Industry: How new radio quota monitoring is helping Aussie music

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Industry: How new radio quota monitoring is helping Aussie music


The music industry, led by APRA AMCOS and with ARIA, last month made a deal with commercial radio to keep to its Code of Practice requirement of a 25% Australian quota.

Radio’s argument was that there’s not enough Australian music for some formats. Possibly, but the music industry has been critical of how the quota was met by playing old tracks or in a block during early hours when no one was listening – a charge that radio disputes. Overseas artists as Lorde and Justin Bieber were also included as “Australian” if their tracks were recorded in Australia.

A whole lot of things happened in synchronicity in late 2017. In September The Music Network ran a piece that the body responsible for monitoring quotas had been quietly dismantled. The same month, at BIGSOUND, indie sector’s association AIR held a robust debate over the lack of local music in the mainstream charts.

Around this time, long time publicist and artist management, turned academic, Chrissie Vincent was working on a PHD thesis on quotas. She tells Industrial Strength her findings were “awful, worse than I expected”. In a typical week, Triple M was the only one to keep to the quota. Nova played just 7% Australian, FOX 11% and KIISFM 13%. She sent her data to APRA and expressed her concern.

APRA did its own data research and by December met with commercial radio’s trade body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA). APRA’s Dean Ormston tells Industrial Strength that CRA displayed a “co-operative and collaborative spirit”.

APRA, ARIA and CRA will hold monthly meetings for the next 12 months to monitor quotas. Only music played between 6 am and midnight will be counted. CRA CEO Joan Warner expanded in a statement. “The performance period is 126 hours over seven days between 6am and midnight. The quota can be met at any time during that period.”

Ormston adds, “Work has started on clarifying and confirming a definition of an Australian artist.”

CRA figures show a cumulative near 10.5 million listen to commercial radio in a week. 79% of 18-24-year-olds tune in every week. Radio certainly has an immediate impact: just two recent examples alone, Gang of Youths and The Teskey Brothers found their gigs selling out after just some commercial airplay.

Acts on indie labels traditionally get little support from major networks. But with the need to fill the quota, could well change that. AIR general manager Maria Amato tells Industrial Strength, “The more Australian music being played on commercial radio means that there [are] even more opportunities for the indie sector to get a presence in that space. There’s no denying that commercial radio airplay has an immense impact on those artists who are benefiting from the airplay and this has a flow on effect for them at live; on streaming services; on film and TV.”