WA contemporary music industry worth nearly $1 billion

WAM Tame ImpalaThey might make a lot of noise but the Western Australia’s contemporary music scene is the state’s quiet achiever. The research project by Edith Cowan University for WA Music (WAM) – the first of kind in WA – revealed that the industry is worth nearly $1b to the State’s economy.

On the eve of the industry’s week-long festival, industry body WAM has shown it is a sector in the arts industry that can’t be ignored, directly creating almost 3,000 full time jobs, accounting for wages of $149m.

WAM CEO Mike Harris said considering the figures only represent those listing this industry as their primary profession, the total impact would in fact be much higher. The report, the first of its kind, also found that the WA music industry is an integral contributor to new employment; with nine new jobs (six jobs in the music industry, and a further three in the broader economy) created for every $1m increase in output in the industry.

The research found that for every extra dollar invested, the economic benefit would be more than doubled. This means that increased investment in music directly adds to the economy and creates more jobs. Mr Harris said the WA music scene continued to punch above its weight in both national and international markets with bands such as Tame Impala and artists such as Troye Sivan achieving significant global success.

“The WA contemporary scene is undoubtedly successful but talent also runs deep,” said Mr Harris. “This weekend the WAM Fest will showcase more than 160 performances at venues throughout Perth.”

WAM Chair Al Taylor said the industry not only clearly plays an important economic role, but was also critical to the social and cultural well-being on WA. WAM is focused on proving that as part of the next stages of the research program.

“Then there is our unrealised contribution to Brand WA,” said Mr Taylor. “We have local musicians representing our State all over the world. Just one example is Tame Impala performing to a crowd of over 135,000 as one of the headline acts at this years Glastonbury Festival. This puts WA on the map internationally. You can’t put a price on that type of exposure.”

West Australian artist Tim Minchin who is internationally recognised for a number of works including composing Matilda the Musical said the report shows WA profits from music.

“Trying to convince economic rationalists of the impossible-to-quantify cultural benefits of music is like trying to explain Shakespeare to pigeons. Happily, we don’t need to waste our breaths,” said Mr Minchin. “This new study proves what every similar study in Australia has already shown: subsidising the music industry is economically smart.”

“The least profound way in which it profits is financially… but if that’s the only thing you care about, then fine. Look at the data. Fund the arts. For fuck’s sake.”

WAM is the peak industry body for contemporary music in Western Australia with the broad remit of championing WA music. This includes lobbying on behalf of the broader sector to improve the environment in which artists work and create music and running programs to support this work. The contemporary music industry includes the genres of rock, pop, indie, electronic, hip-hop, jazz and country.

For more information, visit: www.wam.org.au for details.

Image: Tame Impala