MusicNSW 2011 Wrap Up by Kirsty Brown - MusicNSW

As we draw nearer to the end of 2011, it’s always interesting to reflect back on the year that was. How did this year hold up to others, and what do the events of 2011 mean for 2012?

Across the contemporary music industry, 2011 was a year of upheaval and change. From the closure of Tone to the imminent sale of the Annandale (who are now selling bricks to punters who want to save the iconic venue), Sydney continued to experience the ongoing nightmare that is our Real Estate Purgatory. Rents across NSW continue to soar, purchasing property is beyond many and the suburbs remain unappealing locations to host concerts, when the threat of noise complaints and neighbourhood groups loom constantly. Just ask the Rule Brothers, whose Parramatta Rd location should seemingly be beyond the reach of people complaining about noise and foot traffic. Elsewhere in the state, new venues like Yours and Owls in Wollongong saw huge amounts of success in their café/gig space, but now face a similar situation to Tone- their landlord doesn’t quite support the venture and small changes, required to pay overheads by maximizing capacity are being rejected at every turn.

More positively, NSW has continued to thrive as the heart of the music industry in Australia, which was certified with the release of the APRA report into Venue-Based Live Music. It revealed that NSW has 32.1% of all live spaces in Australia and is contributing $388 million to the live economy, creating nearly 5000 jobs in the process. It’s an exciting statistic and one that speaks to the opportunity that lies with NSW musicians looking beyond the CBD for venues to host their tours.

We’ve certainly got the talent to send out of the city too. This year, MusicNSW funded 18 bands and musicians to maximise performance and showcase opportunities that came their way in 2011. Lanie Lane, WIM, Domeyko/Gonzalez, Guerre, Kirin J Callinan, Papa Vs Pretty and The Laurels were just some of the artists that we funded in 2011, sending them to conferences like Big Sound, Australian World Music Expo, Sound Summit and off on international support slots around the country. In 2012, MusicNSW will remain committed to supporting NSW musicians, and we look forward to ensuring that Quick Response Funding is a continued benefit to our industry.

While we sit here and whinge about the lack of sunshine and the gloomy “summer”, perhaps we could also spare a thought for the penniless musicians who entertain us while we wait for the sun to make an appearance. The music industry is making $1.2 billion dollars p/a, but the average musician earns just $19,500 per year – if they’re lucky. Minimum wage in this country is $30K p/a creating a huge disparity in relation to who generates the money for the industry and who receives the profits.

In 2012 there are a few simple things we can do to support our scene- firstly, go to a gig, by voting with your feet you are sending a powerful message. Then, don’t complain when you’re seeing 3 bands for $10 and buying $8 beers- think about the poor drummer who is earning less than a full time uni student on the dole. And if you, like most music loving Sydney siders want to show your support for our venues and the musicians that populate them, make sure your voice is heard on this issue when Melbourne’s SLAM Rally goes national, February 23 2012!

Happy Holidays and see you at the merch desk in 2012.

The MusicNSW Team.

Published in The Drum Media December 2011