Global Observer

Melbourne: Australia's $118m music capital

Melbourne: Australia's $118m music capital

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MELBOURNE -- Melbourne has a world class contemporary music scene that contributes culturally to the city, but what is it worth? A report reveals the music industry's full value.

MELBOURNE -- Melbourne has long established itself as a patron of the arts, and music is undoubtedly one of its biggest cultural draw cards. But exactly how much does the local economy benefit from this?

The Music Industry Economic Impact Study, commissioned by the City of Melbourne, revealed that Melbourne's music industry contributes (AUS)$118 million towards the city’s annual output.

“We already know that music makes a significant contribution to the cultural and social life of our city and now we have confirmed that it makes an important economic contribution too,” Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said.

The City of Melbourne claimed that these findings put the contribution of music to the Melbourne economy at levels higher than those in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The study follows a similar one conducted by Arts Victoria last year which found Melbourne, with a population of 4.1 million, to have more live music venues than any other Australian city.

The Arts Victoria report also revealed that in 2011, more than 5.4 million people attended a live music gig in Victoria and that collectively, some 600 venues provide an average of 3,000 live performances per week, equating to about five performances per venue per week.

Music stalwart Mr Richard Moffat is the director of Way Over There (WOT), an independent music programming entity that represents local venues and national Australian music festivals including the Falls Music and Art Festival, Southbound, St Kilda Festival, Parklife, the Corner Hotel and the Northcote Social Club.

Mr Moffat said that the venues are busier than ever, with a higher volume of tours and most shows selling quickly. One of WOT's main venues, the Corner, normally averages 40 to 50 shows on sale, at any one time, but recently it’s been 70 to 80 plus, with no signs of slowing down.

“We have one artist soon, Matt Corby, who will sell out four to five consecutive nights without even releasing an album. This is becoming a fairly common occurrence," he said.

"Loads of new acts are breaking quickly, so crowds for all acts at festivals are bigger than ever," Mr Moffat said. "I’d expect 2012 will be more about streaming than an increase in people buying music again, but no doubt, people are consuming music more than ever."

In comparison, Pollstar industry figures showed a decline in attendance levels in the United States last year even though revenue was high. A Forbes article suggested this could be attributed to some venues holding fewer shows but charging higher ticket prices.

Overall, the City of Melbourne's impact findings reflects a positive global trend which sees the music industry recover from a disappointing 2010 sales year. According to Nielson's SoundScan’s end-of-year report, music purchased in the United States in 2011 reached the $1.6 billion mark for the first time, with album sales up  by 3.2% compared to 2010 figures.

Image: Way Over There

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Lieu Thi Pham

Correspondent (Melbourne)

Lieu Thi Pham is a freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She has contributed to The Age, Associated Newspapers, Melbourne University Magazine, the Big Issue, Dazed and Confused, Indesign Group, Time Out, SOMA and Niche Media. She holds degrees from the University of Melbourne and RMIT University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure