A new report has found only 7900 Australians list working as a musician as their main job, with a pitiful average annual income of $7200.
The report, entitled "Global Music Streaming And its Impacts on the Local, Original Music Communities", was commissioned by the Pack Australia, a not-for-profit focused on the betterment of music makers. Much of it, as its title indicates, looks at the effect of streaming business models on musicians' income. For independent Aussie musicians, much of the news is grim; to make back the cost of an average coffee in Perth, a song must be streamed 1000 times. That's because an average play on a streaming service (including YouTube) nets an artist just 0.005 cents.
The problem is, the big picture looks quite good. Music fans are listening to more music than ever; 9/10 Australians listen to music every week, we spend $2 billion on music every year and the Australian recording industry posted record revenues in 2018. It's hard for governments to realise or care about the obvious nuance in this statistic; only the biggest, signed acts are making money. Music website TrackRecord disturbingly notes 87 percent of the songs added to Spotify’s popular RapCaviar playlist in 2017 came from the three major labels. The editorialising in The Pack's report doesn't sound a death knell, but indicates that things will be difficult moving forward for independent Aussie musos.
“The way we see it, if this continues unchallenged, unsigned Australian musos won’t be able to afford to make new music at all, and we’ll be stuck with ‘cookie-cutter’ albums coming out of big labels and hit studios from overseas, but struggling to support our own great, Australian artists. To us, that’s not an industry – it’s a factory," the report states.
"It will require genuine collaboration and human-centred design; it will require a decadal commitment; and, it will require a political paradigm shift.”
Read the full 44-page report here.