This article is the final instalment relating to the twelve areas of possible research into the potential and actual contribution of sources other than the Australian Bureau of Statistics to music sector data. It is relatively complex, reflecting the intricate nature of the music sector itself and the varied functions of its organisations. The research ideas outlined below need more structuring — we welcome our readers' advice.
Debating the subject with the author during May 2012, Dick Letts summed it up as follows: "The purpose of identifying organisations as a potential statistical group is to capture activities that are not already part of another group. This complicates the statistical plan. One criterion may be that purely local organisations such as those governing community music initiatives and festivals [are excluded]."
Since the knowledge base aims to measure the net contribution of the music sector to the economy (and beyond that to its long-term contribution to the Australian society through an enriched cultural and social life), double counting needs to be recognised and eliminated. We refer to the section on email surveys in Overview of Music Statistics: Conclusions, which advocates two main approaches: surveys of community music and other local organisations, and surveys of national, state and territory organisations.
The activities of local organisations are likely to cover both their administrative and cultural functions — the organisation exists for the sole purpose of producing a cultural product which can be captured statistically, at least in principle. Conversely, national and other central organisations are likely to exist to provide infrastructure support for cultural activities, an activity which does not appear to be captured in any other way.
Basically, therefore, the organisations to be covered under the current heading provide infrastructure support to other parts of the music sector. Most will be national, state and territory based. However, there will be exceptions in an area as complex as the music sector. The assumption that local organisations exist solely for a given cultural activity whereas national ones provide infrastructure support must be checked in individual cases as part of the statistical plan.
Fortunately, the exercise need not be undertaken in one operation but can conceivably take place as a series of piecemeal approaches spread over a longer time.
The three fundamental music sector categories in the knowledge base are creation, infrastructure support, and innovation and research:
Organisations providing infrastructure support may be found in most or all of the activities listed above. It should be fairly straightforward to check whether this support is covered by the general activity of an organisation, or whether there is a risk of double counting. Having established this, there is a further task to determine the music content of the organisation's activities, relative to other artforms.
Richard Letts recently updated his article on Music Organisations, which provides useful descriptive background without attempting to tackle the associated statistical issues.
The article focuses on activities in which there are national organisations. This may help sort the problem of what should be included in the statistical analysis. It is assumed that national, to which we should probably add state, territory and possibly regional, organisations are most likely to represent additional activities that are not covered by other statistics.
Local organisations, on the other hand, tend to integrate administrative and artistic musical activities so that these functions cannot be separated for statistical purposes. Hence, the entire musical activity of the local organisation can be potentially measured through surveys (say, festivals or community music organisations), and it would be double counting if these local organisations were also included in a survey of organisations. This is the basis of the Letts hypothesis quoted in the first section of this article. Whether the hypothesis holds water in particular cases depends on the detailed circumstances of each case.
The hypothesis would need to be tested on individual cases and preliminary observations suggest that there are no hard rules — nevertheless the distinction between national infrastructure supporters and local cultural event organisers would prevail in most cases.
Dick Letts categorises activities in which there are national organisations as follows (see full descriptive list in Music Organisations):
The MCA, the Australia Council, and other websites contain long lists of organisations which can be used to expand the basic classification in the previous section. It would be part of the statistical plan governing the analysis of organisations to do so.
Our own knowledge base provide other pointers, including those that may yield statistics without the need for a national survey. With the proviso that some of the following may overlap other lists, some possible areas are:
This list is only supplementary to the suggested classification offered in Music Organisations and from the knowledge base categorication.
The statistical plan remains complex. The notes following provide preliminary guidance. The basic recommendation is to conduct the research on an ongoing basis, segment by segment, learning in the process.
The primary task is to build classifications and lists of primarily national, state and territory organisations which provide infrastructure support rather than support for individual cultural events (generally assumed to be local organisations).
An associated task is to check the validity of the national versus local organisation criterion. It may not be possible to define up-front but will need detailed research.
Having arrived at a classification, the next task is to ascertain how much statistical information will be available from each class of organisations. Some may have primary statistics on employment, income and expenditure and other relevant topics — most probably won’t. Some would have to be surveyed through a combined direct and email approach.
Disentangling the music content from the total activity of the organisation becomes an additional issue since the ultimate task is to identify the economic (and social and cultural) role of musical activities.
These issues cannot be solved tomorrow. This article attempts to define the issues, not to solve the problems. How and when to deal with them must be a matter for detailed planning and debate. The current recommendation is to develop all relevant classifications and how to research the statistical problem with a view to dealing with one class of organisations at a time.
To our knowledge, there has been no comprehensive statistical survey of music-related organisations, or even how to tackle such a review. We invite readers to contribute their ideas to what could be quite a substantial component of total music sector activity.
Hans Hoegh-Guldberg. Entered on knowledge base 20 May 2012 as the final part of a general overview of possible statistical sources other than the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Most recently updated 1 June 2012.