Bullying, low wages drag on Vic live music

·2-min read

Live music gigs across venues in Victoria attract audiences big enough to fill an MCG every Saturday night, according to the latest industry snapshot.

But the live music sector is still beset by endemic harassment and bullying, with musicians struggling to make minimum wage for their performances, a paper released by Music Victoria on Wednesday has found.

Live music contributes $1.7 billion to the state's GDP annually, with a pre-pandemic export value of $195 million, the peak advocacy body said.

Five out of the six Australian acts at Glastonbury in 2022 were from Victoria.

Yet many venues and performers are still grappling with the tail end of the pandemic, and many have simply given up.

Less than half of the businesses licensed for live music gigs in 2019 renewed their licences for 2021-22, the report found.

It also painted a stark picture of working conditions for musicians, with one in four gigs unpaid, and contracts regularly broken without compensation.

It found little diversity in the industry, with about three quarters of performance opportunities filled by men, and a longstanding culture of bullying and harassment.

Music Victoria has called for minimum standards for pay, diversity, and industry conduct.

It also wants to establish industry investment schemes, a national affordable insurance scheme, and changes to licensing regulations so local councils can decide on noise limits.

"Our proposed key actions are extremely achievable and will cement Victoria as a global music leader. The potential outcomes will continue to benefit all Victorians and music lovers across the globe," Music Victoria chief executive Simone Schinkel said in a statement.

Growing gentrification, inflexible planning rules and liquor licence freezes have meant Melbourne venues in particular are being squeezed.

In regional Victoria, many venues don't have the equipment to host high quality gigs, while the state's system of government-run performing arts centres is staffed by people with little knowledge of live music programming.

An separate, independent review of sexual harassment in the industry is set to be released on Thursday.

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