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News April 21, 2019

Bluesfest is worth more to the NSW economy than sport and movies

Bluesfest is worth more to the NSW economy than sport and movies
Image: Joseph Mayers

Bluesfest’s Peter Noble has driven home the importance of live music on the NSW economy, noting how his iconic festival draws in more money than sport and movies in the state.

It’s no secret that live music is one of the most celebrated industries in Australia when it comes to public approval. After all, Melbourne’s status as the live music capital of the world is enough to realise that this country is doing something right when it comes to supporting our local musicians.

However, in New South Wales, it’s a totally different story, with the Gladys Berejiklian Government appearing to do all they can to suppress the growth of the state’s live music industry.

Now, in speech given by Bluesfest founder Peter Noble at a VIP party during the festival’s 30th anniversary, it’s become clear just how important live music – and Bluesfest itself – is to the NSW Government.

Discussing the recent guidelines that have been imposed by the state Government, Peter Noble explained that such restrictions and suggestions can immediately stifle the future success of an event that means so much to the state’s economy.

“We don’t want to see things imposed upon us,” Noble explained. “We don’t want to be told we have to spend 100 grand here and 100 grand there. Because you know what the truth of our industry is? We’re not making enough money for that to be imposed upon us.”

“Nobody looks at Bluesfest and says, ‘Peter, you must be making millions.’ In the latest economic impact survey, we turn over $243.4 million for this state. Can I say that again? $243.4 million. Bluesfest alone.”

“If you compare the live music industry – the contemporary live music industry – to the movie industry and people going out to movies, the music industry is bigger,” Noble continued.

“But here’s the one you won’t believe until you see the data; we’re bigger than sport.”

Check out the highlights of Bluesfest 2015:

“We know it, and we’ve got the data, and Live Performance Australia has provided it,” Peter Noble continued. “And Government needs to act on that, they need to work to protect us, and to enhance us, and to invest in us. And if they do that, our business will flourish.”

“We only have to look at Victoria, and in Victoria the Government has said, ‘We want to be a music state, and we want Melbourne to be a music city.'”

“They’ve invested a lot of money, and when you go to Victoria and when you walk around, you can walk between wonderful music venues and everybody’s having fun. They’re not out there damaging people’s live because of the fact that they’re enjoying culture.”

“At a club level, music in New South Wales is in decline,” he added. “Venues are closing, lockout laws in their initial wave were effective, but now, it’s kind of lethargy.”

“Now, people are just going like, ‘Well, we don’t go out in Sydney much anymore for live music.’ I’m not saying they’re not going out at all, but the clubs are suffering, and we have to find ways to bring our nightlife back to life.”

While rallies have been held in order to bring attention to the plight of the live music scene, explicitly demanding that the NSW Government “Don’t kill live music”, it feels impossible to believe that the Government would impose such restrictions on an industry and festival that provides so much money for their economy.

While it remains to be seen whether or not the Berejiklian Government will change their tune and scrap ridiculous new licensing laws, Peter Noble has also noted that the implementation of such a regime could in fact spell the end of Bluesfest in New South Wales.

Here’s hoping that the NSW Government take a leaf out of Joni Mitchell’s book, and choose to realise just what they’ve got before it’s gone.

Check out the highlights of Bluesfest 2018:

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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