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


The statistical volume on Arts and Culture in Australia, 2011 (ABS Cat 4172.0) which provides the backbone in the description of current ABS data, defined household “expenditure on culture” in its Table 3.2. The household expenditure survey providing the numbers was dated, relating to 2003-04. However, coinciding with the writing of the current article, the ABS published its 2009-10 household expenditure survey in September 2011. Table 1 therefore shows changes in the expenditure on cultural goods and services between 2003-04 and 2009-10, based on the 2003-04 definition. The statistics have been inflated to 2010-11 values using the Consumer Price Index. Two measures are shown: average weekly household expenditure in dollars, and the total value across all households, in millions of dollars.

Total expenditure on cultural goods and services in 2003-04, in 2010-11 prices, amounted to $1,092.55 per household per week. By 2009-10, it had increased to $1,294.75. Average weekly expenditure increased from $44.55 in 2003-04 to $47.50 in 2009-10, which means that the share of cultural items in total household expenditure declined from 4.1% in 2003-04 to 3.7% in 2009-10.

Weekly household expenditure on music goods and services declined, in constant 2010-11 prices, from $3.72 in 2003-04 to $3.37 in 2009-10. The explicit share of music in total cultural goods and services fell from 8.4% to 7.1%. Among the individual items, expenditure fell on CDs and records, and on musical instruments, while there was a large increase in music concert fees and charges.

Expenditure on other arts amounted to 55% of total expenditure on culture in 2003-04 and 53% in 2009-10. Expenditure per household in real terms increased by 2.9%, but total expenditure was boosted by a 6.8% increase in the total estimated number of households from 7.75 million to 8.2 million. The largest groups were literature (books, newspapers, magazines, and other printed matter) and broadcasting, electronic media and film (demand for which depends partly on their music content). The latter group increased strongly, whereas expenditure on literature declined on a per capita basis and didn’t quite hold its own in the total expenditure stakes.

The other large item in Table 1 is other culture. These items are basically “hardware” ranging from television (which expanded strongly) and audio equipment (which also increased) to video equipment (for which the total expenditure declined marginally), photographic goods (a more significant decline) and home entertainment systems (strong decline). The demand for many of these items depend partly on music. The timing of the 2009-10 survey in the depth of the Global Financial Crisis would have had some influence. The expansion for television coincided with a trend towards improving technology at lower prices.

Previous household surveys (1984, 1988-89, 1993-94, 1998-99) will be incorporated into the knowledge base to analyse trends and structural change in consumer preferences.


Hans Hoegh-Guldberg. Entered 29 September 2011 as part of general ABS overview. Made into independent article 9 February 2012.

Hans founded his own consulting firm, Economic Strategies Pty Ltd, in 1984, following 25 years with larger organisations. He specialised from the outset in applied cultural economics — one of his first major projects was The Australian Music Industry for the Music Board of the Australia Council (published in 1987), which also marks his first connection with Richard Letts who was the Director of the Music Board in the mid-1980s. Hans first assisted the Music Council of Australia in 2000 and between 2006 and 2008 proposed and developed the Knowledge Base, returning in an active capacity as its editor in 2011. In November 2013 the Knowledge Base was transferred to The Music Trust, with MCA's full cooperation.

Between 2000 and 2010 Hans also authored or co-authored several major domestic and international climate change projects, using scenario planning techniques to develop alternative long-term futures. He has for several years been exploring the similarities between the economics of cultural and ecological change, and their continued lack of political clout which is to a large extent due to conventional GDP data being unable to measure the true value of our cultural and environmental capital. This was announced as a major scenario-planning project for The Music Trust in March 2014 (articles of particular relevance to the project are marked *, below).

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *