2009 Digital Distribution Think Tank
Australian Musical Futures 2009: Digital Distribution
In 2009, Australian Musical Futures looked intensively into the situation around the digital distribution of music. For Australian Musical Futures: Digital Distribution, four think tanks were organised in collaboration with the Institute for Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology, two in Brisbane, one each in Sydney and Melbourne. The think tanks worked down the music industry value chain – basically, creation, production, distribution, with the fourth gathering synthesising the outcomes from the first three. About 20 people attended each one, with people from each of the three sectors joining personnel from the MCA and QUT.
There were substantial recommendations for action. It is rather early to expect major progress on implementation but actions have begun. These are the recommendations.
- Build a microfinance investment incentives scheme to support emerging artists. Action initiated. The concept was to get the Commonwealth government to provide tax incentives for venture capital, along the lines offered to the film industry. This has been taken to and rejected by the government. An alternative proposal has been submitted.
- Build effective management and exports through publication of expert case studies.This is feasible and under active consideration.
- Explore the possibility of assisting a government/business development forum between the music industry and ISPs. There seems to be broad agreement that ISPs could assist in the problem of monetising music distributed illegally over the internet but that it is far preferable to find a solution from which ISPs and copyright owners benefit rather than seeking a solution through legislation. MCA is not ready to move on this recommendation.
- Investigate strategies to encourage digital music innovation and investment. This is a very big assignment. It seems possible that a government department may support action in which MCA is a partner but not the leader.
- Mount an economic study of the music sector. Action initiated. MCA is joining with QUT in seeking research funds for this project. MCA has published an economic study in the form of a statistical framework for the sector. This can be read at www.mca.org.au/pdf/Music_Sector_Report_April_2005.pdf However, the government did not proceed to collect statistics as proposed. There is a need now to revise the model to take account of developments in the digital area.
- Website/portal to provide information on music business and career building for musicians. Action initiated. MCA does intend to proceed with this proposal, subject to finding the funds to pay for it. It is joining with an arts sector-wide collaboration for a set of websites supporting career development based around artistcareer.com.au as a hub. MCA has already completed a counterpart site for teaching music in schools that contains professional development links
- A study of how musicians earn their music incomes, with possible proposals to improve current circumstances. While we have some of this knowledge on an informal basis, there are no statistical insights. The Australian Bureau of Statistics does not even pick up on part-time professional employment of musicians, let alone the mysteries of online transactions. Funding will be sought for this study. Research funding is necessary.
- A program to build the use of Australian music by governments and some parts of the private sector such as the film industry. Action initiated. MCA has identified a number of possibilities across government and will advocate for an official policy-level response. The proposal has been presented to the Arts Minister and his assistance will be sought for implementation.
Original materials for the 2009 Australian Musical Futures: Digital Distribution