Australia’s Music Industry Lauds Government for ‘Listening and Responding’ With National Cultural Policy
"Revive" maps out the creation of Music Australia, which will support the development of Australian contemporary music with initial $49 million in funding.
BRISBANE, Australia – It’s a new year, and one filled with fresh optimism in the Australian music industry after the federal government presented its national cultural policy, which will include A$70 million (US$49.3 million) in funding for a new Music Australia organization to support and invest in the development of Australian contemporary music.
Prime minister Anthony Albanese and arts minister Tony Burke were on hand Monday (Jan. 30) for the launch of Revive, a five-year action plan that lays the groundwork for what government and industry hopes will facilitate a robust music space through sorely-needed infrastructure, investment and ideas.
It’s a document years in the making. And it’s stuffed with strategic and policy investment for contemporary music, many of them ideas put forward by a united front of 18 music industry organizations.
Among the cornerstones of Revive is the creation of Music Australia, which falls under Creative Australia. Albanese is keen to see the program launch in 2023.
Speaking at the presentation at Melbourne’s Esplanade Hotel, the prime minister gave the music community a well-deserved thank-you. He also mapped out a timeline for legislation which would enforce local content quotas on streaming platforms; a regional push for the Double J network, part of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; and a 50% boost for Sounds Australia, which supports homegrown artists taking their music to the world.
“Today is a bright moment for (the music) sector but it’s also an overdue one. You have endured a decade in which opportunity wasn’t so much missed as thrown away. Capped by the years of the pandemic,“ he says.
Revive, he continues, “puts the arts back where they’re meant to be – at the heart of our national life.”
Revive is structured around five interconnected pillars: First Nations First, A Place For Every Story, Centrality of the Artist, Strong Institutions and Reaching the Audience. And with it, a commitment for new, additional investment totaling A$286 million (US $202 million) over four years.
“This is about our soul, this is about our identity,” Albanese adds. “It is so important because it’s about who we are and being able to express ourselves. It is literally through the arts that we build our identity as a nation and a people.”
When the center-left Labor government was formed in 2022, ending the nine-year administration of the center-right Liberal Party, Burke made an early commitment to develop a cultural roadmap through consultation with the music industry.
This policy, and its instructions, “restores the place of art, of entertainment of culture, for all Australians,” Burke says.
Artists and the industry behind the music are “essential workers” he adds.
“You touch our hearts and you are a A$17 billion (US$12 billion) contributor to our economy. You create art and you create exports. You make works and you provide work. You are entertaining, you are essential, you are required.”
For video streaming platforms, a timeline is locked in. In the second half of this year, legislation will be introduced to the parliament and in July next year, Australian content obligations will apply to the streaming companies.
Revive pledges that, through binding rules on content, Australian music “remains visible, discoverable and easily accessible across platforms to all Australians, driven by a vibrant, agile, sustainable and globally facing local music industry.”
With the publication of Revive, the music industry is celebrating an ideal start to the week, and the year.
“The government has responded to our collective call, which I think is a real positive,” Dean Ormston, CEO of APRA AMCOS tells Billboard. “For the first time ever, there’s a whole of government recognition of us as an industry. They’re actually referring to us as an industry for the first time in my living memory. Which I think is an enormous win.”
Though the industry remains largely unsure of what are the next steps, conversations with government in the days ahead should clear-up matters.
Regardless, the opportunities are laid out. “There’s an enormous opportunity in terms of how music Australia interfaces with industry and specific government portfolios,” says Ormston. “There’ll be an evolving opportunity to have a much stronger relationship with portfolios, like education. We’ve already called out, for instance, that Music Australia should have a policy and a strategy related to songwriting in schools. That would be the beginning of the foodchain and the pipeline to improving our export opportunities.”
Although the industry will need to wait for the presentation of the May budget to see full detail, the federal government “is listening and responding,” says Stephen Wade, chair of ALMBC, whose hundreds of members represent all areas of the live music sector.
ARIA and PPCA CEO Annabelle Herd welcomed the policy. “It is true that Australian music is facing a crisis in streaming and that it is harder than ever for Australian musicians to have a charting hit in Australia,” she comments.
“We thank the government for acknowledging the need for greater support of Australian commercial music as a business that is facing key issues surrounding discoverability and export. It is our hope that the introduction of Music Australia will make important strides toward providing solutions to these issues, including a reassessment of commercial radio quotas and streaming policy.”
Read the document here in full.