Dean Ormston, APRA AMCOS chief executive
How’s the music industry faring across the country, with obviously some states better off than others at the moment?
We have always said the music industry would be one of the first industries to shut down and one of the last to reemerge from this pandemic. Eighteen months on from when the first health orders closed down our industry and the latest APRA AMCOS (Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society) data shows national live music activity is at just 9 per cent of pre-Covid times. In addition to the cancelled live music events and festivals, the majority of the four thousand plus pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants that present live music across Australia are either closed or are at reduced capacity.
What has been the main impact of Covid on the live music sector?
A survey through the I Lost My Gig website found that 28,000 gigs were cancelled nationwide in just the four weeks from July 1, resulting in nearly $84m in lost income. Worth $16bn a year to the Australian economy, we are an intricate web of musicians, songwriters, screen composers, crews, managers, promoters, production houses, ticketing companies, agents, background music suppliers and those who work in venues and the entire infrastructure needed to publish, record, promote and present Australian music.
Has there been enough government support for the sector, and musicians in particular?
The Australian government’s JobKeeper program, together with the recent NSW JobSaver program, have been critical to keep many people afloat.
The Australian government’s RISE program will be vital to help inject funds through the industry once we are able to restart, but we are a long way from reopening.
We are a national industry with tours, concerts and events travelling regularly across state and territory borders. Together with the breadth of our industry, we have been calling for a sustainability package together with the adoption of a governmentbacked insurance scheme to ensure the survival of artists, music industry businesses and the retention of our skilled workforce.
What are the main concerns you’ve heard from APRA AMCOS members?
Everyone in the industry just wants to get back to work. But governments are making that job extremely hard through a web of inconsistent health regulations. As vaccination targets are reached, we desperately need state and territory health officials to engage with our industry based on sound epidemiological advice, not the whim of junior officials. The recent example of a football match going ahead in front of a capacity crowd at Suncorp Stadium while cancelling the live music entertainment due to “Covid restrictions” is a perfect example of regulation overreach.
‘Vax The Nation’ is a great campaign. How has the reaction to it been?
The Vax The Nation campaign sends an important message to everyone: follow medical advice and make an informed decision to get vaccinated so that we can get people back to the live events that they love.
The fact is, for our industry, that high vaccination rates are the only way we will be able to get live entertainment happening again in Australia.
Music lifts the spirits, and musicians always give so much in terms of fundraising and giving back to their communities. How can fans, supporters and the public give back to them?
If you can get the vaccination, get it. Dust off your glad rags as soon as we can restart and go and enjoy some great homegrown live music again. And in the meantime, stream and listen to the extraordinary local talent we have.
If you have a business, play local artists because every cent counts – and our local artists need your help more than ever before.