The future of live music in South Australia

12 November 2013

This Project encompasses the work of the South Australian Government's 2013 Music Thinker in Residence, Martin Elbourne. Over two periods of residency, Martin has worked and consulted with stakeholders - including venue owners, training organisations, musicians, regulators, councils, government departments and Ministers, and organisations across the contemporary music industry to devise strategies that strengthen the live music scene in South Australia.

There is much passion and energy within the contemporary music community of South Australia. It appears, however, that it has not always been able to be channelled into a positive, forward direction that maximises outcomes for all involved. Fostering a collaborative approach to the industry, one in which partnerships can be formed for mutual benefit, is critical for breathing life and energy into the environment. A strong theme in this report is the need for a focus on the broader music industry and providing an infrastructure for its growth. This generally means providing the means for developing various vocations and businesses. There are many possible pathways to working in a music profession or vocation in South Australia but parts of the pathway are not readily available or always obvious. Specifically, artists and music professionals who are in the mid stage of their careers do not necessarily have access to the guidance and support required for them to move to the next step in their careers. Providing access to mentoring and to promotion of music products in national and international markets is likely to facilitate the advancement and growth of artists and other music careers alike. The development of skills and fostering creativity in future artists from an early age and ongoing is important to the state's capacity to produce successful artists as well as audiences on an ongoing basis.

There is a distinct lack of research, information and data on the music industry in South Australia. Readily available information about the experience and success of local artists and bands assists in increasing the likelihood that they will be booked by a venue or festival. There is little data collected that allows an assessment of the economic value of the local music industry, such as the frequency of live performances, the number of patrons, and the number of people working in music vocations. In addition, social research that allows decision makers to understand the characteristics of venues and the environments around them that create harmonious conditions or, in contrast, anti-social behaviour and alcohol abuse will assist in finding solutions. Market research that identifies the needs and interests of the potential audience for live music will also assist in growing the live music scene.

The implementation of this report's recommendations will take time, as will growth and development of the live music scene and music industry generally. However, removal of barriers and some proactive initiatives are considered beneficial for the city of Adelaide and the state of South Australia.

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