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News January 31, 2023

Music Industry Reacts to Government’s ‘Revive’ Policy: ‘It’s An Enormous Win’

Music Industry Reacts to Government’s ‘Revive’ Policy: ‘It’s An Enormous Win’

After the lean years of the pandemic, and a leadership at times distracted or disinterested in the plight of the music industry, the Albanese government hits the restart button with its Revive package.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese and federal arts minister Tony Burke presented the long-awaited National Cultural Policy on Monday (Jan. 30), a 116-page document that maps the road ahead for the music industry.

The takeaways are many and various.

From the very top is a commitment for new, additional investment totaling $286 million over four years; the creation of Music Australia; a regional push for Double J; and a timeline to legislate for local content quotes on streaming platforms.

As the industry chews on the details and ponders the next move, the initial read is an enthusiastic one.

“The government has responded to our collective call, which I think is a real positive,” APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston tells The Music Network.

The policy is an outcome of a two-year call from the industry for action, during which 18 organisations banded together “like it never has before”.

Top of the agenda was the establishment of an “overarching strategic and policy investment in the contemporary music industry. We called it Music Australia. The government has responded,” says Ormston.

“I think it’s an enormous win that, for the first time ever, there’s a whole-of-government recognition of us as an industry. They’re actually referring to us as an industry for the first time in my living memory.”

The thorny topic of local music regulations was tackled within the pages of the cultural policy, with a commitment to take “necessary action” so that “Australians continue to be able to see and hear quality home-grown content, regardless of which platform they are using.”

As well as this, the government outlines a roadmap for binding laws, and pledges that Australian music “remains visible, discoverable and easily accessible across platforms to all Australians, driven by a vibrant, agile, sustainable and globally facing local music industry.”

Local content is king, and the government appears to understand it.

“We’ve advocated to the government — and I think we’ve been heard — that local content is important across all media,” says Ormston, “whether its traditional commercial radio broadcast through to the audio streaming services and video streaming services. Local content is an issue that needs to be looked at across (all media) and visibility is critical in terms of the health of the local industry as well as export opportunities. We’ve said to the minister there’s an opportunity for policy related to the use of music for the screen.”

Whether the funding pledge ticks all the boxes is a moot point.

“The key point at this stage is to get the framework in place,” explains Ormston.

“There’s an enormous opportunity in terms of how music Australia interfaces with industry and specific government portfolios.”

Following the morning launch at the Espy in St Kilda, several key music industry organisations and advocates welcomed the new policy.

“The strategic focus, backed by new investment into the Australian contemporary music industry and a whole-of-government approach,” says ARIA and PPCA CEO Annabelle Herd, “is a fantastic first step to realise music’s true potential as a social and economic contributor.”

The policy “is an excellent indication that the government agrees and is committed to growing our music industry, as well as helping secure the global audiences for our artists that they are so ready for,” she continues.

There remains “a lot of work to do” and the detail behind the announcement “will be crucial to our success, but this truly is a great start.”

The announcement “cannot be underestimated,” comments APRA Chair Jenny Morris.

“For the last century Australian contemporary music has been pretty much absent in cultural policy development.”

The former pop icon adds, “We also applaud the Australian Government’s commitment and investment in First Nations-led cultural and creative practice. This is a serious signal from government of the importance and centrality of First Nations artists.”

Music industry charity Support Act welcomed the funding commitment from government, its CEO Clive Miller pointing out, “having this increased level of financial security will greatly assist our efforts to support music workers in need, and to continue to support a more mentally healthy music industry.”

Stuart Watters, executive GM at the Australian Live Music Business Council (ALMBC) “welcomed the injection of nearly $70 million” for the creation of Music Australia, within Creative Australia, and several “important new approaches to ensure worker safety and mental health, build First Nations leadership and support for the important work of Sounds Australia and Support Act”.

The ALBMC represents hundreds of members from across the live sector, many of whom bore the brunt of the health crisis.

Adds Watters, “we are very excited to sit down and flesh out the detail with our industry colleagues, government and its agencies to ensure the support for the hundreds of Australian businesses in the live music industry are represented and supported by this momentous policy announcement. This is a critical opportunity to ensure the diverse voices that make up the Australian music industry are truly and equitably represented”.

Artist and advocate Deena Lynch (aka Jaguar Jonze), who served on the panel for the “centrality of the artist,” one of five pillars on which Revive is constructed, was on hand for the announcement.

“An emotional day at the National Cultural Policy launch where our artistry and survivor cries have been heard,” she writes.

What happens next isn’t so clear.

Conversations between industry leaders and officials will continue over the coming days, and presumably, appointments will be made at Music Australia, which Albanese is keen to get up and running in 2023.

“The runway is short to get this done by the end of the year,” notes Ormston.

“We need to understand what that looks like. The commercial music industry needs to feel that (Music Australia) has autonomy in the relation to the government. There are lots of questions in that space. Taking the glass half-full approach, we’ve heard really clearly that the autonomy we’ve asked for is recognised, the contemporary music industry is recognised, now let’s dive in.”

Read the report in full here.

TMN will join Adrian Collette AM (CEO, Australia Council) and Dr Stephen Arnott (Deputy Secretary, Creative Economy and the Arts) in conversation on Thursday 9 February at 2.15pm (AEDT) to discuss the implications of the National Cultural Policy for the music industry, including the development of Music Australia. Click here to register.

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