Over 3,500 artists and music execs write open letter to federal government about end of JobKeeper

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Over 3,500 artists and music execs write open letter to federal government about end of JobKeeper

Image by Josh Braybrook
Words by Tom Parker

The likes of Paul Kelly, Courtney Barnett and Bernard Fanning have got behind the cause.

As much as it seems like the music industry is springing back to life, it’s still not its normal self. In new figures recently released by music rights organisation APRA AMCOS, live music is operating at under four per cent the level it was this time last year.

With these harrowing statistics in mind and with end of JobKeeper on the horizon, more than 3,500 professionals from all corners of the music industry have rallied together to write an Open Letter to the federal government for help.

What you need to know

  • More than 3,500 music industry professionals have written an Open Letter to the federal government pleading for an industry rescue program
  • It comes with the end of JobKeeper in sight, and after harrowing statistics were revealed by APRA AMCOS into the current state of the music industry
  • The likes of Paul Kelly, Courtney Barnett, Bernard Fanning and more are behind the cause

Keep up with the latest music news here.

As part of the plea, everyone from Paul Kelly, Courtney Barnett and Bernard Fanning from the artist world, Laneway Festival and Port Fairy Folk Festival from their respective space, and the likes of John Watson Management, Bill Cullen from One Louder, Bakehouse Studio’s Helen Marcou AM and more, have called for a industry support program to be introduced when JobKeeper comes to a close at the end of March.

“Each time there is another COVID-19 cluster or a quarantine breach, any plans to trade again are halted. Musicians, sole traders, venues, clubs, festivals, music businesses and the industry remain out of work. Billions of dollars for hospitality and tourism generated from Australian music remains stifled. We are an industry in crisis,” the Open Letter says.

“We applaud the work of local, state and federal authorities, as well as the community and acknowledge the situation in Australia is much different to most nations around the world. But Australia remains in a cycle of lockdowns and border closures to keep on top of the insidious COVID-19 pandemic.”

APRA AMCOS’ findings showed that when live performance reports were submitted by its members this time last year (in a pre-COVID world), over three million performances were billed. In the same period during COVID-19, the number of performances plummeted to 100,000 – representing under four per cent of the normal pre-COVID activity.

As we connect the dots, validation for these troubling statistics comes to light. Since March 2020, not one single national tour has been undertaken by an Australian artist, while not one music festival has operated at full capacity. What’s more, the live music venues that have hosted live performances amidst COVID have been operating at an average of 30 per cent their full capacity due to social distancing regulations.

“Extending JobKeeper, or providing an industry specific wage subsidy package, will keep the show on the road. This doesn’t just make cultural sense, it makes economic sense,” the Open Letter continues.

“The arts and entertainment sector contributes around $15 billion per year in GDP, employing close to 200,000 highly-skilled Australians. Australia Institute research has found that for every million dollars in turnover, arts and entertainment produce nine jobs while the construction industry only produces around one job.”

Read the full letter here.