Scomo launches new arts loan scheme, Isol-Aid moves to TikTok + more: our December wrap-up of Aussie music industry news

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Scomo launches new arts loan scheme, Isol-Aid moves to TikTok + more: our December wrap-up of Aussie music industry news

Words by Christie Eliezer

All the music industry headlines worth reading this December.

Scomo announces new arts and entertainment loan scheme 

Time to get the show back on the road: following an agreement between the Morrison Government and the ANZ and CBA banks, Australia’s first arts and entertainment loan scheme has been announced. 

The Show Starter Loan Scheme, backed by a 100% Commonwealth Government guarantee, is for COVID-hit organisations which had an annual turnover between $1 million and $120 million in 2019/20 and expect those figures in 2020/21. They have access to $90 million of loans until June 30, 2021.

Eligible organisations can apply for loans of up to 50% of the total cost of their new arts and entertainment activity, up to $5 million. They have to prove they were aversely affected by the pandemic and couldn’t get any other grants.

Minister for the Arts Paul Fletcher said the government realised many organisations had to dig into their cash reserves since March, and “this scheme provides the industry with additional financing options to invest in new productions, shows and events for live audiences, and contribute to the recovery of communities across Australia.”

More information here.

Isol-Aid finds new home on TikTok

Livestreaming festival Isol-Aid, one of music’s biggest success stories of 2020, started out as a one-off to raise money for Support Act, and funded by the credit card of co-founder Emily Ulman, Melbourne booker. Audiences tuned in: since March it showcased 828 acts and 903 sets. Ulman won the Done Good category at this year’s J Awards for her good work.

Some months back, a substantial grant from the Victorian government allowed Isol-Aid to upgrade its production and pay artists a fee. Now Tik Tok Australia has injected some financial support, and moved the festival to its new home at

Ulman said the move means “more creativity, more content, more collaboration and more fans for local musicians. There are vast numbers of music fans on TikTok worldwide and we have this amazing opportunity to facilitate the creation of content that helps artists connect with them.” TikTok has 800 million users worldwide, and 2.5 million users in Australia by October 2020.

Want to contribute to ARIA Club Chart? 

ARIA has sent a call-out to steel wheelers to join the ARIA Club Chart DJ Panel, for its club chart which is an indication of what kind of music is being played in the clubs.

Each week you’re expected to send them the tracks you played. The ARIA Club Chart Committee will regard to the size of the audience at gigs / residencies, and will prioritise DJ panelists gigging at popular, well attended venues. Find out more.

Live Sector proposes Business Interruption Fund

To provide certainty for music festivals, venues and stage productions, among other events, to plough ahead with new productions, Live Performance Australia called for the Australian government to set up a Business Interruption Fund to protect the industry against future COVID-related shutdowns.

It takes a huge investment to get a production off the ground. Bluesfest Byron Bay, for instance, had spent $15 million in March 2020 when it was forced to cancel weeks out by health authorities.

The level of support would be capped and participants required to pay a fee calculated at a percentage of the level of coverage required. The LPA proposal was modelled on a plan the government put in place for the screen industry.

Big Rig Records closes down 

Adelaide’s Big Rig Records closed after 21 years of operations by co-founders Nick and Stephen “after several quiet years from us on the music front and increasing pressures and responsibilities in other areas.”

Their releases through the years came from, among others, Beestung, The Beautiful Few,  Heligoland, Olinda Daze, Perennial Love and Street Light Solace.

BMG, Newcastle Uni offer First Nations Scholarship

BMG and University of Newcastle launched an Australian-first Indigenous scholarship program to inspire a new generation of music executives. Two scholarships are offered, each for a three year period, open to First Nations students enrolled in the university’s School of Creative Industries, as well as to fifth year law students. 

They have integrated learning placement at BMG’s newly opened state-of-the-art HQ, located on the lands of the Gadigal clan of the Eora nation in Surry Hills, featuring a full-service recording studio The Gallery and dual self-contained production rooms. A 2015 study by the Australia Council found only 2.1% of Aussies working in creative industries were Indigenous.

Community Radio expands reach

According to a report from the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, community radio now reaches 5.8 million Australians each week. That’s 29% of people aged over 15.

1.8 million come from regional areas, and 918,000 only listen to community radio. 94% find value in community radio, and average listening hours per week is 14.7 hours. 62% identify themselves are more likely to identify themselves as being from the LGBTIQA+ community, 25% from First Nations backgrounds and 17% to be non-English speaking.

AAM and Warner First Nation mentorship returns 

The First Nations Mentor Program by the Association of Artist Managers and Warner Music Australia returns for another year. Since 2014 it’s given guidance to a First Nations manager, and this year expands to three. The two associations provide skilling, with Warner showing them how to negotiate deals.

An online forum featuring four First Nations music personnel revealed that the major problem they faced is that in many cases, the feel-good diversity and inclusion programs is token rather than deep seated. See AAM to find out more.

Queensland Music Awards now open

Entries are now open for emerging and established artists to submit an application across 16 categories in the 2021 Queensland Music Awards (QMAs) by January 14. They take place at The Fortitude Music Hall in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley on Tuesday April 20. For details, head to the Queensland Music Awards website.

Report: 43% of Aussies listen to music online

A report from Roy Morgan shows that 43% of Aussies (or 9 million) listen to music online, more popular with men (44%) than women (42%). Watching videos online is the most popular past time (63% or 13.2 million) with games at 38% (7.9 million).

Other entertainment and amusement activities undertaken online include downloading music (27% in an average four weeks), watching TV such as ABC iview (22%), streaming or downloading video clips (19%), streaming or downloading TV programs (18%), watching movies (17%), downloading audio/video podcasts (17%), streaming or downloading games (14%), streaming or downloading feature length movies (14%), viewing adult entertainment (13%), watching an event live such as a concert (11%), participating in gambling (8%) or uploading videos to sites like YouTube (7%).

Gen Z, born between 1991-2006, is the most likely generation to watch online videos. 75% do so in an average four weeks – more than double the rate for the Pre-Boomers (37%) born before 1946. 68% of Millennials watch videos online, 59% of people in Gen X and 56% of Baby Boomers.

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