Survey Results Confirm Crisis in Australian Live Music Business

The Australian Live Music Business Council today releases sobering findings from the first survey of its membership base.

Formed in July and now representing over 600 small and medium enterprises in the live music sector, the survey shows the scale of business closures and job losses anticipated in the coming months.

The survey results point to an imminent collapse of the Australian live music industry and put a critical question mark over the sector’s ability to recover after COVID-19 shutdowns.

Key findings from the survey include:

70% of business members surveyed are predicting closure within the next six months based on cashflow projections and current government support measures. This represents over 400 businesses and an estimated 18,000 jobs in the sector across the ALMBC’s membership alone, adding to the growing number of live music businesses that have already closed this year.

73% of members reported a revenue downturn of 75-100% in the past six months, with many reporting a 100% loss of income since March with no recovery in sight.

● Many businesses have been overlooked by the existing government support with only 17% of members expecting to benefit from the Federal Government’s RISE package, with a large proportion falling outside the eligibility criteria. Only 4.4% of members expect to take up a Show Starter loan. Neither package provides the immediate assistance and business confidence the sector desperately needs to operate.

● Overheads such as rent are a key challenge facing ALMBC business members – with 69% of businesses with rental commitments not receiving any form of rent relief, and 76% of businesses carrying commercial debt facilities have had no form of loan deferral.

When asked what would help their businesses recover, top requests from members were a clear roadmap for easing venue restrictions and re-opening borders , an extension of the JobKeeper program at the current rates, a survival package that provides additional cash flow support to help carry these businesses through to play a vital role in the nation’s economic and mental health recovery.

Interim ALMBC chair, Select Music’s Stephen Wade notes:

“It is our urgent priority to find solutions for the 30% of members who are not expected to see out Christmas – after 6 months of no revenue and gigs out to at least March 2021 still in doubt, we are almost out of time for a solution for these businesses.

Our sector has been uniquely impacted by the pandemic and the role of live music cannot be ignored as part of the roadmap to getting the country back to good commercial and mental health. But if live music businesses don’t make it through the knock on for the entire music industry and wider national consciousness will be immense.

You can’t remove 2/3 of businesses from an ecosystem and not have a flow-on impact to all the other businesses in the chain. Tours can’t happen without engineers, road crew, marketing staff & countless others. Venues & promoters need agents to book acts and essential skilled technical staff to deliver the live experience.

What happens when festivals return but there are no production companies or crew to service them? What happens when there are no operators to handle production in local pubs and clubs? What happens when international artists want to visit Australia and there are no venues to play? When the ecosystem collapses, it’s the artists, the public, our culture and way of life that will ultimately pay the price.”

The fiscal cliff is tragically matched by the mental health crisis currently gripping the industry. The ALMBC survey reports the economic uncertainty has impacted the mental health of 88.6% of members, with 32.9% of members already accessing professional mental health support. Music industry charity Support Act have reported a 52% increase in people accessing their Wellbeing Helpline since March and have recently announced a Manager Support Hotline and a dedicated Helpline for First Nations music workers. These services are free, confidential and can be contacted 24/7.

“We strongly encourage anyone who is struggling with anxiety, depression, career concerns, financial issues, loneliness, relationship issues or any other aspect of their wellbeing to call the Helpline on 1800 959 500,” said Clive Miller, CEO of Support Act. “Maintaining good mental health and wellbeing is vital in such challenging times and talking to a trained counsellor can help to break the cycle of any negative thinking and assist you to make better decisions for the future.”

To ensure that its members can play a vital role in the nation’s economic and mental health recovery, the ALMBC is also involved in discussions with State Governments around tightly managed COVID-Safe events and touring that would allow the industry to safely carry out essential commercial activity in states where live music is returning – albeit at considerably reduced capacities.

About the survey:

  • Conducted via anonymous online survey between 8-10 th September 2020
  • 247 Responses
  • 70.4 % of business derive between 75-100% of their revenue from live music
  • 73% of businesses have had a revenue decline of 75-100% in the last 6 months.

We acknowledge the First Nations people as the original inhabitants of Australia. We recognise, respect and celebrate the cultural distinctions of First Nations people and value their rich and positive contribution to the broader Australian society. We pay our respects to all of the Traditional Owners and keepers of this land and acknowledge all elders past, present and future.