ARIA Award-winning performer Jenny Morris says a "new wave" of diverse young Australian musicians offers access to an untapped global export market, and has urged the federal government to help the industry reach its full potential.
Ms Morris, who is chair of the Australasian Performing Rights Association, said during a National Press Club address on Wednesday that a new generation of artists was creating "distinctly local sounds with global appeal" that could offer significant financial rewards for Australia.
"Year upon year Australian acts are booked for career-defining festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza and Governors Ball. Music is a major commercial activity," Ms Morris said.
Jenny Morris’ speech to the National Press Club was a powerful reminder about the value of music and culture. Credit:Daniel Boud
"Now is the time for Australia to make a big statement about the economic value of our culture. We need a clear vision and I think that vision should be for Australia to become a net exporter of music…we need to back ourselves. The potential reward is nation defining."
Ms Morris said there used to be "years and years between Australian artists breaking internationally" but now "our global popularity multiplies every year" and with the right policy framework there was an opportunity to earn a share of the estimated $140 billion worth of global industry revenue by 2030.
L-Fresh the Lion joined an industry panel for a discussion about Australian music’s increasing diversity at the National Press Club of Australia.Credit:Nick Moir
Sia, Amy Shark, Courtney Barnett, Gotye and Vance Joy were recent examples of Australian musicians "writing and recording and appearing on global stages and screens" and there was a "not-so-quiet revolution happening".
"The federal and state governments have invested heavily in our screen industry, and we have globally recognised food and wine industries," Ms Morris said. "The contemporary Australian music industry is yet to achieve its potential."
Ms Morris was diagnosed five years ago with spasmodic dysphonia, which affects her voice. Her speech was delivered by Sophie Payten, known as the musician Gordi. After the address, Morris was joined on a panel by musicians L-Fresh the Lion, Ngaiire and artist manager John Watson.
Mr Watson – who has helped steer the careers of Gotye, Missy Higgins, Cold Chisel and Midnight Oil and is on the board of Support Act which delivers crisis relief services to artists, crew and music workers – welcomed recent government support for the industry but said more needs to be done to help the music industry cope during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We had a 2900 per cent increase in calls for crisis assistance in the quarter after the COVID shutdown," Watson said, ahead of the National Press Club address. "Until there can be some sort of return to live performance, the vast majority of not just musicians but all the people around them, all the broader infrastructure, is unable to earn a living."
"The contemporary Autralian music industry is yet to achieve its potential.
Mr Watson said now was"the first time the music community has needed a benefit gig" and the "utter uncertainty" around when concerts, festivals and pub gigs could return meant a long term view was needed to re-establish the industry.
"It's about keeping those people engaged, so when we do come out the other side we’ve still got a wonderful, vibrant industry creating all this music of which we’re all so proud."
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