Two new streaming services arrive in Australia + all the biggest industry headlines from the week
21.04.2021

Two new streaming services arrive in Australia + all the biggest industry headlines from the week

Words by Christie Eliezer

Plus UNFD's 10 year anniversary, the state of commercial radio advertising revenue 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 big stories:

  • French and Chinese streaming services Qobuz and iQiyi are setting up a digital presence in the Australian market this year.
  • UNFD is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a range of special vinyl reissues and podcasts.
  • Commercial radio advertising revenue continues to retain grounds after the devastating impact of the pandemic last year.

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

Two More Streaming Services Arrive In Australia

With 12.7 million Australians using streaming music services by mid-2020 and Australia ranked #7 in video streaming penetration rate (after the US, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Finland), it’s no surprise that overseas services are elbowing each other to get into this country.

French hi-res music streamer Qobuz has gone live, just as Australians are realising streamed audio files are squished down and they’d prefer to hear the 70 million tracks offered the way they first sounded in the recording studio.

Spotify has signalled plans for Spotify HiFi later this year.

China’s video streaming iQiyi will set up a local office in May with own marketing, promo and business development staff under former Sony Music digital exec Gavin Parry as CEO and Greg Tremain as head of business development.

iQiyi set up in 2010 and is one of the largest online video sites in the world with 500 million monthly active users (MAUs) who consume 6 billion hours of content each month. It recently moved into North America and SE Asia.

UNFD Continues 10th Anniversary Celebrations With Podcast, Vinyl Reissues

Melbourne based global company UNFD, part of the Unified Music Group, continues its 10th anniversary celebrations with a new podcast Listen Now and the re-release of ten titles in eco-friendly vinyl.

The vinyl reissues are made using recycled materials with no plastic shrink wrap, while the pressing process itself was carbon offset. The podcast, hosted by The Faction/ex-Triple M’s David Nash, focuses on deep diving into the artists, story and legacy behind each of the ten albums.

The first podcast, which went live yesterday, features UNFD general manager Luke Logemann on the evolution of the label and the first albums to be re-pressed – In Hearts Wake’s Earthwalker / Skydancer, recorded together and released 12 months apart in 2014/15.

32 Nabbed For Speedy Stuff At Yours and Owls

Music events that are returning are finding greater patron interest in reliving the experience. What attendees are also reminded are the not-so-great stuff – like enough scowling blueys to make one think it was the secret policeman’s ball.

At the first major NSW music festival in 12 months, Yours and Owls in Wollongong (April 17 & 18) before a 14,000 covid-capped crowd, there were seven police divisions on hand. NSW Police reported 32 were done for drug possession (crank, MDMA, LSD, weed, cocaine). Four people were refused entry, seven booted out and three charged with ‘fail to quit’ offences.

Commercial Radio Ad Revenue Lurches Forward

The slow return of the national economy was demonstrated in commercial radio ad revenue in the March quarter of 2021. Metropolitan ad revenue reached $153.4 million as small business advertisers returned. But figures were still down on the March quarter of 2020 before the coronavirus really made things shambolic.

Figures from Deloitte showed the largest metro market, Victoria, dipped slightly (0.12%) to $52.1 million. Second largest market NSW dropped 5.06% to $44.9 million, Qld down 9.10% to $23 million, WA down to 0.34% to $19.7 million and SA fell 7.87% to $13.5 million.

Sealed With A Quiz: Strong Return For Spicks And Specks

The ABC’s Spicks And Specks showed a buoyant return on Sunday April 18, with 647,000 over metro viewers and was #2 entertainment program for the night. It couldn’t touch Married At First Sight with 1.398 million but poked the eye of Seven’s sweaty Dancing With The Stars, which roped in 621,000 overnight metro views.

$5M Boost For Regional Funding

The Federal government announced a one-off injection of $5 million into the Regional Performing Arts Touring program aka Playing Australia. The cash is for regional and remote touring projects and regional performing art centres around Australia who’d already received Playing Australia funding but disrupted by COVID-19.

GYROstream Offers Split Royalty Payments

With more artists writing and recording online with others in numerous other countries, Australia’s GYROstream has become one of the few distributors in the world to now offer account holders split royalty payments.

When a track is released, each collaborator can have their royalty share paid into a nominated bank account. GYROstream offers a payment history of these split royalties and a feature to update payment from that track.

TikTok Figures Revealed

TikTok tends to keep its figures close to its chest but these have leaked out after its US company began approaching potential advertisers.

According to Music Business Weekly, as of October 2020, the app had 732 million monthly active users (MAUs) around the world, and more than 100 million MAUs in the United States. It is expected that it’s by now crossed the 1 billion mark, or at least very close to doing so.

To put that into perspective: it’s double Spotify‘s global monthly active user base as of the end of 2020 (345 million), but less than half the 2 billion-plus MAUs YouTube has.

According to Tikkies’ own data, an average user opens the app no less than 19 times a day, and uses it 89 minutes per day.

Nearly half (42%) of all active users were aged between 18 and 24, 17% between 13—17, and just 7% were over the age of 45.

New Team For National Indigenous Music Awards

This year’s National Indigenous Music Awards, at Darwin Amphitheatre on August 7 and broadcast on SBS and online, has a new team.

Returning as creative director is performer and director Ben Graetz, a descendant of NT’s Iwaidja and Malak Malak clans and of Badu Island in the Torres Strait.

After eight years studying and working in Melbourne as creative director, writer and researcher, proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nina Fitzgerald returns to Darwin to take over as associate creative director.

NIMAs veteran Romana Paulson, a proud Bundjalung, Mununjali and Wiradjuri woman from Yugembah Country Australia stepping into the project manager role.

Last year’s virtual NIMAs was the biggest in the event’s history, reaching over 250,000 people with broadcasts across NITV, Double J, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Hitting The Boards At The QMAs 

Performing at this year’s sold out Queensland Music Awards (Wednesday May 5, Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane) will be Ball Park Music, Beddy Rays, Sycco, No Money Enterprise and Balkan-French MZAZA. All have nominations in any of the categories.

More Aussie Acts For Fender’s Next Class of 2021

More Aussie acts have been selected with 23 others around the world for Fender’s Next Class of 2021. It’s an artist development programme designed to elevate rising musicians pushing guitar forward in music and culture.

This time it’s Lime Cordiale and Stand Atlantic, both from Sydney, who like the others get guitars and amps, and a big worldwide promo push through Fender’s multi-channel platform including to 9 million social media followers.

Last year three Aussie acts were chosen: Skegss who debuted at #1 on the ARIA chart this month with Rehearsal, Eliza & The Delusionals and Running Touch.

Venues Update: Launches, Closures, Sales, Slips

The Sunshine Coast has a new live music venue, the Kings Beach Tavern on Burgess Street in Caloundra, after its owner Australian Venue Co extensively renovated it for an estimated $2 million. It will book major acts and DJs. A launch party is on April 23.

The Telegraph Hotel in Hobart, a haunt popular with college students, closes its doors on April 24 after its owners of 13 years opted not to extend the lease citing noise complaints, COVID restrictions and council changing its outdoor area.

The Hollywood Hotel on Foster Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, is up for sale. It follows the death at 89 of its founder, the feisty and memorable Doris Goddard, who in the late ‘70s returned from Hollywood where she was a cabaret singer and actress.

The WA government is about to renovate Perth’s His Majesty’s Theatre to the tune of $15 million to restore it to its original glory.

A 32-year old tourist in Cairns received a free visit to a hospital. He was told by security at Gilligan’s Nightclub he couldn’t come in as he was drunk, so he swung up on a balcony to sneak in through the roof but, oof, fell down two storeys.

Catch up on last fortnight’s industry new wrap-up here.