Australian music industry documents million-dollar losses from COVID-19

Within a month, the Australian music industry has lost more than $300 million because of the distancing measures taken to flatten the curve of COVID-19.

Iconic festivals such as Splendour in the Grass and the Download festival as well as numerous smaller gigs and concerts have had to be cancelled or postponed.

From one day to another, countless artists and the people depending on them saw months of work go up in smoke.

Federal Shadow Minister for the Arts Tony Burke addressed the matter on The Green Room podcast.

“I understand exactly why the Government’s made the decisions they’ve made in terms of social distancing. But how they didn’t think that the package they put forward needed to deal with people whose entire livelihood is based on people gathering is just beyond me… How can people spend money on gigs that don’t exist?”

Burke then explained that the government stimulus packages didn’t apply to most of the people in the music industry, as a large majority are self-employed.

Many organisations have started fundraising and crowdfunding to try and help the struggling artists.

Among them is Support Act, an Australian charity delivering crisis relief services to artists, crew and music workers.

In an interview with ABC radio, Clive Miller, the CEO of Support Act, warned that the loss of income wasn’t the only issue.

“The other area that we are very concerned about obviously is the impact that all of this is having on people’s mental health. And that’s going to be something that’ll be ongoing for months while we all sort of ride out this crisis.”

The charity opened a wellbeing helpline and is offering free phone counselling for the people affected.

But sometimes, constraints help to enhance creativity, and some artists have taken the matter into their own hands to uplift the spirits.

Melbourne-based singer Merpine started organising Isol-Aid, a virtual music festival on Instagram, where fans can watch musicians perform from their own house every weekend.

Many people turn to music during difficult times, and while countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany have already put systems in place to assist their artists, Australians can only hope that the matter will be discussed soon enough.