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.


As part of the fundamental work the Australian Bureau of Statistics undertakes on the National Accounts (including extensive input-output mapping of inter-industry flows of goods and services), data are compiled on the value of cultural goods and services produced in Australia. While this fails to identify music, and cannot provide pointers to the music content of radio, television, film, and other activities, the perspective is useful for our broader understanding of how culture fits into a narrowly defined economic and financial viewpoint which looks no further.

Table 1 shows four main product groups with a combined Australian production value of $57 billion in 2005-06 (expressed in 2010-11 prices). Motion pictures, radio and television services, the largest group, was dominated by radio and TV stations (65%), followed by pay TV (20%) and motion picture production and services (12%). Publishing and recorded media was the second-largest main group, of which newspaper printing and publishing accounted for 21% and newspaper advertising for 25%. The four largest items in the libraries, museums and arts group were performing arts venue operation (18%), library, museum and art gallery services (16%), zoos and botanical gardens (15%), and creative arts (14%). The largest item among other cultural products was architectural services accounting for half the total value of that group.

The 2011 ABS review (Cat 4172.0) notes that only a small amount of cultural goods and services have been excluded from the calculation of cultural output because they cannot be separately identified from non-cultural products.1

While individual product groups are available to calculate a nearly complete cultural output value as defined by the ABS, value-added data are only available on an industry basis. The total production value of the goods and services produced by the three cultural industries for which value-added data were available in 2005–06 was $48.8 billion converted to 2010-11 prices (compare the total of $57 billion for the four product groups). The value-added component of these cultural industries was $14.9 billion, indicating that 38% of the value of goods and services produced by the cultural industries was paid to what economists call factors of production (labour and capital goods applied to production). The remaining $24.1 billion (62%) was paid to other industries for their output used in producing the cultural goods and services.2

The largest of the three industries was motion pictures, radio and TV services with a total Australian production of $18.5 billion, of which 29% was value-added. Libraries, museums and the arts represented a production value of $9.7 billion (value-added 39%), and publishing, recorded media etc $10.9 billion (value-added 54%).

Australian Industry 2009-10 (ABS Cat 8155.0) provides more specific data for eight cultural industries in a somewhat different form. This includes the creative and performing arts industry, showing total employment rising from 35,000 in 2006-07 to 36,000 in 2008-09 and 37,000 in 2009-10. The total income of this industry (the main part being sales and service income) went backwards from $3.93 million in 2006-07 to $3,34 million and $3,39 million in the two following years, before increasing to 3.72 million in 2009-10. The industry value-added was $1,67 million in 2006-07, $1,56 million in 2007-08, and a virtually unchanged $1,53 million in both 2008-09 and 2009-10 (2010-11 values).

In industry value-added terms ($million), creative and performing arts (with about $1.5 billion) rank towards the bottom among the eight industries listed (ranked according to value-added in 2008-09, when these industries totalled $21,674 million in 2010-11 values):

  • Publishing (except Internet and music publishing): 7,962 (36.7%)
  • Printing (including reproduction of recorded media): 4,682 21.6%)
  • Broadcasting (except Internet): 4,260 (19.7%)
  • Motion picture and sound recording activities: 2,268 (10.5%)
  • Creative and performing arts activities: 1,527 (7.0%)
  • Internet publishing and broadcasting: 470 (2.2%)
  • Heritage activities: 314 (1.5%)
  • Libraries and other information services: 191 (0.9%).

Table 2 shows how far these statistics go into detail, using subdivisions of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC). Creative and Performing Arts Activities is Industry 90 at that level of ANZSIC. In real terms, using the implicit GDP deflator shown in the right-hand column, the industry’s total income fluctuated, falling from 2006-07 and despite recovery in 2009-10 remaining below the 2006-07 level in that year. The estimated value-added within the industry fluctuated inversely to total income during these four years, from 42% in 2006-07 through 47%, 45%, and 41% in the three subsequent years.

The ABS also conducts a range of service industry surveys which are useful for making broad comparisons across industries to illustrate the economic importance of the cultural sector (ABS Cat 4176.0, 2010, p 51). It noted that the 2006-07 surveys identified a number of cultural industries with incomes exceeding $1 billion, including the commercial television industry (at 2010-11 values $7.920 billion operating income, value-added $2.508 billion), subscription TV services ($2.654 billion; value-added $388 million), and film and video production and post-production ($2.358 billion, value-added $1.030 billion).

The economic value associated with the performing arts, as defined by the ABS, was much lower in 2006-07, again expressed at 2010-11 prices: performing arts operation (income $852 million, value-added $328 million), and performing arts venue operation (income $574 million, value-added $241 million).

Performing Arts, Australia, 2006-07 identifies individual performing arts (Table 3). The survey found that 375 businesses or other organisations catered for one of four types of musical performance. Almost half (48%) dealt with popular music, 27% with orchestral or choral performance, 21% with musical theatre, and 4% with opera. The two last categories, however, had a larger proportion of the almost 19,000 paid performances (31% and 8%, respectively), and popular music concerts less (36%). Finally, there were seven million paid attendances at music performances, with the distribution further skewed away from popular music which accounted for 26% of these attendances. Symphony/choral topped the numbers with 32% of paid attendances, followed by music theatre (28%) and opera (14%).

Another way to express this is to calculate the average paid attendances per paid performance: opera 660, symphony/choral 466, music theatre 341, and popular music 266.

Outside the music sector, drama performances numbered 14,368, way ahead of any of the four individual types of music performance. While total paid drama attendances numbered an impressive 3.1 million, the average attendance (219) was less than for any of the four music performance types, and less than the average attendance at dance and circus productions.

The last category in Table 3 is other performances or productions, which may include some music performances (chamber music?). Total paid attendances in this residual group, however, was relatively low (561,000) and average attendance only 88 persons.

The survey covered other useful data on employment, income, expenses, profits and other matters which will be dealt with in another article. The industry employed 6,569 persons, of whom 1,542 (24%) provided managerial, administrative and clerical support, 847 (13%) technical/performing arts support, while 519 (8%) were front of house, sales, clerical and other staff. The core personnel of 3,249 performing artists (49%) consisted of 1,980 singers and musicians (30%) and 1,269 actors, dancers and others (19%). The remaining 414 (6%) provided direct artistic support: 246 musical directors, composers, art directors and conductors, and 166 choreographers and others.


Hans Hoegh-Guldberg. Entered 6 October 2011 as part of general ABS overview. Made into independent article 10 February 2012.


  1. The excluded products are primary to the recorded media manufacturing and publishing, to book and magazine wholesaling industry, to newspaper, book and stationery retailing, and to recorded music retailing industries. Details for these industries are not available separately (ABS Cat 4172.0, note (b) to Table 6.1, p 46).↩︎
  2. These three cultural industries accounted for 1.4% of the total value added for all industries in 2005-06.↩︎

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 *