Pandemic threatens Melbourne’s status as music capital

“Victoria’s reputation as Australia’s capital of culture and major events is in tatters,” said CEO Evelyn Richardson. “The government shows utter disregard for one of our state’s most distinctive and hard-fought economic, social and cultural brand attributes. “

These concerns were echoed in a recent analysis by market research firm IBISWorld, which warned that Melbourne risks losing its status as the live music capital of the world due to ongoing lockdowns, restrictions and a loss of participation in the labor market.

IBISWorld analyst Arthur Kyriakopoulos said Australia’s music and arts sector is only expected to exceed pre-pandemic revenues after fiscal year 2025-2026.

Music Victoria CEO Simone Schinkel said the situation was most serious in Melbourne. Earlier this year, a survey conducted by RMIT found that approximately 58% of those surveyed had considered leaving the Victorian music industry and there has been a huge increase in the number of people looking for work elsewhere.

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Ms Schinkel said she regularly hears reports of musicians and teams leaving Melbourne’s music scene.

“We are bleeding intellectual property right now … we are losing skills, even in terms of security and support personnel and crew,” she said. “A lot of our former assistants have changed industries to find work, and I don’t think we’ll get them back.”

The Victorian government this week announced a $ 20 million event support package, but Ms Schinkel said that was not enough to stem the bleeding.

“The problem for everyone right now is that the amount of assistance offered nowhere compares to the type of losses we are suffering,” she said.

Liam Wilkerson played in three different rock groups and made the majority of his income from concerts. When COVID-19 hit, he had to work with a disability support service teaching music, where he continues to work four days a weekCredit:Chris Hopkins

Liam Wilkerson, a Reservoir musician in rock band Tap Dog, is one of many full-time musicians who have taken on daytime jobs in the wake of the pandemic.

He started working in a disability support service in the middle of last year teaching music four days a week, and says that although his concert dreams are still alive, he doesn’t see how he could count. on a gig income from so early.

“Without the ability to have 300 people in a small room, it will be difficult to earn an income,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Spottiswood received calls from other Melbourne musicians also considering moving north. While he has no plans to return anytime soon, he doesn’t think Melbourne has lost its musical status yet.

“You still can’t deny everything that is going on in Melbourne, there is certainly a lot less going on here when it comes to music and culture,” he said. ” But I’m bored [Melbourne] for what it was two years ago.

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