News April 12, 2018

Live Music Census shows Melbourne has most live music venues in the world per capita

Live Music Census shows Melbourne has most live music venues in the world per capita

The second Melbourne Live Music Census showed that the city’s live music sector is in extremely good health.

In 2017, it had a 19% rise in the number of advertised gigs to 73,605 – up from 62,000 in 2012, and drew 17.5 million patrons.

These accounted for more than $1.42 billion spent in small venues and at concerts and festivals in 2017, represented a 16% increase on the $1.22 billion spent in 2012.

The figures were released this morning by Music Victoria, and based on the Census that took place on Saturday November 25 last year.

Music Victoria says that Melbourne has one live music venue per 9,503 residents, making it the live music capital of the world

The report states, “By comparison London has 245 venues (1 per 34,350 residents), New York has 453 venues (1 per 18,554 residents) and Los Angeles 510 venues (1 per 19,607 residents).”

Music Victoria CEO Patrick Donovan tells TMN that he attributes the growth of the number of venues and audience attendance in the past five years, since the first census was held, to the rise of part time live music venues as house parties and porch/ lounge sessions. 

He also puts it down to the popularity of live music at non-traditional venues, such as sporting events, and at institutions such as the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) the Melbourne Zoo and Melbourne Museum.

“Those shows have incredible figures,” Donovan points out.

“Shows at the NGV are really successful. Smaller bands playing the zoo and museum bring three times the crowd, from people wanting to see music played in a different environment.”

Donovan sees the rise of these alternate venues as “a real positive” and that traditional venues are not threatened.

“They encourage the experiencing of music – and once you’re hooked you’ll have an insatiable appetite for it.”

One of Music Victoria’s priorities is to activate all-ages gigs in the state.

“We went to the government on deregulating all-ages gigs five years ago but the business model doesn’t stack up.”

Key figures released today show:

* The 17.5 million attendance total for 2017 was a 12% rise from 15.6 million in 2012.

* 55% of venues reported their crowds were up in the past 12 months. Only 16% noted a decline.

* Attendance at Melbourne live music events exceeded those of the Australian Football League (AFL), Spring Racing Carnival, A League, Basketball, Netball, NRL, Cricket and the Australian Grand Prix combined.

* On the night of the 2017 census (Saturday November 25), gigs in Melbourne generated $6 million in turnover ($5.3 million in 2012).

Door charges or tickets, initiated at half the venues, generated $1.25 million.

Additional spending at gigs as food and drink, transport and merchandise generated $4.75 million. The figure was $3.7 million five years ago.

* On Census Night, gigs in small venues in the CBD and music precincts) employed an estimated 3,696 musicians, 1,765 DJs, 1,059 production staff, 2,118 security personnel and 7,255 venue staff.

Theatres and concert venues on the night employed a further 148 musicians, 40 production staff and 665 venue staff.

Census project manager Dobe Newton attributes the growth of the live sector in the past five years largely to the efforts of venue owners.

He says, “Five years ago, very few venues took precautions about protecting the hearing of patrons and staff, or had a sustainability policy, or a sexual harassment policy.

“A lot of venues have taken on board that people who go to venues want to feel safe and that the venue is concerned for their physical and mental health.

“Most of the successful venues are successful because they  understand that they compete for entertainment dollars, and if they don’t provide good entertainment and facilities, people will choose to spend their money elsewhere.”

Music Victoria’s close relationship with the state government has manifested in protection as agent of change, matching grants for renovations, good neighbour policies, mentoring of young venue operators and a trial of educating staff in nine venues about watching out for sexual harassment.

Newton will present a more detailed analysis of Census figures at next week’s Music Cities Convention.

Both Donovan and Newton despaired that reluctance by ticketing agencies to provide background information on ticket buyers prevented them from further studies on music tourism.

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