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Live Music, Careers and a Rebounding Industry

Thursday, April 20, 2023, 12:30 PM until 1:30 PM
Videoconference information will be provided in an email once registration is complete.
Additional Info:
Event Contact(s):
Sally Daly
TASA Thursdays
Registration is required
Payment In Full In Advance Only
No Fee
Catherine Strong, RMIT University -
Fabian Cannizzo, RMIT University -
Sam Whiting, University of South Australia -
Ben Green, Griffith University -

The music industries were nearly disbanded by the COVID-19 pandemic and public health response, although the sources of the sector’s vulnerabilities far precede the health crisis. This TASA Thursdays session explores the ongoing challenges to careers, equity and policy development in the sector, drawing on insights from three research programs from Australia’s leading music industry sociologists.

A/Prof. Catherine Strong and Dr Fabian Cannizzo (RMIT University) will be presenting accounts of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and public health response from their research in Victoria, Australia. Australia’s dependence on international travel resulted in a number of novel coronavirus infections in 2020, prompting state and federal governments to impose travel restrictions, social distancing orders and some state-wide lockdowns. Strategies to help businesses included income support, tax relief and economic incentives to spur on spending upon re-opening - an approach that came to be known as “hibernation”. Drs Strong and Cannizzo explore the impact of this strategy on workers’ expectations for their future and the future of the music industries during a state lockdown. Without public spaces of socialisation and common economic objectives, workers demonstrated individualised approaches to planning their futures and the fragmentation of daily routines. What could this show us about the future of live music events in Victoria?

Dr Sam Whiting (University of South Australia) will dive into the politics of fair pay in music work. As part of their submission to the federal government’s new national cultural policy, the relatively new union branch Musicians Australia (a division of MEAA) have called for a minimum rate of pay for professional musicians, set at $250 per musician per performance. Legislating this change could potentially be the fundamental change the live music industry needs to raise the bar for all stakeholders. Dr Whiting will explore the complexities inherent in this debate, including the bargaining power of musicians, the role of government as a significant powerbroker, the impact of macroeconomic factors, and what the sector stands to gain from such a policy, as well as its problems. He will also consider alternative models abroad, set against the current campaign for a Basic Income for Artists, and its broader implications.

Dr Ben Green (Griffith University) will be going behind the scenes in his research on power and conflict in the live music sector. Australia’s live popular music sector has staked a place in public discourse, as borne out in its unprecedented recognition in the new national cultural policy. In contrast to its historical fragmentation, the sector has appeared to unite in response to external threats, including the COVID-19 crisis, and internal crises around equality and safety. However, live music remains an ecosystem of competing interests and unequal power. Dr Green begins to map the latent and manifest conflicts in this sector, drawing on analysis of policy proposals, media texts and grey literature as well as past primary research in the field. This research is part of a Griffith University Postdoctoral Research Fellowship project, Roaring Twenties? Crisis and reinvention for live music in Australia.