A new study examining the impact of the Corona virus pandemic on the Victorian music sector found that 58% of respondents are considering leaving the industry.

The Victorian Music Development Office (VMDO) and the Victorian Office for Women commissioned RMIT University to complete the study – Understanding Challenges to the Victorian Music Industry During COVID-19.

VMDO General Manager, Katie Stewart, explained that the research found that one crucial consequence created by the pandemic will be the likely significant loss of talent from the Victorian music sector.

“Throughout the pandemic many music workers found themselves doing unpaid work and also found it difficult to stay connected to industry peers,” said Stewart.

Other insights from the study found that:

  • 80% of respondents said their involvement in the industry would be different post-COVID-19
  • 74% of respondents said their income had decreased
  • 57% of respondents were worried about paying for basics like rent and food
  • 44% of respondents lost all their music-related work during the pandemic (those in full-time employment dropped from 34% to 7%)

Doctor Catherine Strong from RMIT University explained that “The survey also highlights that the pandemic has exacerbated and continued some already-existing problems within the Victorian music industry, including income security, discrimination and elitism as well as issues linked to location and demographics.”

“However, the consequences of the pandemic also enhanced some positive aspects for the sector, including greater community-mindedness, innovation, creativity and a commitment to music-making,” said Strong.

Survey respondents were also asked what they would like to see changed as the industry recovers and reopens. Some key themes included:

  • Improved working conditions – better pay and hours, improved access to benefits and more job security;
  • Changing the culture of the industry – increasing inclusion and addressing discrimination (sexual, gendered and racial) as well as shifting the focus to shared values rather than profits;
  • Maintaining external industry support – government grants and programs as well increased funding the VMDO and Music Victoria; and
  • Continued recognition for the sector – highlighting the outstanding skills and an industry that demonstrates economic and social benefits.

Throughout the pandemic, the Victorian Government has provided close to $25M in dedicated support to the Victorian music industry. This has included funding to support artists and acts, music industry workers and organisations, events and live music venues. The deadline for the next round of the Music Works grants is extended to 5pm Monday, 22 February 2021.

The survey report is available on the VMDO website.

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