At a time when the global COVID-19 pandemic has musicians forced to sit on the sidelines while mass gatherings are banned, now is the time for Australian radio to step up and take charge.
Just yesterday, the Australian music scene discovered that – thanks to the ilostmygig website – local musicians and those who work within the industry have lost over $100m in income so far. Considering that this number is set to rise exponentially as travel bans are implemented and even small local gigs are now canned, it doesn’t bode well for those who depend on the industry to provide their livelihood.
However, a number of folks out there have begun to realise just how perfect the time is for local broadcasters to step up and be the change we need to see right now.
Just yesterday, Kira Puru helped to kickstart the conversation, laying down the gauntlet for local radio stations to step up at the current time.
A CHALLENGE to Australian radio stations to play mostly/exclusively Aussie artists to jack up our royalties while we wait for our gigs to pick up again! 1 small, literally free way to aid local artists?
— Kira Puru (@kirapuru) March 17, 2020
“A CHALLENGE to Australian radio stations to play mostly/exclusively Aussie artists to jack up our royalties while we wait for our gigs to pick up again!” Puru wrote on Twitter yesterday. “1 small, literally free way to aid local artists?”
Before long, a number of radio programs had accepted the challenge and had revealed they were working hard towards delivering a playlist composed mainly of Aussie acts, including the likes of triple j’s The Racket and short.fast.loud.
However, others have suggested that stopping at radio is not enough, with industry icons such as Jane Gazzo calling on The Project to utilise local music during their broadcasts.
“With so many OzArtists taking a hit from cancelled shows, tours & collapse of the gig economy – could you possibly commit to 100% OzArtists played in and out of your ad breaks?” Gazzo wrote. “Royalties from broadcast for even 10-20 secs could really help bands right now.”
I play music on ABC’s Pacific Mornings which I get to choose and every month I have to fill out an APRA report. Link me your radio friendly tunes. Bonus points if you’re a First Nations artist https://t.co/5CUKaxxv4e
— Tali Aualiitia (@taliaualiitia) March 17, 2020
Challenge accepted, all Australian show next week https://t.co/rOTrWHi8NM
— THE RACKET (@triplejracket) March 17, 2020
Sadly Jodie and I have precorded this weeks show. Next week’s show is all Aussie acts. https://t.co/jxTQLuLHdK
— Our Mosh Pit on JOY 94.9 🏳️🌈 (@OurMoshPit_) March 17, 2020
— Couch (@couchandkey) March 18, 2020
Just rearranged half the show for tonight. Over two thirds of the show will be Australian content. We need to be supporting Australian creatives now more than ever. https://t.co/Z4g0Ixu34g
— short.fast.loud. (@shortfastloud) March 18, 2020
Now, Batz vocalist Christina Aubry has joined in on the fight, launching a petition via Change.org for more Australian music to be played on local radio during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Expanding restrictions on public gatherings have led to the Australian live music industry reporting a loss of $47 million,” the petition reads. “This is not only felt across the live sector but also across the wider arts communities. Many artists, agents, crew, venues and many more have experienced job loss and income loss for the foreseeable future.
“We are asking you to sign this petition to demand that Australian radio stations increase their Australian music quota in hopes that whilst musicians cannot earn income from playing live, they have the chance to earn income via royalties from radio airplay. This will help them pay their rent and live and also encourage new works to be made, with a domino effect of creating and keeping jobs for recording engineers, graphic artists, managers etc.
“We also action APRA AMCOS to pay royalties if possible at earlier dates for artists.
“Essentially playing more Australian artist won’t disrupt the radio waves or cost more money but it will help out those musicians and the likes who will no doubt suffer in the next coming months or who knows how long.”
At the time of publication, the petition has attracted over 120 signatories, though it’s only been live for a small number of hours. If you’re even a casual fan of Australian music and want to keep the industry alive for many years to come, be sure to sign the petition, buy some merch from your favourite local band, and at the very least, start streaming as much of their music as possible.