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Government committee recommends 25 per cent Aussie music minimum on radio stations

And more industry news this week.

We could hear more Australian music on commercial radio – and it won’t be cobwebbed oldie goldies stuck in the wee hours either – as well as on streaming services. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts has, after months of talking to music, radio and tech folks, come up with 16 recommendations on how the federal government can strengthen the Australian music industry.

These included ensuring that 25% of all songs on commercial radio between 6am and midnight be Australian – and a quarter of these recorded in the last 12 months. No more self-monitoring by the radio industry: the unsmiling Australian Communications and Media Authority should step into the role.

The music industry threw cartwheels across the floor at the 16 suggestions. APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston said: “The report comes at a time when both major parties have released policy and funding commitments in support of the Australian music industry.” Commercial Radio Australia (CRA)’s chief executive Joan Warner pointed out that radio and the music biz have already been working together in the last 12 months to bring quotas up and monitor whether they were being upheld. 

This move came after Melbourne academic Chrissie Vincent did her masters thesis on quotas, and was aghast at how abysmal the support was. According to her research, Nova Melbourne played just 7% in a week in June 2017. As a result, the music industry met with radio. It is believed that stations did, as a result, pump up the jam to 20% – we say ‘believed’ because the figures are kept confidential. 

Commercial radio still has serious clout on an artist’s career. Dean Lewis, Courtney Barnett and Amy Shark are just three whose support from Australian radio led to wider international success. But radio protests that formats such as classical, jazz and easy listening can’t reach quotas because there isn’t enough local material. CRA’s Warner responded: “The recommendations relate to complex issues and we do not accept them as a way forward. Especially in light of the fact that they will invariably result in more regulation of local radio stations while the internet and music streaming services remain, to all intents and purposes, regulation free.”

Streaming quotas are the next battlefield. The music industry is pushing for 25% Australian tracks on all locally curated playlists. This is important as some tracks can be picked up by larger global playlists. The streaming services’ response to quotas is “No way, Jose!” Last week’s ARIA figures showed streaming now makes up 71.4%, or $304 million of the Aussie recorded biz’s $526 million value – which grew 12.3% from 2017, primarily from streaming. Last week when the global IFPI released its figures to an internationally linked press conference – at which Beat was represented – execs said they were watching what was happening here. 

Stu Bergen, CEO of International and Global Commercial Services for Warner Music Group, stated, “Australia continues to be a good place for creative expression and creative talent.”