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MUSIC INDUSTRIES SUBMIT OPEN LETTER IMPLORING GOVERNMENT TO EXTEND JOBKEEPER

Jenny Morris, The Cat Empire, Mo’ju, Kate Miller-Heidke, Paul Kelly, Bernard Fanning, Courtney Barnett, The McClymonts, Laneway Festival, Missy Higgins, Archie Roach, Josh Pyke, L-FRESH The LION, Gordi, Stella Donnelly, Abby Dobson, Sarah Blasko, Don Walker, Katie Noonan, Graham ‘Buzz’ Bidstrup, Bluesfest, Bushwackers Band, Ocean Alley, Ian Moss, Alex the Astronaut, Lee Kernaghan, Troy Cassar-Daley, Birds of Tokyo, Lime Cordiale, Killing Heidi, The Presets, Birdz, Dan Sultan, Methyl Ethel, John Watson Management, Bill Cullen – One Louder, Jebediah, Boy and Bear, The Living End, Xavier Rudd, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Didirri, KLP, Montaigne, Holy Holy, Polish Club, Midnight Oil, Sneaky Sound System, Spiderbait, The Preatures, Diesel, Anna Laverty, Something For Kate, Hunters and Collectors, Secret Sounds, The Avalanches, Jen Cloher, Canberra Symphony Orchestra musicians …. sign urgent Open Letter with more than 3500 music and live entertainment industry artists, workers, venues & businesses.

An Open Letter published today seeks to bring attention to the continuing devastation the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Australia’s music and live entertainment industry with an appeal to the Australian Government to establish an industry rescue program to replace the end of JobKeeper.

“Each time there is another COVID-19 cluster or a quarantine breach, any plans to trade again are halted. Musicians, sole traders, venues, clubs, festivals, music businesses and the industry remain out of work. Billions of dollars for hospitality and tourism generated from Australian music remains stifled. We are an industry in crisis,” the Open Letter says.

“We applaud the work of local, state and federal authorities, as well as the community and acknowledge the situation in Australia is much different to most nations around the world. But Australia remains in a cycle of lockdowns and border closures to keep on top of the insidious COVID-19 pandemic.”

Despite Australia being ahead of most countries around the world, new figures released today by music rights organisation APRA AMCOS reveal that live music alone is operating at under 4 per cent of the level compared to this time last year, showing the devastation that has hit Australia’s live music industry and on the thousands of people who work to make live music happen.

Pre-COVID, APRA AMCOS members submitted live performance reports, representing payment for over 3 million performances of their works. The same period during COVID-19 saw the number of performances of works plummet to approximately 100,000 – representing under 4 per cent of activity pre-COVID*.  

Since March last year there has not been a single national tour undertaken by an Australian artist and there has not been a single festival run at full capacity. Night clubs remain closed and what venues are open are trading at an average of 30 per cent due to social distancing capacity regulations.

“Extending JobKeeper, or providing an industry specific wage subsidy package, will keep the show on the road. This doesn’t just make cultural sense, it makes economic sense. The arts and entertainment sector contributes around $15 billion per year in GDP, employing close to 200,000 highly-skilled Australians. Australia Institute research has found that for every million dollars in turnover, arts and entertainment produce 9 jobs while the construction industry only produces around 1 job,” the Open Letter continues.

Research shows three dollars are generated from every $1 spent on live music. The inability for the music industry to trade has a direct knock-on effect on the hospitality and tourism industries across major metropolitan and regional centres across the country and an unprecedented loss to the economy.

“Every live music venue and festival in a city, town centre or regional area is part of an intricate network that supports our industry. Sitting behind these venues and events is an army of musicians, managers, agents, promoters, crew, technicians, music teachers and many other industry professionals,” the Open Letter says.

“We can’t afford to lose the skills and businesses of our industry. The result for Australian music and live entertainment would be catastrophic.”

The music and live entertainment industry urges the Australian Government to extend JobKeeper for music and live entertainment workers or provide an industry specific wage subsidy. 

And just a little personal addendum …

Another segment of the music industry which hasn’t really been mentioned but is hurting just a badly as everyone else is our independent music media. With no tours, limited capacity gigs and hardly any money behind recording projects, there has been a drastic reduction in indie media’s advertising income, making it harder for music websites to run at full staff capacity and promote Australian music in the manner everyone is accustomed to. It’s just assumed that music websites will always be there and that may not be the case if the effects of the pandemic drag on and if Jobkeeper ends suddenly. Of course you won’t hear many indie media outlets complain because central to attracting advertising funds is the perception that you’re doing super well. Support your local music media.