November 24, 2021

Work to begin on third Melbourne Live Music Census

Work to begin on third Melbourne Live Music Census
Pictured: The Esplanade Hotel, Melbourne

Work is to begin on the third Melbourne Live Music Census.

While the first two, in 2012 and 2017, revealed Melbourne had the most live music venues per capita in the world, this census will also provide data on the devastation of COVID-19.

The Cities of Melbourne, Yarra, Moreland, Darebin, Port Phillip, Maribyrnong and Stonnington have commissioned Music Victoria to undertake the report.

The Department of Jobs, APRA AMCOS and the Live Music Office are also involved.

“It’s interesting because instead of the music industry going to the State and Local Governments asking for help,” census project manager Dobe Newton told TMN, “This time they’re coming to us.

“They’re telling us, ‘we know live music is very important, and we want your help in developing our investments and policies’ … some of which they’ve already put in action.”

The project will be conducted over a six month period from December 2021 to June 2022, with data collection by music industry degree students from creative industries school Collarts.

The final report is scheduled to be presented to participating partners next August.

There will be a comprehensive audit of data from major music, government, council and tourism organisations, and every venue will be given a questionnaire on the size and frequency of gigs, production facilities, staffing, marketing, ticketing and any season shifts in crowds.

Online surveys of musicians, DJs and patrons will also provide figures on demographics, spending patterns, discrimination and ways to increase the live music experience.

The census will address the often overlooked impact of music tourism, and offers future policy directions for live music support and investment in festivals, events, and jobs.

Among 2017’s key findings from over 460 venues across Greater Melbourne, was that 17.5 million patron visits generated $1.7 billion in spending across festivals, concerts and small venues.

Off-site spending in ‘host’ communities generated an additional 40-50% in spending across retail, hospitality and accommodation associated with live music attendance/visitation.

The report, released at the Music Cities Convention hosted in Melbourne in early 2018, was considered a world-first. Its model was later used by the UK Live Music Census (2019) where the findings were presented at conferences in Canada and the US.

The data led to the State Government creating, among other things, the game-changing $22 million Music Works program and Agent of Change.

“With live music returning to our stages, it’s the perfect time to send the strongest possible message to those who can – and want to help,” Newton said, urging people to get involved.