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Sound NSW Promises First-Ever 10-Year Contemporary Music Strategy

The | June 4, 2024

Sound NSW has unveiled its annual State Of The Scene report and promised its first-ever 10-year Contemporary Music Strategy.

“The rich data and insights from the State Of The Scene will help us better understand and support the live music ecosystem, as well provide an important benchmark for tracking the progress of contemporary music development in NSW,” the Head of Sound NSW, Emily Collins, commented in a press release.

“Sound NSW will soon deliver the state’s first-ever 10-year Contemporary Music Strategy. This strategy will set an ambitious vision for music in NSW, bringing a cohesive and coherent government approach to investing in and growing the sector.”

Collins added, “We have exceptional talent and infrastructure in NSW, and this report lays the foundation for us to build better relationships with the industry and partner on an exciting future for contemporary music.”

Delivering the 10-year Contemporary Music Strategy mentioned by Collins will entail doubling the number of live music venues in NSW, investing in organisations supporting strategic objectives, which will include training people in developing new skills, capacity building, and business and career sustainability, and distributing funding to support soundproofing, ventilation, and video screen technology for eligible live music venues.

Sound NSW’s State Of The Scene report also examined the industry’s strengths, which include the state’s strong talent pool, the dedication and resilience of the music community, growth and resurgence post-COVID-19 restrictions, and a supportive government that has committed to contributing $103 million over the next four years to the contemporary and live music sector.

It’s not all positive, though.

According to the report, the high-cost operating environment has created barriers to growth within the live music industry. The cost-of-living crisis has also impacted punters’ attendance, making people more selective about which shows they attend.

In recent years, the challenges to the live music industry have grown – and become more expensive. Other major barriers to growth include regulation, costly police and security, policy and grand schemes, a fragmented media landscape, lack of opportunities within the live music ecosystem, changing audience behaviours, lacking night-time public transport, lacking access and inclusivity, the closure of important music venues, and uncommon all-ages shows.

It’s a shame that those factors are affecting live music in NSW, as Sound NSW’s research found that live music significantly contributes to the vibrancy and well-being of people across the state.

To support the live music industry, Sound NSW recommends making changes within three major categories: sustainable industry support, facilitating change and cutting the “red tape”, and growing the culture of live music.

Long-term change will require considerations and changes, such as exploring tax relief for music venues, grant reform, improved career pathway development opportunities, improved public transport, reviewing the efficacy of noise complaint regulation change, security requirements vs. real-life risk, and collaborating with grassroots music communities.

Here’s what Sound NSW is seeking in the next ten years:

• A venue ecosystem that supports all genres and levels of artists

• Stable and well-paid career paths for all people working in the music industry

• Sustainable and transparent frameworks that guide long-term government support and investment

• A supportive regulatory environment that fosters growth 

• A robust tour circuit across regional centres

• International recognition of NSW’s rich live music culture

• An emphasis on innovative cross-cultural music

• Strong recognition of the social and cultural values of contemporary live music

• A sense of pride in the NSW music scene.

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