Nearly 50% Of Aus Artists Have Considered Leaving Music In The Last Year

19 October 2023 | 4:00 pm | Mary Varvaris

1,300 artists were interviewed for the far-reaching, comprehensive survey.

triple j's 'What's Up In Australian Music' survey poster

triple j's 'What's Up In Australian Music' survey poster (Source: Supplied)

Triple j has offered a sneak peek of its What’s Up In Australian Music? survey at SXSW Sydney today (19 October), showcasing a look at the national youth broadcaster’s comprehensive Australian artist survey.

The first result unveiled from the survey, also shared on Instagram, is heart-shattering: 48% of Australian artists have considered walking away from music in the last year. The result stems from the questionnaire, which surveyed 1,300 Australian music industry professionals.

Revealing some of the biggest “turnoffs” surrounding being a musician in Australia, the surveyed artists cited lack of support and resources, financial instability, the politics and gatekeeping within the industry, difficulty breaking through to the mainstream and a lack of opportunities, a lack of representation and diversity, and exploitation and unfair treatment as key factors detrimentally affecting their careers.

In addition to the turnoffs, triple j discovered that women are more likely to consider quitting a career in music than men (55% for women, 44% for men), with around 65% of women in music admitting they’d faced gender-based discrimination in the industry.

An artist told triple j that there are “too many fish in a very small bowl”, mentioning that the country is home to many excellent artists, but sometimes, “it just feels like there are not enough people in Australia to care about the amount of music being made”.

Triple j will showcase more results from the What’s Up In Australian Music survey at SXSW Sydney this afternoon (at 2:30 pm AEDT), with the full report to be shared later this week.

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According to a representative for triple j, the survey aims to understand the lives, experiences and feelings of Australian artists, digging into the meat of the industry, including experiences with record labels, grants, performing live at music festivals, what artist income looks like, social media, artist workloads, and more.

When it comes to social media, artists are experiencing some malaise and discontentment with the apps that are supposed to be fun to use. One artist told triple j, “Labels are more likely to sign someone who is good at social media and assign people to help them make music, vs. sign someone who is good at music, and assign people to help them with social media.”

Additional statistics found that live music makes up the majority of an artist's income in 2023 - 57.9%, while for hip-hop artists, streaming makes up the bulk of revenue. 83% of artists in Australia work outside of music to keep their creative careers afloat, with 78% of people surveyed revealing that their other job makes them more money than music. Just 31% of artists said they’ll eventually feel comfortable with the amount they make in their music career.

In terms of the country’s music taste, triple j discovered that under-24-year-old artists are likelier to follow the solo route, while people over 25 choose to be in bands. The acts surveyed also told triple j that they’re keen to perform at music festivals, including Splendour In The Grass, Groovin The Moo and Laneway Festival, as well as Glastonbury on the international scale. However, only 27% of artists said they knew how to be booked for a music festival.

“Bringing this survey together was an eye-opening experience,” triple j Unearthed Executive Producer Tommy Faith commented in a press release. “To see how many artists were working second jobs or considering leaving music altogether was sobering information.

“Ultimately, we hope the wider music industry and music media (ourselves included) will look at these findings and use them to make empathetic decisions about artists and shape content and policy, knowing just how hard it is to be a music-maker in 2023.”

Triple j’s SXSW Sydney showcase will be hosted by Home & Hosed’s Ash McGregor, Holly Rankin (AKA Jack River), Jerry Agbinya (triple j Unearthed Producer and artist, IJALE) and The Push CEO Kate Duncan.