The music industry is supported by a range of government, corporate and philanthropic sources.

Learn more about the levels of funding provided by Federal, State and Local governments across Australia.

Get the facts on specific forms of support, like Australia Council support for new works, market development and orchestras.

Private sector giving

Private sector support for music organisations is strong but opportunities remain

Between 2008-09 and 2009-10, Australian music and opera organisations regularly funded by the Australia Council (a small part of the overall industry) did not increase levels of private sector support as some other organisations did. Music (down $1.7 million) and Opera (down $0.7 million) recorded the largest declines for performing arts organisations.

Looking at the major performing arts organisations, private sector support grew in 2011 with nine of the 10 organisations reporting increases on 2010 levels.

However, comparatively music and opera organisations have generated lower growth than dance organisations over time.

Only three of the 10 music and opera organisations were found to have increased their private sector earnings consistently over time.  These three companies made up 63 per cent of private sector revenue generated by music companies in 2011 and most of the increase over time.

Whilst opera companies were performing strongly in 2001, they have not grown support over time to the extent that other sectors have. In real terms, private sector support for opera has shrunk over the past 10 years.


Public funding

Music funding represents just a fraction of government spending on culture – and it supports just a fraction of the music industry

In 2009-10, ABS figures show funding at the national and state level was over $160 million for music performance, music theatre and opera, and music composition and publishing. This represented 2.4 percent of total cultural funding at these levels, and was relative to:

  • Heritage – 10.4 percent
  • Radio and television services – 19.5 percent
  • Environmental heritage – 20.2 percent
  • Art museums, other museums and cultural heritage – 14.2 percent
  • Libraries – 11.4 percent.


Further support for music is provided through other funding streams. For instance, State and Local Governments provide significant support to performing arts venues and facilities. In 2009-10, State and Local government expended $151.5 and $91.1 million on performing arts venues respectively.

Table 12 - Australian and State/Territory Governments spending on music

Value of funding ($m)Percentage of total funding (%)
Australian Government
Music performance64.61.0
Music theatre and opera21.70.3
Music composition and publishing2.00.0
State & Territory Governments
Music performance50.60.8
Music theatre and opera22.10.3
Music composition and publishing0.60.0
Total 161.63.4
Per person$8.42


After growth in 2007-08, public funding for music has stabilized

Public funding at the federal and state government levels remained stable in 2010-11, after growth in previous years.

2010-11 saw a slight decline in funding for music performance and music theatre and opera, and an increase in funding for music composition and publishing.


Over half of Australia Council funding goes to the music sector – with the majority supporting Australia’s orchestras and opera companies

In 2010-11, the Australia Council invested a total of $84.7 million in the music sector, including distributing $51.3 million to 6 orchestras.

$5.7 million  was provided through the Music Board to activities including the writing and recording of new music, the presentation of concerts and tours and festivals, professional development for artists.

The Music Board also supports 37 organisations through its Key Organisations and program funding. While the majority are presenting and performing organisations, this group also includes service organisations such as the Music Council of Australia.

The Major Performing Arts Board provides annual rolling funding of $72.4 million to six symphony orchestras- the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, West Australian, Queensland and Tasmanian symphonies; one pit orchestra – Orchestra Victoria;  two chamber music organisations -the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Musica Viva Australia; a period instrument Orchestra – the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra; and four opera companies – Opera Australia, including the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra; and the West Australian, Queensland and South Australian opera companies. Each of these organisations is contracted under a tripartite/quadripartite agreement between the company, the Australian government and the relevant State funding bodies.   MPA organisations are obliged to meet specific criteria and outcomes agreed under individual funding arrangements which include demonstrating artistic vibrancy and significant sector development initiatives.

Further support for music is provided through the Arts Development Division via a range of music specific programs targeting international market development. These include foundation funding of Sounds Australia, a national export initiative established to provide a cohesive platform for the promotion of Australian music and music businesses at international markets. Other initiatives include funding for the Australasian World Music Expo and support for international touring and showcasing through International Pathways (in partnership with the Music Board) and Live On Stage.

The ATSIA division, Community Partnerships committee and Artstart program all also support individual music projects.


Public funding plays an important role in the creation of new musical works

In their survey of a sample of practising professional composers and performing musicians, Throsby & Zednik found that composers were more likely than performing musicians to apply for a grant and be successful.

Grants are often linked with the creation of new works, and Throsby and Zednik found that grant income is more significant for composers than for performing musicians. Composers’ grant and prize earnings represented 10 percent of all composing income. In contrast, for the performing musicians in the study, grants, prizes and fellowships represent just one percent of their creative income.

In terms of Australia Council funding specifically, Throsby and Zednik report that 11 percent of professional performing musicians and 22 percent of composers applied for Australia Council funding at some point during the five years up to 2009 – a smaller proportion than most other art forms. Despite this, the large population of musicians means the Music Board receives amongst the highest number of applications of any art form board.