Australia's independent music community is poring over a federal budget which contains some real surprises, not the least a particularly sour note for the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project.
There's a financial boost for music industry support initiative Sounds Australia, but the Government has failed to renew funding for AMRAP, which helps broadcasters promote Australian music on-air and online.
AMRAP distributes new Australian music to more than 1,500 broadcasters from 300 community radio stations nationwide, and last year serviced music from upwards of 1,000 unsigned artists and 100 record labels, according to the organization. AMRAP has existed since 2000, propped up by the Community Broadcasting Assn of Australia (CBAA). It was finally funded in 2008 to the tune of Australian $2.4 million ($2.4 million), or Australian $600,000 ($600,000) over each of four years.
But industry executives say the government's budgeting decision is a short-sighted one which damages the community radio network and inevitably creates a tougher route for independent artists to find an audience.
"AMRAP has done more than anyone to facilitate relationships between labels, artist and the true tastemakers of Australian music, community radio," Nick O'Byrne, GM of the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) tells Billboard.biz. "Diversity in community radio needs to be celebrated and funded, without their support of niche genres our industry is poorer."
Current funding for AMRAP runs out at the end of next month.
AMRAP GM Chris Johnson described the decision as "incredibly disappointing." The government, Johnson tells Billboard.biz, "seems to be able to find millions to support commercial television and the national broadcasters apparently community broadcasting and its support to Australian musicians can be left out of the equation altogether."
AMRAP is funded through the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and is managed by the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia.
Despite the setback, AMRAP have pledged to continue discussions with the government to reinstate its shoestring budget.
The AMRAP funding-shortfall was contained within the Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy Portfolio, published Wednesday with the 2012-13 federal budget.
The budget, however, wasn't all bad news for the music community. On the plus side, arts minister Simon Crean has pledged to provide Australian $3 million $3.01 million) over four years to assist the Australian contemporary music industry. Of that sum, Australian $1.7 million ($1.7 million) will go to music export body Sounds Australia, an initiative of APRA/AMCO and the Australia Council. All told, Australian $64.1 million ($64.3 million) is allocated over the next four years to the arts.