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2016 Census Shows Live Music’s State of Play in Adelaide

Image: The Gov, Adelaide Image: The Gov, Adelaide
Jasmine Crittenden · August 2, 2016

The 2016 Adelaide live music census, which Music SA conducted throughout May, demonstrated live music’s state of play in greater Adelaide. This year’s results were compared with those from the inaugural census, held in May 2015.

The findings, released by Music SA and the Live Music Office, revealed a 14.4 percent increase in live music gigs and a 32.4 percent increase in venues offering live music between May 2015 and May 2016.

In 2016, the census explored an additional 20 suburbs, where 104 gigs happened across 27 venues. Four areas made a particularly significant contribution:

  • Mt Barker, with 25 gigs across 6 venues
  • Warradale, with 18 gigs across 2 venues
  • Tea Tree Gully, with 16 gigs across 2 venues
  • Aldinga, with 8 gigs in 1 venue

Overall, the census counted 1,101 gigs held across 208 venues in greater Adelaide, whereas, in 2015, 962 gigs were counted across 157 venues. When the new suburbs were excluded, the study found that 35 extra gigs took place altogether, with 42% of suburbs having hosted more gigs, 7% staying the same and 52% of suburbs having hosted fewer gigs.

Music SA General Manager Lisa Bishop said: “With further planned improvements to live music regulation we foresee a sustainability that will demonstrate the importance of live music as an industry that drives South Australia’s economic transformation.”

Hotels continue to dominate Adelaide’s live music scene. In 2016, the study found that 153 hotels put on 899 gigs, amounting to 81.6% of the total, while, in 2015, 108 hotels put on 769 gigs, amounting to 79.9% of the total.

Clubs also continued to play a vital role. In 2016, 13 clubs, which hosted 47 gigs, were counted, keeping on trend with 2015’s performance, which saw 39 gigs across 8 clubs.

Meanwhile, restaurants increased their importance to the live music scene. In both years, six restaurants were monitored, but the number of gigs grew from 17 in 2015 to 36 – more than double – in 2016. Entertainment venues followed suit, though to a lesser degree, with 6 venues being watched in both years, and the gig count expanding from 17 to 23.

However, small venues, again, lagged behind. In 2016, only 2 small venues had live music licences and held 4 gigs. In 2015, only 1 small venue had a licence and held 3 gigs.

Overall, the proportion of original music performed in greater Adelaide increased. In 2015, 70% of all music played was covers and 30% was original, but 2016 saw 67% covers and 33% originals.

“With 82% of all live music gigs played in a hotel, South Australian hotels continue to be loud and proud supporters of live music and this, of course, is good for the music industry, the hotel industry, jobs and the State,” said Ian Horne, General Manager of the Australian Hotels Association’s SA branch.

It is worth noting that the 2016 Adelaide live music census was a self-described ‘best effort exercise to capture as many gigs as possible’, as opposed to a conclusive study. Data was gathered and compiled by Music SA staff from websites, social media pages, gig guides, industry contacts and word-of-mouth.

You can read our coverage of the 2015 SA Live Music Census here.

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