APRA AMCOS’s Dean Ormston’s article Invest in the Music Creator! in our Music journal, makes a compelling case to invest in the lifecycle of our songwriters and composers. From music education to export success, he argues there is much more to do to capitalise on our extraordinary creative talent, and that “Investing in the lifecycle of music creators and the musical work has the potential to provide significant cultural and economic returns.”
Ormston recalls a Sydney conversation with Icelandic/Swedish songwriter and producer Arnthor Birgisson, who when asked how his small country achieved such remarkable music export success, commented simply: “We all learn how to write songs at school”. Sweden’s total commitment to music education, and clear strategies to support songwriters and composers, has propelled less than 10 million people to become one of only three global net music exporters.
“On face value there is enormous opportunity for Australia to become a music export powerhouse” Ormston says, evidenced by a roll call of top notch recent international successes. Spearheaded by Goyte and then Sia, this is now seeing multiple Australian acts headline top festivals, on influential TV shows, and achieve chart success in multiple markets. This has been underpinned by increasingly sophisticated and targeted industry-wide initiatives, based on developing and investing in music creators, many where APRA AMCOS has taken the lead or been a key partner. These include the highly successful Sound Australia Music Export Initiative, the Live Music Office, and bespoke programs including SongHubs, school development program and SongMakers.
These initiatives illustrate the point that, with some government support, the music industry has clearly stepped up to the plate. However Ormston is clear: “In comparison to other key Australian industries, government investment in the arts and specifically the contemporary music sector is derisory.” He notes that the national arts body the Australia Council invests less than eight percent of its budget in contemporary music. “What’s missing is an overarching whole-of-government commitment and strategy to invest in the contemporary music sector.”
To make this case to government, APRA AMCOS is partnering on several research projects to provide quantifiable data, with a goal to fully embrace this creative and economic potential, and to give Sweden a good run for its money!