Study reveals music industry

Researchers at Edith Cowan University found the sector contributed $985 million in 2014 and employed almost 3,000 people as WA hosted more than 350 live music events each week.

It also found contemporary music made up 49 per cent of ticket sales in Western Australia, compared with festivals at 13 per cent, musical theatre at 9 per cent and classical music and opera at 5 per cent.

The billion dollar figure did not take into account any cash sales, but it was double what industry group WA Music (WAM) chief executive Mike Harris had anticipated.

“To see it to be touching a billion without getting that cash economy was partly surprising but very pleasing,” Mr Harris said.

“For a long time WAM has been concerned that there’s a lack of funding and investment in music in WA and nationally.

“We’ve been pretty keen to get a deeper understanding of the breadth and depth and importance of West Australian music and we’ve set out to do that in terms of economic impact, social impact and cultural impact.”

‘It’s still pretty good in WA’

Until now the sector has largely relied on anecdotal evidence when fighting for funding.

WAM president Al Taylor said the new research allowed the group to mount a stronger argument for private sponsorship and government funding, to put music on a more even playing field with the likes of theatre and ballet.

“We could do so much more with more funding and more support and I think once we start to elevate the understanding of the industry and its value that will be the flow on effect,” Mr Taylor said.

Perth-based singer, songwriter and member of the four-piece Little Lord Street Band, James Rogers, believed the local music scene was healthy despite a decline in arts funding around the country.

“All in all it’s still pretty good in WA,” Mr Rogers said.

“Compared to what you see in other places of the world where musicians play for tips, we still get a wage when we do play which is good.”

Arts Minister John Day said it was important for the State Government to take a balanced approach to arts funding.

“There are those art forms that have been around for, in some cases, hundreds of years and they’re a very important part of our heritage,” Mr Day said.

“Equally important are up and coming contemporary performers who are doing wonderful things.

“They produce really enjoyable music that is socially important and it’s having a major impact on the world scene.”