Australia’s Music Exports Hit AUS $195 Million — With 10% of Artists Making 97% of the Income

A new report titled ‘Born Global: Australian Music Exports’ says Australian music exports are worth around $195 million ($137 million USD).  But the winners’ circle is small.

The report examines the cultural and economic value of Australian music exports.

Estimated figures included in the report combine the export income of Australian artists, record labels, and music publishers. Data in the report was collected over three years by the University of Newcastle and Monash University. Sounds Australia, APRA AMCOS and the Australia Council for the Arts also contributed.

One quick caveat: the finding itself is coming from the Australia Council for the Arts, so the figures themselves might be a little padded.  There’s also a sizable pro-government bent, though some breakdowns and details are certainly worth examining, including some lopsided artist earnings.

Key highlights from the summary report show that government grants provided the largest source of export support.

Live performances remain the top source of income for Australian musicians in foreign markets. The most lucrative foreign markets for touring Australian artists include the US, UK, and Germany.

Australian artists are also some of the most internationally engaged artists in the world. 40% of musicians and 50% of composers had international engagements from 2010 to 2015.

The report also indicates that Australian music exports are increasing — thanks largely to the government’s support of the industry.

But the export income of Australian artists is highly concentrated — and lopsided — with 10% of artists accounting for 97% of total export income. New export models are evolving to bring a broader range of Australian artists to worldwide attention, however, at least according to the hopeful report.

Concerts have contributed to the growth of artist income primarily in the United States since 2002, according to the report.

Controlled releases through streaming, targeting specific playlists, and digital analytics are three technologies helping Australian artists grow. The report also acknowledges that unofficial sources may broaden Australian artists’ appeal by throwing a little shade at YouTube.

“The wide range of countries identified in YouTube searches for Australian artists in the ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart in 2018–19 suggests that Australian artists have a much broader international presence than that indicated by international royalty payments alone.”

If you’re interested in reading the full report about Australia’s music exports, check the summary here.