A new study has been published today looking at the impacts of COVID-19 on the Victorian music industry.

The study was completed by RMIT University and commissioned by Victorian Music Development Office (VMDO) and the Victorian Office For Women

Titled Understanding Challenges to the Victorian Music Industry During COVID-19, the study surveyed a total of 340 people who worked in the music industry in varying capacities, with a total of 292 valid responses attained and forming the report. 

“Throughout the pandemic many music workers found themselves doing unpaid work and also found it difficult to stay connected to industry peers,” said VMDO general manager Katie Stewart

"The survey also highlights that the pandemic has exacerbated and continued some already-existing problems within the Victorian music industry, including income security, discrimination and elitism as well as issues linked to location and demographics," added RMIT's Dr Catherine Strong who led the research. 

“However, the consequences of the pandemic also enhanced some positive aspects for the sector, including greater community-mindedness, innovation, creativity and a commitment to music-making." 

Among the study's key insights is that 58% of those surveyed are considering leaving the music industry. 

"Sadly my optimism has been replaced by cynicism. I have always been critical but balanced by optimism," said one responded, who is identified as a woman, age 46-55 and works as a musician. 

"Now, the cynicism I tried to keep at bay and defend myself from has come to pass. There is NO SAFETY NET FOR ME and neither the music industry or the government seems to recognise me or have a place for me."

It was found that this response varied dependent on sector, with music talent less likely to leave the industry due to COVID-19. It was found that over 60% of both live music business and promotion, management & support workers surveyed are considering leaving the industry.

"With less events possibly running in the future and tighter budgets, there is less opportunity and chances of getting paid employment at music festivals and events," said one person (woman, 18-25, events manager).

Additionally, it was found that: 

  • 80% of respondents said their involvement in the industry would be different post-COVID-19
  • 74% of respondents said their income had decreased
  • 57% of respondents were worried about paying for basics like rent and food
  • 44% of respondents lost all their music-related work during the pandemic (those in full-time employment dropped from 34% to 7%)

Those surveyed said that they would like to see improved working conditions (better pay and hours, improved access to benefits and more job security), a change in the culture of the industry (increasing inclusion and addressing discrimination - sexual, gendered and racial - as well as shifting the focus to shared values rather than profits), maintenance of external industry support (government grants and programs as well increased funding the VMDO and Music Victoria) and continued recognition for the sector (highlighting the outstanding skills and an industry that demonstrates economic and social benefits) as the industry recovers and reopens. 

See the full study here and find out more about VMDO here.