On March 23, 2019, the people of NSW will come together to vote for a new state government, based on a range of issues that impact our cultural and social fabric.
MusicNSW believes that music is an important political issue, and we want to help you #VoteMusic by informing you on where each party stands and how you can let politicians know why music is important to you and your community.
The current state of live music in NSW
Over the past 20 years, we’ve witnessed huge changes to the music industry, in NSW and around the world. Streaming services, which once threatened the demise of record labels, now eclipse physical sales. Social media platforms have had a huge impact on how we discover music, how we connect with artists, and how we conceive of branding and identity and marketing. Low-cost airlines have made interstate and international travel much more accessible. You can now self-release an album from your bedroom, and find fans across the world.
While much has changed, there are some constants that give us hope in the face of an ever-changing industry. Whatever you listen to, however you listen to it, music is a part of the Australian way. A cursory glance at the Australia Council for the Arts’ Artfacts is pretty heartening – 9 in 10 Australians listen to music every week, compared to just 4 in 10 who exercise. Live music is the most commonly attended art form and Australian households spend more on music each year than they do family holidays.
But while the industry continues to grow, and music is well-loved as an art form, most musicians are still poorly paid, with little financial stability and very few opportunities for a sustainable life-long music career. The rate of pay for artists has decreased in the last 10 years. While being a musician is a tough gig wherever you live, it’s particularly tough in NSW right now. In our office, we’re keeping a tally of artists who have moved interstate for more funding opportunities, for more regular gigs, for more engaged audiences. It’s a little heartbreaking. We are seeing too many NSW artists struggle to pay rent, struggle to find support to get overseas, struggle to build a sustainable career or find the audiences they need to sustain regular live performance.
Last year, a Parliamentary Inquiry into Music released its findings on the state of music in NSW. The report, submitted to the NSW Government in November, found that if our state were to be funded on the same per- capita basis as Victoria, NSW would need $35 million over four years, which is more than 8 times what we currently receive. We are being left behind. Our artists, our industry and our communities all deserve better.
The Story So Far
The first ever Parliamentary Inquiry into the music and arts economy in NSW calls for submissions from the music industry.
The inquiry is led by Portfolio Committee No. 6 – Planning and Environment Upper House, chaired by the Hon Paul Green MLC of the Christian Democratic Party with representatives from the NSW Liberal and National, Labor and The Greens parties.
The Parliamentary Inquiry into Music recieves 437 submissions, more than any other inquiry during the current sitting parliament.
The committee hears from artists such as The Preatures, Set Mo and The Rubens and industry representatives like triple j, MusicNSW, Future Classic and Century Venues, as well organisations like Liquor and Gaming NSW, NSW Police Force, ClubsNSW and AHA NSW.
The Parliamentary Inquiry report is released, making 60 recommendations to the NSW Government including a funding commitment of $35 million to the music industry to match that of the Victorian government on a per-capita basis.
NSW Labor announces support for the Parliamentary Inquiry recommendations, particularly those around entertainment restrictions for venues-
“...we’ll scrap, in a single piece of legislation, the 669 venues that have got entertainment restrictions on them, telling bands how many people can take the stage, which instruments they can play, what direction they can face, and what type of music they can play, saying they have to play country and western, or they can’t play disco or pop,” announced the Hon. John Graham, MLC, Shadow Minister for the Night-time Economy and Music.
January 7, 2019:
The NSW Government releases its official response to the Parliamentary Inquiry. “The NSW Government is working hard to improve the vibrancy and safety of the night-time economy,” said the Hon. Don Harwin, MLC, Minister for the Arts. “There are also more police and 24-hour patrols occurring at night in the city.”
January 23, 2019:
NSW Labor launches a new live music policy. NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley and Shadow Minister for Music and the Night Time Economy John Graham announce plans to address NSW’s live music crisis, with a live music census, amendments to the Liquor Act, the appointment of a Minister for Music and Night Time Economy and more.
January 24, 2019:
The NSW Government commits $1.5 million to live music events in NSW and the Sydney night-time economy. The NSW Government and the Office Of Responsible Gambling announce $500,000 worth of grants to activate Sydney's nightlife, while Create NSW, the government’s arts policy and funding body, commits $1 million in Music NOW grants to support contemporary live music 2019.
February 13, 2019:
The Australian music industry calls on the NSW Government to "stop killing live music". The Don't Kill Live Music campaign collects over 100,000 signatures ahead of a rally in Sydney on February 21st.
February 14, 2019:
Keep Sydney Open announce new party policies on music, including an investment of $100 million into contemporary music and performance over four years and repealing the NSW Government's new festival regulations.
February 15, 2019:
NSW Labor share their full music policy with the addition of a $35 million investment into music and support for regional music communities and touring circuits, community radio and artist funding.
February 15, 2019:
A new music policy is announced by the NSW Greens. Removal of "draconian" live music venue and festival regulations and increased funding for arts and music are among the official new party policies.
March 23, 2019:
The people of NSW come together to elect their 57th State Parliament.
What can we do?
With the state election around the corner, there’s an opportunity now for artists, venues, festivals and music-loving audiences to make their case for better support. But we need to get organised and start putting pressure on all political parties to make significant commitments to music in NSW. This isn’t just about lockouts, or regulation, or funding. It’s about feeling pride for your city or town, of wanting to go out and be with your community, of celebrating life and bringing your people together – with music being central to all of those things.
The good thing is there are many things you can do to support the NSW music industry – go out and support your local venue, your local artist, your local festival. Buy a band t-shirt. Support community radio. Stream local artists. Pay the bloody cover charge at a gig. Call your local member and let them know you care about music. Read our election report card on the various political parties and their commitments to investing in music in NSW. Whatever you do, don’t stay home or stay silent because there is simply too much at stake. With so much change happening socially, culturally and politically, it’s a critical time for artists, punters and the industry to come together and demand a better future for music in our state.
We’re calling on you now to help us do just that. By taking action, you’ll be joining the thousands of Australians who believe that our musicians, venues and the wider industry are vital to the state’s economy and cultural fabric. Help us make your voice heard, and convince the NSW Government that music is worth investing in.
#VoteMusic Action Checklist
Tell your friends and family why you’re going to #VoteMusic on election day!
Pick up an I Love Music and I Vote bumper sticker!
Read our 2019 State Election report card to see where the major parties lineup on issues affecting the music industry.
Write a letter about why music is important to you and your community, and send it to:
Want to write a letter to your local MP?
Download our letter template!
Note: letters written in your own words are more effective. Make sure to be specific about why music matters to you and your community!
Bumper stickers: I Love Live Music and I Vote!
Pick up your I Love Live Music and I Vote! bumper stickers from these locations and spread the word!
Address: 62 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe NSW 2037
Office hours: 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday
Office phone: 02 9953 5279
Oxford Art Factory
Address: 38-46 Oxford St, Darlinghurst
Office phone: 02 9332 3711
Address: 44-54 Botany Road, Alexandria NSW 2015
Office hours: 10am-6pm, Monday to Friday
Office phone: 02 8332 2900
2019 State election report card
Keep up to date with all the music policies from political parties in NSW! MusicNSW's 2019 State Election Report Card compares policies on funding commitments, regulatory reform for live music and more from the likes of NSW Labor, the NSW Coalition, NSW Greens and Keep Sydney Open.