New report acts as soundcheck for Australian music festival industry

Creative Australia has today released a research report entitled Soundcheck: Insights into Australia’s music festival sector. The first of its kind, the report provides a rich overview of Australia’s music festival industry.

Soundcheck: Insights into Australia’s music festival sector highlights the cultural, social and economic impact of music festivals, and includes information on ticketing and attendance trends, and the where, when and what of music festivals around the country.

Creative Australia was tasked with conducting the research as part of the Federal Government’s National Cultural Policy Revive.

The report draws insights from 2022-23 financial year data and is accompanied by an online interactive dashboard which can be used to explore the festival scene across all states and territories.

Creative Australia Executive Director of Strategic Development and Partnerships Georgie McClean said:

“Music brings us together and millions of Australians attend festivals annually. Yet, until now, the size, scale and impact of the industry has not been well documented or understood. We hope this report will serve as a useful tool for festival organisers and help us to better understand the role and contribution of festivals within the broader creative industries as they face multiple challenges. To inform the future work of Music Australia, we will be undertaking further research into how Australians discover, engage with and consume music, in order to better understand the broader ecosystem that underpins live music including festivals.”

Australian Festivals Association Managing Director Mitch Wilson said:

“Soundcheck is a game changer for music festivals in Australia. This is the first ever national research on the size and benefits of our industry. Thanks to Creative Australia for their work on the report. It will be the bedrock of data for the AFA in our advocacy work for years to come.”

Key insights:

  • 535 music festivals were presented across Australia during the 2022-23 financial year. That is almost 1.5 music festivals for every day of the year.
  • Australian music festivals represent a diverse range of genres. Almost one in four music festivals in Australia is an electronic music festival (23% of festivals). Other popular genres include rock (21%), country (19%) and indie (17%).
  • There are signs of recovery in ticket purchasing trends, suggesting the industry is recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tickets sales are up and, while patterns of later ticket buying continue, there has been a slight shift back towards purchasing tickets in advance.
  • 18-24-year-olds are purchasing tickets at lower rates than before the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018-19, before the COVID-19 pandemic, young Australians aged 18-24 were the primary consumer group for music festivals. However in 2022-23, those in their mid-to-late 20s were purchasing tickets at greater rates.
  • Organisers nominated rising operational costs as the most significant challenge to running a music festival. Other challenges include the availability of funding and grants, along with insurance and extreme weather events.
  • More than half (53%) of festival organisers view supporting local tourism as the key strength of music festivals. Additionally, 45% identify creating a sense of community as a key strength.

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