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Tuesday, 2 April 2019
Page: 14430


Mr HOWARTH (Petrie) (13:07): On behalf of the Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts, I present the committee's report of the inquiry into the Australian music industry, together with the minutes of proceedings.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

Mr HOWARTH: by leave—The Australian music industry is a challenging and highly competitive industry in which to pursue a career. Many Australians dream of a career in the music industry and being able to make a living out of their passion and talent for music.

It is vital that the Australian music industry works to ensure that artists and other industry careers are supported and sustainable, and that a diverse range of Australian artists are able to thrive. Investment in the support and promotion of Australian artists is essential to the retention of talent and, ultimately, the sustainability and growth of the Australian music industry.

The Australian recorded music industry has experienced significant disruption as a result of technological advances and the rapid digitisation of the distribution of music, forcing the industry to adapt and evolve. It is no small challenge to successfully provide a competitive and attractive alternative to 'free' music. However, the recorded music industry's recent return to growth and decrease in the number of consumers downloading music illegally is evidence of the industry's successful adaptation to the digital disruption.

In its report, the committee encourages streaming services to publish clear, consistent and transparent information regarding how payments for artists are calculated. Furthermore, the committee found that the pricing cap on licence fees for the radio broadcast of sound recordings distorts the market in a way that disadvantages Australian artists and has recommended that the cap be removed.

A thriving live music scene is essential to the development of Australian artists. Throughout the inquiry, it became clear that the regulatory environment at the state and territory and local levels is a significant factor in the success of a city's live music venues and its music scene more broadly.

The committee recommends that the Australian government invest in the Live Music Office to continue its work advising and supporting state and local governments to develop regulation that encourages and celebrates live music, rather than hindering it. It also recommends that the Australian government invest in supporting Australian artists to tour in Australia, both in major cities and in regional areas. I note that the government has announced a new $22½ million grant program to bring more live music to Australian communities and an additional $2 million to the Australia Council to increase performance opportunities for musicians, including in regional venues, through the Contemporary Music Touring Program.

For Australian music to flourish, it must be heard. It is essential that Australians can easily access and encounter Australian music—hear it on the radio, find it on streaming playlists and hear it in our favourite television programs and in the films we see. The committee encourages music streaming services to work with the Australian music industry to establish benchmarks for Australian content on locally curated playlists and makes recommendations regarding the application and monitoring of Australian music content quotas for commercial radio.

The digitisation of the distribution of music has provided unprecedented opportunity for Australian music to reach a global audience. The scale of Australian music exports is rapidly increasing, and the committee supports the Australian music industry's ambitious goal of Australian music gaining a five per cent market share of the global music market by 2030. The committee recommends that the Australian government invest in Sounds Australia's music exports program and that it prioritise and support Australian music at government activities and events. It also recommends that the Australian government work to develop mutually beneficial visa arrangements with the United States of America to allow artists from both countries to more easily showcase and tour. I note that the government has announced an additional $1.6 million for Sounds Australia to expand the reach of the program into new markets, including in Asia.

Australian artists and the music they create are the product that every other part of the music industry exists to promote, sell or develop. Making music takes a significant investment from artists—not only the cost of recording or staging music but also the time involved in learning their craft and applying their knowledge and skills to create great music. It is essential that Australia support and safeguard its talent pipeline, ensuring that Australian artists are able to create great music now and into the future to this end. The committee makes recommendations including: encouraging states and territories to improve access to music education for public primary and secondary school students; investing in initiatives aimed at training and supporting Australian artists and industry professionals to grow and develop their businesses; investing in grants and industry partnerships that support artists in the creation of new music and new recordings; and investing in Support Act to enable it to expand its services and deliver crisis support for Australian artists that are experiencing financial hardship, ill health, injury or mental health issues, preserving Australian talent and ensuring that artists are able to thrive during the good times and the bad.

I note that, in addition to the measures mentioned already, the government has announced new programs funded in this year's budget that focus on women in music and Indigenous musicians. These national development programs will provide professional training in contract negotiation, marketing and finance as well as support for touring and recording and for planning effective touring circuits.

I would like to thank everyone who appeared before our committee to give evidence. I would like to especially thank the secretariat staff involved, who have been of great assistance to me and the committee—Casey Mazzarella, Jazmine Rakic and Stephen Boyd. And I want to thank all the committee members—especially the deputy chair, the member for Gellibrand—and everyone who was involved in tabling this report. Thank you.