Collaboration dives into the success of Australia’s thriving music scene

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One in seven Australians create music themselves, by singing, playing musical instruments, or composing.

By U2B Staff 

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You’ve no doubt heard of them – Flume, 5 Seconds of Summer, Sia, Gang of Youths and Courtney Barnett. All famous musicians, all award winners – and all Australian.

Australia is famous for many things, but it is only recently its musical artists are getting the long-deserved respect they deserve. Despite its relatively small size in comparison to bigger music markets like the US, Australia likes to “punch above its weight” on the international stage and getting its deep-seated passion for the musical arts out to the world.

One in seven Australians create music themselves, by singing, playing musical instruments, or composing. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, 97 percent of the population listen to music regularly and over 50 percent attend live music events each year.

It not too surprising then that Australian musical exports are growing, but a new report has shown just how successful this outreach has been and the value these exports bring to country.

The research was carried out over three years by the University of Newcastle and Monash University, in partnership with Sounds Australia, APRA AMCOS and the Australia Council for the Arts.

“Music is one of our nation’s most powerful cultural exports. When our artists connect with audiences around the globe, they are sharing culture and perspectives,” Australia Council Arts Practice Director for Music Paul Mason said.

“The increased number, range and diversity of Australian musicians who are achieving international success is promoting a rich and nuanced sense of Australian creativity in a global context.”


The final report, entitled Born Global: Australian music exportspaints a picture of a thriving musical export market that is benefiting from new technologies. The export value of the Australia music industry is estimated to be approximately AU$195 million (US$137 million), including the combined export income of Australian artists, music publishers and record labels.

This is supported by new digital platforms that make it easier for artists to have their music heard by a global audience. But the report also points out that good old fashioned showing up and spending time in a target market is still a key factor in achieving international success.

“Australian music has always punched above its weight on an international stage. The internet means musicians today operate in a ‘born global’ environment. They can digitally release their music at the same time in multiple countries without always having to begin by promoting their work locally,” lead researcher and University of Newcastle conjoint Professor Richard Vella said

Sia at the “An Evening with Women” Benefitting LA LGBT Center at the Palladium on May 16, 2015 in Los Angeles.

“This first-of-its-kind study unpacks the structures, support and international strategies Australia needs to have in place to ensure its artists are export ready.”

While the internet has made it easier to get internationally recognised, the report highlights that it is still those with financial backing that have the greatest chance of success.

The report found government grants provided the largest source of export support among the surveyed artists. And those with support from both government and industry reported the greatest export success.


“Australia is well placed to build upon recent successes and establish long term goals and infrastructure that rewards governments, artists, managers and recording labels for sustained effort,” said Fellow researcher Associate Professor Shane Homan from Monash University.

“There is substantial scope to support Australian artists who have shown that they are innovators, and where live performance remains a key component of global success.”