Music Composition, Distribution and Publishing

Stats logo


This article describes one of nine areas listed in Overview of Music Statistics: ABS, outlining the contribution of the Australian Bureau of Statistics to knowledge of the music sector.


This heading in Arts and Culture in Australia, 2011 (ABS Cat 4172.0) covers three data sources. One shows wholesale sales of physical and digital sound recordings and music videos in 2009 (totalling $446.1 million). The source is the Australian Recording Industry Association Limited (ARIA) which is discussed in Manufacture and Trade (a subcategory of Overview of Music Statistics: Other Sources). The ARIA data cover some 95% of the total Australian wholesale market. The fact that the ABS relies on these statistics vouches for their quality.

Chart 1

The second topic is from the ABS counts of Australian businesses, shown for four individual industries in Chart 4. The businesses are defined as active traders, having an active Australian Business Number (ABN) and a Goods and Services Tax (GST) role, and excluding businesses that did not return a Business Activity Statement (BAS) for more than five quarters. Chart 1 distinguishes between non-employing (71%) and employing (29%) businesses. The largest of the four industries counted by number of businesses was music and theatre production (5,673 businesses, of which 81% were non-employing). There were 1,143 retailers of recorded music, 855 sound recording studios, and 678 businesses in recorded media manufacturing and publishing. The ABS notes that data are available on request, including entries and exits between June 2003 and June 2007. However, the groupings in the main publication (ABS Cat 8165.0) are too broad to identify individual industries.

The basis for these statistics has since been modified, and a new classification introduced based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC, 2006). It includes item 1620, reproduction of recorded media, and 4242, entertainment media retailing. Both have shown a declining trend between 2007 and 2011, especially the retail activity. Please go to The Australian Recording Industry#Other Data for these statistics.

Chart 2

The third topic in the main ABS review (Cat 4172.0) is employment in three selected music-related industries. Chart 2 shows the distinction between cultural and other occupations which is described in Employment and Voluntary Work. No further detail is shown in the 2011 review for the small music publishing industry, where 15% of employees had occupations defined as cultural. Cultural occupations accounted for 13% of employees in the reproduction of recorded media industry, with no specific listing of musicians. However, the third industry (music and other sound recording activities) employed a much greater proportion of cultural workers (60.8%). These included 29 musicians and 11 composers (totalling 5% of total employment in the industry). Other professional artists included 45 media producers, 13 film, TV, radio and stage directors, and 11 graphic designers. The largest group in the industry, however, consisted of 304 sound technicians (37% of total employment in the industry).


Hans Hoegh-Guldberg. Entered 30 September 2011 as part of general ABS overview. Made into independent article 10 February 2012. Most recent update 10 April 2013.

Share your opinion