Upscaled ticket prices expected to hit domestic music scene + all the biggest industry headlines from the week
17.11.2021

Upscaled ticket prices expected to hit domestic music scene + all the biggest industry headlines from the week

music concert tickets
Words by Christie Eliezer

Plus a new radio station launching dedicated to music, music aid pressure on NSW government, 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:

  • Splendour In The Grass patrons who were searched by NSW Police in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 could get compensated for what’s being argued as an “unlawful strip search”.
  • Gen Z is leading the way for music industry purchases.
  • Jazz trumpeter James Morrison has closed his Academy of Music in Mt Gambier, SA, and is instead taking it to students as a pop-up college.

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

Would You Pay More To See Australian Acts?

As summer gigs start in earnest and consumers start straining at the leash, one of the issues that have cropped up is to do with rising ticket prices for domestic acts.

Rising ticket prices was already a problem pre-COVID in Australia. According to Live Performance Australia, in 2018, the average ticket price was $99.03 (from $90.59 the year before) while Victorians were happy to pay more at $107.08 per person.

That year, concert prices in North America outpaced inflation, with prices almost quadrupling in two decades, from $25.81 in 1996 to $91.86 through the first half of 2019.

Now COVID could see fans paying more, it’s already heading that way in Germany. According to live industry trade magazine IQ, the industry there is expecting ticket prices to rise by 15% to 30% for domestic shows.

This is due to “technology and staff shortages” along with additional expenses for “security, ticket organisation or hygiene regulations”.

Some (not all) promoters of rescheduled concerts are charging the new upscaled prices.

Some associations are spitting chips, saying promoters should scale down production to cut costs rather than expect consumers to fork out.

If ticket prices go up, will there be a punter backlash in Australia?

A number of venue operators contacted by Mixdown doubt it, pointing out that throughout the pandemic, consumers have been super-supportive as the live music thrashed about trying to survive.

James Young of Melbourne’s Cherry Bar recounted how when he came up with a scheme where punters would donate to pay its $14,500 a month rent, 376 punters put their hands up. Many were from interstate or regionals and obviously not regular Cherry Bar patrons.

“But they liked the concept and the idea of supporting a venue,” Young said. “Punters who’re champions about live music are going to give us the greatest summer ever!”

Compensation For Splendour Searches?

Hundreds of Splendour In The Grass patrons who were searched by NSW Police in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 could get compensated.

Redfern Legal Centre and Slater & Gordon Lawyers believe they were illegal, and have launched a class action investigation.

The law firm said some punters were allegedly “directed to lift or remove items of clothing, strip naked and squat and cough, or lift their genitals so officers could visually inspect body cavities”.

Slater & Gordon Senior Associate Dr. Ebony Birchall said that an unlawful strip search as classified by law as an assault gives rise to compensation.

New Station To Play 100% Music

Australian Radio Network’s iHeartRadio Australia launched a new station, iHeartAustralia, devoted to all-local music, old and new.

To kick start Australian Music Month, it is tying in the ARIA Awards with interviews with nominees Shane Nicholson, Ngaiire, Spacey Jane, Jolyon Petch, Genesis Owusu, Sam Fischer, Lime Cordiale, and Ball Park Music.

Nice to see commercial radio knowing what defines Australian music. Some years ago another network tried to claim a Justin Bieber song as part of its Australian quota – because it had been recorded in Sydney during a tour!

Michael Gudinski Presence Continues

Michael Gudinski’s presence continues at the local industry’s biggest celebrations, the ARIA awards. The Best Breakthrough Artist category has been renamed the Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist Award.

Ed Sheeran pops up during the broadcast to pay tribute.

In the meantime there is talk in other quarters about a Gudinski statue at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

How Gen Z Shapes The Music Industry

They’re already at the forefront of the short video explosion. Now MRC Data’s 2021 Music 360 report outlines the ways Gen Z made a difference globally.

The continued growth of vinyl sales is fuelled by the 14 to 24 year olds. They are 40 per cent more likely to buy vinyl compared to the average music fan.

In Japan and Mexico they are 17 per cent most likely to buy a CD.

The age group is 74 per cent more likely in Japan, 32 per cent in France, 23 per cent in Mexico, and 11 per cent in the US to make purchases of specific music formats as a way to show support for artists.

Gen Z is globally more likely to discover new music through video games – up to 250 per cent in Japan and France, 85 per cent in the US, 75 per cent in Spain and Mexico, and 61 per cent in Brazil.

Lifelines

Expecting: Singer songwriter Conrad Sewell and fiancee Jasmine Hingston, a son, in February.

Born: to First Nations singer songwriter Mitch Tambo and wife Lele, a daughter, Phoenix Ori Wulanbili Firth.

Died: ‘80s Melbourne singer songwriter and poet Mark Gillespie who made a series of albums, including the remarkable debut Only Human, before disenchantment with the music industry led him to Bangladesh where he set up an orphanage.

Died: Melbourne songwriter Sean Higgins, 68, who co-wrote Australian Crawl hits such as ‘Downhearted’ and ‘Things Don’t Seem’ and appeared on late Crawl member Guy McDonough’s solo album My Place.

NSW Under Pressure To Increase Music Aid

The NSW government is under pressure from all over to ramp up its help to the music industry.

The Shadow Minister for Music and The Night Time Economy Mr John Graham introduced amendments to the Customer Service Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 before Parliament which, if successful, will allow musicians and roadies to use loading zones without getting stickered.

It is pushing to expand late trading provisions for dedicated music venues beyond the city of Sydney and increasing the additional trading time, and implement recommendations from the review of the Music Festivals Act 2019 including removing language around “high risk” festivals.

In the meantime, Live Performance Australia Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson challenged NSW to follow Victoria’s example last week of introducing an events insurance scheme that will provide certainty to festivals and events promoters to go ahead with new activities.

Richardson argues NSW and Victoria jointly make up 60 per cent of the Australian live entertainment sector’s annual revenue. It’s essential for NSW to also similarly encourage projects to lift the whole national sector.

New Era For James Morrison Academy of Music

Jazz trumpeter James Morrison has closed his Academy of Music in Mt Gambier, SA, and is instead taking it to students as a pop-up college.

The Academy stopped taking in new students in 2021 after a split in February from the University of South Australia, which he said had cut third-party programs after COVID ravaged its budget.

“(We) have made the decision we won’t be continuing JMA in its present form as a tertiary institution with a bachelor degree, there’s no workable way to do that,” Morrison said, as per the Adelaide Advertiser.

“We’re going to go and do work wherever it’s needed, we’re going to be based in Mount Gambier still, we’re keeping our office and our headquarters at the Old Town Hall,” he said.

Click here for more information on the Splendour class action.