Other Cultural ABS Data

Stats logo


This article describes the last of nine areas listed in Overview of Music Statistics: ABS, outlining the contribution of the Australian Bureau of Statistics to knowledge of the music sector.

Statistical Areas

The 2011 review of arts and culture in Australia (ABS Cat 4172.0) contains a number of other topics: performing arts (part of Participation and Attendance in this review), museums, environmental heritage, libraries and archives, literature and print media, visual arts and crafts, design, film and video, and broadcasting. Some of these provide important context for music but the statistics are not specific enough to pinpoint its exact role, or the role of these industries in providing opportunities. As we argue in The Music Sector, they serve as a reminder that the economic, social and cultural role of music goes far beyond the available statistics.

Comments relating to four remaining sections of the 2011 review follow.


Music is part of the Australian museum scene, though this knowledge base has as yet identified only a handful of dedicated music museums. Refer Note on Music Museums. They are not identified in the published statistics (most recently Museums, Australia 2007-08, ABS Cat 8560.0; previous surveys 2003-04 and 1999-2000). The statistics quoted below are from the ABS "data cube" 85600DO001_200708 Museums, Australia, 2007-08, a set of Excel tables that can be downloaded from the ABS website.

There were 165 art museums and gallery organisations in Australia in 2007-08, 14% of the total 1,184 museums. They operated from 180 locations, 12% of the grand total of all museum locations (1,456). The largest group of museums in 2007-08 was classified as social history (712, in 768 locations), followed by historic properties/sites (247, in 425 locations). Art museums and galleries were third, trailed by 59 other museums in 83 locations.

Art museums and galleries are relatively large measured by income totalling $396 million (average per organisation $2.4 million). The total income of all 1,184 museum organisations was $998.4 million (average $843,000). Government funding of art museums and galleries ($257.5 million) contributed 65% of total income; total government funding of all museums ($657.8 million) represented a very similar 66%.

It is not certain where music museums are grouped, or indeed whether they fit into a common group. Art museums and galleries are exemplified above because they show the contrast between the visual arts and music in terms of popularity as museum subjects, and success in attracting funding. Some music museums would seem to fit into the social history category (for example Purga Music Museum, two mechanical music museums, and the Australian Country Music Museum in Tamworth, NSW. The social history museums are generally much smaller organisations than the art museums and galleries: the total income of the 712 social history museums was $224.5 million (average $315,000, of which 69% was public funding). The funding of music museums presumably has a relatively high local government component as local government funding decreases rapidly with total employment: 55% for museums with 0-4 employees, compared with 41% for museums with 5-19 employees, 9% for the 20-99 category, and less than 0.1% for the dominant group of museums with 100 employees and over.[1]

The preliminary conclusion is that most of the few identified dedicated music museums in Australia are relatively small (comments invited). There are indications that music museums are more prevalent in the United States and Europe.

The Director of the National Museum of Australia, Andrew Sayers, delivered the Annual Address of the 2011 Assembly of the MCA in Canberra, 11 September 2011. It is clear from the address by Mr Sayers that the National Museum has a substantial commitment to music, though of course it covers a much wider range of subject matter.

There is potential for a special article on music museums and the general role of museums in promoting the music sector, including attention to statistical as well as general analysis. This is discussed in the Note on Music Museums. Contributions are invited.


Music is an important component of Australian libraries from local to state and national level. Local libraries provide essential access to music-related items including CDs, DVDs, the Internet, and books. According to the 2005-06 ABS survey of attendance at selected culture and leisure venues and events[2], 5.45 million persons aged 15+ visited a public library at least once during the previous 12 months. The attendance rate was 32.6% of the total 15+ population for local libraries, and 5.6% for national, state and territory libraries. The overall attendance rate was 34.1% — since some people used libraries at both levels the parts don't add to the total. Females were the most frequent users, especially of local libraries, with an attendance rate of 39.8% compared with 25.2% of males. The difference was relatively less for the higher-level public libraries: 6.1% for females and 5.1% for males. The overall female attendance rate was 41.3% versus 26.7% for males. Put another way, 61.3% of all public library users in 2005-06 were women.

The highest attendance rate in local libraries was in the 15-17 year group (44.2%, dominated by senior high school students), and in national, state and territory libraries the 18-24 year age group (10.0%, dominated by post-secondary students).

In June 2004 (ABS Cat 8561.0), there were 1,716 local library locations (1,418 branches, 110 mobile services, and 189 deposit stations). Local library employment was 10,606, and 6,315 volunteers worked some time during June. The comparable numbers for eight national, state and territory libraries in 17 locations were 1,865 and 416, and for eight state and national archives in 21 locations 811 employees and 122 volunteers.

Public libraries are overwhelmingly dependent on government funding. In 2003-04 (converted to 2010-11 values using the implicit deflator for expenditure on GDP), the total income of local libraries was $699.6 million, of which 95.7% was government funding (76.2% local,19.6% federal, state and territory governments). For national, state and territory libraries, the total income was $376.9 million, of which $332.9 million (88.9%) came from national, state and territory funds. The remaining income was mainly from services to clients and fundraising.

There is a significant jump from the overall context of public libraries, to special libraries and librarians catering for music, mainly at national, state and university level (it has not yet been possible to estimate the incidence of music specialists in local libraries). As part of the research for this article, however, there is hope that a foundation has been established for creating at least something of a statistical base. It is discussed in the Note on Music Libraries and Librarians.

Again, contributions are invited.

Film and Video

Music is an integral part of many film and video products. In satellite national accounts [3], the input from the music sector would indicate the absolute and relative economic contribution to the total value of film and video production.

In practice, we are a very long way from such a definition. The 2011 ABS review of arts and culture (Cat 4172.0) notes that the film and video sector comprises several industries ranging from creation of new products such as production of feature films, documentaries and drama series, to services (film and video distribution, motion picture exhibition, and video hire). The sector is also closely associated with the television industry covered in the next section.

Cinemas were shown in the participation and attendance section above to attract the largest audiences by far: 65% of the total population aged 15 and over saw at least one movie over the past twelve months. Attendance rates decreased with age from 93% of 15-17 year olds to 27% of people 75 years and more.

Film and video production activities provided employment for 10,873 people in 2006-07, and post-production for and additional 2,971 (total 13,844 according to ABS Cat 8679.0). The total income of these activities, converted to 2010-11 values using the implicit deflator for expenditure on GDP, was $2.36 billion, and the value added $1.03 billion.

The total production cost was $2.19 billion, of which $1.59 billion (73%) represented productions made primarily for TV. The remaining items were commercials and station and program promotions ($283 million), feature films ($214 million), corporate, marketing and training media ($83 million), and documentaries, educational and other productions ($19 million, including a tiny $1.5 million specified as music media).

A dissection of productions made primarily for TV may provide some clues to the importance of these productions for the music sector. The largest category was news and current affairs ($478 million), followed by light entertainment and variety ($356 million), sport ($312 million), quiz, panel and game shows ($87 million), children's programs ($75 million), and other programs ($56 million).

Income from post-production services in 2006-07 totalled $497 million (feature films $183 million, TV programs $95 million, commercials $158 million. All other items ($163 million) included music videos as a small item ($5.5 million).

Finally, Screen Australia uses the ABS publication on the balance of payments and international investment position (Cat 5302.0), in conjunction with its work on Export Market Development Grants to compile detailed statistics on trade in royalties from imports and exports of cinema, television, video (Blu-ray, DVD and VHS) and multimedia releases. As for music royalties, the balance is heavily towards imports (1,107 million in 2009-10 compared with $141 million credits to Australia). The work undertaken by Screen Australia is briefly described under other sources in the article on Broadcasting, Film and Other Uses of Music.


Like film and video and other industries that use recorded/mediated music, and like many supporting industries that foster and support musical activities, arriving at a true economic value for music would require "satellite national accounts" which identify the input of music sector activities into these other industries. Though a case could be made in view of the increasing recognition of the importance of cultural activities in general, music are not yet on the planning schedule for satellite accounts, either on its own or together with other arts (say, music, theatre, dance, visual arts and crafts, and literature).

Television enjoys the greatest audiences in the broadcasting industry. According to the ABS Time Use Survey 2006 (specially extracted for the arts and culture review (Cat 4172.0), viewers aged 15+ on average spent just under three hours (179 minutes) per day, watching TV, compared with just over two hours (123 minutes) listening to radio. The April 2009 survey of children's participation (Cat 4901.0) showed that 97% had watched TV, DVDs or videos outside of school hours, averaging 17 hours during the two weeks prior to the survey, and 11 hours on other screen-based activities.

The 2006-07 television, film and video survey (ABS 8679.0) quoted in the previous section showed commercial television broadcasting stations employing 10,032 persons; 6,980 of these worked in free-to-air stations and 3,052 in stations providing subscription television. The total income (converted to 2010-11 values adding 16.3% using the implicit deflator for expenditure on GDP) was $7.92 billion (free-to-air $5.27 billion, subscription TV $2.65 billion). Total value-added was $2.50 billion, of which free-to-air contributed $2.11 billion and subscription TV $388 million. The 2006-07 survey covered all 24 commercial free-to-air and all 13 subscription television stations that existed then. The survey excluded government-owned stations: the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), and also community broadcasting.

The 2006 Census counted 12,646 persons whose main job was in free-to-air TV stations, and 2,928 in subscription TV stations. These included people working in community television. However, many more people are involved other than in their main job as shown by the 2007 survey of Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities (ABS Cat 6281.0) estimates total involvement over a 12-month period, whether main or supplementary job, and whether or not some payment was received. The survey found that 77,000 people were involved in television and 105,500 in radio broadcasting in the year ended April 2007. The 2010 arts and culture review (ABS Cat 4172.0) shows that the majority of those involved in radio (76% or 80,600 persons) were unpaid while relatively fewer were unpaid in television (44% or 33,600 persons). The total number of persons who were paid some income was 63,400, compared with 101,200 who were unpaid only (some people were involved in both television and radio work, so the parts don't add to the total).

Non-ABS sources on broadcasting include ABC and SBS annual reports, community broadcasters[4], and weekly television audience measurement (TAM) reports under the auspices of OzTAM. See Broadcasting, Film and Other Uses of Music under Other Sources.


Hans Hoegh-Guldberg. Entered 27 October 2011 as part of general ABS overview. Made into independent article 10 February 2012.


  1. The proportion of museum locations with nil (paid) employment is another indicator of these differences: social history 59%, art museums and galleries 17%, historic properties/sites 43%, other museums 41%, overall average 48%.
  2. The separation of local libraries from state, territory and national libraries was carried out specially for the 2010 arts review (ABS Cat 4172.0) and is not yet available for the 2009-10 attendance survey (ABS Cat 4114.0).
  3. OECD provides the following definition: “Satellite accounts provide a framework linked to the central accounts and which enables attention to be focused on a certain field or aspect of economic and social life in the context of national accounts; common examples are satellite accounts for the environment, or tourism, or unpaid household work.” There is no apparent reason why the economic influence of the music sector couldn’t be estimated through a satellite accounting approach.
  4. The main source is the Community Radio National Listener Survey prepared for the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA)
Share your opinion