Dan Andrews’ State Government’s Budget ‘Values the Music and Creative Industry,’ Experts Say
Victoria’s budget could give a much-needed shot in the arm for the nation’s so-call events capital, Melbourne, and, for generations to come, convert its seats of learning into Schools of Rock.
But there’s some pain on the way for medium to large business, which will be expected to carry the weight of the COVID debt.
Those are some of the immediate takeaways from last night’s Victorian Budget, one that has been broadly welcomed by the music industry.
APRA AMCOS applauded premier Dan Andrews’ investment in live music, music industry development, major events and the $2 million set aside for the teaching of songwriting in high schools.
“This investment in songwriting in Victorian high schools will embed the state as a centre of excellence in the global music market,” comments Dean Ormston, CEO of APRA AMCOS on the Andrews Labor Government’s budget.
History shows that introducing songwriting into the curriculum is a sure bet to “not only uncover the next generation of hit-makers,” adds Ormston, “but also inspire learners to build skills in collaboration, literacy, resilience and creativity.”
The state government also committed $7.5 million towards 10,000 live music gigs over the next four years, and continued its funding for the Victorian Music Development Office (VMDO) for the 2024 and 2025 financial years, and such major events such as Always Live, a state-wide live music campaign through which its organisers have restarted Victoria’s legendary live scene and mothballed the memory of those months-long lockdowns..
Always Live was the initiative that brought Foo Fighters to Geelong for the first international stadium show following the onset of the pandemic, and was considered a “passion project” for the late Michael Gudinski.
Ormston also highlights the Andrews Government’s games industry funding package announced last year, which includes investment in Asia-Pacific’s largest games event, the Melbourne International Games Week, with its High Score piece, a partnership between APRA AMCOS and the Victorian Government to support composition and sound art for games.
ARIA and its CEO Annabelle Herd also welcomed the $35.4 million budget announcement.
“This acknowledgement from the Andrews Government is an important step in repairing the Victorian music ecosystem, and our artists’ chance of being able to establish a sustainable music career at home – something that has a proven to be a powerful economic contributor to our national GDP,” explains Herd.
The solution to the creative-drain to bigger, international markets “begins by repairing the industry’s ecosystem, to make the investment in promotion, music videos, travel and other essential support viable,” she adds.
And the launch of a New Music Industry Advisory Council represents a “whole-of-ecosystem approach” and is both “very welcome” and would pave the way for more Victorian acts kicking goals.
The budget doesn’t directly impact small businesses, notes Meredith Fannin, founder and director of music and entertainment-focused accounting firm Darkwave, “but there may be a flow-on effect due to price increases from larger businesses hoping to recover some of the additional tax costs that have been imposed on them.”
In a surprise to no one, the left-leaning government targets medium to large businesses “to pay off COVID debt,” she continues.
Those small businesses with a payroll of less than $1 million will benefit from the increased payroll tax threshold to $1 million from $700,000 within the next two years, notes Fannin. And the abolishment of stamp duty on commercial properties may create incentives for small businesses to own their own commercial property instead of leasing space.
“It was made clear from this budget that the Victorian State Government values the music and creative industry,” she concludes, “with various funding commitments to enable artists to commercialise their artistic endeavours.”
The Victoria budget follows similar healthy wins for creatives through the announcement by prime minister Anthony Albanese of the national cultural policy earlier in the year, and with the election of a NSW Labor government, which took power with a $103 million commitment to the music industry.
“It is exciting to see a renewed focus on the commercial potential of Australian music at both the state and federal level,” comments Herd. “We look forward to working with the Andrews Government and seeing the recorded industry well represented.”
Read the state budget here.