Australia’s Annual Music Exports Worth $137M: Report

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Flume, 5 Seconds of Summer, Sia, Gang of Youths and Courtney Barnett do so much more than fly the Australian flag. They’re part of a music community which makes almost A$200 million ($137 million) from international markets each year, according to a new export study. 

The report, Born Global: Australian Music Exports, is a first of its kind study that calculates the value of the national music business as an international export.

Conducted over three years by the University of Newcastle and Monash University, in partnership with Sounds Australia, APRA AMCOS and the Australia Council for the Arts, the study gives further weight to the notion that Australian acts are growing in profile in the streaming age. Certainly, the money is coming in. According to the most recent full-year figures from APRA AMCOS, overseas royalties to Australian artists doubled over the past five years to A$43.7 million ($30 million) in 2018.

Among the key takeaways of the study: music exports are increasing; Australian music exporters are entrepreneurial by nature; artists who are successful exporters also tend to enjoy success at home; and exports can provide vital income, with four in ten surveyed artists reporting foreign income or expenses.

Australian acts are playing more gigs overseas. The number of international performances reported to APRA AMCOS has spiked, from 2,845 in 2012 to 7,095 in 2017, though the export income of Australian artists remains concentrated, with 10% of artists accounting for 97% of total export income.

The United States, United Kingdom and Germany are the big international touring markets, though based on YouTube searches, Aussie artists have a wider digital net, spreading into such emerging markets such as Southeast Asia and Latin America.

The report helps to paint a clearer picture of the state of Australia’s exporting music industry, and illustrate the strong points and opportunities in future, explains Paul Mason, Australia Council Arts music director.

“Music is one of our nation’s most powerful cultural exports,” says Mason. “When our artists connect with audiences around the globe, they are sharing culture and perspectives. The increased number, range and diversity of Australian musicians who are achieving international success is promoting a rich and nuanced sense of Australian creativity in a global context."

More and more Australian musicians "are now globally recognized household names, with music now standing alongside the powerhouses of Australian exports; food, agriculture, wine, tourism,” comments APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston. “But we are at a critical time for our industry, at a crossroad when the economic models that support music are shifting around the world.”

The opportunity now, he adds, is to “build on the work in the North America and European markets and to explore the full potential of Australian music exports and people-to-people links in the Asia-Pacific rim and South America.”

All this has been achieved, notes the report, with relatively modest investments from government and industry.

Read the report here.