Australian Music Industry News: P!nk turns Newcastle pink, Sonos Australia + more!

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Australian Music Industry News: P!nk turns Newcastle pink, Sonos Australia + more!

Australian Music Industry News
Words by Chris Eliezer

We've hit the ground running (while stumbling, struggling to maintain a steady pace), and the music industry will not slow down!

Big Aussie Fests Get Bigger

Forget Costa Living. Major festivals are becoming bigger. Laneway set a new record attendance in 2024, winding up on the weekend with 125,000 patrons from six cities.

Groovin’ The Moo, which had 130,000 last year expects to top that in April and May.

It follows the Tamworth Country Music claiming a total 300,000 (or 30,000 for each of its 10 days), Woodford Folk had 125,000 and Parkes Elvis Festival in NSW attracted 25,000. 

Report: Australia Not Best Place To Start?

Australia may not be the best place to start a music career. That’s based on figures in a report by global data insights company Chartmetric which studied the chart and streaming profiles of 9.7 million artists through 2023.

The most amount of emerging artists were from the US, Brazil, Mexico and South Korea.

Those creating the most new artist profiles came from the US, Brazil, India, Germany, Mexico and the UK.

Gender Imbalance

Women dominated the charts but there was a “significant gender imbalance within the solo artist category”. A substantial 77% used he/him pronouns, 18% used she/her and 5% they/them. 

Latin music continued to lead emerging artists came, followed by K-Pop, Indian music, African (Afrobeats and amapiano), and J-pop. 

Tracking 123 genres, Chartmetric data showed hip-hop and rap accounted for the largest share of artists releasing music, followed by pop and then dance and electronic music.

P!nk Turns Newcastle Pink…

In the run up to P!nk’s sold-out show in Newcastle on Feb 13 at the McDonald Jones Stadium, the City, business and tourism bodies launched a Pink Party Trail.

The City Hall clock and the stadium went pink, with city centre Wheeler Place adorned with a giant disco ball and pink dance floor.

The show is expected to generate $9 million for Newcastle, through hotel stays, retail spending and dining out.

Paul McCartney’s show late last year also chugged over $9 million. Elton John’s two shows in early 2023 injected $14 million with 75% of the jammers coming in from outside Newcastle.

…While Taylor’s Windfall Beats Cricket Season

The Australian Financial Review estimates Taylor Swift’s seven shows in Melbourne and Sydney will generate more moolah to the Australian economy than a cricket season.

Tay-Tay is set to inject $140 million. In comparison, the AFR reckons, a five-day Test match during an Ashes year makes $100 million to each state’s economy.

650,000 will attend, each spending $284. Fans will splurge $60 million on merchandise. 100,000 will travel from interstate, maxing about $185 a day on accommodation, dining and travel.

More than 10,000 international visitors will come for the shows and stay around for holiday, cashizzling $500 each day.

The guesstimates do differ. Business Sydney puts it at $133 million for NSW. But incorporating extra factors, tourism, hospitality and event management senior lecturer at La Trobe University, Paul Strickland, reckoned to the Herald-Sun it will be $1.2 billion for Victoria.

Sonos Australia Appoints PR Agency

Before a very busy 2024, sound company Sonos appointed creative agency Poem to handle its Australian PR account, managing its launches and announcements.

Sonos is to announce full details of an entry into “a new chapter”, which apparently is in a multi-billion-dollar product sector.

The company’s Senior Manager, Global Growth Markets, Phillipa Thomas, said: “2024 is one of our biggest years yet and we’re thrilled to be working with a partner that shares in our spirit of creative curiosity, deep passion for sound and love of culture as we engage new and existing listeners in the world of Sonos.”

Nine More Aussies Picked For SXSW

The third round of artists picked to showcase at SXSW Austin mid-March included nine Aussies.

They were Alice Ivy (Melbourne), Asha Jefferies (Brisbane), The Belair Lip Bombs (Frankston),  Bones and Jones (Geelong), breathe. (Sydney), FLEWNT & INKABEE (Perth), Ivoris (Melbourne), Keenan Te (Melbourne) and Lime Cordiale (Sydney).

Entertainment Lawyer Brett Oaten Retires

Prominent entertainment lawyer Brett Oaten stepped down last week at Brett Oaten Solicitors, which he founded 32 years ago.

Clients include Amy Shark, Archie Roach,  Parkway Drive, Lorde, Sampa The Great, Dami Im, Laneway, Central Station Records, Chugg Music, Skinnyfish, Powderfinger, Jessica Mauboy and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.

He still owns the firm but Dave Orwell, Andrew Dawson and Andrew Cameron steer the ship.

Road Crews In The Charts

The Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA)’s desk tape/CD series which started out to fund crews in crisis, is becoming a chart contender.

Last week’s AIR 100% Albums Chart saw Crowded House LIVE ’92-’94 move from #18 to #15, and Midnight Oil Live At The Old Lion Adelaide 1982 re-enter at #16.

We hear there’s news of a huge music catalogue arriving on the ARCA release schedule.

The Sun Always Shines On TV

Time to send out those Eurovision party invites. Australia is there for the seventh time, in the Semi Final One (May 9) in Malmo, Sweden.

SBS won’t have an Australia Decides for a second year. Our rep won’t be announced for a few more weeks, but we’re hearing the words “Dannii” and “Minogue” bandied about.

Speaking of which, An Audience With Kylie drew 1.09 million for the Seven Network.

Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour concert film heads to streaming, hitting Disney+ on March 15.

Spotify Gave $9B To Biz Last Year. Really?

As Trevor Noah’s opening Grammys monologue went: “Right now the CEO of TikTok is probably sitting at home watching this show, eating an ice-cream, crying, seeing all of his exes in one room. 

“And you know what, TikTok? Shame on you. Shame on you for ripping off all of these artists. How dare you do that? (Pause) That’s Spotify‘s job.”

That would have ring-tailed Spotify CEO Daniel Ek big time. Because that very day, by sheer coincidence, the streamer released figures it paid out US$9 billion to music rights holders in 2023 – or 62.8% of its annual revenues.

Daniel Ek

That’s about $750 million each month or around $173 million every week.

The ching-ching went to record companies, music publishers, independent distributors, performance rights organisations and collecting societies.

Spotify went on to claim the money paid “nearly tripled in the past six years”… and by the end of 2023, it paid out over $48 billion in recording and publishing royalties since it started in 2008.

 “I feel really good about where we are with our music partners,” Ek said. “I feel great about the value we’re bringing to the music industry.”

Remember that next time you’re throw darts at the Spotify logo on your dartboard in the living room when you get your royalty cheque.

In the fourth quarter of 2023 (ending last day of December), Spotify subscribers hit a total of 236 million (a 15% spike from 2022) and monthly active users by 23% from the year before (by an extra 2 million) to 602 million.

For Q1 2024, it expects to reach 618 million monthly active users (a quarterly increase of 16 million) and 239 million premium subscribers (or 3 million net new subscribers in the quarter).

Through the 12 months of 2023, Spotify turned over €13.247 million (or AUD$21.889 million).

Speaking of TikTok, Music Business Worldwide estimates it pays the music industry between US$350 million and $400 million a year.

Doin’ The ABC Shuffle

In a senior exec shuffle on the ABC decks, Phoebe Bennett became new Content Director for triple j and Double J (she was Executive Producer for Double J).

Ex-Triple M chief Mike Fitzpatrick came over to be Head of Capital City Network and Sport, and Beverley Wang takes over National Culture Correspondent in addition to hosting Stop Everything! and Friday episodes of Life Matters.

20 Rappers Unite For Freedom Call

Uniting over 20 artists from Palestinian, Muruwari, Filipino, Somali, First Nations and other allied backgrounds came together in solidarity to record a call for justice in Gaza, entitled “Until We’re All Free”.

Sereen, DOBBY, Big Rigs, Jafar, Kid Pharaoh, MC Trey, J Lute (Dem Mob), L-FRESH The LION, MC Trey and Chill Cheney are among those calling for a free Palestine and a ceasefire.

“People’s voices need to be heard right now, and this song embodies that feeling,” said J Lute.

The music video was filmed at the Palestinian owned, family-run Yummy Yummy Cafe in Lakemba, Sydney. 

Director Feras Shaheen recalled how at a family dinner his aunt was asked why she didn’t make her famous (Middle Eastern dessert) knafeh. 

“She replied: I don’t have the appetite to make it during this time. I will make you all the best knafeh in the world when Palestine is free. Inshallah.”

Where Creative Victoria spent $17M 

Creative Australia shared outcomes of its $17 million boost for Contemporary Music and First Nations.

These included touring ($563,700 for 23 tours to reach 150 locations) and international engagement ($1.76 million for 76 projects).

Benefitting artists, associations and events included Jessie Lloyd, Sophie Hutchings, TFS, Girl and Girl, Speak Percussion, Lucas Abela, Melbourne Jazz Limited, Gut Health, The Gong Crawl (A Celebration of Wollongong Live Music), Australian Folk Festival Organisers National Conference, the Music Producers and Engineers Guild Awards, and Electronic Music Conference.

The list included sound engineer and record producer Bonnie Knight and Music in Exile.

A focus on First Nations talent saw Emma Donovan, Dan Sultan, Jungaji, Buddy Knox, Lucas Proudfoot and Selve among the 23 recipients of contemporary music touring grants.


Darwin gay club owner and LGBTIQ+ pioneer John Spellman was applauded after his death last month as “entertaining and brash. Always enjoyed a chat with his witty sense of humour.”

Aside from setting up safe spaces for the community from the 1970s, he is also credited with inventing the word “thongage” when he introduced a “thongage fee” of $10 for those who came to his Tramonatta venue wearing them.

The word entered The Macquarie Dictionary but Spellman was not officially credited.

Gold Coaster guitarist Benaiah Fiu, 32, founded bands as Sex Drive, Strange Motel, Friction Control and Paper. He died in his sleep hours after Strange Motel played at Mo’s Desert Clubhouse in Burleigh.

His sister recalled, “Benaiah lived his life with so much curiosity, he loved so deeply.” A paddle-out ceremony remembered his love for the ocean.