The Main Federal Authorities
The main federal government authorities supporting and promoting the Australian music industry are the Australia Council, the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA), and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and its statutory authority, the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade).
While most trade promotion support is offered through DFAT and Austrade, the Australia Council’s International Pathways 2007 aims to assist with strategic international artistic and market development activities by Australian musicians. Applications for support may include the following activities occurring in or after 2007:
- international touring and showcasing (showcase proposals must include multiple performance opportunities)
- development of publishing and distribution networks for the work of Australian composers and songwriters
- support for not-for-profit service organisations in the international market development of Australian music and musicians, with clearly articulated and specific outcomes.
There is a maximum of $2,500 per person for airfares, plus appropriate additional amounts for freight, travel insurance and overseas surface travel. Domestic travel within Australia is not funded. The maximum total request per application is $20,000.
DCITA has several programs for domestic support of music but no programs directly linked to overseas promotion of Australian musicians.
This leaves DFAT/Austrade as the main direct overseas promoter. The MCA1 encapsulates DFAT’s role as follows:
DFAT is the home of the new Australian International Cultural Council [AICC], which will advise on ways of exporting Australian arts. Its Cultural Relations Section services the cultural activities of Australian embassies and consulates, and links with bilateral entities such as the Australia-China Council. Diplomatic posts have their own modest budgets for arts presentations. DFAT directly funds some international touring by Australian musicians.
The AICC is presented as Australia’s key cultural diplomacy body. Its grants program has an annual budget of $1 million to provide funding for international arts and cultural projects that align with AICC’s objectives: to reinforce Australia’s standing as a stable, sophisticated, tolerant and innovative nation with a rich and diverse culture; and to promote an accurate and positive image of Australia’s Indigenous people.
AICC’s grants program focuses on priority regions: 1 Asia, 2 South Pacific, 3 Middle East, and 4 North America and Western Europe. Favourable consideration may also be given to applications that are proposed for the same locations as the AICC’s focus country programs: Indonesia (2008), the United States (2009) and China (2010) (following France and Malaysia in 2007). The AICC will also select second countries for 2009 and 2010.
The main direct support to musicians, however, is at the coalface through Austrade, which is represented in 60 locations in about 140 countries, and in each Australian State and Territory through export assistance (TradeStart) offices.
Austrade’s mission is “to contribute to community wealth by helping more Australians succeed in export and international business by providing advice, market intelligence and support to Australian companies to reduce the time, cost and risk involved in selecting, entering and developing international markets.” Austrade also provides advice and guidance on overseas investment and joint venture opportunities, and administers the Export Market Development Grants scheme which provides financial assistance to eligible businesses through partial reimbursement of the costs of specified export promotion activities.
The main music genres being promoted are pop, rock, dance, hip hop, R&B, folk, country, blues and jazz, according to an Austrade presentation to the Asian International Music Expo in February 2007.
While many Austrade offices have arts, culture and entertainment export advisers, the most exciting development from a music sector point of view has been the establishment, since 2005, of dedicated music offices in Los Angeles, London and Frankfurt – as described in Tony George’s article below. This is happening in a crucial time of change for the music industry, as Tony himself has outlined in a recent ‘survival guide for Aussie bands’.2
The opportunities for popular Australian musicians seem to be improving quite strongly. Five years ago, just four bands were represented at the South by Southwest (SXSW) expo, which Tony George describes “as the main US networking event for aspiring (and established) artists to broaden their exposure – and perhaps nail that elusive contract that will take them to the top.” By 2007, the number of bands had increased tenfold.3
International Music Expos
The Australian Music Office counts a comprehensive range of Australian music organisations among its partners. They are listed here, with links, and include the Music Council of Australia.4 Significantly, they also include two of the main international music expos, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Conference and Festival already mentioned, and the German Popkomm.
Austrade focuses on the top music expos, which in addition to SXSW and Popkomm include the Winter Music Conference (WMC) in Miami, Florida, North by Northeast in Toronto, Canada, MIDEM, France, and newcomer Asian International Music Expo (AIME) in Bangkok, Thailand.
AIME in 2007 attracted 2,000 registered industry participants and 10,000 persons per day for public sessions. As a newcomer, it remains dwarfed by SXSW, which in 2007 drew 11,750 music industry professionals for panels, industry discussions, demo listening sessions, and trade show exhibits, not to mention five nights of music by more than 1,500 acts hailing from 33 different countries, performing in over 70 venues. The SXSW according to the Australian Music Office “remains one of the largest, most influential, and most anticipated music events of the year. Artists, agents, promoters, and talent buyers mix and mingle with hundreds of media representatives, managers, legal experts, and other professionals to hear music of every genre and conduct crucial business.” Only MIDEM in France attracted more participants than SXSW in 2006 according to the AIME presentation.5
Hans Hoegh-Guldberg. Last updated 30 September 2007.