The music industry is a complex ecology of individuals, groups and businesses who work on performance, broadcast, and recording of music.

Learn more about the live music industry, including concert ticket sales, gigs in pubs and clubs, and performance royalties.

Get the facts about the trends in recorded music, including new tracks released, the digital revolution, and what households consume.

Household consumption of music
Industry  -  Music

Even in tough economic times, the music business is big business.

In 2009/10, each Australian household spent an estimated $380 on music-related goods and services, totalling over $2 billion economy-wide.  That’s more than they spent on internet charges, dental fees or domestic holiday airfares.

We all know the music industry is changing fast – but overall household spending on music is steady,  confirming the enduring importance of music to Australian communities.


At over $2 billion, Australian households spend more on music than they spend on domestic holiday airfares

In 2009-10, each Australian household spent an estimated $380 on music-related goods and services, totalling over $2 billion economy-wide. As a point of comparison, other items of household spending of a similar value included internet charges, dental fees and domestic holiday airfares.

Table 7 - Spending by Australian households on music-related goods and services

Total annual expenditure by households ($m)%
Audio equipment97948%
Other recreational equipment12863%
Total music related2034100%
Total spending on goods and services334,034
Music as a proportion of total spending0.6%


Key music products consumed by Australian households are concert tickets, recorded music and music players

The largest single items of expenditure on music related to music concert fees and charges, with Australian households spending almost $100 per year. Other notable items included portable music players, home entertainment systems and pre-recorded CDs and records.


Spending on recorded media has fallen whilst concert and nightclub ticket purchases has increased

In real terms, spending on music by households is relatively steady – with only a slight decrease in real terms between 2003-04 and 2009-10.

Spending on services such as music concerts and fees has risen, whilst there has been a decrease in spending on media such as CDs and records to half what it was in 2003-04.

Table 8 - Spending by Australian households on music-related goods and services – 2003-04 and 2009-10

Weekly household expenditure 2009-10 ($)Weekly household expenditure 2003-04 ($)% change in real terms
Audio equipment3.523.345%
Media (e.g. CDs and records)0.921.96-53%
Musical instruments0.460.80-43%
Services (Concerts and nightclubs)2.411.5061%
Total music related7.317.60-4%
Total spending on goods and services1,236.281,061.3116%


Musical instrument sales

Imports of musical instruments have dropped back to 2004 levels, with weakened domestic sales

Information received from the Australian Music Association (AMA) based on ABS data shows declining instrument imports in 2011, after periods of solid growth in the 2000s across most categories of instruments.

According to the AMA, unit imports fell 13 percent to 1.876 million items in 2011.

In addition to a contraction in spending, the AMA suggests that significant volumes of goods are being imported directly from overseas suppliers by Australian consumers. Key factors behind this change in behaviour include the high Australian dollar, wider range and availability from international vendors, no Goods and Services Tax (GST) and competitive international freight costs.

Professional audio equipment, guitars and amps, and keyboards and pianos continue to make up the majority of the musical instrument market.


Performing industry

Music concert ticket sales reached $1 billion in 2013, with 11 million attendances nationally

According to Live Performance Australia, ticket sales at surveyed music events reached just over $1 billion in 2013, across Musical Theatre, Music Festivals, Opera, Classical and Contemporary music categories.

Contemporary music performances accounted for 6 million of the 11 million attendances at ticketed music events in 2013.

Figure 10 - Revenue, attendances and average ticket price of key music performance categories

RevenueAttendancesAverage ticket price
Contemporary music$628,130,1466,266,137$110.50
Musical Theatre$193,389,7632,085,131$100.94
Music Festivals$107,367,7801,053,419$130.46
Classical Music$70,481,8411,169,643$73.18
Total music events$1,042,653,23510,919,091


Music performances garner the highest ticket prices in Australia’s entertainment industry

Tickets to music performances captured by Live Performance Australia have average ticket prices well above other artforms such as dance and theatre.

Large scale international acts can have a significant bearing on ticket prices – and the timing of tours can impact sector revenues in any period. For instance, contemporary music ticket sales revenue grew by 30 percent in 2013 compared to 2012 levels due to a number of high profile international performers touring Australia (2013 saw Beyonce, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Rhianna perform to large audiences in Australia).

Contemporary music continues to be the largest category in the live entertainment industry, although music festivals, opera and circus and physical theatre have higher ticket prices.


Industry  -  Music

In addition to major ticketed events, live music brings millions of fans into venues such as hotels, clubs, cafes and restaurants. In 2011, it was estimated to generate 41.97 million attendances, and leverage $1.21 billion revenue through audience spending in licensed live music venues.

With 6,300 such gigs each week across the country, live music also helps to sustain almost 15,000 jobs.


Live music in almost 3,904 hotels, bars, clubs, restaurants and nightclubs in 2009-10 generated an estimated 42 million attendances

A 2011 study conducted by Ernst & Young for APRA | AMCOS and the Australia Council indicated that there were over 3,900 licensed live music venues in Australia, including hotels, bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes and night clubs

It is estimated that these venues staged approximately 328,000 live performances in the 2009-10 financial year, equating to approximately 6,300 performances per week.

Hotels and bars represented the biggest portion of the venue-based live music sector – estimated to generate over 24 million attendances per year.

Whilst there were only 75 nightclubs, the study estimated they had the highest number of
performances, and the most attendances per performance compared with other venues.

Restaurants and cafes represented the smallest portion of the venue-based live music sector, with fewer performances and average attendances in their 450 venues.

Table 3 - Key metrics of live music venues in Australia

Hotels/ barsClubsRestaurants & cafesNight clubsTotal
Number of live music venues1,9721,407450753,904
Number of venue-based live music performances184,895103,59228,73710,512327,736
Total attendance at venue-based live music performances 24,281,32412,859,0992,136,5852,689,09641,966,104
Average performances per venue94746414084
Average attendance per performance13112474256128
Average attendance per venue12,3139,1394,74835,85510,750


Live music in hotels, clubs and restaurants generated gross revenues of $1.21 billion and contributed around $650 million to the Australian economy

Some licensed venues generate revenue through ticket sales, however most performances are not ticketed. When surveyed about their events, venues indicated the main reason for staging live music was to generate patronage and invigorate other parts of the venue’s business, particularly food and beverage sales.

These venues were estimated to generate total revenues of $1,211.1 million in 2009-10, mostly through food and beverage spending by attendees.

The study estimated that the industry contributed $651.9 million in value to the Australian economy – which is broadly comparable with the sports industry.[1] It also estimated the venue-based live music industry supports employment of approximately 14,866 full time equivalent positions.

[1]   The comparisons made here include figures obtained through different methodologies, and should be treated
with caution.

Table 4: Comparison of value-added by music and similarly sized industries

IndustryValue added ($m)SourceYear of estimate
Film and Video Productions $1,110.7ABS2012
Sports and physical recreation clubs, teams and sports professionals$705.2ABS2006
Venue-based live music industry$651.9E&Y2010
Book Publishers$482.2ABS2004


Performances by Indigenous artists are held in a minority of licensed live music venues

Analysis of APRA licensing returns suggests that performances by Indigenous artists were held in almost 30 percent of hotels and clubs during 2004-05.

The proportion of venues with Indigenous performances also varies from state to state. Over the three years to 2006, APRA returns show that 37 percent of venues in NSW held performances by Indigenous artists, compared with less than 1 percent of venues in Tasmania.






Orchestras, opera companies and choirs attract almost 2 million attendances annually

The Australia Council supports almost 30 music organisations with regular funding to produce and present music performances to Australian audiences.

In 2011 regularly funded organisations, including 14 Major Performing Arts (MPA) organsiations and 15 Key organisations, were involved in development of over 150 new Australian works, and attracted almost 2 million attendances.

Table 5 - Summary of music performance organisations in Australia

TypeNumber of orgsNew Aussie worksAttendancesBox office income ($000s)Sponsorship & philanthropy ($’000s)Employment
MPA organisations14401,413,12792,74833,0361,594
Key organisations15122511,8464,7054,31991


Recording industry
Industry  -  Music

Australians purchased almost 100 million sound recordings in 2011, including CDs, vinyl, digital tracks and music ringtones.  Audience demand for major music performances reached over 10 million tickets in 2010/11 – generating sales of more than $1 billion.

This means Aussies are consuming music faster than ever.


Recorded music is consumed by nearly all Australians most days of the week

Almost all Australians (99 percent) listen to recorded music, and 92 percent do so weekly or more. On average, Australians listen to recorded music every one to two days (222 times a year).

Recorded music is consumed significantly more often by people under 44 than those over 45 years.






Two-thirds of the 15,000 tracks released each year in Australia are rock, pop and dance tracks

In 2011-12, 15,910 new Australian music tracks were publicly released – capping off over 150,000 over the past ten years.

ARIA estimates that over two-thirds of tracks released in Australia in 2011-12 were rock, pop and dance tracks (69 percent). Country/folk (12 percent), classical (7 percent) and soul/R&B (3 percent) were the next three most popular categories, with less than 500 tracks in each of the remaining categories; easy/MOR/nostalgia, jazz, ambient, childrens, traditional.


Industry  -  Music

After many years of declining revenues the recorded music market is steady, thanks to rising digital sales.

Physical sales revenue continues to fall, but digital sales are growing faster as fans buy more online, and embrace subscription services such as Spotify.


Australia is amongst the leading digital music markets internationally

In terms of digital consumption, Australia was the first market in the world where our growth in digital outpaced our fall in physical sales, even prior to the uptake of music streaming subscription services Spotify, Deezer and Rdio.

IFPI estimated the digital music market accounted for 47 percent of Australia’s recorded music sales in 2012 (up from 38 percent in 2011), placing it in 5th position amongst the leading markets in terms of digital uptake internationally.

The IFPI notes a range of factors boosting the digital music sector internationally, including major players expanding their services into new markets, new players entering the market, the emergence of new partnerships, the continued advance of subscription services and ad-supported streams, better monetisation around music videos, positive developments in the legal environment in specific countries and the rapid growth in devices such as smartphones and tablets.


Digital music sales have experienced rapid growth, overtaking physical products for the first time

Overall sales figures released by ARIA show that the dollar value of sales of sound recordings and music videos has decreased by 12% in 2013, following a slight increase in 2012.

While physical sales have continued to decline, digital sales have grown rapidly over the last four years and now account for 55% of the total market at $192.3 million, overtaking physical music products for the first time.


Digital music has contributed to greater demand for single tracks, in place of full albums

The ‘a la carte’ model (where the consumer pays per track or per album) has contributed to a trend towards sales of single tracks, away from albums.

Single digital tracks now make up the majority of units sold. However their smaller average unit price means they only account for 27 percent of wholesale market value.

CD album sales have fallen from around 50 million units in 2006 to 20 million units in 2013, yet they still make up 40 percent of market value, with higher average unit prices than digital music.


Music subscription services will continue to transform the recorded music market

The number of consumers subscribing to music services globally is estimated to have increased by nearly 65 per cent in 2011, reaching more than 13 million people. IFPI believes the subscription model is supplementing the tens of millions of consumers using download services, and noted no ‘cannibalisation’ of the digital download market in its Digital Music Report 2012.

In Australia, the availability of an increasing number of services is expected to fuel further growth in the digital market in the future.

As of March 2012, there were an estimated 32 legitimate digital music services in Australia.



Unauthorised file sharing has a significant impact on the music industry

Based on 2010 findings, Music Rights Australia reports that around 2.8 million Australians download unauthorised music via file sharing networks every year. A quarter of these individuals claim to do this every month (700,000 Australians).

Recent international research estimates the practice is even bigger, with 28 per cent of internet users thought to access unauthorised services on a monthly basis.

Research on BitTorrent (the most used file sharing P2P protocol worldwide with 100 million regular users) in Australia found that 89.9 percent of all torrent files from the sample examined were confirmed to be infringing copyrighted content. Of the files in the top three categories (movies, music and TV shows), there were no legal torrent files in the sample.



Recent years have seen a decline in the number of music retail stores

The number of retail music stores has declined in the past decade. In the early 2000’s the number of stores contributing data to the ARIA charts included around 1,100 stores. Today there are closer to 600 specialty music stores.

Over that time there has been a significant reduction in the number of chain locations, whilst some smaller specialist retailers have sustained their businesses servicing a small but committed customer base away from high traffic shopping centres.

According to the Australian Music Retailers Association (AMRA), some of the key factors affecting the retail business include:

  • Declining average unit prices
  • Rise of digital downloads
  • Unauthorised file sharing
  • International online retailers (eg Amazon)
  • Increased cost of rental spaces.


In addition to specialty music stores, music products are also sold though supermarkets, at petrol stations, markets and performances.



Physical products are evolving towards niche interests and deluxe products and packages

IFPI predicts that physical products will remain a significant element of the music industry, and notes a trend towards deluxe products or bundles with merchandise or concert tickets.

Whilst small in size, in recent years the vinyl market has reached three or four times its level in the mid-2000s, and growing sales in leading markets suggest this trend will continue in the near future.


Returns from performance and broadcast
Industry  -  Music

There’s no denying the music business is big business, contributing to the Australian economy and employing tens of thousands of Australians.

But most artists earn small amounts from their creative work. Less than 200 musicians and composers earned over $100,000 from their creative practice in 2007/08 – and the median creative income for performing musicians was $7,200.


Large numbers of songwriters and composers share in performance royalty distributions

In 2011-12, APRA distributed over $170 million to around 244,623 writers, composers and publishers, for the public performance and communication of musical works. APRA recieved around $22 million in royalty recipets from overseas societies in 2011-12.

The number of works in each annual distribution has been growing over time – with around 726,825 unique works in the 2011-12 distribution.

In 2010-11, APRA collected and distributed over $135 million to writers and publishers. Around 15 percent of this amount ($20 million) was distributed to local songwriters and composers, and 42 percent ($56 million) to local and international publishers.[1]

Looking at local songwriters and composers - a total of 52,000 distributions were made  by APRA in 2010, totalling $20 million. Two discrete biannual distributions were made, meaning some members received two distributions. Most members received small amounts.

There were over 700,000 works represented in the 2010-11 distribution. The rights holders sharing in the distributions are approximately 18 percent local and 72 percent foreign. For example, in 2010 approximately 41,500 local rights holders and 190,500 foreign rights holders were paid distributions by APRA.

[1]   Amounts paid to publisher members are for local works as well as foreign works sub-published in APRA territory



Broadcasting, performance and use of live and recorded music generated over $290 million in licence fees in 2012

APRA | AMCOS have licences in place with 84,000 licensees, and have 81,000 members.

It paid 244,623 music creators and rights holders in 2011-12 and distributed around $237 million in royalty distributions to songwriters, composers and publishers.

PPCA have licences in place with over 54,000 venues Australia-wide, including clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants, fitness centres, shops, halls and dance studios for the broadcast, communication or public playing of recorded music. It also grants licences to radio and TV stations.

On behalf of rights holders, it distributed over $29 million to licencor labels and registered Australian artists in 2011-12.


Broadcasting on TV and radio generate high licence fees, but digital and online consumption is growing fast

Australian business expenditure on music broadcasting is well established, with APRA | AMCOS collections from TV and radio continuing to grow in excess of $100 million. Licence fees earned from live public performances and live events are also significant.

Digital and online spending reported by APRA | AMCOS exceeded $30 million in 2011-12 – having grown substantially each year for the past five years.