What the Budget Means for Music, Artists and the Creative Industry
Confirmed funding for Music Australia, tweaks to tax, and new rules surrounding super are some of the main takeaways from the 2023-24 Federal Budget, presented in granular detail overnight.
As the music industry digests the budget, a document that typically takes days, if not weeks to fully unpack, ARIA has welcomed the government’s commitment to fund Music Australia, the reimagined hub that will support the Australian music industry, and which is expected to launch proper later in the year.
The bottom line: $69.4 million over four years for contemporary music.
“This represents the first time in the Commonwealth’s history that government has committed to long-term development of Australian music as a creative industry,” explains APRA AMCOS chief executive Dean Ormston.
“This funding will deliver on the Australian government’s national cultural policy commitment to establish a national music development agency – Music Australia.”
APRA AMCOS and its CEO also welcome the $35.5 million investment in First Nations arts and culture; $8.1 million for the establishment of the Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces, including funding for Support Act; and $2.6 million set aside for school arts education.
“The creation of Music Australia with recurrent annual funding will, for the first time in the nation’s history, provide an opportunity for a whole-of-government, cross-portfolio, strategic and long-term relationship with the breadth of the Australian contemporary music industry,” Ormston says.
The PRO’s comments are echoed by ARIA and PPCA, which declare the Albanese government’s funding allocation for Music Australia as a “bold agenda,” though the cash comes with a caveat: “We cannot afford to get this wrong,” warns CEO Annabelle Herd.
The cash commitment is “another step toward establishing the much-needed infrastructure to support Australian artists and music industry professionals, while helping realise the true commercial potential for Australian music,” adds Herd. “However, we need to keep things moving.”
APRA AMCOS, ARIA and other industry bodies are committed to work closely with the Australian government as Music Australia takes shape.
Australia remains a top 10 market, cracking the IFPI’s list at No. 10.
Though still a world-player, the pandemic robbed Australia’s music scene from launching new acts into the global mainstream.
“The Australian music ecosystem will not work if labels are not continuously investing in new Australian artists,” notes Herd, “but at the moment the numbers are not stacking up, and the costs of promotion, music videos, travel and other essential support are simply not being covered by earnings.”
Breaking an artist, rising above the noise and connecting with a fanbase here and abroad has “never been more difficult,” continues Herd, pointing to the concerning dearth of homegrown talent on the ARIA Singles Chart.
Against that backdrop, she explains, “there is an urgent need to see this funding applied to the establishment of Music Australia. We must see it up and running as soon as possible, and it needs a bold agenda and to get on with the job.”
ARIA and its sister collecting society PPCA are calling for an “urgent strategic focus” and a “five-year plan to rebuild Australian music.”
With funding, reckons Herd, the industry needs a commercial focus on discovery, export and investment in artists with proven potential, and requires urgent attention on such issues as skills shortages, and more.
Off the back of last night’s budget reveal, Meredith Fannin, founder and director of Darkwave, the music and entertainment-focused accounting firm, has identified several areas worthy of attention.
The expansion of funding for Public Lending Right (PLR) and Educational Lending Right (ELR) rights to include digital content “is a welcome change,” she explains. This follows the previously the unveiling in January of the National Cultural Policy, Revive, which prime minister Anthony Albanese has said will put “the arts back where they’re meant to be – at the heart of our national life.”
As previously reported, Revive is a five-year plan, structured around five interconnected pillars, First Nations First; A Place For Every Story; Centrality of the Artist; Strong Institutions and Reaching the Audience.
Also, explains Fannin, funding for Australia’s Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) has been reduced, which may impact the ability of early to mid-career artists and creative businesses to claim overseas promotional tours.
“However, there is an expectation that the Revive funding package will provide similar grants to make up any shortfalls here.”
When it comes to changes to tax, there has been additional funding to the ATO for GST compliance, superannuation and personal tax compliance, while the low to middle tax offset has wrapped-up.
“There are also changes to the small business asset write-off threshold and the introduction of a small business energy incentive,” adds Fannin.
Artists, whether operating as individuals or small businesses, “will definitely need to make sure their accounting, document management and record keeping is in order.”
Also, the previously-announced rollout of payday super is another main change, which would ensure businesses cannot cashflow their activities with employees’ superannuation.
Many small businesses will need to reassess their cash flow forecasts, says Fannin.
“Increased data matching via single touch payroll will be available, and will highlight those businesses that do not pay their super on time, we expect to see significant ATO audit activity in this area.”
Ormston has the last word. “With this Federal Budget, coordination with state and territory governments and the right policy settings in place, the nation has the potential to supercharge Australian music, leaving a legacy for generations.”
Read more on the federal budget here.