The LPA Surveys

The definition of the live performance industry in this article fits comfortably into the total music sector which is the subject of the Music in Australia Knowledge Base generally. It also provides some valuable indicators of the economic impact of the sector which is otherwise difficult to determine.

Since 2004 Live Performance Australia (LPA), the peak body for the live performance industry, has published an annual ticket attendance and revenue survey. We agree with LPA that: “This is the most comprehensive survey of ticket sales for Australian live events, covering ticket sales and attendance across all major performance genres and regions”. However, LPA itself realises there are some gaps in coverage and it is based solely on ticketing and attendance. For this reason it commissions an occasional survey which makes it possible to perform economic analysis based on industry costs and sales, which also catches some additional venues. Since 2006, LPA has engaged the international accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY) to undertake the annual survey of performances, productions, rehearsals and concerts presented to a live audience. EY also undertakes the occasional economic survey, most recently published in February 2014 as The Size and Scope of the Live Performance Industry 2012. The economic survey represents an important step towards better understanding of the live performance industry. It is described following this introduction section, which introduces the LPA’s survey work generally.

The 2013 annual ticketing survey was based on data from from the 28 members of the Australian Major Performance Arts Group (AMPAG) of companies listed by the Australia Council for the Arts — the only organisation of live performance companies providing data for the regular annual survey. But ticketing companies, self-ticketing venues and event promoters (16 in 2013) are asked to report on non-AMPAG performances, and this is crucial for the coverage of the LPA survey. The annual survey is examined for each state and territory and by 12 event categories (type of performance) which form the backbone of the statistics. Consistency with past surveys is ensured as far as possible through EY’s scrutiny of past data — the availability of a full time series for each event category since 2004 is an important feature of the annual LPA survey.1

The survey publication refers to other limitations that can be read in detail in the introductory paragraphs of the annual survey. In general, the survey lives up to its description as the main source of reliable statistics of live performance statistics in Australia. It underestimates the role of festivals, because some festivals maintain their own ticketing systems and sometimes because substantial unpaid or unticketed festival components are not captured. Regional and other theatre and other performances that don’t depend on central ticketing agencies are also likely to be underestimated; so are performances in pubs and clubs, for similar reasons. Generally, smaller-scale performances are most likely to be omitted.

The central classifications in the annual survey are the event categories listed below and available for each state and territory as well. The survey covers the following participants in the live performance industry:

  • Performers
  • Event organisers
  • Venue operators
  • Staging, equipment and repairs
  • Ticket service providers
  • Local artists who receive licence/royalty fees from productions.

Event Categories

The following categories have music as an integral element:

  • Classical music
  • Festivals (multi and single category)2
  • Musical theatre
  • Contemporary music
  • Opera
  • Ballet and Dance.

Music is also relatively important in the event categories Children’s/Family and Special events.3 This leaves three categories where music is mainly non-existent or less important: Theatre, Circus and Physical Theatre, and Comedy. These three categories represented 15.4% of total revenue in the annual 2012 survey. Only theatre has existed as an event category through the full period since 2004. The two other categories were introduced in 2009.4

Major Arts Organisations in the Annual Survey

Half of the 28 AMPAG organisations are classified as Music, another five as Dance, which have an essential music content. The remaining nine companies are theatres, generally with a low dependence on music in its performances (except possibly Circus Oz which is shown as part of the theatre category). Box 1 shows the classification of the AMPAG group into music, dance, and theatre. The footnotes to Box 1 reveal that there were 26 members of the group in 2004 — the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra was added in 2005, and the full strength of 28 was achieved in 2006-07 with the addition of the Black Swan Theatre in Western Australia.

The bulk of the ticketing revenue, however, comes from what the occasional comprehensive survey calls large-scale venues and events, collected through the 15 ticketing agents, self-ticketing events, and event organisers listed in 2012. The importance of the AMPAG companies is that they give actual ticket sales and attendances for each event category, state and territory, and identifies annual trends as well as this can be done in a volatile industry.

A Comprehensive Survey

The annual survey based on the AMPAG companies establishes trends, which the comprehensive survey does not. Its main function is to provide financial data to measure the economic impact of the live entertainment industry. In addition to the 28 AMPAG companies, the survey included ”key organisations” compiled by the Australia Council and “regional and metropolitan venues” compiled by the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association (APACA). And it captured the “large-scale venues and events” as a group, based on the information from the 15 ticketing agencies, venues and event organisers included in the 2012 surveys. This proved to be the dominant group. It also provided a bridge between the comprehensive and annual 2012 surveys, demonstrating that they are consistent with one another.

We obtain an initial impression based on the number of organisations included in the more extensive survey (Box 2). The 28 large AMPAG centres in the top line are the most specialised with half dedicated to music, another five to dance and the rest to theatrical performances. Just under half of the 57 key organisations on the Australia Council’s list are dedicated to music or dance performances, the rest to what we may group as “theatre or general”. The third list of regional and metropolitan locations (compiled by APACA) are all “theatre or general” venues considered capable of including staged music and dance. Forty-six of these are in non-metropolitan locations (62%), the remainder in the capital cities (many in outer suburbs). They are labelled entertainment centres, cultural centres, performing arts centres or the like.

The striking result of this analysis is that two-thirds of the live performance industry’s revenue in 2012 was generated by the large-scale venues and events identified through the ticketing agencies (Table 1)5 and not through the organisations in Box 2 — this was not clear from the annual survey which didn’t use the term. The live entertainment industry accounted for a total of $2.55 billion of revenue in 2012, of which $1.68 billion was associated with large-scale events and venues (66%). This compares with $470m from AMPAG companies (18.5%), $372m from the APACA list of regional and metropolitan centres (14.6%), and a mere $24m from the Australia Council’s list of key organisations (1%).

The main revenue item was box office income, accounting for 49.6% of total revenue ($1.26 billion), compared with 17.6% from government funding ($447m), 3.9% from corporate sponsorships ($100m), and $737m (28.9%) from other sources, defined as personal donations, orchestra hires, royalty income, merchandising, and food and catering income.

There were significant differences between the four revenue components across the four groups of organisations. Government funding comprised only 6.3% of the total revenue of large-scale venues and events, which suggests that these were predominantly unsubsidised popular music concerts. It compared with 35% government funding for AMPAG companies, 44.8% for the APACA list of mainly regional venues, and 45.5% for key organisations. Corporate sponsorships were relatively important for the AMPAG group (13.8%) and key organisations (12.4%), and much less so for large-scale venues and events and the APACA list (1.6% for each). Other revenue, defined in the previous paragraph, was particularly important for large-scale venues and events (31%) and regional and metropolitan venues (40%), and less so for key organisations (16.5%) and AMPAG members (13.4%).

The largest item, box office income, was relatively most important for the large-scale venues and events, comprising $1,027 billion or 61.1% of the total revenue for this group (($1.68 billion). For the AMPAG companies, $177.9m or 37.8% of $470m of total revenue was box office. The smallest box office component relative to total revenue was for the regional and metropolitan venues compiled by APACA: $51m or 13.7% of the total $372m revenue. The total box office income of the Australia Council’s key organisations was a modest $6.2m, 25.7% of total $24m revenue.

Economic Impact Model

One of the main results of the extended analysis in 2012 was to estimate the economic impact of the live performance industry based on its value-added and employment. Value-added was defined as the sum of wages and operating surplus. The second indicator of economic impact was direct employment, measured in full-time equivalent (FTE) terms.6

The sum of wages (as redefined by EY) and operating surplus is shown in Box 3, together with primary employment in full-time equivalent terms.7 The previous analysis, in 2008, did not include key organisations and the APACA list of regional and metropolitan venues, so the middle column in Box 3 provides 2012 data excluding these two components.

The ratio of value-added to output was more than 60% in 2012, up from 53.5% in 2008. The growth in the part of value-added that was included in both years was 17.4% over four years (4.1% per annum compound), and employment growth 21.2% over four years (4.9% pa). These findings are in real terms, after removing the impact of inflation. They are remarkably good results, especially considering that the period spans the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Table 2 ranks the music-related event categories by value-added — the ranking is generally similar to total industry output. The total value added by music-related categories in 2012 was $1.25 billion, and for the theatre and other “non-music” events $277m, adding to a total value-added through live performances of $1.53 billion.

The right half of Table 2 shows the share of total industry output, value-added, and direct employment for each event category. The $1.25 billion of value-added by music-related event categories represented 82% of total value-added by live performances in 2012. The largest event category by any measure was contemporary music8, with a value-added of $564m far ahead of musical theatre ($186m), ballet and dance ($123m), single-category festivals ($113m), classical music ($111m), opera ($87m), children’s and family events ($45m), and multi-category festivals ($23m). The largest non-music category, theatre, provided a roughly similar value-added as ballet and dance ($128m), with smaller contributions from circus and physical theatre ($75m) and comedy ($56m).

Music-related events generated 82.2% of total direct employment (15,584 full-time equivalent persons), theatre and other largely “non-music” events the remaining 17.8% (3,379 persons FTE). Contemporary music events on their own accounted for 36.7% of total direct employment compared with a total of 45.5% from all other music-related events.9

Concluding the Broader Survey

The live performance industry comprises many diverse performances ranging from contemporary music staged at large arenas and musical theatre staged at commercial theatres, to smaller theatre, opera and dance productions staged in regional and metropolitan venues. Many economic activities are involved in “putting on the show”, including staging, ticketing and venue hire, advertising and marketing in addition to the actual performance by artists. At least 82% of the total revenue have music as an essential component, the main exceptions being most theatres, circuses, and comedy shows. According to the annual survey, the music component is about 85% based on ticketing sales, but the comprehensive 2012 survey includes broader economic data.

The remainder of this article returns to the annual surveys dated 2004 to 2013, based on the 28 major AMPAG companies and the data from ticketing companies, venues and event organisers. Tables 3 to 5 summarise gross revenue, attendances, and average ticket prices. Gross revenue in the annual survey is compatible with the box office part of total revenue in Table 1, which as we have seen varied from 61.1% at large-scale and events (which was captured in the annual survey), to only 13.7% in the APACA list of regional and metropolitan venues (which were not part of it). Each table shows each of the main event categories which were published for the full period from 2004. The table presents a “subtotal” of all music-related categories, plus theatre. It omits the small special events category and the new event categories of circus and physical theatre, and comedy, which were introduced in 2009.

The section on thumbnail sketches for each event category contains more recent numerical information and lists individual performances which contributed significantly to revenue and attendances in 2013.

Contemporary music remains the largest category, as it was in the comprehensive survey described above. It is again followed by musical theatre, and further down the list by theatre (which showed a big improvement in 2013), single-category festivals,classical music, ballet and dance, opera, children’s/family events, and multi-category festivals. One of the main features of Table 3 is the great variation from year to year, more closely related to individual concerts and the presence of individual artists than to general economic conditions. The total box office revenue from contemporary music concerts, for instance, varied between $709m in 2010 and $447m in 2008 (it also declined to $482m in 2012 but showed substantial recovery in 2013).

The trend in classical music revenue has caused some comment. It reached a peak of $123m in 2008, and then fell to only $49m in 2010 before recovering to $61m in 2011 and 2012, and $70m in 2013. The 2008 peak is largely explained by the presence of two extraordinarily popular international artists in 2008: Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, which not only has a great effect on attendances but also boosted ticket prices towards $200. André Rieu has toured subsequently, including 2013.

The three-year averages below the annual statistics help to provide a better impression of trends.10 The total revenue from contemporary music performances has shown the most consistent upward trend, from $405,000 in 2004-06 to $517,000 in 2007-09 and $580,000 in 2010-12. The other event category showing consistently rising total revenue trends were single-category festivals, increasing dramatically from $25,000 in 2004-06 to $56,000 and $102,000 in the two subsequent three-year periods (these festivals also appear to be largely based on popular music genres). Children’s and family performances also showed a general upward trend. The trends were more discouraging (especially when we concentrate on the latest change from 2007-09 and 2010-12) for classical music, musical theatre, opera, ballet and dance, and theatre, but substantially better results hold out some renewed hope for classical music and theatre in 2013, though this is only one year.

Total revenue for all nine event categories in Table 3 rose from $1.05 billion in 2004-06 to $1.22 billion in 2007-09. It largely stayed put at that amount in 2010-12, but 2013 was 6% above the three-year average with particular good results for contemporary music, classical music, and theatre.

These trends are naturally associated with the share of total revenue raised in each event category. Most dramatically, contemporary music increased its share from 38.5% in 2004-06 to 42.5% in 2007-09, 47.7% in 2010-12, and 48.7% in the year 2013.

There is an apparently logical connection between the ticketing statistics in this section and total turnover in each event category in the comprehensive 2012 survey (Box 4). Excluding circus and comedy which were not part of the analysis in this section, ticketing came to almost $1.1 billion in 2012, compared with a total industry output of $2.3 billion as shown in Table 3 (a ratio of about 48%). But there are significant differences between event categories with ticketing accounting for 55-59% for contemporary music, musical theatre and children’s and family events, compared with ballet and dance, classical music, opera and theatre where the ratio is between 28% and 38% — lowest for ballet and highest for theatre for these categories. Other revenue, notably government funding, are more important for this second group, though some revenue is earned from corporate and private sponsorships, merchandising and food and drink sales. Single-category festivals fell in an intermediate category with a 45% ratio of ticketing to total revenue; other revenue probably includes relatively high sales of food and drinks as well as private sponsorships.

The attendance “subtotal” in Table 4 has fluctuated quite strongly. It increased from 10.4m in 2004 to a maximum of 17.4m in 2007, then declined to 13.8m in 2009 before showing an unsteady trend through 14.6m in 2012 to 15.6m in 2013. Again, contemporary music led, reaching a maximum of 7m in 2010, shrinking 5.5m in 2012 and bouncing back to 6.3m in 2013.

Using the three-year average that seems to capture the essential trends leaving the substantial annual fluctuations to be largely associated with particularly popular events or artists, contemporary music showed a rising trend from 4m in 2004-06 to 5m in 2007-09 and 6.15m in 2010-12. Musical theatre attracted the second-highest audience peaking at 3m in 2007-09 before settling at 2.5m in 2010-12. Theatre performances, despite a consistently falling trend since 2004-06 (which may have ceased judged by the strong upsurge in 2012 and 2013), were in third position in 2010-12 (1.4m attendances), and was followed by children’s and family events (1.2m in 2010-12). Classical music followed at 1.1m after a falling trend, at similar levels as single-category festivals which reached this level in 2010-12 after a strongly rising trend. Opera attendances fell by 20% in 2013, but the average ticket price increased from $127 to $145 cushioning the blow to ticketing revenue in Table 3.

Contemporary music performances increased their share from 30% in 2004-06 to 40.5% in 2010-12, way ahead of musical theatre (16.8%), theatre (9.5%), children’s and family events (8.2%), classical music (7.2%), and single-category festivals (7%).

The average paid ticket (at constant 2013 values) maintained a fairly stable average over the years, except for a fall from $85.75 in 2010 to $74.92 in 2012. It increased to $82.58 in 2013. The three-year average shown towards the bottom of Table 5 increased slightly from $78 in 2004-06 to $78.40 in 2007-09 and then reached almost $80 in 2010-12 despite the fall in the annual average during that period.

The individual annual figures and three-year averages fluctuate much more than the totals, which again is likely to reflect the impact of particularly popular artists rather than the general economy. The highest average prices were for opera except when beaten into second position by single-category festivals in 2010-12 – opera tickets increased strongly in 2013 to regain first place. Contemporary music concerts attracted an average payment of over $100, with musical theatre tickets priced just below that amount.

Classical music ticket prices have fallen, especially compared with the peak year of 2008 when they were boosted by the Rieu and Bocelli visits. However, they rose significantly in 2013 to $73 compared with the previous three-year average of $65. The annual LPA surveys mentions that André Rieu toured in 2011 and 2013 but not in 2012, which may help to explain a fall in the average ticket price from $70 in 2011 to $60 in 2012; however, total classical concert attendances increased strongly in 2012 leaving gross revenue roughly constant in the two years (see the thumblines section following). Classical music, ballet and dance, and theatre tickets remain relatively low among the live performance charges (though higher than children’s and family events and multi-category festivals).

Thumbnail Sketches for 2013

This section is largely based on the introductory descriptions for each event category in the 2013 edition of LPA’s Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey 2013.11 The wide fluctuations in these markets are evident. The annual change is quite often at variance with the longer-term trends reported in previous sections — the largest event category which is also nearly the most strongly growing over the period of the survey, contemporary music, went backwards in 2012 before recovering in 2013, while theatres which had shown a negative trend since 2004 had successive bumper years in 2012 and 2013. There are reasons for these apparent anomalies, which are outlined in the thumbnail sketches based on the descriptions in the annual LPA report.

We have followed the usual procedure in the Knowledge Base of using constant value estimates to remove the impact of general inflation. Each thumbnail sketch is introduced by the change in gross revenue, attendances and average paid ticket prices between 2012 and 2013 (based on Tables 3 to 5 above), to highlight the variability in these statistics. Another statistic presented for each category is the share of total revenue shown for 2013 in the right-hand column of Table 3.

Web references have been generally omitted except to make a special comment. Most can be readily accessed from the web by interested readers.

Classical Music

Change from 2012 to 2013: revenue +18.5% from $60.9m to $70.5m, attendances -6.8% (1.25m to 1.17m), and average paid ticket price +21.3% ($60 to $73). Share of total gross revenue unchanged from 2012 (5.5% of the event categories included in Table 3). In contrast, revenue declined marginally in 2012 (-0.3%), but the average ticket price declined by 13.7% eliminating the effect of attendances increasing by 19.7% in 2012.12

The main audiences attended AMPAG companies, as in previous years. These included the symphony orchestras in all six capitals and also the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Musica Viva Australia. Outside the AMPAG companies, there were tours in 2013 by Dutch violinist André Rieu (who also toured in 2011 but not in 2012), the male Irish singing group and stage show Celtic Thunder (they also toured here in 2012 and again in 2014 — despite the death of one of the six founding members in March), the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. The main events in 2012, other than those staged by the AMPAG companies, were concerts by Rieu, Celtic Thunder, the Vienna Boys’ Choir, and an exclusive tour by the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

The increase in revenue in 2013 was general across Australia, led by Western Australia (up 45% to $8.6m), followed by Queensland (32% to $6.9m), the Australian Capital Territory (30% to $1.8m), South Australia (21% to $4.0m), Tasmania (17% to $1.25m), and New South Wales (14% to $28.1m). It was lowest in Victoria (2.9% to $19.7m), following a 42% revenue increase in 2012 associated with the reopening of Hamer Hall at the Melbourne Arts Centre in mid-2012 after this major venue had been closed for two years.

Ballet and Dance

Change 2012-13: revenue +8.6% to $62.8m, attendances +6.1% to 964,000. The average ticket price dropped by 4.1% to under $75 as against almost $78 in 2012, and the share of total gross revenue shown in Table 3 in 2013 fell to 4.9%, compared with 5.3% in 2012. Major tours by international performers included the contemporary Cuban Ballet Revolución, Stomp (originating in Brighton, UK, in 1991 and billed as Music, Dance, Theatre, Choreography or Performance Art? All of the above! Or is it none of the above, and the “international dance spectacular” Blaze featuring music by Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg et al. It had its Australian premiere in the Sydney Opera House in January 2013 and then performed at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Other tours included the Paris Opera Ballet’s exclusive season of Giselle at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, and the Bolshoi Ballet’s exclusive season at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane, which partly explains the growth in revenue from ballet and dance performances in Queensland (22% to $12.9m). NSW also enjoyed a 22% rise (to $23.8m), while WA gained 12% to $6.6m. Victoria went 5% backwards to $15.5m, and SA had an 18% decline to $2.4m (Tables 6 and 7). The Imperial Russian Ballet toured with its Festival of Russian Ballet, and the St Petersburg Ballet with Swan Lake. Red Bull Flying Bach also toured. It has been described as the first performance visualising Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier in a “clash of cultures” including breakdance, a style of street dance that originated among Black and Puerto Rican youths in New York City during the early 1970s.

As in previous years, local productions by AMPAG companies made up a significant percentage of performances and gross revenue. The major companies were The Australian Ballet, Queensland Ballet, Sydney Dance Company, Bangarra Dance Theatre and the West Australian Ballet.


Change 2012-13: Revenue falling by 9.5% (from $48m to $43m), attendances decreasing by 20.0% from 431,000 to 345,000, average ticket price up by 14.6% to $145 (from $127 in 2012). Share of total gross revenue in 2013: 3.4%, a significant fall from 4.4% in 2012. The decline was much larger than in 2012, when revenue fell by a marginal 0.5% and attendances by 1.8%.

The performances were again by AMPAG companies with Opera Australia first, followed by the State Opera of South Australia, Opera Queensland and the West Australian Opera Company. But there were fewer performances by these companies, which helps explain the decline: Opera Australia did not return to Brisbane in 2013 (having returned there for the first time in 24 years in 2012). Opera Queensland also staged fewer performances. Opera Australia is also increasingly presenting musicals as part of its regular repertoire — performances that according to the source are shown in the musical theatre category.

The major performances by Opera Australia were The Ring Cycle (exclusively in Melbourne where it replaced the regular OA spring season which has more performances), La Bohéme, Tosca — and Carmen, performed on the Sydney Harbour by the successful Handa Opera which performed La Traviata as the first opera built over water in 2012. It is named after Japanese businessman and philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa, who donated $3m to Opera Australia.13

Outside of AMPAG, other notable performances in 2013 included contemporary operas Maria de Buenos Aires (billed as a “tango opera”), OperaMania (described as music theatre), and Nixon in China.


Change 2012-13: Continuing to go against its own negative past trend; revenue in 2013 was 85% higher than in the minimal year in Table 3, 2010. Revenue in 2013 was up by 44.3% to almost $120m; attendances by 15% to 1.84m; and the average ticket price by 21.8% to nearly $73. The share of total gross revenue in 2013 increased to 9.3%, up from 7.6% in the previous year. AMPAG companies continued to contribute a large share of the total revenue, led by the Sydney Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company. The Maids, Waiting for Godot. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and The Secret River were special successes at the STC. One Man Two Guvnors were performed by both companies. New plays like Rupert and The Beast performed well for the MTC.

Commercial theatre also contributed to the growth in 2013, with national tours of War Horse, Driving Miss Daisy, and A Murder is Announced. Barry Humphries/Edna Everage’s Farewell Tour Eat, Pray, Laugh continued to draw large crowds on 2013, as it had the previous year.

Revenues increased in 2013 by 89% to $13.2m in Queensland, by 63% to $44.9m in NSW which was exceeded by $47.3m in Victoria (up 46%). The rise in SA was 34% in SA to $4.4m. and 19% in Tasmania. The only state with negative growth was WA (-17% to $8.2m). The decline in the ACT was 49% (to 1.4m).

Contemporary Music

Change 2012-13: Returning towards the upward trend in this category since 2004, 2013 saw a significant recovery compared with 2012: revenue up by 32% to $628m, attendances by 14.3% to almost 6.3m, and average ticket prices by 10.3% to over $110. The category’s share recovered to 48.7% compared to 43.9% of total revenue in 2012 shown in Table 3. The 2013 revenue and attendances for contemporary music was exceeded only in 2010.

This is by far the largest event category but annual variability strongly reflects the number of big-name artists who tour in any given year, particularly the number of stadium tours. Major tours in 2013 included Beyoncé, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, One Direction, and especially Pink, whose tour was extended to 46 Australian shows, including 18 in Melbourne. Other big-name international artists included Rhianna, Taylor Swift, Ricky Martin and Justin Bieber. Local artists touring included The Seekers, Keith Urban, Neil Finn and Paul Kelly, Guy Sebastian, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Bernard Fanning.

The growth in contemporary music performance revenue in 2013 was nearly general, led by SA (51% to $35m), Queensland (37% to $98m), Victoria (34% to $211m), a revenue only just better in NSW (+30% to $216m), and WA (14% to $63m). The exceptions were Tasmania (-54% to $710,000) and the ACT (-39% to $4m)

Musical Theatre

Change 2012-13: Both gross revenue and attendances continued to decline in 2013, by 4.8% to $302m and by 6.2% to 2.22m, respectively. The decline was partly offset by a 4.0% increase in average paid ticket prices, to $101. The share of musical theatre in total revenue shown in Table 3 was 15.0% (compared with 18.5% in 2012). This seems to represent a continued falling trend, though the annual decline was less severe than in 2012, when gross revenue fell by 19% and attendances by almost 21%. Total revenue and attendances in 2013 were the lowest since 2004.

The LPA source points to volatility in musical theatre performances as being a factor in any given year. Major events in 2013 included King Kong (the world premiere was staged exclusively at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne), Grease, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Jersey Boys (staged only in Melbourne where it enjoyed a return season, and Perth, completing the previous year’s run of state capitals), Legally Blonde the Musical, and an arena-touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Disney’s The Lion King returned to Australia in late 2013, with the season extending into 2014.

Victoria and Western Australia were the only states with growth in 2013: by 25% and 16%, respectively. The decline in NSW was 16%, in Queensland 28%, and in South Australia 45%. LPA notes that Melbourne has the advantage of having the largest number of lyric theatres of any capital city. The gross revenue from musical theatre in Victoria topped the list of states in 2013: $71.5m compared with $51m in NSW, $34m in Queensland, $30m in WA and only $7m in SA.


Change 2012-13: The increase in revenue for single-category festivals was 9.2%, to more than $107m. However, attendances declined from 1.17m to 1.05m (-9.9%), with average paid ticket prices up by 1.4% to about $130. Single-category festivals represented 8.3% of the categories included in Table 3 (compared with 9.0% in 2012). In addition, there was a large increase in multi-category festivals which have been on falling trend – he increase was concentrated on South Australia but nation-wide represented only 19% of total festival revenue in 2013 (up from 12% in 2012). This thumbnail deals with single-category festivals first, and then with multi-category festivals.

The increase in ticket prices was largely driven by the first-time inclusion of the five-day Bluesfest in Byron Bay on the NSW north coast, with prices ranging from $149 to $645. Other major festivals were Splendour in the Grass, Future Music Festival, Stereosonic, Summadayze, Big Day Out and Groovin’ the Moo. Apart from Splendour in the Grass, which was based in Byron Bay (like Bluesfest), the major festivals took place in multiple locations around Australia. Splendour in the Grass, Future Music Festival, Stereosonic and Summadayze were also mentioned as major single-category festivals in 2012.

The increase in multi-category festivals revenue is largely due to inclusion of new events in the 2013 survey. Total revenue increased from $12.9m in 2012 to $25.6m in 2013 (+98.5%), and total attendances by an even more spectacular 201.8% from 261,000 to 786,500. Ticket prices declined from around $60 to around $35 (-42%). The increase in 2013 was almost entirely concentrated on South Australia: the Adelaide Fringe which is the second-largest fringe festival after Edinburgh), and the WOMADelaide Music, Arts and Dance Festival.

The multi-category festival statistics are variable even relative to other event categories in Table 3. There were other peak years in 2004 (we don’t know what the level was in previous years) and again in 2008, which was almost as high as 2013 at constant values ($24.8m). The intervening years from 2009 to 2012 recorded much lower levels between $10.3m and $12.9m. WOMADelaide appears to have had some positive effect on the 2012 figure, which represented an 8% increase on the 2011 revenue – it was mentioned as a positive factor in the LPA statistics for 2012. Multi-category festivals, despite the increase in 2013, still only represented 2.0% of total live performance revenue.

Total revenue from single- and multi-category festivals in 2013 increased by 73% in South Australia (to $22.6m), topped by the ACT (94% to $2.5m). The rise was 22% in WA (to 19m), 15% in NSW (to $56.7m), and 6% in Victoria (to $17.3m). The only state showing a decline was Queensland, down by 16% to $10m.

Children’s/Family Events

Change 2012-13: revenue -24% from $50.7m to $38.7m, attendances -16.1% to 1.09m, and average paid ticket price -11.5% from $43 to $38. The share of children’s and family events declined from 4.7% in 2012 to 3.0% in 2013, and the change from 2011 to 2012 was also negative; revenue -13.6%, attendances -10.5%, and the average paid ticket price -3.2%.

The major events in 2013 were Disney on Ice (also mentioned in 2012), Peppa Pig Live, Giggle and Hoot and Friends, and a tour by the Wiggles. Other shows returning in 2013 were perennial children’s favourites Dora the Explorer, Hi-5, and Hairy Mclary.

The major impact on revenue and attendances was that How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular, a major event in 2012, didn’t return in 2013. Such factors contribute to considerable fluctuations in gross revenue. A glance at Table 3 shows occasional peak years above $50m: 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012 (which showed $51.6m revenue though this fell well short of the peak year of 2011 with revenue of almost $60m). Other years have shown revenues in the $33-39m range: 2006, 2009, 2010, and now 2013.

The only state or territory with an increase in revenue from these events was WA (+51% to $5.35m). SA showed a 22% decline to $2.8m, Victoria -23% to $11m, ACT -24% to $690,000, NSW -31% to $15m, Queensland -49% to $3.4m, and Tasmania -61% to $150,000.

Live Performances in States and Territories

Revenue from contemporary music events was almost almost as high in Victoria in 2013 as it was in New South Wales, $211m compared with $216m (Table 6). Queensland was a strong number three at ($98m) followed by $63m in Western Australia and $35m in South Australia. It was the top event category in all states and territories except Tasmania. The eight music-related categories provided revenue of $417m in NSW (52% of the total for these categories), and $358m in Victoria (58%). All mainland states showed growth in total music-related revenue in 2013, and the rank order of the five was the same for contemporary music, for all music-related categories and for the grand total including theatre, circus and comedy.14

Musical theatre followed the same rank order except for Victoria outclassing NSW (according to the 2013 LPA survey aided by its good supply of lyric theatres); single-category festivals were particularly strong in NSW and multi-categories in SA in 2013 (as discussed in the thumbnails section). Classical music followed the same rank order as contemporary music and all music-related categories (NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, SA). Table 6 shows that this is different from the rank order of the populations of these states, where Queensland is way ahead of Western Australia but the revenue per head of population is much lower. Ballet and dance, however, was relatively strong in Queensland where it beat WA on revenue. NSW and Victoria dominated opera, followed at much lower revenues by WA, SA and Queensland, in that order.

Among the non-music categories, Victoria topped the theatre revenueat $47m to NSW’s $45m, followed by Queensland ($13m), WA ($8m) and SA ($.4m).

On a per capita basis, Victoria topped the states ($63), ahead of NSW ($57), while in 2012 these two states were both around $51 (Table 7). WA came third in both years ($56 in 2013, a whisker behind NSW). SA improved its position with an increase from $36 per head in 2012 to $46 in 2013. Queensland lagged behind in both years with $34 per head in 2012 and a small increase to $36 in 2013. The ACT with the facilities of the national capital also spent below-average amounts on music-related performances — we estimate around $30 per head in 2013 despite the relative strength per capita in classical music, ballet and dance in Canberra.

These patterns are not much changed by including theatre and other non-music event categories.

Finally, comparing ticketing with total revenue from the two 2012 surveys reveal some minor differences among the five mainland states: between 46% in NSW and Queensland and 50% in Victoria (Box 5).15 The ratio of ticketing to total industry output was between 46% and 50% in the five mainland states (Victoria highest at 50%, NSW and Queensland lowest at 46%). The ticketing ratio was in the mid 55% range in the two territories. The main apparent anomaly was a very low ratio in Tasmania, which is not immediately understandable except that it may reflect the very low per capita attendances to live performances in that state, presumably due to lack of supply rather than lack of interest. See further Tables 6 and 7 above.


Hans Hoegh-Guldberg. Entered on Knowledge Base 6 August 2014. Thumbnail sketches added 11 August 2014. Updated and revised 4 September 2014.


  1. The comprehensive survey examines the economic contribution of each event category and each state and territory, which is available in the survey publication.↩︎
  2. The “multi” category includes festivals in which events fall into two or more categories, while single category festivals fall into only one category. In the 2013 survey, multi-category festivals included the WOMADelaide Music, Arts and Dance Festival, the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane festivals, and the Perth inter-arts festival. The 1 Vivid Sydney] festival also attracts strong patronage to ticketed live music performances at the Sydney Opera House and elsewhere, drawing record crowds of 1.43m for the 18-day 2014 festival, up from 200,000 in the inaugural festival in 2009. — The single-theme festivals, which have grown increasingly dominant, included Splendour on the Grass, The Future Music Festival, Stereosonic, Summerdayze, and the Byron Bay Bluesfest, formerly known as the East Coast International Blues & Roots Music Festival. All five are described as music festivals.↩︎
  3. The revenue from Special Events, which don’t fit any other event category, has been shrinking and has been largely ignored here.↩︎
  4. The introduction of new categories has an unknown impact on the consistency of the time series, to the extent that the events were previously included elsewhere: Theatre or Children’s/Family before the new category of Circus and Physical Theatre was introduced, and Theatre or Single Category Festivals before Comedy was introduced. Apart from theatre, this article concentrates on event categories with a significant music content — these account for some 85% of total revenue.↩︎
  5. Table 1 was based on 2013 when there was on more ticketing agency in the annual survey.↩︎
  6. EY did not take wages directly from the survey results but used its experience for a more sophisticated set of definitions: The item of wages was included in full from the survey, and 70.6% of contract payments to performers were included with the remaining 20.4% treated as expenses associated with performers’ work that is not considered part of the industry. Royalty payments to artists were based on 41.5% of total royalty payments (value-added), with the remaining 58.5% treated as import expenses. Finally 33% of venue hire expenses and 33% of staging, equipment and repair expenses were deemed to be value added to the live performance events industry. See p 14 of LPA’s Size and Scope of the Live Performance Industry in 2012.↩︎
  7. The total number of persons employed was 34,131, FTE employment 18,964 which is equivalent to 55.6% of total persons. This would cover a broad array of variations from virtually full employment of some persons to very occasional employment of others. If the standard number of full-time equivalent hours per week was 38, the average number of hours actually worked was about 21.1 (55.6% of 38).↩︎
  8. Contemporary music was previously called non-classical music in the LPA publications.↩︎
  9. These statistics capture the primary economic impact of these events but exclude any “multiplier” effects on other industries. “Patrons, businesses, sponsors and government are effectively customers to this industry as they provide it with a source of funding. The other industries that provide goods and services to the Live Performance Industry, such as advertising, merchandising and food etc. are treated as being outside of this industry. Revenues to these suppliers are not counted again as this would constitute double counting. As such this study only measures the direct contribution of the Live Performance Industry and does not estimate the flow on or multiplier effects of the direct contribution.” (p 9) We agree with this methodology, in the interest of simplicity and because without complex econometric models it would be very difficult to add other industry groups into a total music sector analysis.↩︎
  10. The three-year averages were calculated before the annual 2013 survey was released. This section comments on 2013 as a single year compared with the previous three-year average with the qualification that the fluctuations from year to year have been substantial in the past.↩︎
  11. The circus and physical theatre, comedy and special events category are not given separate thumbnail sketches, and are not included in the statistical measures of share starting each sketch). The only “non-music” category described in a sketch is theatre, which is supposed to compete with categories such as ballet, opera and classical music rather than the omitted categories.↩︎
  12. Reminder: The average relates to paid tickets only, and cannot be derived from Tables 3 and 4 because attendances in Table 4 include free tickets but Table 5 shows paid tickets only.↩︎
  13. The Handa Opera is described as the brainchild of OA’s artistic director Lyndon Terracini, combining the most spectacular music artform, opera, with the most spectacular feature of Sydney, its harbour. Dr Handa’s patronage of OA and elsewhere is described here. After La Traviata in 2012, Carmen in 2013 and Madama Butterfly in 2014, an entirely new production of Aida specially designed for the harbour performance is planned for March 2015.↩︎
  14. The totals may differ slightly from Table 3 due to rounding of the population statistics.↩︎
  15. The detail showing states and territories for each event category was not published in the comprehensive 2012 survey, so we couldn’t confirm or reject the conclusions that Box 4 suggested.↩︎

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).

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