Petition for radio to play more Australian music kicks off
The local music quota debate appears to be rearing its head again, with a petition kicking off online calling for at least 35% Australian music to be played between 6am and 6pm Monday to Friday on Australian radio.
“With the live music industry (among others) being the first to suffer in lockdowns and restrictions, why not boost that industry in a way that requires little effort?,” the petition says. “After all, there is no shortage of talent here in all genres.”
ARIA CEO, Annabelle Herd, who is not directly involved in this petition, told TMN that radio is a hugely important platform for Australian music. She noted, however, that she can’t see any radio station in a metro market currently putting out 25% Australian music.
“Radio is still a hugely important platform for Australian music, particularly for emerging local artists to reach mass audiences. A strong local music ecosystem benefits everyone so it makes complete sense for radio and music to work in close partnership,” she told TMN in an interview before this latest petition came to light.
“From what we can see though, no commercial radio station in a metro market is currently reaching 25% Australian content, partly due to some anachronistic format and genre rules that determine the level of the quota. It’s also unfortunate that there is no requirement for Aussie music to be played in peak hours.”
She noted, however, that regulation should always be a last resort.
“I would much prefer that we work in collaboration with radio to get these numbers up, and to do as much as possible to showcase and promote our amazing Aussie artists – some of whom are having extraordinary success overseas.
“This conversation, of course, is not just about radio. The Government is currently having a good look at local content policy for film and television including on streaming services. It is time to do the same for music. The local music industry has been hit particularly hard by ongoing COVID restrictions and lockdowns so it is the perfect time to look at how we support, foster and grow the incredible talent we have within our shores.”
The CEO of Commercial Radio Australia (CRA), Joan Warner, meanwhile, defended radio’s position and said the medium is already one of the most heavily regulated in Australia, and anything further would be detrimental.
“Radio is a strong contributor to Australian music and CRA has worked closely with ARIA and APRA AMCOS to develop a definition of Australian music and put in place monitoring to ensure stations are meeting and in some cases exceeding their quotas,” she told TMN.
“Stations provide significant airplay for established and emerging Australian artists. For example, under the rules, stations playing 20% Australian music must ensure that not less than 20% of that music is new Australian music – that is music published within 12 months prior to broadcast. In addition to airplay, stations provide a substantial amount of support for the music industry through interviews, competitions, events and promotion of concerts and other live gigs.
“This all provides an avenue for artists to promote their product and reach the 80% of Australians who listen to commercial radio each week. Radio is all about featuring local voices and supporting local communities. We are already one of the most heavily regulated industries in Australia, particularly in comparison to global competitors, and any further regulations would be unnecessary, burdensome and restrictive.”
This latest petition comes off the back of work by musician Jack River, who recently penned an open letter to media outlets and big businesses calling on them to do more to visibly support Australian artists.
Since then, numerous organisations have tweaked their playlists and issued statements in support of the movement.
The country’s #1 DAB+ station, Coles Radio, said it would increase its focus on Australian music, and Qsic – which soundtracks stores including 7-Eleven – has followed suit.
There is also a petition doing the rounds for corporations to play Australian music whilst they have consumers on hold.
Then this morning, the music industry came together to formalise the movement and push for businesses to do more via the ‘Our Soundtrack Our Stories’ campaign.