Ten things to take away from the Aussie music industry this decade
06.12.2019

Ten things to take away from the Aussie music industry this decade

Tones And I
Words by Christie Eliezer

#1 — It’s not just about the music, man

Music consumers are increasingly in the driver’s seat and putting the music industry through the hoops.  It’s all about the experience. So we don’t buy music, we rent it. At concerts, we’re part of the show.

#2 — Social media sensations

Social media completely overshadowed word-of-mouth and peer recommendation in terms of spreading the hype.

Tones And I is a perfect example of rapid success. Add Mallrat and The Buckleys to the list. Billie Eilish, Lewis Capaldi and Sam Fender reached arena status in the blink of an eye. Capaldi sold out his 2020 UK tour even before his debut album peeked its nose out.

What this means is managers have to live their game and ensure there’s careful pre-planning.  Do they strike while the iron is hot or pull back the reins and go for a longer career?

#3 — Crowdfunding catastrophes

Crowdfunding officially launched in 2008 with fewer than 500 platforms armed and ready. Two years later, there were 1,000. For music acts, it meant being funded for tours and videos without seeking support from labels and handing over copyright in the process.

By 2016, PayPal revoked buyer protection for crowdfunding sites because so many failed. The collapse of crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic this year was a wake-up call that you’re legally responsible when you ask people to donate and can’t deliver — even if it’s not your fault.

#4 — Guitar remains king (or queen)

A study by guitar manufacturer Fender in October 2018 found that over 50 per cent of new guitar players are women.

It also discovered 72 per cent of players picked up the instrument to gain a skill, 61 per cent to play songs by themselves or with friends and 42 per cent looked at guitars as part of their identity.

#5 — Musicians making bank

Australian songwriters’ royalty cheques rose in the past ten years, with revenue made by APRA AMCOS up 113.4 per cent.

The two copyright organisations reported $221.1 million in 2009-10. Net distributable revenue, the amount payable to members and affiliated societies, was at $410.9 million in 2018-19.

What’s more, the money earned is still on the rise. Figures grew 13.2 per cent from $362.8 million the year before. This follows a rise of 8.2 per cent from the year before that.

#6 — The generational genre shift

Thanks to the internet, Americans are listening to music for longer periods of time (32 hours a week, Nielsen estimates). Also, lesser-known genres are becoming commonplace among Western listening habits, such as Latino and Asian pop, with Gen Z women reportedly listening to at least five different genres regularly. Albums are getting less important and have now become a flexible format that allows artists to add and change tracks as they please. Just look at how many times Kanye changed The Life of Pablo after it dropped.

#7 — Trimmed tracks

No you didn’t breeze through that album, songs are getting much shorter. In 1995, they were an average of four minutes and 30 seconds. Now they’re three minutes and 42 seconds. With streaming, artists only get paid if someone listens to 30 seconds of a song.

#8 — Too many cooks

Ten years ago, it took one or two writers to pen a hit. According to a Music Week study, it took an average of 5.34 people to write last year’s 100 biggest singles. It was 4.84 in 2017 and 4.53 the year before.

#9 — Video didn’t kill the radio star

Community radio’s listenership has been building the past ten years, now at 5.9 million listeners a week.

#10 — Still a long way to go

Demands made by the music industry – including tax incentives for investing in music, ways to increase the average musician’s income of $7,200 a year, and increasing the Australian music radio quota to 35 per cent — are still ignored by authorities.

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