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82% Can’t Pay Their Rent: Aus Musicians & Industry Workers Struggling

6 December 2023 | 9:11 am | Mary Varvaris

Independent Australian musicians and more on the current state of the industry.

Body Type @ The Gasometer

Body Type @ The Gasometer (Credit: Kikki MacLeod)

Independent Australian artists have discussed AI, money, and more in the latest GYROstream survey, The State Of The Music Industry.

The third annual GYROsurvey sampled the thoughts of over 350 Australian and New Zealand independent artists and industry professionals to find the issues plaguing indies. The survey was conducted by GYROstream, a leading independent and Australian-owned digital music distribution and artist services company.

Money is the biggest hurdle halting independent artists. According to the survey results, 82% of music professionals and industry workers revealed that music doesn’t cover the rent. Independent artists work multiple jobs to support themselves through a cost-of-living crisis and the costs of doing things as a musician: recording and releasing music, promotional and marketing costs, touring and more. Notably, only 32.8% of respondents had applied for grants.

Another issue separating independent artists is AI, with 26.3% of participants telling GYROstream that they had used AI within their work. For those who used AI in their career, it was mostly for assistance with marketing and PR, mastering, and lyrical inspiration.

Of the respondents who hadn’t used AI in their careers thus far, 71.1% of participants were adamantly against using AI, while 5.2% said they would use it in the future, and 23.7% were uncertain. One respondent, Brooke from Queensland, claimed that AI “feels very Black Mirror” and added, “I don’t like how it feels like it is taking an artist’s voice away.”

Elsewhere, independent artists are struggling with exposure, citing difficulty growing an audience in an over-saturated market, navigating social media trends and algorithms, and low marketing budgets. Emma from Victoria stated, “I feel as artists that we’re in a constant race to keep up with ever-changing algorithms and viral trends, which can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.” Despite the struggles with exposure, more than 60% of artists surveyed haven’t used TikTok yet.

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However, things are looking positive on the touring circuit, as independent artists are touring more than ever. Independent artists have seen a 25% increase in gigs and have played more than five shows from 2022 to 2023. In addition to the uptick in live performances, concerts have been the most significant source of income for artists this past year (54%), followed by streaming (22%) and merch sales (7%).

You can check out the full report here and find some images corresponding with the survey below.

“The GYROsurvey provides a direct line of conversation with our wider music community and an opportunity for us to really listen to their feedback,” GYROstream CMO Vivienne Mellish said in a press release. “It’s so important for GYROstream to provide a genuinely beneficial service for the Australian music industry and to provide a clear voice for independent artists.

“The fact that the number of participants in the survey not only grew but doubled this year really drives home the fact that the Australian music community is eager than ever to have their voices heard.”