Venues have seen increased audiences over the past 12 months, the study says. (ABC RN: Jeremy Story Carter)
When Melbourne band British India got their start in the mid-2000s, the quartet found their hometown receptive.
“We could play Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday every week,” drummer Matthew O’Gorman says.
These days, as they tour their sixth album, the venues themselves might have changed, but the opportunity — to play a gig, or to see one — has not.
And that’s borne out in a new survey of city’s live music scene.
Having closed in 2010, Melbourne’s Tote Hotel is back to hosting multiple gigs every week. (ABC RN: Jeremy Story Carter)
The Melbourne Live Music Census found the Victorian capital, long voted the world’s most liveable city, had more live music venues per capita than any other city in the world.
Melbourne had one venue per 9,503 residents, which is better than London (1 per 34,350), New York (1 per 18,554) and LA (1 per 19,607).
There was a 20 per cent increase in the number of gigs happening in greater Melbourne between 2012 and 2017, while 55 per cent of venues said their audience had increased in the past year.
The census, conducted by Music Victoria and the City of Melbourne with help from RMIT, Collarts and the cities of Yarra and Port Phillip, also found:
- Melbourne live music venues have an audience of 112,000 each Saturday night, the equivalent of an AFL grand final
- Attendance figures were higher for live music than the AFL, Spring Racing Carnival, A-League, and other sports combined
- Live music generated $1.4 billion in 2017, up 16 per cent from 2012
“About 10 years ago, people, mainly in government, started getting this idea that music was valuable, so they put together a couple of big reports,” the census’s project manager, Dobe Newton, said.
“But they just went to all the easy places, all the major venues.
“I thought, but what about the four or five times as many people who I know are going to the bars, and pubs, and clubs, and nobody ever counts them?”
While the State Government’s agent-of-change legislation offers better protection for venues from noise complaints, Mr Newton said the city needed to continue to make sure the pressures of gentrification did not overwhelm live music culture.
“It is a real danger, but one of the reasons for doing this is to make sure everybody understands that this isn’t just a bunch of dole-bludging musos here,” he said.
“This is actually a huge economic generator, and the reason people come to Melbourne.”
Melbourne is often considered a more gig-friendly city than Sydney, where musicians have long complained over-regulation has strangled its live music scene.
“Sydney has been doing everything it can to destroy all those places of entertainment and to turn them into apartment buildings,” Dave Faulkner from the Hoodoo Gurus told a NSW parliamentary committee recently.