Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts
Australian music industry

McALL, Mr Barney, Private capacity

PRATT, Ms Clea, Private capacity

ZWARTZ, Mr Jonathon, Private capacity

Committee met at 09:32

CHAIR ( Mr Howarth ): I declare open this hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts. Australian music is loved at home and around the world for its creative talent and innovation. The music industry makes a significant contribution not only to Australia's economy but also to its cultural identity. Artists are the heart and soul of the industry. Without Australian artists, there would be no Australian music industry. Australians are known for pushing the boundaries of music in their fields, combining musical excellence with fresh, bold and innovative ideas.

At this hearing, we will hear from Australian artists regarding their experiences and the challenges they face during the climb to the top. The hearing will comprise two panels of Australian artists. The first will focus on songwriters and composers, and the second will focus on performing artists. However, most of the artists appearing today are both songwriters and performers.

This hearing will be broadcast on the parliament's website, and the proof and official transcripts of proceedings will be published on the parliament's website. Those present here today are advised that filming and recording are permitted during the hearing. I remind members of the media who may be present or listening on the web of the need to fairly and accurately report the proceedings of the committee.

I now welcome Australian songwriters and composers. Do you have anything to add to the capacity in which you appear?

Mr Zwartz : I'm a composer and performer.

Mr McAll : I'm a composer and performer.

Ms Pratt : I am also a composer and performer.

CHAIR: Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I should advise you that these hearings are legal proceedings of the parliament and therefore have the same standing as proceedings of the respective houses. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of parliament. To maintain the structure and order of proceedings, I ask that all witnesses' comments be addressed through the chair. Artists' remuneration has emerged as a key theme throughout this inquiry. However, witnesses are in no way obliged to provide detailed information about their personal finances or income on the public record.

I might start with the three members present introducing ourselves. We're from different states. I represent the seat of Petrie, which is on the northern outskirts of Brisbane City and parts of Moreton Bay.

Mr WATTS: I'm the federal member for Gellibrand, in Melbourne's inner west.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: I'm the member for Macquarie, which is the Blue Mountains, just outside Sydney and the Hawkesbury. I've got lots of musos in my electorate. I've also put on the record during these hearings that I have a son who works in the music business. He's a bass player with Julia Jacklin. I come to this with a little bit of motherly interest as well as political interest.

CHAIR: I'd say Ms Templeman definitely knows the most about your industry. For us here today, and as someone who loves music myself but doesn't play and doesn't have the gifts and talents you guys have, could you provide a bit of an opening statement and tell us a little bit about your career, how long you've been in the industry and how you got into it? Anything that you feel is relevant would help us.

Ms Pratt : Classically, I started in high school by doing my music elective, and then was encouraged to write songs. After high school, I started performing as much as I could. I met my partner and then we recorded my first single and the band formed from there. It kind of just happened. I slipped into the performing world and the industry, and started to write more songs and perform around the country.

Mr Zwartz : I started by teaching myself the guitar when I was 15. I discovered that my father, who had ideas of becoming a guitarist and singer himself—which was a bit of a joke—had bought a Beatles book and a guitar, and then promptly didn't ever use them, so I grabbed those. I found the guitar under a sofa, I think. I started at 15. I had a slightly difficult teenage period and didn't go to school much, but music really saved me. I quickly learnt that I wasn't a very good guitarist or singer, so I took up electric bass and then joined a band and toured for the next two years. I then got into a pop band which had some success, and then was—

Ms TEMPLEMAN: Which decade are we talking?

Mr Zwartz : We're talking the eighties here. I'm 57.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: A beautiful age! I'm very close to that.

Mr Zwartz : This pop band broke up after a little while, and then I was left not really knowing what direction to go. Somebody had left a double bass in my flat and I played it. I took it out of its case and played it one night after a particularly gruelling gig. In those days, when you were a support band for a larger named band, it was expected that you would show up at two o'clock in the afternoon, help the roadies load in the bigger band's PA and wait around for them to arrive and sound check. Then you would get half an hour to sound check and then you'd perform your gig on half the PA and half the lights. Then you had to wait around until the end of the gig and help their roadies move the PA out. So, you'd be there from two in the afternoon until four in the morning.

After one of those, the double bass in the corner of the room where I was living seemed very appealing. I took it out and played a couple of notes and then decided that I was definitely going to be a jazz musician, because it seemed to be a road to salvation. So, that's what I did. I auditioned for the conservatorium of music in Sydney, got in, did that for two years and then I took to it. I loved it. I loved it as an art form and I loved it as a form of expression. I've been doing it ever since, apart from other various things that I do around the music industry.

Mr McAll : I think I started playing piano at about seven years of age as a result of singalongs at my family house. That was before the TV, or now the computer, had taken over as the centrepiece of our family. There was a piano. I thought that was a magical thing. My mother played. Various people came over. Then I discovered that to play piano was my salvation. Like Jonathan said, it was a solace place. I used to play for hours, then I would look up and it was dark. I was still playing. I didn't know that I was doing that. Some sort of ritual was going on. This was at a very young age. I listened a lot to Jazztrack on the ABC. That really formed me, because it gave me a chance to understand things that I would never be exposed to and how important they could be for forming me and giving me solace, again.

Going forward, I just kept playing. I went to the college of the arts and graduated, but I was also working with Vince Jones at that time. I received multiple grants from the Australian arts council. I made 15 solo albums as a result of a lot of those grants. I travelled to New York and lived there for 20 years. I was still very connected to Australia. I came back and forth, and now I live here in North Coburg in the seat of Batman. I played with Sia and I was musical director for her for a while. I played with a lot of great black American artists. I attribute a lot of my success and my fortune to the Australian arts council and to having access to music in Mooroolbark, where I grew up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, via the ABC. That's probably my start.

CHAIR: How important was school in influencing you to get into music as well? I know Jonathan was saying he started guitar, self taught, at 15. Did school play any role in it, or was it all outside influences?

Mr McAll : I just loved music so much. I went to a public school in the eastern suburbs. There was a music program to some extent. If there had been a better one, it would have been better, but I wasn't messing around, so I was just going to do that. I suppose it didn't help me so much.

Mr Zwartz : The short answer to that is that I went to a public high school as well, and there wasn't really a music program. I eventually ended up pretty much dropping out of high school to become a professional musician. Music was absolutely my salvation. Having subsequently taught in many schools that do have very effective and good music programs, I can see that it's an enormous influence on kids growing up and a really good and beneficial thing. I'm very pro having music in not only high schools but also primary schools. I think we could really turn around the way people think about music and art generally in this country. We could turn it around in a generation if we started really investing in teaching at primary school level and then all the way through to secondary school. I'm a big proponent of music in education.

Ms Pratt : I was incredibly lucky. I went to Indooroopilly State High, and besides the compulsory maths and English I got to do all arts subjects, one of those being music. In my final year I got to do music extension, which was like an after-hours program. Being a very arts based school, that was very much encouraged by certain teachers. They would sometimes keep me back after school and we would record songs. I had a very fortunate circumstance. It was definitely an encouragement for me and very important.

CHAIR: Clea, I was going to ask you about your album that you've just released in 2018—Vermillion. How is that going? How easy was it to make that album? Where did you get your advice from to record and have it produced? How are sales going? I know you have an upcoming tour, where you're basically travelling Adelaide, Wollongong, Sydney, Melbourne and back here in the valley. You live here in Brisbane. Could you tell me a little bit about that?

Ms Pratt : Again, I am very fortunate, because my partner decided a couple of years ago that he wanted to take up producing. He's been in the industry for several years beforehand. He was in a band called The Cairos. So he's been doing the whole music thing for quite a while. He decided he was sick of going into studios and not getting exactly what he wanted, so he wanted to take control of that. He taught himself how to produce, how to record and started building a studio at his dad's farm on the Scenic Rim. I happened to tag along with that, and we recorded the album with just us two in summer 2017. Certainly it was very easy, because I didn't have to have the financial burden of renting out a studio space or renting a producer. In that case we had full control over what we were doing. We had endless time to create the songs and work out exactly how we wanted them to sound and to do any changes. It was easy to just go back to the farm and do it without having to book times and have any extra cost.

Then there is putting the actual album out. I'm on a very small independent label called Mirror Records. They help in terms of putting the physical album out. In terms of sales, I have no idea. Maybe I'm scared to ask. It's very difficult to sell your music, especially full-length albums. But the response I've got has been really good from people who have listened and have bought the album. It's very up in the air. It's obviously not enough to make money off my album. I haven't made any money back from the sales yet, because my label takes all the income first, and whenever that money is paid off, like to a bank, then maybe I'll see something.

CHAIR: Thanks. I just want to acknowledge Trevor Evans, the member for Brisbane, who is in the public gallery. Thanks for coming along today, Trevor. Clea, if you haven't made any money off it yet or seen any income coming in, how do you support yourself as a musician, given that this is the first album that you've recorded and you're about to go on tour? When you go on tour, will you have an income? What do you expect to make? What you expect from the tour?

Ms Pratt : I work Monday to Thursday in a casual job. That is part-time. I am the band, so I have to cover all costs for my band members and pay for all of their flights for the whole tour. It is very difficult. I literally have to work to pay for my band to fly around. There are only certain aspects that the labels can pay for, because it's independent. The cost for me of having a lot more creative control is that obviously I'm not with a major label, so they can't cover a lot of the major costs. I work in my job to be able to pay for it. I don't think I'll get much money back from the tour. Once it's gone to the booking agent and the managers I might get some money back. But at the moment I'm not really making any money.

Mr WATTS: I might pick up on that schooling issue. There is increasing public awareness that in public schools, at least in Australia, less than a quarter of kids have access to a music education program. It seems to be a bit half and half on the panel here as to whether that would have affected you going into music as a career. How important do you think that is as a pipeline effect—this decline in music education in our schools, particularly our public schools?

Mr McAll : I think there is another question that has to be asked. First of all, as I said, if music education had been available at Pembroke High School, where I went, it would have helped me a lot. But I was going to do what I was going to do anyway. There are all sorts of questions and answers about how important music is in terms of intellectual growth, stability, being a functioning adult and taking solace from it. There are all sorts of things about music that are really important. Those educational things can help people be people. I want to think about what trajectory a music career has. We can talk about the importance of music and how it helps people psychologically, but my question would then be, what do I tell the students that I teach at the college of the arts, for example, where they've gone through what we're talking about to get to a high level? What do I tell them about why they're doing it and why they should do it, when you see what Clea was talking about and what they're facing, which is a deep love for music, like some of you may have, talent, and nowhere to put it. The only place where you can put it is to manifest things, as we all do. We do doodles or we do Rembrandts; we must express ourselves and we will continue to do it. But if there's no way to make any money back, if there is no arts council, if there are thousands of people applying for arts council funding where there are only 15 places; if there are not enough grants for people to follow this trajectory from the primary schools; if all of the possible money has been raped and pillaged by the internet, and Google and Youtube specifically, what do we tell the students about why they want to even study music at all, except that it's good for you and you love it?

I've been thinking about this on my way up here, and I wanted to use this word for all of you: we are facing extinction. That's the word I want to use. There is no oxygen. I also told myself not to be too passionate here. I told myself to be measured. But we are facing a type of cultural extinction as a result of the greed primarily of Google. Things are moving very fast technologically. We here are all blindsided. We're deer in headlights. But I can tell that people care, and I can tell that people love music. It's an interesting question. I want to go way forward from your question about educating children in schools. It's a very difficult situation that we are looking at. It is worth contemplating. I hope I didn't veer off too far.

Mr Zwartz : Can I put in my two cents worth on that question? I think the difference with an effective high school music program is that the kids who are going to be musicians are going to be musicians anyway, because that's their calling and that's what they do. They are driven to do it. It's almost like it's in your blood and you have to do it. You have to create. They're going to do that anyway. But to have an effective music program in a high school can mean that they achieve a lot more and a lot more easily. That always spills out. There are plenty of people who make music, but what we are also seeing with digitisation is that the audiences have less of an idea of how music is made and people who make music. For them it's more of a remote experience. They have a playlist on Spotify and they put that playlist on, unless they go and see a live band, of course. But even then, it's presented to them. They don't know what goes on behind the scenes with Clea's tour, for example. She's funding that tour herself.

The other benefit of having a very effective music program in primary and secondary schools is that you're bringing up the people who really love music, understand it and crave it, so that you have not only musicians being helped along their path, but you also have music being helped along as a very important part of our culture.

Mr WATTS: You're building an audience as well.

Mr Zwartz : Yes. That's really, really important. People always go on about cultural centres. New York is a very strong beacon of culture in terms of music and art and the other art forms, but particularly music. Sure, they have a large population, but they also have a long history of music appreciation and of culturally supporting their creative musicians, so you have the highest standard possible in all of the disciplines of music in a place like New York. People go to New York to see that. It's not beyond the realms of imagination that we could also be doing something similar here.

Ms Pratt : Maybe it is simply that it is about teaching about how to support, in a way.

Mr Zwartz : Yes. A really great musical performance is not only about the musicians performing but also about the audience going with them so that you have this meeting of minds and hearts. When that happens all the energy in the room spirals in a positive way. I think of it as spiralling up. When you have a bad performance all the energy spirals down.

Everybody here, I'm sure, has been to a really, really great performance, and they were really emotionally affected by that gig or concert. The reason for that is they were reached. They were touched. They felt a part of what was happening in the room. They felt as one. I think the more we put into educating in primary school and in high school about music and about art in general, the more that will happen. I just can't see any downside to that at all.

Mr WATTS: The sustainability of a domestic Australian music industry has been a big focus of this inquiry, so I'm not dismissing that at all. We'll come back to that. I just want to delve a little bit further into this equity issue here. The diminishing returns from working in music can create a situation where the only people able to make music a vocation, their primary profession, are people of means.

Mr Zwartz : That's a really good point, and it's becoming more and more apparent. If you really want to be a musician, you have to have a good job at the post office. You have to be able to fund your own dreams, unless you're in the minority of artists who are actually a good bet for a record company to sink money into—a major label.

Mr WATTS: That's a good point.

Mr Zwartz : They will control your output and they will control your look, because that's the market. If nothing else, they know their market.

Mr WATTS: If we're concerned about music beyond its value as an industry and if we're concerned about its cultural impact—telling our stories and speaking to us as a nation—the fact that the structure of the industry could preclude large numbers of Australians for financial reasons from having a voice in that industry ought to be something that concerns us.

Mr Zwartz : It does concern us.

Mr McAll : The way I see it is that capitalism doesn't care if the music is beautiful, spiritual or just crap. It doesn't care. If one rises to the top, that's fine. It will make money and people will love it and people will be moved by it. If it's crap, it doesn't matter either way. That's the problem that we're talking about here, because so much music is being pushed aside and no-one can ever know about it. It's as though on the radar screen there is just one green, throbbing blip. It's just such a complex issue. Clea's concert could be something that would sustain you spiritually, but how do you quantify that?

Jonathon was talking about a performance that you go to that is moving. If the things that you have to do to support that, infrastructure-wise, funding-wise and education-wise, fall apart, the spiritual times in all of your lives, whether it's from U2 or whatever else you listen to—I'm just saying, how ever we can keep spirit in the music industry through this difficult task that you guys face and all the variables, it's crucial. Capitalism doesn't care.

Ms Pratt : It's the same as being famous on Instagram. So many artists get through that because they have a pretty face and are really good with social media. They can utilise that to get to their audience and, unfortunately, a big part of my generation literally cares only about how they're perceived online.

Mr Mc A ll : They also pay a lot more money to be perceived as popular than they'll ever get back, and that's really a messed-up equation. It's sad.

Mr Zwartz : Can we as musicians ask you what you guys like musically? What sort of music do you like? What do you listen to?

Mr WATTS: We are under privilege here, aren't we?

Ms TEMPLEMAN: We haven't been asked that!

CHAIR: You go first.

Mr WATTS: Let me have a look at what I was listening to on the way to the hearing this morning—a bit of AB Original, a bit of Gang of Youths. There are probably other things that I wouldn't disclose on the public record!

Ms TEMPLEMAN: And can we put on the record that Tim's probably the youngest of us, so you'll have way more contemporary things.

CHAIR: I'm in the middle—just—even though Susan looks younger!

Ms TEMPLEMAN: I'm definitely old!

Mr WATTS: I don't know if my colleagues want to share as well, but I'm interested in why you want to know that, if we can unpack that.

Mr Zwartz : You've mentioned two Australian bands right there. This is a good news story for us. You were talking about cultural stories earlier. I think the point that Barney's making about capitalism is that we measure success by money. Where music is concerned and how music affects people in a room or individuals or people in a group isn't about that. It's not about the money, and yet that is the metric that society uses to judge success in the music industry. Actually our metric is whether you're affected by it enough to pursue it—to pursue your own taste, to encourage your curiosity, to stimulate internal discussions in your mind about music and what it does and who you like and why and all that sort of stuff. That's really important. Australian music has a really unique ability to do that around the world, but particularly here. It's our story, so it affects us. I see it very strongly as being that we are in danger of being inundated by too much stuff from America or Europe and that our stories will disappear. It's really important to protect those stories. It's really important to bolster this industry because we're actually some of the most musically creative people in the world. They're in this country.

CHAIR: I'm 46 and I grew up listening to John Farnham, Midnight Oil, INXS, U2—who aren't Australian—but nowadays I listen to the radio. I listen to music in my car. I do a lot of driving, so I'm really influenced by what's on the radio. I Shazam it and buy the single or the album or whatever and have a playlist. That's basically how I get it. But, in thinking about that question, I am also influenced by movies. I can't remember the name of the movie—the one with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga—but I went to see it and bought the album.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: The remake?

CHAIR: Yes. I think that's how I'm influenced.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: I'm a geek. I was a violinist as a kid. My mum was a high school music teacher. Dad can't sing in tune but fortunately loves music, and so the whole family grew up with music all around us. I was purely a classical person until my violin teacher was the violinist for ABBA when they did their Arrival tour in '79 or '78. They got me their autographs, and that was my crossover into popular music. That was the start of it. Then I was really lucky to be able to see Cold Chisel and Australian Crawl when I was just turning 18—they were playing in pubs, so I was definitely 18! That was my Australian exposure: in that fantastic period of rock. So my musical stuff has gone from there. Then I married someone who's a crazy jazz aficionado. He was a musician. I have a son who's a musician. I'm going to the opera tonight back in Sydney because my daughter is a supernumerary in Wozzeck. I suspect I have the broadest span, but that's thanks to the people around me.

This is great because we did want a conversation rather than evidence being presented. From the musos I knew in the 80s, who are our vintage, to this generation coming through, who I get to spend a little bit of time with, their hopes and dreams are very different and their belief in their ability to make a future out of music is much more fragile than it was. Maybe we were just naive. I'm interested in, when you look back, what things were in place that have gone when you talk about extinction. We want to come up with ideas of what governments can do to ensure sustainability and support the industry.

Mr Zwartz : What I'm about to say is a little bit contentious, but it's not what was in place then; it's what wasn't in place then. What wasn't in place then were poker machines. Poker machines have killed live music because prior to poker machines pubs, clubs and restaurants would employ musicians to bring people in. Now, with poker machines, they don't need to do it because poker machines are addictive and they are so effective at earning revenue for the club or for the government—I'm sorry to say, but it's true. So that's been one of the factors that's put a lot of downward pressure on live music in Australia's main centres. If there is one thing, I would say it's that.

CHAIR: Sorry, Jonathon, what state were you growing up in?

Mr Zwartz : New South Wales.

CHAIR: They've obviously had poker machines a lot longer than Queensland, so are you referring to New South Wales?

Mr Zwartz : I am referring to New South Wales. I can only refer to New South Wales as that's my experience.

Mr McA ll : I'd like to answer your question. I agree with what Jonathan said also, obviously, but Google is in place now, so that has changed a lot of things. For example, I used to work at the Tankerville Arms in Collingwood with Vince Jones in the eighties. That gig was going off. It was packed to the rafters. We'd do four nights in a row. Vince would take the whole door and a percentage of the meals. I couldn't believe how much I was getting paid in those days. Nowadays, when I play at a venue, I don't see any of the meals and they take $5 or $6 off the door. That's something that's gone on with venues exploiting or venues trying to survive; I'm not going to say which. That's going on. The other two very important things that were in place were ABC Radio programs and arts council funding. We all know that the Australian arts council was gutted to some degree. That's my answer to your question.

Mr Zwartz : The ABC was also gutted. It's really important to recognise that the ABC is an institution that promotes the arts in Australia, culturally. They need to have their funding restored before they can even look at doing the job of telling the Australian story. Perhaps lately we've had technocrats in charge of the ABC who were looking to the future and were perhaps a little bit pre-emptive in trying to shut down AM and FM radio. They pulled the plug on it a little bit too soon. In Europe, of course, AM and FM are being closed down because of electronic interference but also because people are not really using the radio so much anymore or they're transferring to digital radio. Whereas, in Australia, we have main centres and a lot of empty space in terms of radio interference, so it's too soon to shut down AM and FM. Plus people listen to the radio in their cars because there's so much driving to do. They've pulled all the music from their programs, which has been a disaster for us. I can tell you right now that ABC Classic FM and ABC AM radio don't have any music on it apart from the Music Show.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: Are you talking about Radio National?

Mr Zwartz : Radio National. It's had a really bad effect on independent musicians like myself and like the people here. It used to be that we would have tracks played if we were doing a tour somewhere and that would really help sales of the gigs—no longer. So we've become invisible. Barney's mentioning of the word 'extinction' is actually not so far from the truth. We are in grim times doing what we do. Wages: it used to be that you would get, for an average three-hour gig in a pub, $150 each. I'm talking about 1986. Now you're lucky if you get a hundred dollars. That's 40 years later. We just have to put money back into institutions like the ABC and back into the Australia Council, which is very effective in making sure that the money goes to people who know what to do with it and have really important stories to tell.

APRA have a program—I'm not sure what it's called, but they get really great songwriters going into high schools. That's an incredibly effective program. I know firsthand because I have friends who teach it. The kids just leap on it. It's like blood to a vampire. They just love it so much. I think the funding for that has been pulled, so they're not able to do that anymore. That's a really effective program which teaches creativity and teamwork and gives a real dose of a positive outlook of what could be awaiting people when they leave high school.

Mr McA ll : I'd like to say one quick thing about what could be put in place as a response to this pillaging—I'm talking about Google.

Mr Zwartz : People like to take people's material and put it up on the web without paying any rights to ownership for intellectual property.

Mr Mc A ll : The copyright owners.

Mr Zwartz : They obfuscate and they delay everything, but because they have a lot of money they make people go through the courts and then you never see any money. As a creator, somebody like us, we don't have a chance in hell of seeing any money for anything Google does.

Mr Mc A ll : That is a blanketing disaster for the music industry. How do we get Luke to Shazam more Australian music? We make sure that on the radio you are forced to play a certain amount of Australian music. I was talking to Nick from APRA about that and I think that's really important too. You're going to Shazam it because you love it. There's so much Australian music that you would love, and that's helping this whole course of today. That's another thing I thought would be a valuable thing to put in place as a response to Google.

Mr Zwartz : I think that would seriously help—to have a quota system of Australian content on all radio, on commercial radio as well, and to tighten the rules about the quota content. At the moment there are ways that commercial radio can avoid playing Australian music. Nobody wants to be told what to play and when to play it and how to play it, and I don't think that's the case with a quota. I think it's just supporting Australian music. We've got so much to be proud of in this country. There's just so much talent coming up, despite the fact that it's the hardest time in the whole time I've been doing this, which is 40 years.

Ms Pratt : Can I make a comment on how I see it today. I think there is definitely, like with most things, an oversaturated market in music because every guy and girl has access to a computer and can make any generic beat and put a nice melody over it and it could potentially get picked up. So there are a lot more artists, it seems, because anyone can essentially make some type of music. I feel like my music is alternative and the only sort of option seems to be Triple J, but even that audience is not really quite the right audience, because they're very much looking for artists who are straight to the point; their lyrics are easy to comprehend and a lot of the time have a story—we're very obsessed with somebody having a story, whether it's a success story or—

Mr Zwartz : Do you mean a backstory or a story in the song?

Ms Pratt : A back story, yes—personal. Because now we're so interested in the person, not just the music.

Mr Zwartz : Just like reality TV has brought that about.

Ms Pratt : Yes. It's like we've just got to eat chocolate all the time—we need to have those feelings of serotonin running through our body about their story and feeling that as opposed to their music. In terms of what we don't have, it seems I hear that there was a lot more funding, even a couple of years ago.

CHAIR: Just going back to the recording side of it, you were saying that you did it at your partner's home.

Ms Pratt : Yes.

CHAIR: You don't even need to go to a studio now. People with computers can record at home.

Ms Pratt : Yes. I don't even know how I would have recorded an album if I didn't have that. It would be unfathomable to think about how much money that is.

CHAIR: When you say Triple J is not really a market either, but that's really your only alternative, when you do your tour, how do you reach the market you are wanting to reach? Do you have venues all lined up?

Ms Pratt : Yes, we've got it all lined up. It's just so difficult to reach my audience, because it's very much like a slow building audience that over time stays with you, whereas a lot of the Triple J audience is like, 'Who's the hype artist?' and we go to see that one song. Even though I've been very fortunate to have been picked up by Triple J on rotation, I don't necessarily have the full story or the face projection, so it's a lot harder for people to associate my song with the name.

Mr Zwartz : It's tough.

Ms Pratt : Yes, it's very tough. Essentially you try and promote your poster on Facebook and Instagram. You give them money—because the algorithm is so bad that it hardly reaches the audience anyway, so you have to pay the money.

Mr Zwartz : It costs a lot of money to get people to come to your gigs if you're relatively unknown. You have to spend a lot of money in advertising. That's what big major labels are very good at. For musicians they're PR firms really.

CHAIR: So how do you market your gigs? What advertising do you use?

Ms Pratt : I create music videos. It's just what I do best, which is create. That hopefully catches on.

CHAIR: Do you just promote it on social media?

Ms Pratt : Yes, and then pay for posters. Hopefully that does something.

Mr Zwartz : With touring in the eighties and nineties you used to hire somebody to do all the PR. You'd pay them a certain amount and they would make posters and make sure that you got on radio and all of that. That's now not really an option. The only people who have access to an holistic approach to public relations are the big labels.

CHAIR: You were saying before that if you play a live gig it used to be $150 a night and now you're lucky to get hundred dollars. Why is that again? Also, you're not only an artist but you write and compose. Have rates for songwriting and composing grown over the decades?

Mr Zwartz : For me as a composer—I would think that it's the same for Barney too—if you're popular somebody might commission you to write some music, in which case you would get a fee to compose. The only time I've ever received a fee for composing has been when I've done the music for a documentary or a film. I'm late to start in that area, but the disturbing thing that's happening with film music now is that there are films coming out with no composer; instead, they have a music supervisor who chooses music and then licenses it. So they choose music they want to have or they get their sound designer to do something or they use library music, which is music that is generic and written by composers who will see very little money for it. It is put into a library so that directors or editors can access that music. In fact, the downward pressure on creators to earn a living is so great at the moment I can't remember a time when it's been as bad as it is now in terms of making money out of all of the streams that are available to us as people involved in the music industry. It's like we're just going through a horrible period where we're all adjusting to the digitisation. And I don't know what the answer is there, other than to really protect people's intellectual property and to support where you can, not only in terms of money to funding organisations but also, as you do, to listen to Australian music, to go to concerts and to educate yourself about what it is.

CHAIR: You just mentioned different streams, Jonathon. Artists apparently have different income streams generated by their music.

Mr Zwartz : Yes.

CHAIR: Which is the most valuable and what percentage of income is generated by that stream?

Mr Zwartz : Speaking personally for me, playing live is very valuable and writing music is very valuable. They are the two most valuable things that I do. In terms of earning money I probably earn more money from helping restaurants or bars put on programs of music. I would get, like, a consultation fee for something at a venue—a booking fee. Writing music for film and television can be lucrative. What else is there? There was some music industry questionnaire that I had to answer and I ticked all the boxes and I realised in fact that I do just about everything that you possibly can do around the music industry, because I've just had to in order to survive. I do not survive on playing live gigs, I do not survive on writing music for film or television and I do not survive on writing and composing music for CD sales. It has to be all of those things combined in order to actually just get your mortgage payment in time. So, in answer to your question, the most important things to me are creating and performing but I do a lot of other things and they are all piecemeal and they all add up hopefully to a mortgage payment.

CHAIR: Our committee just finished an inquiry into the film and TV industry in Australia. You mention that you have written for film and TV. Either the three of you here or people that you know in the industry—do they get work from movies, say, that are filmed on the Gold Coast or in Sydney at Fox Studios or whatever? What's the relationship between Australian made films and Australian music content?

Mr Zwartz : I'm not the most knowledgeable person to ask about that. I'm sure it's not difficult to see. I would have a guess that it depends on the director and the producer. If they are pro Australian then you might—we certainly have really accomplished and brilliant film composers here—David Hirschfelder, for example, or—

Mr McAll : Cezary.

Mr Zwartz : Cezary. What's his last name?

Mr McAll : I can't pronounce it.

Mr Zwartz : Skubiszewski. There are plenty who are world-class and do movies for other countries. But it depends entirely on who's controlling the purse strings and what they want for their film.

Ms Pratt : I don't necessarily think there is much generated from film and TV for musicians. Film and TV is also an incredibly hard industry in Australia for people to make an income from. Usually if they ask you it's for free. There's not really ever much income. The only thing that I've done for TV was an Australian made show called The Kettering Incident and I recorded a cover of 'Crimson and Clover'. They paid me an initial sum and then they got all of the money from the actual income of the song on iTunes. So that's the—

CHAIR: Where was that—The Caring Incident?

Ms Pratt : The Kettering Incident.

CHAIR: The Catering?

Ms Pratt : Kettering.

CHAIR: Kettering.

Ms Pratt : In Tasmania.

CHAIR: And was that on free to air?

Ms Pratt : Foxtel.

CHAIR: Foxtel. Did you get any work from that afterwards? Did people watch the show and go, 'We want to know more about Clea's music'?

Ms Pratt : It was pretty good for gaining a few more audience members, but that's about it.

CHAIR: And the initial fee, was that a good fee for you? Did they honour that fee?

Ms Pratt : It wasn't very good, no, and they would have made a lot more money from the actual song.

Mr Zwartz : And, also, imagine how good that would have been with one of Clea's songs instead of a cover.

Ms Pratt : Yes.

Mr Zwartz : That's the point. We have to support Australian music somehow so that Australian music gets heard.

CHAIR: We've heard about growth in the music industry. I think 2016 had the biggest growth since 1996, apparently. What percentage of the overall income generated by music goes to the publisher or record label compared to how artists receive income? Does this change at different stages of an artist's career?

Mr Zwartz : That's a really big question.

Ms Pratt : Yes.

Mr Zwartz : That's a huge question.

Mr McAll : It's hard to trace the true answers to that question. A larger-selling artist will take a decent cut but the amount of money behind that—if you've got a pie, a larger artist will take a decent amount of money but the pie piece will stay the same in the sense that—

Mr Zwartz : The majority of—

Mr McAll : There are so many things set up around money-making in this industry. Spotify, for example, have only just made profits this year on some level. But they’ve got a long game in mind. Record companies have made a fortune from Spotify and artists have made—like, you wouldn't believe the pittance against—

Mr Zwartz : 0.001 cent per play.

Ms Pratt : 0.003.

Mr Zwartz : Sorry. 0.003?

Ms Pratt : Yes. 0.003. So, if you get one million, that's $3,000—if you get one million streams.

Mr McAll : So, when you talk about the boom in the music industry, it's a boom for whom? That's the question you want to ask.

Mr Zwartz : Maybe one per cent of the creators are experiencing some positive boom-like feeling from that.

Mr McAll : If you look at Spotify as a kind of metaphor, a tiny percentage of artists on Spotify are taking the lion's share of money from that and it's structured in that way.

Mr Zwartz : For example, if you go on The Voice—and there are plenty of people who will encourage you to go on The Voice regardless of how you sing—the deal that you have to sign in order to go on that program is really something. They have a 360 degree contract, which means that any money that you make after that show—now this is anecdotal; don't necessarily take what I say as complete fact; I cannot substantiate that unless I see a contract—but, anecdotally, I'm saying people I've talked to say it's a 360 degree contract and after that show the record company takes a slice of every single piece of income that you make.

Ms Pratt : Also that money that you—

Mr Zwartz : It doesn't matter whether you're doing it—because they say you're famous through The Voice, therefore we need a share. Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt.

Ms Pratt : I think it's true. Also the money they say you're going to get at the end of the show is actually borrowed money. You have to pay it back.

Mr Zwartz : Yes. So the people who are financial whizzes and know how to manipulate things in their favour are not generally in the creator's team; they're in the other team that make money from the creators. It seems that way to me anyway. That might be a rather Dickensian view but it's certainly one that I have. Yes.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: That comes to an issue that I've seen in the industry, and that is the business acumen of artists, composers, song writers—like, you don't become a musician because you've got a great business mind necessarily. If you do, it's a lovely combination to have. But are there things that could be put in—I would be interested in your experiences of it; I know people have learnt by trial and error—especially to support new artists or even artists who have been in one phase and are moving towards the next phase? Essentially you are your own businesses. Presumably, you invoice on ABNs, and you are very rarely paid a salary with super paid and tax taken out.

Mr Zwartz : I haven't got any super at all.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: Exactly. If we think about the sustainability, it's great to have had a nice career where you've just managed to pay the mortgage and get by, but there isn't actually a super nest egg at the end of that. So have you got any thoughts on what that looks like, what the reality is, the problems that it might present and any solutions?

Mr Zwartz : I think a solution would be to have a strong union. That would really help. It would be really good to have some sort of industry standard around pay for certain situations. I feel like we're at a time when these things are actually going to happen. There's a consensus amongst people who care to put some framework in place so that creators who are struggling get more of a fair go. I think that's all anybody ever wants. There are creative people who have great business acumen, but the thing that we spend most of our waking hours doing is actually writing or practising or doing that sort of stuff, and I think that's to the benefit of society. What I would say is what we need is just a fair go and for frameworks to be put in place to ensure that that happens.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: You talk about being asked to do things for free. There not being a rate chart, as it were, it does feel like it varies from gig to gig, venue to venue.

Mr Zwartz : It's whatever anybody can get away with.

Mr McAll : It's grapes of wrath in the sense that if you say I'm not doing it and put your foot down there are so many people, because of the situation we're in, who will do it. So that's also—

Ms Pratt : Some probably do it for exposure.

Mr Zwartz : There's always that tiny positive angle about it: if you do that song, that version of the cover, then people will hear your voice and you might get 10 or 20 more people coming to your gig, which can make the difference between breaking even on a tour or not breaking even on a tour—losing money on a tour. But it's like scrabbling for crumbs. It's pretty dire.

Mr McAll : Is there some kind of educational incentive where musicians could be—

Mr Zwartz : You just need standardisation across the industry, and then you people can say: 'No, that's not fair for this amount of time. The normal is—'

Mr McAll : 'That's what it is.'

Mr Zwartz : Yes.

Ms Pratt : I think for me, personally, I find it quite hard about how I've been in the industry not very long but I'm already getting very discouraged in terms of money, because obviously this is all I know how to do. I'm a musician. That's all I'll ever know how to do, so I'm not going to give up any time soon. I'm still very privileged in that I get to work and do what I love. But it just seems that the more success I get the more money I have to pay, because you've then got to go further to play more shows and then it's expected—and for me, personally, because I want to because I want to grow—you have a sound person. So I have to also pay for him or her to fly with me and then pay them after the show. There are so many more expenses the more successful you get. It seems like I'm getting a bit more attraction but actually I'm spending more, so it is very discouraging. For me, personally, I would just love for there to be in place more touring grants. That's where most of my money seems to not be present.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: What you're describing there is actually what in small business we call 'the cost of growth'. I'm trying to find policies we can look at that support thinking of yourselves as business. But there are very few structures around it to provide support in how you do it—and the financial risk that you take to get to that next stage.

Ms Pratt : It's just hard knowing when the tipping point is, when you know you will make it over. It could still be years. That's okay, but there also needs to be in place the mental health aspect of it, which can be quite a cost. That can be another thing that maybe be implemented in school—simply just talking about what you might have to face if you are going to take a creative job and just how much of a toll it takes on your mental health.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: That's a point that in previous evidence we have had some data around. It's something we're very conscious of.

Ms Pratt : Because you have this really exciting end—literally all people see is you as this performer and this artist—it can be quite exhausting always putting up a front. There are two extremes. That's why it can be quite a toll, because of the extremes, one to the other.

CHAIR: What are your goals for your music career? How long do you want to be making money from music? What are your goals in that regard?

Ms Pratt : Put simply, my goals are to be able to simply live happily, have a roof over my head. I don't necessarily need to be making loads of money, just enough to—

Mr Zwartz : Survive.

Ms Pratt : Yes, survive. I'm definitely not in it for any type of money. It's also to be heard, of course, to sell records and to be able to sell out shows. My plan is to go to New York at the end of this year, hopefully. I'm going to save as much as I can just to try and see if I can get into that market. It's just simply selling records and playing to more people.

CHAIR: Earlier you mentioned that you'd signed with an independent record label. I think you were saying it's because they allow you more artistic freedom and expression of what you want to do, which is obviously important to artists. But would it be fair to say that artists who sign with major record labels receive a higher income?

Ms Pratt : It's just easier. They don't have to pay for most things. They might not get money back as quickly—or maybe they will because they're getting a much bigger marketing program. But they have so much control about how you present yourself. I'm actually not sure about major labels. Jonathon, do artists get wages or—

Mr Zwartz : Any money that's afforded to an artist by a major record label is against future earnings.

Ms Pratt : You have to pay it back.

Mr Zwartz : Sometimes the rates can be usurious. You can be a very popular and successful major label artist and then, when you're no longer so popular and their label drops you, you can end up with a debt to that label of hundreds of thousands of dollars. All the money that they're spending on advertising campaigns or recordings or tours, you have to pay that back. As an artist, you have to pay it back.

Ms Pratt : Yes. You get, essentially, a bank, even for the small labels.

Mr Zwartz : You're their product. They're investing in you.

CHAIR: I guess what I was trying to ask is: what does a sustainable career look like? How much success does an artist need in order to have made it? I'm not a musician but I totally understand you wanting to run your own business and be with a small record label so you have more freedom to write and play and have much greater decision-making in what you want to do with your music. But, comparing that with a major record label, do most people with major record labels earn higher wages, for example? That's what I mean. I know they might have less creativity, but do they earn better wages?

Mr Zwartz : If they've negotiated or had their manager negotiate that with the record label, yes.

Ms Pratt : Susan, do you know if Julia is—

Ms TEMPLEMAN: I don't know the business side of it.

Ms Pratt : But does she look like she's doing well and gets to live purely off her music?

Ms TEMPLEMAN: I don't know Julia that well and I'm very careful to leave my son's relationship with her out of it. But what I do see is the same desire to really maintain control. I don't think it's just female, but I happen to know a bunch of female musicians. It's the desire to be able to take the direction you want to take at the different stages of your life. You're probably like this as well, working collaboratively with your band. You're the front person, but the process is organic, and an idea can come from multiple people and evolve and develop. That collaboration seems to me to be a key part of it. I know the front person feels a great responsibility for the livelihood of the other people.

Of course, my son plays for multiple bands. He can't survive just waiting for the album to be released. What do you do in the year of postproduction? You don't sit at home living off your earnings. He makes muffins and coffee but plays with a whole bunch of other bands, writes his own stuff, records—and does that on a shoestring.

Ms Pratt : I just asked because you were trying to see what a good and happy career looks like. I remember hearing in an interview with Julia that she was still having to live in a shed and hardly getting by but was still selling out these shows. It's very hard to tell when it actually is. I feel like Gang of Youths are okay. They're doing fine.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: We haven't talked about export.

CHAIR: I was about to ask a couple of questions there. Do you want to ask them?


CHAIR: Given you were saying you want to go to New York, I thought that was timely.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: The market in Australia is so small you can do one Australian tour, but that can be replicated on a much larger scale through the States, Europe, South America or Asia depending on the markets. From some of the evidence we've heard, that seems to be a growing area of income for Australian performers, particularly in that emerging stage. No longer do you have to wait until you've made it in Australia to use that as a launch pad. You can sort of bypass the Australian profile and head straight to the other markets. I'm curious. I get a sense it's a bit different to how it was in the eighties. The stories we've heard are that you had to really make it here first for you and your record company to have any confidence. We're interested in that export side, where it might fit in your plans and what you guys have seen around how that has changed. I'll open it up that way and then we can go to specifics.

Mr McAll : I suppose that's one positive aspect of the internet, where you're asking about major labels. To some extent, you can get a lot of exposure as an artist without any major label. Just having something that catches on to some sort of Zeitgeist and blows up—when that happens, you can then tour. You wouldn't be able to—

Mr Zwartz : Isn't that what happened with Sia?

Mr McAll : It did happen with Sia. She had a song synced to the end of the Six Feet Under series, which was huge. The day after that final episode with the montage, she had hundreds of calls. She developed a whole tour as a result of that. Those kinds of things can happen, and that's to do with media. My experience is that, unless you're doing stadiums, tours are expensive. As a peer on the arts council, I've seen the budgets firsthand and how it actually plays out. It's very expensive and very complex, even if you've got a following, whether you're Australian or from wherever. I think Courtney Barnett is doing very well right now.

Mr Zwartz : And Amy Shark.

Mr McAll : And Amy Shark. They both have small bands. They have a huge following which is growing, and it's fantastic for Australia. What do you think, Jonathan?

Mr Zwartz : About Australian exposure overseas?

Mr McAll : Export possibilities.

Mr Zwartz : We certainly have the talent. We have such a pool of talent here. It's just a matter of exposure. I think a lot of the talent here doesn't actually get exposed here let alone overseas. I think the way that Sia did it also is a good model. If Australian music can get synced into a really huge series or movie it's a very good start. All I would say is that the quality of music that we're producing here is very high and there's absolutely no reason why that music shouldn't end up in films, series or whatever.

Mr McAll : Also, arts funding for the touring that you're talking about to set the ball in motion. Supporting something that will grow through the arts council. It's very sad to sit on the council and have to read—each peer reads 120 applications. There are like 500, 600 or 1,000 applications per round because it's the only place to go. I think that if more funding—personally, for the music sector of the arts council, I think it's really valuable. Paul Mason is very in touch with what's going on. I feel like that's a valuable way to export Australian music and support it. It will pay back dividends.

CHAIR: Did you say you're a member of the council?

Mr McAll : I have sat on the council as a peer assessor a number of times. You're allowed to do a three-year period and then you have to take a break. It gave incredible insights.

Mr Zwartz : The peer system works. The Australia Council works very effectively. How they arrive at the decisions to fund certain groups is partly through their peer system. I've sat on peer boards as well, and I have to say it works. It's a really good way of making sure that the money is well spent. Listening to us talking and to your questions, I have to say that it sounds like we want handouts from the government or from bodies, but that's not the case. I'm just here to say that that's not the case at all. As you've heard from Clea, she self-funds her stuff. We all self fund, because the reality is that there isn't any money to get from these denuded organisations. We actually end up having to do it ourselves. Please don't go away from this thinking that we want some parent to step in and say, 'Here, kid, here's some money to go do what you need to do.' That's definitely not the case. We are very proud to be able to have survived as we have. But, having said that, it's really, really good for the scene to support it.

Mr McAll : We speak about culture itself here. We speak about the value of culture. It's going to continue on its own, but—

Mr Zwartz : It could be really, really ramped up.

Mr McAll : It can be valuable to you guys. If you go to a funeral, a wedding—go to your own wedding: what music did you play? What music did you fall in love to? How were you supported? Look at the Second World War. If you really investigate what music does for your spirit—

Mr Zwartz : It has a social function.

Mr McAll : That's beyond us asking for handouts; that's actually looking at how to sustain a society. That's what I really feel.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: On exports and Sounds Australia: Clea, have you had any interaction in terms of getting to SXSW and those sorts of things.

Ms Pratt : A couple of years ago I was in England doing an acoustic performance for Sounds Australia, which was good.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: What role did that play in terms of assisting to expand your reach?

Ms Pratt : Not very much. I had just released my first single. It was by chance I was there as well, because I was just going overseas. Not a lot. Again, it's—

Mr Zwartz : But it would have given you some exposure, surely?

Ms Pratt : Not really, no. In England it's especially hard, because most of the audience members are Australian. English people don't really tend to want to see Australian's play. It's really interesting. You go to the show of an Australian in England and most of them are Australian. It's very hard to crack. That's why I think I want to try America, because maybe they're a little bit more open to it. A lot of my favourite artists are from America. A lot of alternative artists. Sounds Australia are great and they're an awesome organisation, but it is only one. I don't think they really give out any funds, do they? I don't think so. It's just the platform.

Mr Zwartz : I think they put on concerts, which cost money. I think Sounds Australia are really effective in other parts of the world—SXSW, for example. I also know firsthand of friends of mine in the jazz music sector who have gone to Bremen in Germany with help from Sounds Australia.

Ms Pratt : Yes, they're great. It's something that's there, at least to get in slightly.

Mr Zwartz : Any help we can get is really great.

CHAIR: Clea, when you talk about wanting to go to New York and the States, are you talking about picking up, moving your life over there and living there for a couple of years? What's the plan?

Ms Pratt : No, just for three months. I don't think I could afford to—as long as I can, essentially. Australia will always be my home.

CHAIR: So, three months to tour, do gigs there and get a following there?

Ms Pratt : Meet people. Exactly.

CHAIR: Sell your album. The album that you made last year, when you sell that—people aren't buying CDs, are they? How do you sell it now?

Ms Pratt : I got some limited vinyl printed.

Mr Zwartz : It's extraordinary. People buy vinyl but not CDs.

Mr McAll : It does sell.

CHAIR: When you go to a gig and say, 'Buy my album,' do they buy it online?

Ms Pratt : They stream it on Spotify.

Mr McAll : That's the problem.

CHAIR: They stream it but don't buy it?

Mr McAll : No-one is interested in a CD. They don't put CD slots in cars. They don't put CD slots in computers. Millennials—and you guys, too, maybe—are not even interested in downloading the data of an MP3. It's around $10 to buy an album as a digital download now. It's very rare. Streaming is the only income, and as we said per stream it's 0.000—whatever it is. Do you understand?

CHAIR: So the kids don't buy a song or album now for 10 bucks

Ms TEMPLEMAN: No. We go to Spotify and we put it in—

CHAIR: I buy it. I'm the silly guy who buys it.

Mr Mc A ll : And, mind you, Spotify will also tell you what you like. After you've streamed a few things, it'll tell you what you like.

Ms Pratt : Yes, everything is an algorithm.

Mr Zwartz : It will get a very effective profile on what you think and what you might buy.

CHAIR: I'm looking at my platform where I buy my music.

Ms Pratt : That's good. Please continue.

CHAIR: It's iTunes.

Ms TEMPLEMAN: One of us is a dinosaur, and that's good.

Mr Zwartz : It's good. He listens to the radio. That's awesome.

Ms Pratt : That's why touring has one of the biggest incomes. It's true. We don't want handouts. We honestly would just like a fair go—as you said, a break—and calmly be able to do this and have a feeling of support.

CHAIR: We don't have much time left but quickly, Barney, I think you were saying you lived in the US for 20 years. Is that right?

Mr Mc A ll : Yes.

CHAIR: What was the decision behind that? Was it just because you wanted to see a different part of the world, experience a different culture from Australia? How did that help your music career?

Mr Mc A ll : I had some tragedy in my family, so I left to understand the world, looking back and reflecting upon it. I also won a piano competition where I received money for a ticket and so I went for a little bit. I love music so much. I play jazz and I'm an improvising pianist. I wanted to be in the hub of where jazz music came from, which is black American music, and I loved it so much. I went back and forth for many years and I was sustained by it. Obviously New York is a very culturally sophisticated place, so I was getting shots in the arm and learning so much and growing. I toured with some of the best in the world. I'd actually met Sia here but I was her musical director. That was an incredible opportunity. I wanted to keep growing. I'm kind of an eternal beginner, so I wanted to be in New York, where I could get my arse kicked. What happened was, in those 20 years, I was interested in taking things in—impressions—and understanding things about myself, about music, about possibilities. At a certain point, I was no longer interested in taking things in, so I came back to Australia and I put things out. I do a lot of teaching, a lot of workshops, and I've made only music with Australians since I returned. I've won a lot of awards as a result of it. I feel like I gleaned a lot of information through living in New York that I could never get anywhere else and I'm bringing it back on some level. That was my reasoning and that's what happened.

Mr Zwartz : New York is like a musical university—just to go and see the various things that you can see there.

Mr WATTS: I hear what you're saying. You're not looking for handouts, and so we're asking what can government productively do in this space? One of the things I've been pondering through this inquiry is what government can do in the audience-building space. We talked about the education aspect of it, but there's also the institutional role that government can take through things like the ABC, particularly with triple j for youth music and with their jazz platforms. From your perspective, is there any way that we can get more bang for your buck in the audience-building role of those platforms—government institutions—that can be more effective for building your audience?

Mr Mc A ll : Looking at the current climate that we're in, audience is crucial. It sustains us in terms of touring. The education even before that is really important in terms of understanding—I suppose I think about my son swiping the TV, thinking he can change channels. I'm saying look at how much we're in here. Trying to develop audiences to become out and have those experiences that Jonathan is talking about is crucial to developing Australian culture.

Mr Zwartz : Specifically, government can assist by funding bodies or programs that have a proven track record of being effective in growing that. The songwriting workshop that I was talking about that APRA do is a very successful model. SongHubs is another very successful model where people get together and write pop songs which are commercially successful.

Mr McAll : All over the world.

Mr Zwartz : Yes; they have a huge success rate. They put song writers with song writers and producers from other parts of the world as well. There's funding, of course, putting money back into the ABC and putting money back into the Australia Council—looking at funding in some way the independent music sector rather than the bodies. I'm not an advocate for withdrawing funding from symphony orchestras or opera or any of that—

Mr McAll : I am!

Mr Zwartz : but I'm saying augment it. Also put money into the independent music sector because that's where you're actually going to get some of the most interesting and different stories—Australian stories, personal stories.

Mr McAll : Funding independent music, unorthodox music, new music and new Australian music is also important. There is a misunderstanding that it's obscure underground staff, but that actually sustains everything else. Art music is where everything else is drawing its source. That's something really important too in terms of supporting it.

Mr Zwartz : Anything that promotes Australian live music—that is, anything that helps get more venues happening helps the public know what's going on and when it's going on. Anything that promotes Australian culture in a live sense is going to be really, really useful.

Mr WATTS: A few people before the inquiry have suggested tax breaks for venues that host live music—things like that.

Mr Zwartz : I think it's really hard if you're a venue owner. I've got a friend who has a venue in Sydney and I know that he is struggling all of the time to get people to go. It's really, really hard because people aren't going out. In the last few years, people have been more interested in watching the plethora of really riveting shows on Netflix or Stan. That seems to be biting into it, particularly in New South Wales. It seems to be biting into the audience numbers—not so much in Victoria. I think they have more of a culture of wanting to go out and be stimulated in a way that live music or theatre or concerts do.

Mr WATTS: We're more civilised in the south!

Mr Zwartz : Well, maybe.

Mr McAll : I have a question for you: what do you imagine would be the outcome if the government doesn't make changes and the trajectory that we're talking about continues? Where will we be in 10 or 15 years? I'd like to know what you think.

Mr WATTS: That's why we're having this inquiry. The trajectory is fairly clear.

Ms Pratt : Maybe what also needs to be looked at are the venues. They obviously seem to be struggling. It's just a bad loop if we're not getting paid enough or the numbers aren't turning up at the shows because the venue can't get enough promotion. The taxpayers would be—

Mr WATTS: Yes, I hear that all the time in my electorate. Barney, you would know. Footscray is a young, gentrifying, culture-rich part of Melbourne. I hear from bars and pub venues all the time who want to have music and stick their neck out to provide a venue for live music, but they find it really hard to turn a quid on it.

Mr Zwartz : New South Wales used to have an entertainment licence that you needed which cost $50,000 to $75,000. Through the work of the Live Music Office, that has now been reduced to something like $500. They argued that having a duo in the corner of a restaurant is virtually the same as having a TV showing sport; therefore why should it be a $50,000 or a $70,000 outlay for the restaurant owner? There's work to do on the legislation and the bureaucracy around live music in venues. In New South Wales, particularly in Sydney, we have the worst problem with people buying a house next door and then complaining about the noise. It's really extraordinary. You can't even play music outside the Opera House. What—the cultural icon of Australia!

Mr WATTS: Part of the audience-building task seems to be building hubs where live music is the cultural norm, where you go to the pub and you expect to see a band there. On your weekends, you expect to commune with your community through music.

Mr Zwartz : If you think about all those great bands in the eighties, like Cold Chisel, INXS, Australian Crawl, Men at Work, they had gigs every weekend at pubs all around the place. They really honed their material and their stage craft. They became supergroups. We don't see that now.

CHAIR: Do you think it's realistic to get back there, given what you were saying?

Mr McAll : I don't know.

Mr Zwartz : I think we've got to give it a go. We've got to try.

Ms Pratt : We don't necessarily have pub rockers anymore. Maybe the type of music is a bit different. Maybe we don't necessarily have to got back to the pubs. My partner's bread and butter was playing covers in West End at the Archive. They decided to replace him with a DJ, because it was cheaper, or he could play for four hours straight for a couple of hundred dollars. That is so unrealistic.

CHAIR: Is there anything else you want to add?

Mr Zwartz : I'd like to add one tiny thing. I've made three CDs in my career as a composer, starting in 2008. Each one of those CDs costs roughly $30,000 from beginning to end. That's studio costs, musicians' fees, mixing, mastering and production. I've made my money back on each one, not as a hit but over time. I made my money back on both the first two CDs. This last one has only been out a year and I've made less than a third back. I'm distributed through a major distribution outlet. They've told me that it's time to stream. I haven't streamed my music prior to this. Now it's being streamed and you can get it on Spotify or Apple Music or Youtube or wherever. I will never make that money back. Consequently, if I want to make another album—they're popular albums and people love the music—

Mr McAll : He won an Aria for the last one.

CHAIR: Congratulations.

Mr Zwartz : Thank you. If I want to do another CD project I'm not sure how I'm going to do it. That's the reality. That's why I say that Barney's not exaggerating in saying that we face extinction.

Mr McAll : We're facing extinction.

Ms Pratt : Unless you do it yourself, which not everyone can do or wants to.

Mr Zwartz : I'm getting a bit too old to work in a coffee shop.

Ms Pratt : Exactly. I mean, in terms of doing your own recording and producing. That's how I'm surviving, doing it myself. Obviously it's so difficult, because it's such a hard thing to look at as a whole, because there are so many musicians with different circumstances. For me personally, in terms of needing some sort of break, especially because I'm the artist and not a band, but I have to support a band. It can be a lot easier for bands that all contribute equally, but when you're the sole artist and it's your music and your band you have to then provide for everyone else.

Mr Zwartz : You have to take responsibility for that.

Ms Pratt : There's the responsibility for the money side. Obviously there is a mental health aspect as well.

CHAIR: The other side is that when you finally get paid, you get to share it, which will be good.

Ms Pratt : Of course, definitely. It's just about needing some kind of backing, especially for individuals, as opposed to group efforts.

CHAIR: Thank you to all three of you for what you've contributed to the industry and for appearing before us today. I wish you all well on behalf of the committee. If you've been asked to provide any additional information—I don't think you have—please do so to the secretariat. You will be sent a copy of the transcript of you evidence and you can make corrections of grammar and fact.

Pr oceedings suspended from 11:04 to 11:24