New Report On The Economic And Cultural Value Of Country Music In Australia

Scarlett Di Maio
| September 24, 2019

The Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) has released a report called The Economic and Cultural Value of Country Music in Australia 2018, their second study into country music in Australia. CMAA’s first study called An Industry Profile of Country Music in Australia was commissioned by the CMAA in 1996. Both reports provide the most comprehensive analysis currently available on the economic and cultural contribution of country music in Australia.

The Economic and Cultural Value of Country Music in Australia 2018 continues to focus on the purpose of the first report, which was:

  1. To construct a detailed profile of the country music industry in Australia, including practitioner/ business operations, workforce/employment statistics and economic generation data.
  2. To establish benchmarks in media coverage and audience, recorded product sales, royalty and performance income and live performance attendance in order to establish benchmarks/markers against which future growth and trends could be measured.

The 2018 report’s findings are a result of nine months of industry research including detailed responses from 4,329 country music fans and 582 artists. The key findings reveal that the genre is in “robust health” and “experiencing sustained growth” which has seen the sector double in value to a conservative $574 million since 1997.

Some key findings:

  • Country music’s major festivals reported attendance of 202,000 generating box office and patron spending of $281.5 million.  In 1997 the figure was $114.6 million
  • With audio and video streaming dominating the global and Australian recorded music markets, Spotify reported Australia as the third largest country music territory after the US and Canada, and the world’s fastest-growing country market.
  • CDs still play an important role in country music.  82% of fans bought at least one in 2018.
  • While ARIA’s Top 50 albums (all genres) recorded a 1% decline in unit sales between 2017 and 2018, country music’s Top 50 albums in the same period recorded sales growth of 24%, increasing country’s share from 15% to 19% of overall sales.
  • 14% of APRA’s registered Australian songwriters identified as writing country in 2018.  This compares to 6% recorded in 1997.
  • AMPCOM, which monitors new-release Australian radio airplay on commercial stations, reported country music’s share at 14%.  In 2000, it was 7.9%.
  • Australia’s newest international star, Morgan Evans, topped the US and Australian country airplay charts and, by reaching #1 on the Australian all-genre airplay chart became the first country artist to do so since Taylor Swift in 2009.
  • Country is a safe place!  85% of male and female artists and fans have rarely or never felt unsafe or uncomfortable at a country music gig.

The reported data aims to enhance the promotion of the genre and ensure the continued viability of its operations.

The project was managed and the report authored by CMAA President Dobe Newton drawing on his experience conducting two similar landmark studies – The Melbourne Live Music Census projects of 2012 and 2017.

“It was a fascinating and productive exercise, with fans and artists responding to surveys in numbers that make this the most comprehensive sampling of a single genre ever undertaken in Australia. Their willingness to be involved, matched by that of major businesses and organisations in our sector, is indicative of the passion we all have for country music”, Newton said.

The full report is available here.

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