Spotify shifts subscription income out of Australia + all the biggest industry headlines from the week
10.05.2021

Spotify shifts subscription income out of Australia + all the biggest industry headlines from the week

Words by Christie Eliezer

Plus Hilltop Hoods partnering with Z2 Comics, the argument for a daily wage for songwriters and more.

Been out of the loop with everything that’s been going on in the music industry recently? We don’t blame you. Here’s a wrap-up of all the biggest Aussie music industry news stories from the past fortnight.

The top headlines:

  • Industry figures are calling for the music industry to receive a significant tax offset in line with that applied to the national gaming sector.
  • Apple Music’s hi-fi streaming service, which is set to arrive soon, will be free for Apple Music users to access.
  • Hilltop Hoods have partnered with Z2 Comics for their own series of graphic novels.

Keep your eyes peeled on our Industry News page to stay updated on all the latest headlines. 

Gaming Gets 30% Tax Offset, Why Not Music?

The Australian games sector was in full high-five mode when the federal government said on May 6 that from July 2020, developers that spent at least $500,000 a year get a 30% tax offset so they can plug into the $250 billion global sector.

The Australian music industry was gritting its teeth at the news, and with good reason.  For over 25 years it had been calling on the sort of tax incentives the domestic film industry was getting. The $123 million a year provided in offsets leveraged about $1 billion of production.

Many associations including ARIA and the Music Managers Forum had long called for such incentives. A 2016 report called Investment Initiative To Cultivate The Australian Contemporary Music Industry – prepared by Ernst & Young and released by APRA AMCOS – discovered how beneficial these could be.

$10,000 for “new venues” (that is, those which didn’t yet feature live music) and a 5% expense offset for venues that already did, provided a net return to government of $40.2 million.

The survey found that 45% of restaurants and cafes and the “other” 21% of hotels/bars and 5% of clubs and nightclubs currently not staging live music would do so if tax offsets were introduced, resulting in 2,017 new live music venues.

The survey estimated there would be 284,193 additional gigs a year, up 87%, with up to  31.1 million additional attendances.

APRA AMCOS’ Dean Ormston said at the time, “An investment incentive of this nature will stimulate an immediate lift – more venues will host live music, more often, which means more artists performing, more jobs in production, more jobs … more accommodation and travel expenditure across the whole country – millions of dollars in revenue.”

A 20% offset to artists would see over 3.000 new jobs created.

Record producers reckoned that an increase in sound recording offset would help reduce overhead costs and allow for increased investment in new and current artists.

It would be a total game-changer, with music cities in this country becoming buoyant global hubs that we can not imagine them to be.

More Patrons For Victoria’s Small/Medium Venues

From May 28, Victoria’s small to medium sized live music venues, restaurants, bars and nightclubs can increase the number of patrons. They can have up to 200 per space provided they ensure patrons check in with the Service Victoria app and they have COVID marshals to keep an eye on folks doing the right thing.

Hilltop Hoods Partner With Z2 Comics

Hilltop Hoods partner with Z2 Comics to create Hilltop Hoods Present: Noctis in October. It is created with comedian Scott Dooley and Tokyo 5 creators Andrew Archer and Jeff Nice.

An anti-space incident infests the base with demonic aliens from another dimension, and the Hoods have monsters thrown at them, they’re drowned in inter-dimensional ectoplasm and they’re blasted across a planet in a rocket car.

Said MC Suffa, “I grew up reading Deathlok, X-Force, Spawn and a host of others, I never thought I’d be able to play a part in putting a comic together, and Z2 have been so generous with their knowledge, resources and time. As for the writing and illustrations, I’ve been a fan of Tokyo 5 since its inception.”

600 Apply For Support Act Grants

When JobKeeper stopped at the end of March, Support Act quickly came up with MusicKeeper and CrewKeeper cash grants valued at $2,000 for individuals and $2,700 for families with dependent children. 

The charity has had 600 applications, which will cost $1.2 million to process. But with so much financial and mental despair out there, Support Act wants more artists and workers to apply via supportact.org.au. 

In addition, the Wellbeing Helpline, Manager Support Hotline and First Nations Dedicated Helpline are accessed by calling 1800 959 500.

Apple Music’s Hi Fi Tier Due Soon

For those purist audiophiles among us who prefer to have their streams of CD/studio quality, Apple Music’s hi-fi streaming service is heavily rumoured to be here “in weeks”. But the best news is that it will be free, in that it will be added to the current monthly subscription.

This will be different to rival Spotify whose hi-fi tier is expected to charge a fee. The general feeling is that this could lose the Swedish company a little bit of its global market share. But Spotify has other problems, see below.

Spotify Shifts Subscription Income Out Of Australia

A peek into Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) documents by the Sydney Morning Herald has found that Spotify has been shifting its Australian subscription revenue to its head office in Sweden.

The service insists everything is tickety-boo. The SMH found Spotify recorded no income from Australian subscribers in 2020 despite reporting $129 million in 2016 and $415,944 in 2019.

Spotify does not divulge the number of Australian subscribers but Telsyte put it at 7.7 million at the end of 2020, making it the most used of music streaming services.

Unreal Estate

Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale has forked out $2.7 million on a building on the main street of Bangalow NSW with six retail tenants, the Daily Telegraph reported. Another investment property is a four-bedroom, three bathroom place in Byron Bay which he bought in $1.6 million in 2013 and now rents out for $3000 a week.

Tones and I continues to invest in property as the royalties roll in. Last year she bought a $5.1 million place in Mt Eliza on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. This year it was a $7.08 million on the same street, with a marble kitchen with a $150,000 oven. There’s a $800,000 in Frankston’s Lakewood Estate she bought for a friend or family member and a $3.3 million job on the outskirts of Byron Bay.

Troye Sivan showed off the three-storey pad he bought last March for $3.276 million in a video tour with the magazine Architectural Digest. The 1874 place has an interesting history, including being a brick factory and hosted the first intercolonial handball competition in 1874.

A Daily Wage For Songwriters?

Could this take up in Australia? More than 2,000 British songwriters and artists signed an open letter to record labels calling for writers to be paid a minimum daily allowance of £75 (A$133.76) when doing writing sessions with artists. The letter is part of a #PaySongwriters campaign from The Ivors Academy, which represents UK creators.

Autumn Rowe, who has written for Dua Lipa, Kylie Minogue and The Saturdays, says it’s not financially beneficial to be asked by labels and publishers to do sessions for free, especially for emerging acts which haven’t yet developed a sound or a commercial track record.

Report: How Aussies Are Embracing Digital Audio

More Aussies are embracing digital audio, with strong growth in podcast and smart speaker listening highlight consumers’ appetite to explore new audio content and device options. 

Online audio reaches 74% of Australians each month, up from 67% last year, and 66% of Australians each week, up from 63% last year. Time spent listening to online audio remains steady at 12 hours 11 minutes per week.

At the same time, radio’s weekly reach across broadcast and online platforms remains at 80%.

These figures are from the fifth Infinite Dial Australia conducted by Edison Research from January – March 2021.

Other figures offered are that 86% of Australians listen to live radio or catch-up radio podcasts each month, up from 85%.

For radio listeners that tune in online, 46% listen on station websites; followed by station apps (44%); aggregator apps/websites (38%); and podcasts (23%).

More people are aware of podcasting, 91% from  87%. Podcast listening has surged, with 37% listening to at least one in the past month, up from 25%. Weekly listening is at an all-time high, at 26% (from 17%) and weekly podcast listeners tune into an average of five podcasts per week.

There’s been a 53% increase in ownership of smart speakers, with 26% of Australians owning one. Google Nest is the leading smart speaker brand (24%), followed by Amazon Alexa (3%) and Apple HomePod (1%).

Venues Update: Newcomers, Revamps & Sales

Queensland’s oldest surviving theatre (built in 1888), the Princess Theatre in Brisbane, is being renovated by a group of entrepreneurs including the operators of the Tivoli, to relaunch as a rebranded music venue. The latest update is that bands plug in from August 27.

Sydney’s Inner West Council is proposing to transform Marrickville Town Hall into a new live music, performing arts and culture centre. It is now calling for submissions from creative and migrant groups on how it should be used.

Sunshine Coast’s alternative punk and metal hub Eleven Dive Bar opens at its new site on Duporth Ave, Maroochydore (site of the old Cash Converters) on June 11. It operates 5 nights a week and open until 3 am.

Melbourne got a new hard rock live music venue on May 1, with R&B nightclub Baby in Ringwood expanding its format. The 400-capacity room is at the site of the old Dakota nightclub on Maroondah Hwy, which burnt down in 2016.

The Unicorn Hotel at 106 Oxford Street in Paddington, Sydney, was snapped up by a “mystery eastern suburbs pub baron” ahead of auction. Its asking price was $10 million.

The Royal Richmond Hotel in Sydney is going through a multi-million dollar revamp to re-open in 2022 with music and entertainment in its all-weather beer garden.

Sydney’s Inner West Council is considering a proposal to protect music venues from noise complaints and priorities live music over poker machines. The first to benefit will be the Enmore Theatre.

Surfers Paradise’s Tipsy Pig, located under the Hollywood Showgirls nightclub, is up for sale for $1.8 million. The deal is it will continue to operate as a music venue under the current operator.

Read the biggest headlines from last fortnight here.