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Environment and Communications References Committee
National Cultural Policy

AMATO, Ms Maria, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Independent Record Labels Association [by audio link]

MASSO, Mr Alexander, Executive Officer, Australian Music Association [by audio link]

SCHLOITHE, Ms Christine, Chief Executive Officer, Music SA


CHAIR: I now welcome representatives from the Australian Music Association, the Australian Independent Record Labels Association and Music SA. Do you have any comments to make on the capacity in which you appear?

Ms Schloithe : I am also a representative of AMIN, the Australian Music Industry Network.

CHAIR: I will ask you to give us a short opening statement, and then we can go to questions. We might start with Ms Amato from the Australian Independent Record Labels Association.

Ms Amato : We're a trade body that looks after Australian independent artists and record labels. We promote their interests. We try and help educate them where possible through our annual conference and through mentorship programs. We're currently running the Commonwealth funded Women in Music Mentor program, which ends this year, and we have an annual awards program. That's a very brief summary.

CHAIR: Thank you, I appreciate that. Mr Masso from the Australian Music Association?

Mr Masso : I'm calling from Poland, so I'm just on a bit of a dodgy line. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. The AMA, or the Australian Music Association, represents the music products industry. Our members are wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers and associated businesses. Our submission to the cultural policy consultation and this inquiry addressed four areas of interest to us. They were music education; participation in music more broadly; spectrum allocation for wireless audio devices; and musical instrument certificates, which relates to the Samuel review of the EPBC Act. We didn't really refer to the main elements of Revive, like Music Australia and the other institutional changes, but there are lots of things to be optimistic about in Revive.

I'd just like to focus on music education in my introduction. Revive clearly references—as its predecessor, Creative Australia 2013, did—the importance of arts education in schools, including music. However, we know that access to quality music education is not consistent, and many Australian children miss out or have insufficient musical opportunities. The 2023 policy does not, and the 2013 policy did not, take steps to address systemic issues of provision.

Provision of quality music education in primary schools is the focus of Music Education: Right from the Start, a great initiative led by Alberts music. The AMA is an enthusiastic supporter of this, and I sit on the advisory group. They recently published an important report on initial teacher education, or ITE, for music, called Fading notes, and I've asked if I could table that report; I've sent that in advance. As the name suggests, the report did not find that the situation is improving. The research concludes that diminishing levels of music education within generalist primary teaching degrees leave most teachers underprepared to meet the reality of the classroom and the expectations of the curriculum. Music training and ITE in degrees has fallen by 53 per cent in 14 years, from an average of 17 hours to just eight hours in 2022. That includes the nine years of implementation of the national curriculum.

We really need more data to identify what is improving or declining; how many teachers are able to teach music; how many students have access to a quality, sequential, ongoing education in music; where the gaps are; and how many students play a musical instrument. These basic questions really can't be answered with any confidence.

The goal of quality school music education for all Australian students is implicitly supported by Revive, but there's no explicit commitment to take the steps needed to achieve this important and beneficial aim. Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you. And Music SA?

Ms Schloithe : Music SA is the peak body for the South Australian contemporary music industry; it's not-for-profit, has operated for more than 25 years, and, importantly, is one of eight state based peak bodies that represent the interests of the state music industry. Together, the eight peak bodies make up a coalition called AMIN, the Australian Music Industry Network. Music SA specifically exists to promote, support and develop the local music industry by nurturing careers, creating pathways, delivering industry and professional development and connecting artists, audiences, venues and businesses.

Music SA provided a submission to the consultation process for the development of the national policy, contributed to a submission by the coalition of the eight state based peak bodies, and was a signatory to the submission by the national music industry. Music SA, along with QMusic, Music Tas and WAM, West Australian Music, also wrote to Minister Burke following the launch of Revive, drawing attention to the importance of the new national cultural policy equitably supporting capacity-building and activity outside of the concentration of music industry businesses on the eastern seaboard.

Collectively, AMIN, as a body, works to connect and represent the Australian music industry, with a particular focus on artists, venues and industry professionals. Together, we represent more than 12,000 artists, venues, managers, promoters, labels and allied music businesses, and we deliver programs and services that develop the music ecosystem, including professional development programs, best-practice guidelines, mentorships, skills development and advice on how to navigate a tricky industry. Most importantly, the eight state peak bodies are removed from specific sectional or commercial interests, and we are the only state and territory music organisations in Australia that represent music artists without vested interests.

We welcome the national cultural policy and the introduction of the Music Australia governing body. While the details around Music Australia are yet to be announced, we consider it of paramount importance that: the referenced co-investment agreements with states, territories and the industry align with the purpose and activities of AMIN and enhance what our peak body organisations have successfully developed over the years in response to industry need; a thriving national industry is a product of healthy and dynamic state industries, and states, cities and regions that lie beyond the commercial and business music industry hubs of the eastern seaboard are equitably supported, as, historically, cities and regions outside of decision-making centres can be disadvantaged in terms of national programs, funding, access and engagement; the Music Australia governing board is diverse, is representative of the diversity of the sector with a strong artist voice and generally represents all the working parts of the industry and balances out more dominant voices of a loud few; and sector development and activity is mapped, with a view that successful programs and initiatives are further enhanced and extended and that there is no duplication and wasting of resources. I'm really pleased to be here. We appreciate the opportunity to speak and underline Music SA's aim in support of REVIVE as a policy that will significantly contribute to the betterment of the Australian contemporary music industry.

CHAIR: Thank you. Maybe to you first—I think it's interesting you were saying you've got concerns and there are issues in relation to Music SA, but what you're saying is the concerns that you have as a state based body are very similar to the other state based bodies around the country. One of the concerns that has been put to us in relation to the creation of Music Australia—and, for the record, we pushed very hard in the Greens for the establishment of Music Australia, so I'm very pleased to see it occur—is making sure that that representation on the board, the type of expertise, is broad enough that it actually encapsulates the ecosystem of the music industry. The minister could hand select or propose a variety of wonderful and amazing musicians, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we're looking after the venues, looking after the promoters, looking after the festivals—all of which are needed to ensure that we actually have a music ecosystem. Could you speak to that a little bit, in terms of the need for representation that actually covers the breadth of the industry and what those facets are?

Ms Schloithe : Gosh, that's quite a complex issue. I think you're exactly right about needing to be mindful that the ecosystem is generally represented. The music industry is a complex industry. It's a very broad church, and there are many working parts. Perhaps one of the best ways that I've heard it described recently is it's made up of a vast ecosystem of micro and small businesses. There aren't large tranches of huge organisations that lead the way. It really is a working ecosystem made up of many working parts.

Compiling a governing body for Music Australia that is representative is not an enviable job. I would suggest that that really needs to be made up of state representatives and representatives from all those working parts. Music SA would define the key stakeholders inside the industry as predominantly artists—without artists we don't have an industry. It is the venues. It is the businesses that support artists and the venues: the labels, the recording studios, the allied industries of hospitality and technical production. They need to be accounted for in the music industry. I think there really needs to be a balanced view to the commercial elements of the industry, which definitely do need support to leverage better commercial outcomes, and we do know the economic benefit of a healthy music industry and the export potential. I don't think anyone disagrees that that needs building blocks, but the industry also encompasses quite a vast non-commercial aspect of artists; of venues; of genre; of music; and of different ways of making, performing and composing, and just making sure that that's inclusive as part of the process.

CHAIR: Do either Maria or Alex have anything to add to that question of diversity?

Ms Amato : I think Christine succinctly encapsulated how diverse and niche the ecosystem is in Australia. All of these bodies exist because they represent an area of the industry that's not captured by one large organisation. Many of the peak bodies don't receive core funding, so they try to deliver their education, mentorship, promotion and advocacy for their members on a subscription or project-by-project basis, applying for funding for projects. I think Christine was able to encapsulate it all.

Mr Masso : I want to make a couple of points. I've sat on a few panels at the Australia Council in the past. What I've observed is that it's pretty easy to compile a group of seven people that has a pretty good understanding of the whole sector, if you're talking about individuals. That's the way governance has always been managed at the Australia Council. It's people, not representatives of organisations. What would be difficult is if they start trying to include representatives of every stakeholder group. That's going to be difficult with seven or eight people or whatever it is. There's really no precedent for having representatives of industry bodies on the governance panels, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Music Australia and MusicNSW, which is also coming on board, are conceptually based on Screen Australia and Screen NSW models. The Screen Australia board has two governance people from outside the sector, three practitioners who are actors, one producer and one person who's from an industry body. I think that's another way of thinking about it. If you actually get artists, they are generally across a lot of the issues, they have a broad view of things and they're not coming from one position. It's pretty essential that they have artists on those boards, and I think that is possible. But with a limited number of people, not every industry body will be happy. They all want a seat.

Ms Amato : I agree with Alex, but we should also have a manager, a label rep and other practitioners on the board as well, not just artists. Also, if people are on the advisory boards, it would be a conflict interest if those organisations receive funding, so it's really tricky.

CHAIR: Understood. Maria, could you give us a little bit of a rundown about how the Women in Music program works and whether that is something that has been picked up? Can you see where that would fit within the broader national policy?

Ms Amato : It hasn't been picked up at the moment. It was a 2019 funding agreement. This was pre COVID, when we thought we'd be delivering the program in person. Anyway, to cut a long story short, instead of delivering only 80 mentorships over the four-year period, COVID gave us an exclusive opportunity to deliver some of the professional development and mentorship online. Over the four years we've put 350 people through, which is phenomenal. When we gave feedback to the department of the arts, and even as part of this whole industry group, we emphasised that mentorships are vital and that they deliver results and empower people to believe in themselves and further their business aspirations. We view artists as entrepreneurs in that regard.

We pitched that perhaps AAM, the Association of Artist Managers, and other peak bodies could benefit from a mentorship program because it would really benefit their members. We hope that AIR gets to expand on the program to make it genderless and to enable its members to take advantage of mentoring because it will really help the artists they represent and the label they represent.

We ask applicants to tell us three business objectives that they would like to achieve as a result of mentoring. We ask them to tell us who, in the industry who has the skills, they would like to be mentored by. If I were the fairy godmother and could give them one of five people, who would they be and why? Then we put it to an independent body which vets all the applications and looks at who the applicants have selected as one of their preferred mentors, and then we match them. In 80 per cent of cases we have matched them with one of their preferences, who has been appropriately skilled.

In addition, we provide professional development on how to put a marketing plan together, how to be financially literate and how to understand legal contracts. All these skills are taught in short doses because no-one's going to go and do a TAFE course when they're out there in business, but they will take a two- or three-hour course and get some benefit from it.

CHAIR: Mr Masso, I'm interested in the Australian Music Association's submission. You've spoken heavily around the need for improving access to quality music education. You're not the only one to point this out. We've had many people today point out that the education element is really missing from the national cultural policy. If this is going to be a policy that is about the future of the creative industries, a genuinely national cultural policy, then we really need to see that foundation within our educational institutions. I don't just mean the tertiary institutions or the performing-arts institutions; I mean actually in our schools.

Mr Masso : That's right. I think one of the issues is that maybe too much faith is put in the national curriculum to deliver arts education. Often when you ask someone from the school system or government—I've asked this question in New South Wales, where we know for sure lots of kids miss out on music education because there aren't specialists, and lots of teachers aren't trained. You ask the government, 'How many kids receive a music education?' and they say, 'All of them, because the curriculum requires it.' But that's really not the case, and we know that that's not the case. There was a national review of music education in 2005, and it really thoroughly went through all the issues. It's over 300 pages. And we're really still talking about the same issues. In that report, they talk about the exact thing I mentioned in my introduction—the decline in initial teacher education for music, so people who are training to be a teacher aren't confident going into the classroom to teach music. That's one of the problems. That's not the only problem—there are lots—but that's one of them.

The other thing I'd say is, because the federal government isn't involved in direct delivery of music education, I think it allows it to be a little bit more strategic. We don't necessarily need a huge investment from the federal government. We do need coordination and we need it to go on the agenda of the education ministers. If we as a country say—I'm talking about music, but you could also apply it to dance, drama and everything else—'All kids should learn music,' then we should have systems in place to make sure that that happens, and we don't. We have lots of different systems that do different things well. Certain things are much better in Queensland than in other places. There are certain things in New South Wales that are fantastic. Certain things in WA are terrific. South Australia is really the gold standard. Right now they've got a 10-year strategy. They're doing really well. Victoria had a parliamentary inquiry in 2013, and they still haven't got all those things implemented that it recommended. There are a lot of different good things happening, but there is a lot of work to do in the system.

CHAIR: Does anybody else want to add to the education element?

Ms Schloithe : Education can be a complex issue, because it's not necessarily the traditional education pathways that people follow to work in our part of the contemporary music industry. That's incredibly valuable, and it is the modelling and the learning that happens in primary and high schools that exposes children to arts, and we know the benefits to that. There are some really great tertiary courses, but there also needs to be a really healthy dose of vocationally based pathways, mentorships. At the moment, traineeships with organisations would really meet a need. We experienced pretty horrendous losses of people, capacity and expertise as a result of COVID, and the staffing shortages are really significant. But also at the moment we're grappling with the fact that we lost three years of audience going, particularly young people learning to go to their first gigs. It's often by going through that process and experiencing that, and having opportunities like the Women in Music Mentor Program, that people identify career pathways other than learning an instrument or the more traditional job roles that exist within something like the music industry.

CHAIR: You mentioned skills shortages, and we've heard that a lot both today and in previous hearings. Can you just unpack for us what some of those are? As you just alluded to, we're not just talking about the musician per se; we're talking about what enables a music and creative ecosystem and economy. There are a whole lot of people and skills we don't have, right?

Ms Schloi the : First and foremost, it is the artist moving through that pathway. Some of the associated businesses that support the transition of an artist would be the technical production, and that can be in a prerecording or recording environment, as much as in translating to onstage. I'm very aware of crew shortages and technical production shortages that are facing a whole range of festivals and events at the moment. PR—

CHAIR: Is that because people left the industry during COVID and we haven't—

Ms Schloithe : I think it is specifically in response to that. But I also think there is the erosion of arts being taught in schools. We've seen the erosion of arts, which has been pulled out of the curriculum and out of opportunity in public schools for decades.

CHAIR: That meant that there wasn't enough of a resilience there.

Ms Schloithe : Yes. Quite often children and adults see artists performing, playing and recording, so they know what an artist is and they understand that. What they don't see and what is not visible are all those allied businesses that provide support. It's the labels. It's the tech production. It's marketing and PR. Although some artists are great business people—I'd say they're the exception—artists are not great business people. They need a team of business people. They need artist managers. They need agents. They need booking people. They need PR people to help write their bios, to position them publicly and to navigate the world of streaming and technology, which is very complex these days. They're the roles that you don't see. So, growing up, if you love music but you're not musically inclined and you're not interested in being an artist, you don't necessarily have visibility on the whole plethora of jobs that are out there, and there aren't traditional pathways for training in a lot of those businesses.

CHAIR: Good point. Senator Grogan.

Senator GROGAN: I would really just like a sense from each of you of the eastern seaboard focus piece that has been referenced already.

Senator BILYK: Well, Sydney and Melbourne, I think.

Senator GROGAN: Said the Tasmanian, yes.

Senator BILYK: Tasmania's the eastern seaboard.

Senator GROGAN: From the perspective of South Australian and, obviously, other places, you've talked about that tripartite arrangement you have of the three states looking to work together, there's that piece which wants our industry to be more available across the whole country—and we're not just talking Taylor Swift here. But there's also that piece about regional and rural engagement. How are we faring and how can we do better on that? What's the opportunity, with this new cultural policy, to enable us to do so?

Ms Schloithe : I'll specifically reference South Australia because that's what I know most about, but I also know that what I'm talking about is endemic across a number of other states. Regional engagement for contemporary music was in decline before COVID, and COVID really shattered that. We've got a dichotomy where a lot of population transitioned into regional centres for other business reasons, but we have not had the infrastructure in place to boot contemporary music in regional areas.

Part of MusicSA's focus in the next three years is to deliberately target regional engagement. We know that there are artists working regionally whom we want to connect with. We know there are venues regionally that have fallen off the touring map and we need to find ways to connect those. We believe that not only are there viable touring networks for local bands coming out of Adelaide that need that on-the-road experience—and quite often you can best get the start in that by touring regionally in your own backyard—but there is also opportunity for other bands travelling from interstate to transition into a touring network across South Australia.

This also marries with the rise of domestic tourism and local regions really owning that tourism experience of art, culture, food and wine, and music is a natural part of that. MusicNSW pioneered a really fantastic website resource called the Regional Touring Network 18 months ago, and it would be the aim of the other states to be able to replicate that and transition that website right across. It literally builds an interface between touring artists and venues so that anyone thinking about touring has got access to resources to say: 'Well, if I travel through that town—oh, there's a venue there. Oh, it's got a stage. It's got a PA. This is how much it would take to hire it.' And it starts to marry those two interests and give rise to a growing touring regional network.

Senator GROGAN: So that's New South Wales?

Ms Schloithe : Yes, so that would be an example of what I consider to be a terrific project for Music Australia to support to enable capacity building across the other states. They could replicate and push that program.

Senator GROGAN: Yes. What's that website?

Ms Schloithe : It's called RTN, the Regional Touring Network. It's out of MusicNSW.

Senator GROGAN: Does anyone else have a perspective on the whole regional engagement music piece?

Ms Amato : In my interactions with South Australia and the Music Development Office, I think they've had some programs and grants to enable regional access in the past, and I think they kind of led the way really. Mentoring is not exclusive to a capital city, so mentorship programs or education programs, as Christine said, can be irrespective of capital cities. In fact, they do enable people from the regions to reconnect and learn. They may not be able to tour under that premise, but I think the MDO has good examples of how it has connected with regional South Australia.

Mr Masso : I'm probably not the best person to ask because I actually live on the eastern seaboard. When I'm not in Poland I live on Wangal land in Sydney. But, broadly speaking, we want every community to have sufficient opportunities for people to pursue diverse music. We want venues presenting different kinds of music everywhere. We want community bands and choirs for people to participate in everywhere. We want music education programs that are interacting with their community everywhere. We want performance opportunities everywhere. We want opportunities for young people to perform. That's the standard we want.

It's difficult to do that—and there are very good initiatives in different places to support some of those things. For example, there is the program called Live Music Australia. It's a federal government program. It has been good because it brings sort of cultural infrastructure money into different areas. I will give you one example: Murrah Hall, which is a really nice venue on the far south coast of New South Wales. It is a tiny little hall, but it's one of the best music venues. Separate from this job I tour a lot with my jazz band. We play down there. It's one of the best venues we play at. It's great. They got a grant and now they have a full PA and a green room out the back. That was I think Live Music Australia or maybe a state government cultural infrastructure grant. These little injections of $10,000 or $20,000, or whatever it is, help with a PA or a piano. If they have a piano, they can get lots of great music coming through. Those things are really important.

It's hard at a cultural policy level to make sure everyone has a place to play, but you can do things like fund small community halls to have the resources to put on shows. That's a basic thing that we need. Now heaps of people play at that hall. They've a PA. It's a really great space to play.

Senator GROGAN: Thank you very much.

Senator BILYK: You mentioned that there was a downfall prior to COVID in the area. What do you think caused that?

Ms Schloithe : Particular regional areas of South Australia have gone through quite significant change as a result of the style of business and economies. I also think—and this is something that I think is reflected across all areas of the arts that have an audience component—audiences' attitudes to live engagement are changing. I think audience numbers for live music in regional areas were starting to decline. I think there are a whole lot of reasons for that. I think it's about suitability of venue, pathways, artists and choice of music. Someone said recently on another panel when we were talking about the state of the music industry that COVID broke a lot but COVID also created larger fissures where there were already problems starting to emerge. I think this is one case.

As Alex quite rightly pointed out, in a lot of cases some of the remedies are really simple. That community owned hall in a regional area can be specced at a very small budget level as being suitable. That then provides a point of connection for the community and an access point for someone travelling through. I think part of it are the changes in regional areas and the economic pressures that a lot of regional areas are dealing with. But, also, the shift in audience attitude is a whole other big thing that I think arts and culture needs to have a more serious conversation about.

CHAIR: Senator Cadell.

Senator CADELL: I'm going to stay on venues for a little bit, but on a different thing. Back when I was growing up around the Hunter, there was a very vibrant music scene back then. There were a lot of licensed venues—Cambridge closed just last week—where a band could get paid a fair deal to show up, because there were alcohol sales and all this stuff going on. Urban encroachment on a lot of these venues is taking them away. Is that happening here? What can we do to stop that? It's like if you go to sport; it's no use practising soccer if you haven't got a field to play on.

CHAIR: Live music venues.

Senator CADELL: What can we do to keep more live music venues going for that mid-tier? I know about a small hall; I know that stuff. What can we do mid-tier, where people can get paid a fair price to put their shows on? Anyone?

Mr Masso : I can jump in here just quickly. It's a big issue, and part of the issue often is councils. They're juggling the interests of their residents and ratepayers and the interests of the local businesses, and sometimes the people who live next door win, and that's not much fun for the venue. I'm thinking of a few places in particular here. But it's a pretty rough time for some venues to have to navigate all those controls, and they get hit with all this red tape and they get told they have to get a DA when they know they don't have to.

What's happening to solve this is that the Live Music Office is doing really good work. They've been doing really good work for 10 years. That was actually brought in under Creative Australia, the previous cultural policy. What they're doing is finding solutions in different areas and bringing them across. So if something worked well in Fortitude Valley, that's brought down to City of Sydney. Or if something's happening in Melbourne that's working really well, they'll meet with someone from South Australia and tell them about that. So we're trying to improve policies.

One of the really good things that has been happening in the last few years is live music precincts. We have legislation in New South Wales and, I think, maybe other states—I'd have to check that—where you can actually create a live music precinct over any area. It could be a whole street. It could be the whole of Enmore Road, or it could be—I'm trying to think of a street in Adelaide—or it could be a busy street or somewhere in Fortitude Valley, or it could be just a venue. You could create a precinct over just a single venue, which creates a more friendly planning environment, shall we say. So it's very, very important and I think work needs to continue on that.

Senator CADELL: There is another one I'll touch on. I asked some questions earlier about the amount of retained earnings from APRA AMCOS going to writers. But there is also the disparity between the funding that ARIA gets, especially with radio caps, and the amount they can disburse to artists. APRA AMCOS are pulling in, I'd say, five times the amount for performers compared to the amount through ARIA. The radio caps have to go for Australia, don't they?

Ms Amato : Yes. We've been lobbying for that for decades, I believe. I think John Howard came close, but it hasn't happened since.

Senator CADELL: Yes, for a long time. Are there any other easy ways to get in? The way I'm going about this and looking at how it is is very grassroots based. In different industries there are different barriers. Some things are easier to get into. Let's say this: I can pick up a guitar and destroy it, but if I want to I can put some time in and do it. You can get the beginning here; it's that next step in music that I think is really difficult. And then there's that prominence thing once you do get good and you get there again. That's why, when we go to screen, I think Screen Australia will give you plenty of money if you've got some runs on the board, but it's getting those first. There's not an area in arts where there is a process to get from where you begin. In every little development there's a hiccup. In music, what can we do to better put the pathway between picking up that guitar and Hilltop Hoods, a great South Australian band—seeing that I'm here—that's playing at Supercars in front of 10,000 people in Newcastle at the beginning of the month? What's the line?

Ms Schloithe : I think it's all the things that we have talked about. I think it starts with education. I think it starts with education. It's about good policy settings, but that needs to happen at a local council level, a state level—which is happening in a lot of states—and nationally, which is a conversation that's happening now. It is also about genuinely supporting those career pathways and building block pathways from the state based orgs. Other than the state based orgs, there really isn't any other professional network for people to move into to be accelerated. So it is about supporting industry development and professional development at the state level. Then, as people are ready to take that next step, we need to look at the national programs and investment at discrete levels that promote an opportunity for excellence and support at every step of the way. You're right that you can pick up a guitar, but the steps to get to a main stage are just as hard as when you get to that main stage and need to go to the next level.

Senator CADELL: If I go to another venue and find a two-piece with a drum machine playing covers again, I'll scream. It's everywhere because it's easy. It's just horrible.

Ms Schloithe : And it is cheap.

Ms Amato : There are a lot of national bodies that try to hand-hold the journey of a self-releasing artist—AIR, for example; AAM for the manager side; the engineers societies, publicists, [inaudible] that deals a bit on the side and is a national body. With venues and so forth that are live music, they try to help promote and advocate nationally. These are like wages. A lot of artists are going into venue and getting bar tabs rather than getting paid proper session fees. I know that South Australia is enforcing that in all the contracts for funding everyone must pay super—the threshold disappeared from 1 July last year—and earn minimum rates. I think that's excellent and should be adopted nationwide. That will prevent artists getting exploited when they're performing at gigs.

Senator HUGHES: To follow up on some of the stuff that I've asked previously about the different areas of the arts we've heard from: there seems to be a lot of duplication. There are so many industry bodies. There are so many state based bodies. Then there's the federal body. There are the bodies that cover every single aspect of the arts you could imagine. When does it get to the point that it's overadministrated? Is there any sense of looking at consolidation within any part of the sector? To come back to the staffing, business or governance sides, if you're a PR or marketing person or if you're a ticketing agent, can't you do that for a music concert as well as you do for a theatre show? If you're a lighting person or stage technician, aren't you doing that for multiple different types of performances? I'm not saying every performance. Is there any crossover, or are you only a lighting person that does one particular thing, and no wonder you're going to find it tough to make a full-time living?

Ms Schloithe : On the ground it's very different. People working in occupations are very flexible and multiskilled. In a place like Adelaide or South Australia, if you're a lighting technician, you will earn your living by working musicals, Adelaide Festival Centre, small venues and music festivals. In a lot of cases there is not enough work for someone to be very specific to a very small part of the arts and culture ecology.

My personal view—and I say this with 30 years of working across arts and culture in Australia and coming back into music—is that contemporary music is a radically different industry from arts and culture. I think there are too many shades of grey in the arts and culture conversation for there to be a simple solution. I do think there are opportunities for more collaborative work as long as it doesn't homogenise the art, which can be one of the big risks, but I also say that, having been at Music SA for 12 months now, on coming back to the music industry, I was reminded again that so much of the industry does have commercial capacity that is fundamentally different from many other working parts of arts and culture, which generally need a level of government subsidy to do the work. They're not commercially viable by themselves. While there are many disparate parts to the nature of music, and many different businesses, I actually feel that, by default, it is a very lean sector in itself, and it punches far above its weight based on the business capacities it has right in front of it. But I think music is a very different conversation to the other areas of the performing arts where there might be some more synergies.

Senator HUGHES: Okay, but you've had experience across other areas?

Ms Schloithe : I've worked in theatre and visual arts. I've worked for statutory cultural organisations. I've worked in government, writing policy for arts and culture. I feel like, as an employee, I've had the full experience across arts and culture. And I don't think it's as simple—

Senator HUGHES: And did you ever think, 'That person's doing the same job as this person over here, who's doing the same job as the person over here, but we're paying three lots of office rents, we're paying three CEO wages?'

Ms Schloithe : I think there are efficiencies, but I think the efficiencies cannot be made at the expense of the art form, and sometimes there are reasons—

Senator HUGHES: But a business manager can do the books for a multitude of different artists.

Ms Schloithe : They can, but a busy company will have a full-time business manager who—

Senator HUGHES: That, you'd hope, would be a commercially viable business then if they've got a full-time business—

Ms Schloithe : No, not necessarily.

Ms Amato : No.

Senator HUGHES: When do the arts ever expect to be non-government funded, or is it always operating to a point of government intervention?

Ms Schloithe : I think those arts organisations and those artists that are in the creating business, particularly in the visual arts or the performing arts, will very rarely have the opportunity to be commercially successful in their lifetime. That's why artists and the people who make need to be supported.

Senator HUGHES: And do people who make a lot of money out of the arts, and there are people who are incredibly wealthy out of the arts, give back? Do they pay it forward? There are Australian artists who have been very well supported, have gone through schools here, who are now worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ms Schloithe : I would say they're the rarity—

Ms Amato : Yes, they do.

Ms Schloithe : but also, I don't know. I can't speak on behalf of—

Senator HUGHES: But if an Australian taxpayer who's struggling to put food on the table at the moment, who's struggling to pay the electricity bill, whose mortgage has just doubled, is looking at some artists earning hundreds of millions of dollars, and then the arts sector is saying, 'Woe is us,' you can understand why they're saying, 'Really?'

Ms Schloithe : Yes, I understand. Sorry, Maria, I can hear you there. Would you like to jump in quickly?

Ms Amato : Sorry; I should wait for you to finish. Did you want to finish speaking about this? Because I would just like to say that there are very few artists that are earning hundreds of millions of dollars. But if they are, they are giving back because every time they perform, they're engaging graphic artists, hotels, restaurants, staff, venues. So it is giving back in that regard. They're creating employment opportunities for other people in the industry. They need managers. They need lawyers. They need publicists. They need a whole plethora of people to support them on their way. It's not one person pocketing it.

And most times this journey of them being able to earn that kind of money has happened over a 10-, 15-, 20-year period—it rarely happens overnight—and they've had to struggle. If you talk to any Australian artist, they're usually poor and pretty much homeless when they begin their careers and they've needed help in understanding how the industry works, how the royalty breakdowns work. They've needed a good lawyer to negotiate contracts for them. They've needed a good manager to help them on the road, getting heard and engaging with fans. Then we had the advent of streaming, which diluted their fund base because they now only get a fraction of a cent from streaming as opposed to the days of nonstreaming where they might have got $2 out of an album sale, if they were lucky. That's how little they get.

I think it's a very big generalisation to say that they're earning hundreds of millions and taxpayers are not getting the benefit, because they are. It's helping the GDP of Australia, the export value of it, and they are actually returning—for every dollar that's invested, they are giving a return.

CHAIR: Thank you, Ms Amato. Look, we've had lots of evidence today about how the arts in and of itself is a public good, and there's a reason why Commonwealth, state and local governments all invest in different ways. We're going to conclude our hearing now. Thank you so much to the Australian Music Association, Australian Independent Record Labels Association and Music SA. Thank you to all the witnesses who appeared. Thank you to Hansard and Broadcasting for your assistance, particularly being on the road, and thank you to Vitalstatistix for hosting us today. We appreciate it.

Committee adjourned at 16:40