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News May 30, 2022

New Study Investigates Community Radio’s Contribution to Australian Music

Senior Journalist, B2B
New Study Investigates Community Radio’s Contribution to Australian Music

A new study has been green-lighted to investigate community radio’s impact on Australian music.

Past research showed that 38% of the five million weekly listeners are searching for unorthodox music they won’t find elsewhere, while 33% tune in to actively support local musicians.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has allocated $218,000 for the three-year study titled Community Music Radio: Building the Music-Media Ecosystem.

It is led by researchers from Monash and Griffith universities in partnership with the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA); the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF); the Australia Council for the Arts; and APRA AMCOS.

“We have always known that community radio has a unique and important part to play in helping to get Australian music heard across the country.

“Across our sector, stations play on average 36% Australian music each week.

“This is because stations are deeply connected to and integrated with their local music scenes, with presenters running labels, putting on gigs and building grassroots relationships and networks.

“We look forward to sharing the results with the wider industry to further nurture community radio’s contribution to Australian music,” Jon Bisset, CBAA’s CEO, said.

Monash researcher, associate professor Shane Homan, called such a study long overdue.

“This funding provides for the first time the opportunity to dig deep into how community stations operate across different music genres and local contexts that can, in turn, provide a national picture,” he said.

Kirsty Rivers, head of music for the Australia Council pointed out, “This comes at a critical time – as the industry works to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and to navigate significant social and technological change.”

The project, to start in August, has three core aims.

Firstly, it is to establish its economic and socio-cultural contributions.

Secondly, it will be to assess the role of stations in the discoverability and visibility of Australian music on global digital platforms.

Thirdly, the project will produce a series of case studies of stations and artists of diverse music genres and locations.

Griffith University researcher Professor Susan Forde expected the broadest picture to be obtained with the inclusion of First Nations, LGBTQI+ and non-binary artists and programmers.

“We’ll be looking at opportunities provided to musicians and artists by small, local community radio outlets right through to the ways that the industry can interact with major global streaming platforms,” Prof. Forde said.

For Monash University’s Prof. Heather Anderson, an expert on the modelling of economic productivity, the project’s emphasis on economic value “will reveal a broad range of beneficial social and cultural activities” associated with Australian community radio.

News of the study comes just days after the new Labor government brought more certainty to the community broadcasting sector with a $29 million funding package.

The role of community and public radio — in particular as new thought leaders in the collaboration media space — is also spotlighted in Vivid Sydney’s ideas program.

On June 7, from 6pm at UTS Sydney’s Chau Auditorium, Queensland University of Technology senior lecturer Christina Spurgeon, Melbourne station PBS FM broadcaster Maddy Macfarlane and ABC Regional’s Scott Gamble, will discuss how co-creative media is impacting on engagement, creating and supporting creative communities, and what this means for the media makers and community-minded for the future.

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