Australians are heading out in droves to see live entertainment, according to new figures issued by Melbourne-based Live Performance Australia.

Australians are heading out in droves to see live entertainment, according to new figures issued by Melbourne-based Live Performance Australia.

The Australian live entertainment industry generated A$834.3 million ($634 million) in gross revenue in 2005, up 21% on 2004. Audience numbers grew to 13.7 million, up 17% from the year before.

The annual survey is based on sales from ticketing companies such as Ticketek and Ticketmaster, and the Australia Major Performing Arts Group companies including Opera Australia and state theater companies. The figures do not include sales from smaller music and arts events, festivals, and those shows which sell tickets through record stores and their own Web sites.

Contemporary music was the biggest growth sector, according to the report. It generated revenue of A$287.2 million ($218.2 million), up 47.2% from 2004. The sector now accounts for a quarter of all tickets sold and 34.4% of industry revenue, according to LPA.

The second-biggest growth was in musical theater, which accounted for 15% of ticket sales and 21.3% of live music revenue. Also contributing to revenue were theater (13.4%), classical music (6.5%), dance and ballet (6%), opera (3.4%) and festivals (2.1%).

Sydney-based tour promoter Michael Chugg, managing director of Chugg Entertainment, says, "We've noticed a return to concerts by a generation of people, and it's hard to know why specifically. The popularity of music reality TV shows is obviously one."

Loyalty schemes and easier methods for buying tickets are among the factors drawing in the fans, notes acting CEO Suzanne Daley-Carr.

The LPA has been holding discussions over the year with the federal arts minister, senator Rod Kemp, to provide incentives for investors.

One talking point is the introduction of heavy tax deductions, which are enjoyed by the film industry.

Says Daley-Carr, "As soon as [commercial enterprises] want more investors or more money they have to go to a prospectus which is an extremely complicated process, or they have to deal with sophisticated investors, which by legislation means you're restricted to people who earn A$250,000 ($190,000) a year or assets of A$2.5 million ($1.9 million). That cuts out middle band investors."

As changes to tax laws can be tardy, the LPA has suggested a model adopted from the Australian horse racing industry. In this, the LPA would oversee the formation of syndicates to invest in projects.