June 10, 2020

Aussie music industry sends SOS to govt for urgent financial support

Aussie music industry sends SOS to govt for urgent financial support
Unsplash / Oscar Keys

A cross-section of the contemporary Australian music industry is sending a plea to the federal government to make a meaningful financial contribution and ensure the survival of the sector.

The music industry adds $16 billion to the economy each year, and now over 1,000 artists as well music businesses and industry workers, have signed an open SOS, calling for urgent intervention.

“Australian music is a proud national asset that entertains, comforts, and uplifts our communities,” states the letter, published today.

“It helps to define who we are as a nation, is a central pillar of our health and well-being and is a key driver of learning in schools. Our artists and industry are always there to come to the aid of our nation during a crisis. Now it is time for the nation to come to our aid.

“While much of the economy starts to re-open, the ongoing restrictions on large gatherings means our industry will continue to be held back from returning to work.”

Among those to have lent their names to the cause are decorated legends Archie Roach, Tina Arena, Jimmy Barnes, John Farnham, Lee Kernaghan, Regurgitator, and Savage Garden.

Joining them are contemporary stars Guy Sebastian, Stella Donnelly, Jessica Mauboy, Thelma Plum, Montaigne, San Cisco, Gotye, The Teskey Brothers and Alex Lahey.

The undersigned also includes leading venues, labels, management companies, touring companies, and peak industry bodies like APRA, AMPAL and AIR, plus many more.

“Without immediate government intervention, the Australian music sector will be hit twice as hard as the rest of the economy and thousands of jobs will be lost within months,” says the letter.

The letter asks for five key areas of intervention including the expansion of JobSeeker to reach excluded artists and individuals and an extension of the scheme until the end of 2020.

There is also a call for business grants to ensure the survival of music businesses and venues, a financial boost to Australia Council funding and tax offsets and red-tape reduction for the sector.

The letter addresses that the music industry will likely have a more prolonged restart as coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

“The long-term cost to Treasury, the economy and the damage to our cultural infrastructure will be immense and long-lasting. Most of the four thousand plus venues that present live music across Australia are closed with no certainty as to when a restart is likely or viable.”

The letter calls for a $40 million Australian Music Recovery fund, in addition to a plan by Live Performance Australia for a $345 million industry reboot.

The federal government has been consistently quiet on the subject of a rescue package for the music industry, despite Labor calling for urgent action on multiple occasions.

“They can’t continue to do nothing in this area,” Labor MP Tony Burke told RN Breakfast.

“All the different people… they all work gig to gig. They were the first industry to shut down and they’ll be one of the last to come out of this.”

The latest tally on I Lost My Gig Australia puts lost income by workers in the sector at $340 million.

“Our industry is resilient, innovative and creative. We fight to stand on our own two feet and in normal circumstances we are self-sufficient. Yet these are not normal times, and we need the support of the Australian Government to help us get to the other side of this crisis.”

Ready the open letter in full here.