This article describes one of 12 areas listed in Overview of Music Statistics: Other Sources, outlining the potential and actual contribution of sources other than the Australian Bureau of Statistics to knowledge of the music sector. The largest section on the casual music workforce has subsections on three major reports published in 2011, which provide a major new database for this industry. These subsections are largely descriptive. A forthcoming article will attempt to integrate the approaches and analytic results of the three reports, and discuss the main issues confronting musicians in the venue-based live music industry.
Venues range downwards in size from the major centres of the 28 members of the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG) described in the statistical article on the The Music Sector. Half of these are directly music-related. Other large "venues" include major festivals which provide a setting for events that have a predominant music content. The AMPAG companies and major festivals in particular are well covered statistically through the regular survey by Live Performance Australia (LPA), which is backed by data compiled by Ernst & Young from ticketing companies, self-ticketing venues and the Australia Council.
Major venues are of course important but there is reason to deal first with what is called the casual music workforce, which performs in smaller venues such as pubs (hotels), clubs, taverns, bars, and restaurants. These activities received a major statistical boost in 2011 with the publication of three major reports, which form a major part of the rest of this article. It appears that these venues are at least as important economically than the major venues and festivals covered by Live Performance Australia. We return briefly to the major venues at the end of the article.
The first major analysis of the "pub and club" scene was Bruce Johnson and Shane Homan's report for the Australia Council and Arts NSW, Vanishing Acts: An inquiry into the state of live popular music opportunities in New South Wales (2003). Johnson and Homan concluded that there had been a significant reduction in live music venues in New South Wales over several years, and that in many cases live music operations had been displaced by gaming (mainly poker machines) as a source of income. The NSW gaming legislation was progressively liberalised from 1984 when limited numbers of such machines were first permitted in hotels, and in time gaming became a straightforward profitable alternative at a time when other factors were working against live music programs. The authors listed these factors as "changes in leisure culture, in popular music styles and formats, in financial and legislative frameworks, in the composition of audiences, and in community demographics."
Johnson and Homan's conclusions on the influence of gaming are supported by the ABS surveys on clubs and pubs described in Participation and Attendance: the surveys show a 45% drop in the number of pubs, taverns and bars without gaming facilities in the 10 years to 2004-05, while there was a minor (1.5%) increase in establishments with such facilities. In other words, not only did the absolute number of premises fall but the decline was heavily concentrated on pubs, taverns and bars which according to Johnson and Homan were most likely to feature gigs. The number of poker machines has also increased disproportionately in the average pub and club, which (without renewed support for live music) could have exacerbated a shift from music-related revenue in favour of gaming income.
The Music Council of Australia in 2006 identified government regulation as a significant threat to live music and in 2007 initiated a research project to identify the key barriers that prevent venues providing live music. This led to cooperation between MCA, APRA and the Australian Hotels Association, resulting in a survey which appears to have been the second major attempt at identifying the issues. The findings were valuable but qualitative in so far as they "did not provide hard data on the economic contribution of musicians and bands playing at live venues" (IBSA 2011).
Richard Letts pointed to major differences between States in a major paper prepared for the MCA’s 2008 summit, Australian Musical Futures: Towards 2020: "The importance of the licensing regime has been demonstrated by the dramatic differences between NSW and Victoria and especially their capital cities. The onerous requirements in NSW, both in terms of the high licence fees and the obstacle-strewn compliance requirements, have seen a stultification of musical life as compared to Melbourne, where the low costs and ease of compliance have seen the growth of a diverse, multi-level scene that has attracted a lot of musicians from other states including NSW."
Largely as a result of persistent advocacy by musician John Wardle and a small number of colleagues, work to rewrite the NSW Liquor Act and local government requirements intensified in mid-2008, leading to a major easing of the regulatory obstacles to live music presentation in licensed premises. The MCA subsequently commissioned Wardle to investigate the conditions for "pub and club" musicians in the whole of Australia in time for the music summit in September 2008.
The report (A Comparison of State and Territory Legislation and Regulations Pertaining to the Presentation of Live Entertainment in Liquor-Licensed Venues in Australia) laid out the Australian state and territory legislation and regulations governing liquor-licensed venues in which live music performance is offered. At the beginning of the paper, key issues are identified and discussed. Wardle’s research was funded by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited, PPCA.
The three new reports, which greatly strengthen the statistical base for the casual music workforce, were published within the short space of three months in 2011:
In June, Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA) published The Casual Music Workforce.  According to the executive summary (p 4), IBSA “commissioned applied research to identify, in general terms, the economic contribution of casual, informally contracted (paid and unpaid) musicians and technical crew to smaller venues that offer live music, like pubs and clubs. The data is based on surveys completed by small venue live performance musicians and technicians and telephone interviews with select venue operators and/or booking agents. The research also included a literature review of key national and state-based research.”
The literature review identifies the main sources as ABS, the Australia Council, LPA, MCA, and the two then forthcoming studies described in under the next subheadings. The Australia Council studies referenced were the latest of the five Macquarie University artist surveys (Throsby and Zednik 2010 and the QUT Census Study, both described elsewhere in this knowledge base). The MCA work was described above.
IBSA conducted its own surveys of musicians (662 respondents, of whom 78% male) and technicians (123 respondents, 85% male) and also contacted 20 selected venues, yielding 13 responses. The results for musicians are summarised as follows:
The majority of respondents completing the survey were self-taught musicians (73%) who developed skills through learning on the job (44%) or had received private training such as private tuition or mentoring (47%). Parents were noted several times as contributing to the development of skills. (p 22)
Like the musicians, the surveyed technicians showed them working in a wide range of venues though the distribution was different: pubs 67%, clubs 57%, festivals 48%, private functions/weddings 46%, hotels 44%, theatres 38%, community halls 34%, entertainment centres 33%, and restaurants 18%. The report notes (p 23): "Overall technicians work across more types of venues than musicians and have a wider range of employers — including the venue, performers and technical companies."
Technicians on average worked more than musicians, with the majority working on 5–10 gigs per month whereas musicians predominantly worked 1–4 gigs per month. This resulted in higher income streams for technicians than for musicians, with 25% of technicians earning more than $20,000 per year (compared with 5% of musicians). In response to a question on what they would like to add to their existing skills or knowledge, 48% nominated business skills (business/finance/tax/legislation), compared with 19% wanting more technical skills (lighting/sound/staging), 19% nominating technical knowledge, 19% an ability to provide advice and guidance to the venue and/or technicians, and 14% communication skills.
The venue survey elicited only 13 responses, all indicating a commitment to live music, with 54% offering 15 or more gigs per month across a large range of music types. Audience capacity ranged from 76 to 200+. All these venues hired musicians on a casual basis, by the gig. All 13 staged live music because they wanted to be recognised as a live music venue, and all except one because it generated turnover, profit and patronage.
Though the venue survey cannot be regarded as representative, the IBSA report contains an estimate of annual national revenue generated by live music. The estimate covers pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants only, excluding other venues where live musicians and technicians may work.
On 9 August 2011, Economic, social and cultural contribution of live music in Victoria was launched on behalf of Arts Victoria by the Premier and Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu and the Minister for Consumer Affairs Michael O'Brien. Mr Baillieu said the Deloitte Access Economics (DAE) report was the first comprehensive assessment of the contribution of venue-based live music to Victoria. In line with Dick Letts's comment at the beginning of this section on the casual music workforce, that Victoria had been outstripping NSW on the live music scene with its low costs and ease of compliance, the Premier added: "Melbourne has more live music venues than any other Australian city and Victorians are passionate about live music, with around 5.4 million attendees at Victorian venues in 2009/10 — outstripping even the AFL."
The focus of the DAE study was live music performance in Victorian hotels, bars, nightclubs, cafes and restaurants. Data were collected through surveys of patrons, venues and performers, and validated through industry consultation. The report also assessed opportunities to promote the economic, social and cultural values of live music in Victoria, based on the following drivers of change:
Three surveys were undertaken to collect "primary evidence from the critical points at which economic, social and cultural values are created and incurred":
The study also reviewed the range of State, local and inter-government policies and programs providing the policy context for the venue-based live music industry in Victoria, either through provision of industry support or regulation affecting the industry (pp 4-8). As well as Arts Victoria, the arts authority which reports to the Minister for the Arts within Victoria's Department of Premier and Cabinet, State government organisations include Contemporary and Live Music Development which is the State Government’s funding package for the local music industry (formerly called Victoria Rocks); Tourism Victoria; FReeZA which provides funding and support for youth-focused live music, including The Push, which provides opportunities for young people to access affordable drug and alcohol free events; Music Victoria which was established in early 2010 as Victoria’s first contemporary music industry peak body; and other organisations.
Local government provides local policy context, exemplified in the DAE report by the City of Melbourne which provides grants for music activity though a broad range of programs, and Yarra City Council, which encompasses many live music venues in areas such as Collingwood and Fitzroy. In 2010, it formed a Live Music Working Group to provide Council with advice and guidance on issues affecting the local live music scene.
The Cultural Ministers’ Council is the relevant inter-government body in the cultural policy context. Formed in 1984, its interests include creative arts (literature, musical composition, visual arts and craft); performing arts (music, drama, opera and ballet); Australian Indigenous arts and culture; film and digital media production, distribution and exhibition; and collections (museums, galleries, libraries and archives).
The DAE report identified three business models for the industry (p 14):
The surveys established a hierarchy of venues in terms of dependence on live music performance (Table 1 below, summarising DAE's estimates):
DAE estimates that almost 93% of the live music increment occurs in the 41% of venues indicating total dependence on live music performance, which consequently were assumed to average $1.25 million, all attributable to music for these venues, in 2009-10. Overall, the live music component represented an estimated 42% of the total turnover of the 611 venues in Victoria — still a substantial contribution equivalent to an average about $525,000 per venue (but ranging from $1.25 million to nil according to DAE's classification into "dependent", "supported" and "incidental"). By type of venue, Table 3.2 in the DAE report shows a contribution of $251 million to the total turnover of $574 million for bars and hotels (44%), $19 million of $43 million for nightclubs (44%), and $52 million of $148 million for cafes and restaurants (35%).
The average gross income from performances in these venues according to the manager and performer survey was $19,500 in 2009-10. Assuming that Victoria is in fact representative of Australia, the report notes that this is close to the total Australian finding by David Throsby and Anita Zednik for the Australia Council ($19,300 in 2008-09). Of the total $19,500 in 2009-10, an estimated $13,455 was in Victorian venues, and there were 15,760 Victorian performers providing paid live performances in licensed venues in 2009-10. Hence, live music in Victorian venues according to the DAE research generated $212 million in additional income to Victorian live performers in that year (performance $163 million, merchandise $22 million, recordings $27 million).
The sum of the additional income to Victorian live music venues and Victorian performers in these venues in 2009-10 is $534 million. However, a proportion of the turnover of live music venues is an estimated total payment of $23 million from the performers, which represents double counting (p 22). "Therefore, it is estimated that live music in venues generated an additional $511 million in income to Victorian venues and performers in 2009-10. ... By way of illustration, dividing this figure by the average expenditure per patron at a live music performance returns a conservative 5.4 million attendances at live performances in Victorian venues in 2009-10. This compares with an estimated 4.3 million attendances to AFL matches in Victorian venues during the 2010 home and away season, and 4.7 million ticketed attendances to other live performances in Victoria in 2009 (LPA, 2009)." (p 22)
Using generally accepted methodology, the DAE report proceeds to estimate the total economic contribution of venue-based live music to the Victorian economy in 2009-10, in terms of value added to the Gross State Product (GSP) and additional full-time equivalent (FTE) employment. The direct economic contribution is derived from the total revenue estimate of $511 million, deriving value-added labour ($237 million), gross operating surplus ($44 million), and taxes ($20 million) — totalling $301 million directly added value. The estimated added FTE employment was 14,900 (p 23). After accounting for the flow-on or multiplier effect of the direct value-added, GSP increases by an estimated $501 million and FTE employment by 17,200 persons. This result implies an overall ratio of indirect value-added to direct value-added of 0.67 — for every dollar of direct value-added by live performance in Victorian venues, an additional 67 cents of value-added is created in flow-on within Victoria (p 24).
The DAE report contains a comprehensive attempt to analyse the social and cultural contribution of the venue-based live music industry in Victoria, acknowledging that while this contribution would add to the economic value it is often intangible and difficult to assess in dollar terms. The patron and performer survey data were used to develop indicative measures together with anecdotal evidence from consultations and other literature to form a more complete picture.
Four main categories were used to define the social and cultural contributions (private values are those experienced by individuals directly involved in the "live music transaction", such as performers and patrons — whereas public values are those experienced by the broader community. (p 25):
The above social and cultural impact framework was developed with its broad structure informed by the social impact assessment (SIA) approach developed by Frank Vanclay  and others, by other literature on the social impacts of arts and culture, and particular research questions proposed for the DAE study. It represents a significant attempt to include factors other than economic ones in socio-cultural analysis but also highlights that there is a long way to go towards fully defining and quantifying these aspects. One of the main conclusions of the study reads (p 54): "The contribution analysis presented here suggests sizeable economy-wide benefits are derived from the provision of live music in Victorian venues. On top of this, the significant social and cultural impacts the sector provides should be considered, where the weight attached reflects the needs and priorities of the community."
The first national study of the Economic Contribution of the Venue-based Live Music Industry in Australia was published on 14 September 2011. APRA|AMCOS in conjunction with the Australia Council, Arts Victoria, Arts NSW and Live Performance Australia commissioned Ernst & Young to carry out research to remedy the scarcity of data available on the venue-based live music industry in Australia. It was noted that "there is a need by industry stakeholders to understand the economic value of the venue-based live music industry in order to ensure future policy decisions consider the true value of the industry." (p 1)
This involved defining the following four elements:
Chart 1 is adapted from the report showing the revenue of the venue-based music industry. The model is largely similar to the one developed in the DAE report, described above. The national study distinguishes between door deals and/or guarantee and fixed fees from ticketed performances, and guarantee and fixed fees for non-ticketed ones. In the interest of analytic simplicity, the door deal model was used for ticketed and the fixed fee model for non-ticketed performances, after consultation with APRA and venue owners and operators (p 13).
The study concluded that the venue-based live music industry generated revenues (output) of $1.21 billion in 2009-10 (IBSA's $1 billion is within the same ballpark). This revenue was driven by patron spending at performances, of which 16.7% was generated from ticket sales to live music performances, and the remaining 83.3% from patron spending on food and beverage. These revenues were generated from approximately 42 million attendances at 328,000 venue-based live music performances at the 3,904 live music venues across Australia. Total profits and wages generated by the industry (industry value-added) amounted to $651.9 million, supporting an estimated employment of 14,866 full-time equivalent positions.
New South Wales (32% of industry output) was the largest contributor to the industry, followed by Queensland (24%) and Victoria (22%). However, there is a caveat to this because the report focused on a national analysis and by its own admission took a simplistic approach to the distribution across Australia. "As such, this analysis should be treated as an indicator only and not considered as a detailed calculation of the economic contribution on a State by State." (p 19)
The survey generated other key indicators including:
As we indicated in the preamble, the three reports represent major new research which illuminates a major part of the music sector. Their approaches differ; while they all appear to be academically respectable they ultimately need to be reconciled. For example the estimated direct contribution of the industry to the Victorian economy according to the DAE study contrasts with the lower estimate in the national economic contribution study, while total estimated revenue in the two national studies are roughly equivalent, given the uncertainties of developing these models. The venue-based live music industry will be further described in an integrated analysis, and apparent key issues outlined. We appeal to industry representatives help with this assessment.
Several years of data for major organisations and festivals are already available from Live Performance Australia. In addition, individual organisations and festivals have their own websites. Such sources should be explored in an ultimate statistical analysis. The indication is that larger venues and festivals and the venue-based live music industry are essential contributors to the economy, social and cultural development, and must all be investigated as fully as possible.
Contributions are, as usual, invited from every reader of this knowledge base who feel they can provide information, including reliable quantitative data."
Hans Hoegh-Guldberg. Entered on knowledge base 4 February 2012 as part of a general overview of statistical sources other than the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Made into independent article with the major section incomplete 12 February 2012. Article finalised 7 April 2012; latest revisions 10 April 2012.