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Where is Music Heading?

The Music Trust's Knowledge Base combines two big tasks:

*To complete the analysis of the present status of all music in Australia — culturally, socially, economically and politically. Music faces formidable competition from numerous other activities, especially in the economic and political areas. What's more, the globally open music market makes it subject to huge threats and opportunities.

Alt=Best and worst cases

*Since 2014, the Knowledge Base has developed four scenarios to 2035 ranging from "best" to "worst" case — the chart shows a very wide range with no certainty of what can happen if no action is taken. Uncertainty starts at the global level. International politics and economics follow unpredictable directions, affecting individual countries and their respective economic and cultural sectors.

The first of fourteen scenario papers outlines the vision and also contains a list of the subsequent papers (paper #15 is in the pipeline). The four scenarios, with numerical forecasts for each, will be published as a Music Trust e-book in mid-2016. This will provide a means for corrective planning to secure the best possible solution for all activities, including the music sector — how to promote the best and shun the abysmal. The project is a world first for any artform.

  Learn more...

Complex Adaptive Systems (see middle column of this page) is a basic part of this research. Again, applying it to an artform is a world first.

The scenario papers form the category "Scenarios for the Future", which is found by clicking on Browsing on the menu bar above, then on All Categories.

Valuing the invaluable

Alt=Music TEV

Reflection should make anyone realise that culture is literally beyond valuation. One can put an economic value on traded goods and services and perhaps estimate other services derived from our great and indispensable cultural and ecological assets and ecosystems, but much remains out of reach. This is important for our music sector scenarios. Much ecological and cultural damage is beyond measurement.   Learn more...

Cultural funding is drying up


This is not news but our "money pig" keeps an essential issue open. Funding has been declining for several years now and institutional funding arrangements are under threat. We can hope that positive changes will happen under the Turnbull government but not too much is visible yet.   Learn more...

New on the Knowledge Base

Full list here .... Selected summaries below.

Musical Theatre in Australia

MUSICAL THEATRE IN AUSTRALIA is a mapping article that describes the history of the Broadway musical in New York and then in Australia, the musicals written in Australia, the Australian industry, training, and some recent audience data.

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SWOT Analysis of the Australian Musical

The SWOT for the Australian musical is about the situation for the creation and production of musicals in Australia. A detailed preamble can be found under the title Musical Theatre in Australia, and there a further introduction at the top of the SWOT. The SWOT gives information and analyses for five categories of Australian musicals, based on scale. It concludes with a summatory SWOT for the entire musical theatre sector.

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SWOT Analysis of Music Libraries in Australia - 2017

The MUSIC LIBRARIES SWOT describes a situation in which a downgrading of the use of subject area specialists in favour of generalists is affecting library services for music. The increasing use of digitisation is also changing the nature of services and their delivery.

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SWOT Analysis of Classical Music - 2017

This SWOT attempts to be comprehensive. It covers the circumstances of classical music in school and tertiary education, music composition, classical music performance, recording and classical music’s presence in the media. Each assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in these sections is preceded by a brief factual description.

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BAMER is the Bibliography of Australian Music Education Research, a database of music education research studies undertaken at Australian universities or by Australian music education researchers at overseas institutions. Where available, abstracts have been included. Currently, there are over 570 research studies including masters and doctoral theses and dissertations held in university libraries and smaller research studies held in departmental libraries or privately. Compiled by Assoc. Prof. Robin Stevens.`

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SWOT Analysis of Local Government and Music

There are some 550 local or regional governments in Australia. As supporters of culture they tend to be overshadowed by state and national government but are actually quite important. With their close connections to community affairs and needs, they can give flexible support to diverse activities. However, programming and support can lack professional focus and skill. There is potential for development of a more substantial and better targeted role.

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The SWOT gives a definition of this necessarily complex and diffuse field of activity. It has powerful Strengths including its benefits, diversity and accessibility. It is registered as a Weakness that there is no commonly held concept of identity or purpose. It lacks the governmental support given to “excellent” music organisation such as the professional orchestras but there is opportunity for development and support along a multiplicity of paths.

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Australia has full-time professional orchestras in all capital cities except Canberra and Darwin and as well, a number of part time professional orchestras in the largest cities. This is a very detailed SWOT and cannot be summarised in a small space. The orchestras have strong audience support and high standards. They have difficulties from such things as declining general education in music, geography, constrained financial support both public and private. They are taking opportunities for development in such areas as international touring and the benefits it brings for artistic vitality though there are few financially.

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This SWOT analyses the situation of the Australian capital cities youth orchestras, omitting Darwin. In these cities, the large population base can sustain large and complex organisations: eg the Sydney Youth Orchestras actually comprises 12 orchestras. The level of accomplishment is high and for some, the youth orchestras are a valuable pathway towards professional orchestral careers. Their very size can be a problem; how to find a rehearsal venue for 12 orchestras? It is a field in which there is jostling and competition. Where to fit in the hierarchy? Naturally there are funding issues – the state orchestras, despite their importance, no longer get federal funding though their prestige can attract private support.

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This SWOT has been provided by the CEO of the Australian Music Publishers’ Association Ltd, the national industry organisation. Music publishing shares with other sections of the music industry the major disruptions created by new technologies. Nevertheless, it is prospering, with increased revenues coming especially from digital music including streaming. While piracy and illegal downloading are enabled by digital technologies and are costly to the industry, so also do the technologies offer many new opportunities for growth.

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This SWOT has been provided by the President of the Australian Music Industry Network, a national gathering point for the state music industry councils. The SWOT takes a broad view of the commercial music industry (excluding the non-profit sector), lists many strengths, and targets weaknesses in things such as investment finance and availability of data about the industry. Opportunities are seen in many areas, some constrained by the need to address weaknesses.

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This SWOT from the national organisation, the Australian Society for Music Education, assesses the situation of music education in schools. It notes strengths in curriculum and in schools where music education is taught by specialist teachers, weaknesses where music education is not taught by specialists and as a result generally of the low status given to music education and the weight given to competing subjects in literacy, numeracy and STEM. There is an inspiring list of opportunities.

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This is a SWOT for the Amateur Chamber Music Society rather than amateur chamber music performance more broadly. Nevertheless, some information about the broader situation can be implied. ACMS can be thought of as the national organisation but it is active mainly Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra. Most activity is organised locally. ACMS believes there is little organised activity in WA, NT or Tasmania.

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Loudmouth whispers!

The Music Trust’s monthly ezine has music news, articles, reviews, goss from Australia and all over the world. CLICK for current edition.



JAZZ 2015 Freedman Fellow Tal Cohen had made two discs, one with his New York band and one with singer Danielle Wertz. Pianist Barney McAll’s has made a monster recording, Hearing the Blood.

POP Stress of Leisure’s disc full of joy – to be taken seriously.

OPERA Australia’s leading resident soprano Emma Matthews with a disc of arias.

EXPERIMENTAL Ground-breaking discs from Mike Majkowski with electroacoustic invention, pianist Adrian Lim-Klumpes with his own Preludes and Fugues.

CLASSICAL Erin Helyard’s insightful performance of Handel on harpsichord.

NEW MUSIC Penetrating choral compositions from Paul Stanhope and Sydney Chamber Choir.

ECLECTIC Wild eclecticism from Julian Curwin’s Mango Balloon 4, Pigeon Laundry.

BOOK. Angus Young, AC/DC’s ‘schoolboy’ lead and his riotous biography.

You can read this month’s reviews at the link below and also all the reviews ever published on the site – now over 500. Search by title, artist, genre, reviewer. Go to Loudmouth Reviews

While you are there, if you click on the “Loudmouth” logo at top left, you will open the rest of the month’s ezine.

Jack Symonds

About Us

The Music Trust’s Music in Australia Knowledge Base is the principal source on Australian music sector facts, figures and issues. It covers the entire music sector including the music industry, music education, and music in the community. This superior source constantly takes new steps to understand the future — including the milestone 2014-16 scenario planning project.

The Knowledge Base content is prepared by authoritative writers, contributing their work freely. Readers are invited to comment, contribute or suggest new content. Guidelines for Contributors allows your personal style to fit in. Please contact us with original material or changes to existing articles.

Finding your way around


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