreground Meldrum’s queerness in the nation’s collective memory as an important part of the identity of this icon, even as it highlights the “Aussie larrikin” nature of his persona then it has the potential to disrupt certain conventional ideas about what constitutes masculinity in this country (Strong, C, 2016).

Rage was also an Australian cultural icon and support to the Music Industry. “For over 27 years Rage has been showcasing a diverse range of music videos from Aussie and international artists, making it the longest-running music television program still in production. In that time Rage has entertained millions of viewers by breaking videos from independent and alternative acts through to the world’s most adored artists” (ABC.net, 2017). Rage was aired on ABC every weekend; I would spend my Sundays glued to the box with anticipation, immersed in the visuals and music. Also on the ABC from 1996 to 2000 was Recovery TV with Dylan Lewis, another cultural icon for Australia’s Alternative Music Industry. “Recovery entertained us with endless awkward interview moments and some genuinely amazing musical performances. Recovery came in at #16 in Junkee’s list of The 60 Greatest Australian TV Shows Of All Time. Since it’s axing in 1998, the show has left a gaping hole in the market for a live music show on Australian TV” (Levin, D, 2016). When Recovery ended in the year 2000, Lewis went onto hosting The 10.30 Slot and Pepsi Live, a music chart TV show. In 2010 he became host of Video Hits on Network Ten until the shows cancelation in 2011. Dylan Lewis was also a radio host on Austereo Network and Triple J during the 90’s (Wikipedia, 2017). This may of contributed to the amount of support and representation Triple J gave to Australian musicians during the 90’s. Sydney morning herald reports, “Radio stations did not play enough Australian music, let alone Australian music from independent labels” (Taylor, A, 2017). Dylan was a huge advocate for Australian Alternative music, as seen with band Powderfinger, making the Triple J hottest 100 top 10 four times and made number one twice in years 1999 and 2000. Here is a link to The Final Odyssey, a documentary containing interviews with Powderfinger discussing the bands breakup, as evidence of the Australian pride shown in the footage and to show that digitalization is now our only choice to gain this sort of connection to our musicians, link:

(Powderfinger — The Final Odyssey (Part 1/5). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0j-W-WCpTUg).

From the year 2000 we have not had an Australian Music Television show, this is also the same time that the massive drop happened in our Music Industry. Australian Music Television and a media representative advocating for Aussie music was crucial for Australian musicians, culture, society and the Music Industry. Dylan Lewis has commented on his attempts at Networks to make a new Australia Music TV show. “Well, for the last 15 years I’ve personally been attempting to pitch [similar] ideas to various networks,” Lewis told FL. “And people have always come back with, we don’t need music television anymore, because we’ve got the Internet. For the past 15 years I’ve been arguing the same point: It’s fine that the internet exists but why wouldn’t that assist us in our mission?” (Levin, D, 2016).

(Dylan Lewis, N.d. Retrieved from http://www.celebrityspeakers.com.au/dylan-lewis/).

Networks blame Youtube for the downfall in Australian Music Television, though this is the medium mostly used to access music television, streaming shows like Saturday Night Live with Jimmy Fallon, Later with Jools Holland, The ABC’s Spicks and Specks and Rockwiz are the only choice for Australian’s on the home front (Tonkins, C, 2012). “What’s even more disappointing is that while tax-payer funded stations like the ABC and SBS are our best providers of Australian music programming, there are few slots for acts to actually play their latest single or spruik their upcoming tour or album” (Tonkins, C, 2012). Here’s the big issue, without the slots for the musicians to perform leads to the lack in visual representations in the media, aiding in the drop in local audiences to Australian Music. You tube is also the main choice for young people to consume their media, making it substandard and dim-witted for the Network not to use Youtube to their advantage. “The huge success of online streams for festivals like Coachella, Festival and our very own Splendour In the Grass is evidence of the fact that people love watching live music. Just look at Moshcam, which is being streamed as we speak to thousands of households across the world via internet-enabled televisions, with a huge catalogue of quality live performances from some of the world’s leading musicians” (Tonkins, C, 2012). With digital Television now a trend, ABC should make an ABC iView Music Television show, with the multi platform asset of a Youtube channel that contains extra interviews with Australian Artists, bloopers and extra content. The TV show could also be like American show Ridiculousness, with commentary and critique on Youtube clips, though comment and advocate up and coming musicians and artists, as comment as commentary is another huge trend with the youth. This evidence shows the importance of an Australian music representative in the media to make more Australians value the Australian Music Industry and support their musicians with an added sense of pride.

Though this is content analysis based evidence, backed up by a Theoretic Frameworks adds value to this claim. “Representation refers to the construction in any medium of aspects of reality, such as people, places, objects, events, cultural identities and abstract concepts. The Theory of Media Representation in Media Studies means thinking how a particular group of people are being presented to the audience” (Wallis, A, 2012). Media Theorist, Roland Barthes quotes can be contextualised to moving picture, “The Photograph is an extended, loaded evidence as if it caricatured not the figure of what it represents, but its very existence” (Barthes, R, 1964). He explains here that the image/visual represents evidence of the existence, of the object, in this case Australian musicians. Without visual representation Australian musicians are not constructed as identities in events on Australian Television, therefore are not constructed in the audience reality. Becca Fielder in Blog, The importance of Visual Content in Marketing, explains; visual representation helps us decoded texts, with more attraction to the information, increasing the likelihood of audience memory of the identity or event (Fieler, B, 2016).

“Pictures enhance and affect emotions, attitudes and ideologies. In a normal conversation, the importance of words is 7%, voice tonality is 38% and of body language is 55%, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. 40% of people respond better to an image than 1,000 words. 700 Youtube videos are shared on Twitter every minute. Visitors spend 100% more time on pages that have videos on them on social media. Consumers who watch a product video are 85% more likely to purchase that product” (Fieler, B, 2016).

This shows the Psychological effects behind visual representations as evidence of the importance of Australian musicians to be visually represented on Australian Television, to build more Australian audiences and Australian pride. “One of the marks of our world is perhaps this reversal: we live according to a generalized image-repertoire. Consider the United Sates, where everything is transformed into images: only images exist and are produced and are consumed” (Barthes, R, 1964). I don’t even know what Vance Joy looks like or that he was an Australian musician, as I have never seen him represented in the media I consume. The last big Australian act I followed was Powderfinger in the late 90’s, thanks to Dylan Lewis on Triple J radio and Recovery TV. Without the visual representation our Australian musicians are not consumed, therefore possibly do not exist.

To finalise this study the following section discusses the implications and conclusions of this report.

Implications and Conclusions

The implications of this case study are the research approach was primarily Content Analysis, with some Discourse Analysis, Theoretic Frameworks and Auto-Ethnography, as a reflection of my thoughts as an Australian musician. It was also a brief overview of the Australian Music Industry Political Economy, due to the amount of time necessary to gain more content and analyze the data through Quantitive measures to breakdown the financial structure of the Australian Music Industry revenue in its entirety.

This report has discussed the interaction of political/economic processes in society, the distribution of power and wealth between groups and individuals and the processes that influence such relationships to gain an understanding of the current state of the Australian Music Industry Political Economy, taking into considering the impact of these factors on the creative industry and how this may affect industry development, investment, production and creative product consumption. The findings of the case study suggest of Government aid in the form of Tax exemption for music production similar to those in Television and Film Industries, which would be of great benefit to the Australian Music Industry. The case study also found that not only the digitalisation and illegal downloading of music impacted the Australian Music Industry, but also the lack of Australian Music Television, proving the importance of visual media representations for the Australian Music Industry locally and globally.

I will finalize with Youtube clip of Powderfingers last performance together to reflect and reminisce on the good times in Australian music, Link:

(Powderfinger — These days (final ever performance). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XaSm9-r_4U).

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Youtube References:

43Kouta. (November 11, 2010.). Powderfinger — the final odyssey (Part 1/5) [Youtube]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0j-W-WCpTUg

Powderfinger. (August 15, 2011.). Powderfinger — These days (final ever performance) [Youtube]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XaSm9-r_4U

Mushroom Videos. (April 2, 2013.). Vance Joy — riptide (Official video) [Youtube]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ_1HMAGb4k

Orthentix

Written by

Orthentix

Music Producer l Artist l Blogger l DJ l Cultural Activist. Her blogs cover topics of musicology, music production, philosophy & media culture www.orthentix.com

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