Australia's indigenous artists aren't getting a fair break on radio down under, according to the findings of a new research project.

The findings are published in a comprehensive new study entitled "Song Cycles," a joint project of the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australasian Performing Right Association. It's the first research project of its kind undertaken into indigenous music/musicians in Australia.

A handful of indigenous artists are finding mainstream success, including ARIA Award winners Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, Jessica Mauboy and Troy Cassar-Daley. But the report, which looks at various aspects of indigenous artists’ exposure between 2000 and 2008 says their success is the exception rather than the rule, as a succession of barriers largely prevents indigenous artists from reaching wider audiences.

The report found that the strongest support for indigenous artists came from community broadcasters, who devoted 4% of their music programming in 2008, a figure bolstered by high proportions of airtime on dedicated indigenous stations.

The state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation's music output in 2008 included just 1.37% indigenous music, with a low of 0.8% registered in 2006. Meanwhile, commercial radio played just 0.14% indigenous music in 2008, with a low of 0.6% recorded in 2005 and 2004.

"We'll need to work with broadcasters to open the airwaves to more quality indigenous content," remarked Mark Bin Bakar, an award-winning artist and chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board, in a statement.

Regressive attitudes, physical distance, training and education are cited by the report as the key obstructions.

"The Song Cycles research indicates that indigenous musicians are disenfranchised at every stage: training up, playing live, recording, airplay, distribution and touring," notes Sally Howland, director of member services at APRA/AMCOS and author of the report. "No wonder people feel locked out."