APRA AMCOS Report Shows 1,300 Live Music Venues Decimated, Nightclub Audiences Halved

19 October 2023 | 12:05 am | Mary Varvaris

"There remains cause for considerable concern regarding the decimated venue-based live music market."

Mangle Nightclub

Mangle Nightclub (Source: Facebook)

APRA AMCOS has unveiled its annual Year In Report and, with it, revealed a range of key changes and updates within the music industry over the last twelve months.

On the surface, everything looks good – the Australian live music industry reported record revenue of $690.5m, an increase of 12% on the 2022 financial year result, and major concerts and festivals had seen revenue jump 400% in the first entire post-pandemic financial year, and net distributable income – royalties, etc. – paid to songwriters and publisher members, affiliates and rightsholders leapt up 11% to $595.2 million.

Things are looking good for the international market, with global income for Australian and New Zealand artists exceeding $70 million for the first time – another increase of 17.7%.

The gross revenue for the 2023 financial year also saw a dramatic increase – $270.3m more than the $420.2m of five years ago, which showcases a $64.3 growth.

The APRA AMCOS annual report also entails some of the best-selling concert tours of this financial year. OneMusic found despite cost-of-living pressures; punters flocked to see Ed Sheeran (with local support from Budjerah), Elton John and Harry Styles; local heroes RÜFÜS DU SOL, Crowded House, L.A.B. and SIX60 as well as festivals Listen Out, Laneway (in Australia) and the inaugural Knotfest.

However, despite the highlights, things aren’t so pleasant in the local live music sector. Since the COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions began, Australia has seen the decimation of over 1,300 live music venues and stages across the country. That means we have one-third fewer licensed spaces to host medium and smaller gigs.

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The situation is bleak in nightclubs – crowds have halved since pre-pandemic times, with annual attendance dipping to 1.6 million from over 2.8 million in 2019.

APRA AMCOS is lobbying State and Territory Governments to legislate for the establishment of special entertainment precincts to foster and protect new and existing live music venues, as well as calling on the Australian Government to commit to a live music venue tax offset to act as a catalyst in jump-starting live music nationally.

In a press release, APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston said, “There remains cause for considerable concern regarding the decimated venue-based live music market.

“The establishment of a national music development agency, Music Australia, is a landmark result. We warmly welcome the state-based support with the creation of Sound NSW. The establishment of Creative Workplaces is vital, which will underpin the accountability of our industry to provide fair, safe, respectful workplaces for Australian artists and arts workers.”

Ormston continued, “This means we are now recognised as an ‘industry’ by the Australian Government. Not only that, but we are also an industry worthy of investment.”

With Australian music considered an industry, Ormston is appealing to federal and state governments for additional support. “We’re lobbying all levels of government to establish, at speed, special entertainment precincts to foster and protect new and existing venues. 

“We are also calling on the Australian Government to commit to a live music venue tax offset to act as a catalyst in jump-starting live music nationally. 

“For the current wave and the next generation of music creators to develop their skills and become export-ready, we need to provide them with the resources at home and build a sustainable live music ecosystem.”