Music, particularly contemporary music, continues to play a vital role in the economic and social vitality of New South Wales. However, this sector has traditionally been neglected by governments, and as a result the contemporary music ecosystem in New South Wales appears to be slowly disintegrating.

This is disappointing as there is significant economic benefit in the performance of live music. New South Wales has the largest share of Australia's contemporary music activity. In 2016, the state generated the highest share of contemporary music revenue at $157.6 million and 1.91 million people attended contemporary music performances. In fact, the committee received evidence that in 2014, live music making in Australia enabled at least $15.7 billion worth of physical, human, social and symbolic capital in individuals firms and communities benefits across the community. Recently, ARIA asserted that Australia's music industry has the potential to achieve a five per cent share of the global music market and our committee wants much of this new music to come from New South Wales to ensure that our stories and experiences are shared around the globe.

While there are many recommendations, I personally think that its time the NSW Government give music the attention it deserves given its importance to the state's economy, so, the committee has recommended that the Premier appoint a Minister for Music, the Arts and Culture in place of the Minister for the Arts, or appoint a Minister for Music in addition to the Minister for the Arts.

The committee acknowledges the hard work and dedication of the many artists who gave evidence during the inquiry, particularly their arguments supporting fair pay and the need for more live performance opportunities. The committee extends its appreciation to Ms Brooke McClymont (The McClymonts), Ms Carolyne Morris, Client Liaison (Mr Monte Morgan and Mr Harvey Miller), Mr Dave Faulkner (Hoodoo Gurus), Mr Grant Walmsley (The Screaming Jets), Ms Ilona Harker, Ms Isabella Manfredi (The Preatures), Mr Jack Lincoln, KLP (Ms Kristy Lee Peters), Ms Renee Simone, Mr Scott Baldwin (The Rubens), Set Mo (Mr Nicholas Drabble and Mr Stuart Turner), Mr Spencer Scott, and Urthboy (Mr Tim Levinson).

The evidence provided by these artists, as well as industry organisations and local councils, led the committee to make significant recommendations that will revitalise the sector, including that the NSW Government substantially increase funding for arts and contemporary music of at least $35 million over the next four years of forward estimates. The committee has also made recommendations to cut red tape and develop a one-stop-shop for licensing and planning queries for live music venues. In addition, the committee recommended that Create NSW immediately release the Contemporary Music Strategy.

A key complexity of this industry is that it crosses various portfolios and all levels of government. For example, we heard that current planning, liquor licensing and noise provisions simply make it too difficult for small-medium venues to provide live music. This has led to New South Wales being in the midst of a live music venue crisis with venues permanently closing down across the state, particularly in Sydney. This situation is having a devastating effect on career pathways for young musicians, destroying the touring network, adversely affecting Sydney's cultural reputation, and taking a toll on visitor experiences.

The committee has made numerous recommendations to simplify the regulatory system, including that the NSW Government review aspects of planning provisions, introduce a New South Wales variation to the National Construction Code that assesses venues according to retail rather than theatre specifications for the purposes of building compliance, and that the NSW Government revise definitions in the Standard Instrument – Principal Local Environmental Plan to provide the greatest level of flexibility to allow cultural activities across all relevant zones. The committee has also recommended that the Government take action to remove outdated liquor licensing conditions that seek to prohibit or restrict live entertainment.

Terms of reference

That Portfolio Committee No. 6 - Planning and Environment inquire into and report on the music and arts economy in New South Wales, including regional New South Wales, and in particular:

(a) progress on the implementation of the Government response to the New South Wales NightTime Economy Roundtable Action Plan,

(b) policies that could support a diverse and vibrant music and arts culture across New South Wales,

(c) policies that could support the establishment and sustainability of permanent and temporary venue spaces for music and for the arts,

(d) policy and legislation in other jurisdictions, and options for New South Wales including red tape reduction and funding options, and

(e) any other related matter. The terms of reference were referred to the committee by the Legislative Council on 23 November 2018. 


  • Finding 1: That there is massive potential for the contemporary music sector in New South Wales. The recorded music sector has grown rapidly over the last two years via online streaming. The majority of the industry is based in New South Wales.
  • Finding 2: That if New South Wales were to match Victorian funding for contemporary music per capita, it would require an expenditure in New South Wales of at least $35 million over the four years of forward estimates.
  • Finding 3: That New South Wales has a music venue crisis, the causes of which are complex, but it is impacting negatively on the grassroots music scene in New South Wales, and on the national and regional touring circuits.
  • Finding 4: That the committee found no research available that suggested that music causes violence. In fact, the majority of the evidence the committee received suggested that music assists in preventing violence.
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