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National cultural plan critical for Australian music success

Media Published Thursday 28 October 2021

APRA AMCOS, the music rights body that represents over 111,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers across Australasia welcomes the much-anticipated final inquiry report into the cultural and creative industries.

The Committee’s report is incredibly important as APRA AMCOS looks to work with industry colleagues and all levels of Government on a ten-year vision for Australia’s music industry.

“APRA AMCOS welcomes the recommendation to develop a national cultural plan and calls on the Australian Government to ensure the development of a plan must be matched by serious investment and a whole of government approach to the sector,” said Dean Ormston, CEO of APRA AMCOS.

“A cultural plan must be ambitious so that Australia can reach its full potential as a music nation that can realise the cultural, economic and social benefits of a healthier music industry accessible to all Australians.

“As part of a cultural plan, we note the Committee recommends the title of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications be amended to include the Arts. APRA AMCOS believes however that it is past time to create a standalone ‘Ministry for Culture and the Creative Industries’ to recognise the vast impact the sector has on the cultural, economic and social life of the nation.

“COVID-19 has been devastating for Australia’s music industry with thousands remaining out of work as artists, industry workers and music businesses wait for borders to reopen and venues, events and festivals to restart with confidence and operate at capacity.

“Despite this, the pandemic has brought a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ‘build back better’ Australia’s music industry and ensure it is sustainable, accessible and a flagship of national pride.”

In a landmark speech to the National Press Club in August last year, APRA Chair Jenny Morris set an ambitious vision for Australia to become a net exporter of music. This policy vision, also set out in APRA AMCOS’ submission to this inquiry [PDF], requires government and industry to partner on ensuring we have the right investment framework and policy levers to develop a more sustainable industry that can take more Australian music to the world.

“The recommendation of a cultural plan will be integral to ensure a vision for Australian music can be realised,” Ormston said.

“Australia is already a music nation. We know that live music alone is worth $16 billion a year in economic, social and cultural benefits.

“With the right approach to the teaching of music and songwriting in schools, removal of unnecessary red tape around live music and cultural activity, better support for local content on all broadcast and digital platforms, incentives targeting more local music creation for screen and a whole of government approach for music to support export, trade, cultural diplomacy, health and communities, Australia can achieve not only its vision to be just one of a handful of nations that are net exporters of music, but establish itself as a music powerhouse

“The recommendations by the committee for the creation of a fourth cross-curriculum priority for the arts and the establishment of a music access assistance program are welcomed.

“We maintain our call for more resources to support a songwriting program in schools to inspire and better equip the pipeline of great Australian music artists. Songwriting and composition is at the heart of our cultural and creative industries and it defines who we are as a people and as a nation. Songwriting takes our stories to the world, fostering the audiences and music consumers of tomorrow.

“We also welcome the committee’s recommendation calling on streaming video on demand (SVOD) services to spend at least 20 per cent of their local revenue on local content. Critical to the success of this recommendation is the requirement to engage local screen composers to ensure there is a long-term intellectual property value for the nation through this content.

“There remains major missed opportunities for the Australian Government to address simple policy changes that will ensure the viability of the local screen industry and the livelihoods of local screen composers.

“APRA AMCOS will continue to advocate for funding structures and screen industry incentives to better support local talent with eligibility criteria stipulating the engagement of local Heads of Department in all cases where public funding or incentives are in place,” Ormston said.

APRA AMCOS was disappointed at the recommendation to direct the Productivity Commission to inquire into the legislation around arts funding. The Productivity Commission has a long track record of advising government with recommendations that misunderstand the creative economy, pursuing an agenda that undermines the rights of creators and the value of their intellectual property.

“The Productivity Commission has a trust deficit with local artists and APRA AMCOS will actively seek that government find a truly independent body more appropriate to deal with the complexity of the cultural and creative economy especially as it relates to music and music creators,” Ormston said.

“APRA AMCOS also notes the Committee’s finding around the benefit of a tax offset for the interactive games sector. To compliment the implementation of the Live Music Australia fund, we will continue to pursue a tax offset regime to support the development of live music venues across metropolitan and regional centres. This will be vital as Australia emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and looks to find ways to revitalise the tourism, hospitality and night-time economies across the country. Further, in a post COVID context, tax offsets will assist Australian music creators and artists to invest in developing sustainable, multi-dimensional businesses to reach international markets and drive important export dollars.

“This is all part of a ten-year vision that APRA AMCOS will continue to advocate together with music industry colleagues to all levels of government and we thank the committee for its work on the inquiry,” Ormston said.

APRA AMCOS Inquiry Hot List:

  • Government and Industry to develop a ten-year vision for Australian music as part of a cultural plan
  • Establish a standalone Ministry of Culture and Creative Industries
  • Support for songwriting in schools
  • Red-tape reduction and tax offsets for live music and cultural activity
  • Incentives for local Heads of Department to support local talent for screen productions
  • Better support for local content on all broadcast and digital platforms