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Research reveals WA contemporary music industry worth nearly $1 billion

2 Nov

We might make a lot of noise, but the WA contemporary music scene is Western Australia’s quiet achiever, which we’re excited to reveal in the new findings of a  research project WAM has lead, announced on the eve of the WA music industry’s biggest celebration, WAMFest.

The research project was conducted by Edith Cowan University (ECU) for WAM – the first of its kind in WA – and has revealed that the music industry is worth nearly $1b to the WA economy. we’re thrilled to show it is a sector in the arts industry that can’t be ignored, directly creating almost 3,000 full time jobs, and accounting for wages of $149m. WAM’s 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 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 discovered 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.



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. This weekend WAMFest will showcase more than 160 performances at venues throughout Perth.”

WAM Board 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 of WA. He said 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. 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 year’s Glastonbury Festival. This puts WA on the map internationally. You can’t put a price on that type of exposure,” Taylor said.

Western 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,” Mr Minchin said.”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.”

Of course WAM is the peak industry body for contemporary music in Western Australia with the broad remit of championing WA music, something we take very seriously. This includes lobbying on behalf of the broader sector to improve the environment in which artists work in 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, metal, country and beyond. Of course you can catch all these genres and more this Thursday to Sunday at WAMFest presented by Drug Aware (click HERE for full program).



*Photos by Rachael Barrett from last year’s WAM Festival

Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and The ArtsGovernment of Western Australia Department of Culture and The Arts

WAM is supported by the State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and Lottery West, and is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.