Survey Shows South Australia Needs A More Connected Music Industry

20 June 2024 | 11:53 pm | Ellie Robinson

“The survey results reinforce what we know are the current challenges and opportunities for contemporary music in South Australia,” says MusicSA CEO Christine Schloithe.

Festival crowd

Festival crowd (Credit: Rhys Anderson)

MusicSA have released the findings from their first annual survey of the South Australian contemporary music industry, conducted to reflect the current state of the local scene as well as “identify the sector’s perceived strengths and weaknesses to better inform and shape the future of MusicSA’s advocacy and industry development programs”.

According to the organisation, the findings (which you can read for yourself here) show that South Australia’s artists and music business professionals have a “strong demand for a better-connected music industry”, pointing out the need for “more professional and industry development, especially among regionally-based musicians and music businesses”.

One particularly striking question in the survey asked whether respondents thought the South Australian government was working well with the local music industry to effectively support it. Only 14.8 percent answered in the affirmative – with just 0.8 percent saying they “strongly agreed” with the sentiment – while 17.5 percent said they “strongly disagreed”, 22 percent said they “disagreed”, and another 22 percent said they “somewhat disagreed”.

Meanwhile, 80 percent of respondents said the financial state of the local industry is worse than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic (compared to 17 percent saying it’s the same, and three percent saying it’s better), with 52 percent saying the industry is suffering because of the rising costs to do business, inflation and the cost of living. A further 46 percent of respondents reported low or decreasing audience numbers, 41 percent reported a lack of potential to generate cash flow or income, and 35 percent reported a lack of paid performance opportunities for local artists.

In a formal statement, MusicSA CEO Christine Schloithe said of the inaugural report: “The outcomes from the 2024 survey paint an uncomfortable picture about the health of contemporary music in South Australia. While we have an extraordinary pool of talent and some very successful artists and businesses, local contemporary music is under-invested in and we see this in the lack of pathways, the lack of employment opportunities and sustainable careers, the decline in touring and live music, and in the business gaps that exist in our local ecosystem.

“The survey results reinforce what we know are the current challenges and opportunities for contemporary music in South Australia. We also know that with the right policy settings and targeted industry development and investment in the right areas, this is an industry that achieves significant cultural, creative and economic outcomes for the state.”

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From here, MusicSA will pass the findings of their survey down to “key industry organisations, stakeholders and government”, and the body’s own industry development programs and initiatives, it’s promised, “will be tailored to [meet] the shifting needs of the local sector as highlighted in the survey”.

A rep for MusicSA notes of the effort: “Over time, it is intended that the annual survey will continue to benchmark the health of contemporary music in South Australia and build a longitudinal and comprehensive picture of industry gaps, growth, opportunity and trends.”