“Music Business and the Experience Economy” is the first book on the music business in Australasia from an academic perspective. In a cross-disciplinary approach, the authors deal with a wide-range of topics concerning the production, distribution and consumption in the digital age. The interrelationship of legal, aesthetic and economic aspects in the production of music in Australasia is also highlighted as well as the emergence of new business models, the role of music file sharing, and the live music sector. In addition, the impact of the digital revolution on music experience and valuation, the role of music for sports and branding, and last but not least the developments of tertiary music education, are discussed from different perspectives.
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Book Review: Music Business and the Experience Economy. The Australasian Case
In the introductory chapter Philip Pearce of the School of Business at the James Cook University Townsville lays the foundation of the book by bearing an analogy between music and food. Both are experienced goods and “(…) music, as food, is influenced by similar sophisticated processes in its creation, commercialisation and delivery” (p. 2). The analogy might be inspired by a delicious dinner at Gianna Moscardo’s and Philip Pearce’s home in Townsville, Queensland, where the gathered academic scholars developed the idea of a volume on the Australasian music business.
In contrast to food compositions, music is protected by copyright law. Therefore, Phil Graham of the Creative Industry Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane focuses in his contribution on the role of copyright in the political economy of music in Australia. He reviews the history of Australian copyright legislation through the High Court ruling made in 2012, in which the 1% cap on the broadcast of recorded performances was handed down in favour of the Phonographic Performance Company (PPCA). The author highlights the paradoxes and ironies of the High Court decision and concludes: “The future of Australian recorded music professionals is unclear and there seems no clear or easy path to creating a legislative environment in which that class of professionals can thrive in any great numbers” (p. 25).
David Salisbury of the School of Creative Arts at the James Cook University Townsville highlights in his contribution the new production possibilities for indigenous music in North Queensland and the Torres Strait. He shows that the production modes have dramatically changed from an industry based and controlled system to a more independent and Internet based one in the digital age. In several case studies the author demonstrates that Aboriginal and Torrent Strait artists benefit by digitization in taking “(…) control over their own careers and to promote themselves more directly to the consumer” (p. 39).
Steven Campbell of the School of Creative Arts at the James Cook University Townsville underpins the current change to a digitized music industry by analysing the new opportunities for independent music production in Australia. In his article he explores the impact of the digital revolution on the independent music scene within four dimensions: musical, sociological, sensorial and digital. The author highlights the shift from a commodity-based business model to an experienced-based one, in which the Australian independent music scene benefits more from the advantages than suffering from the disadvantages of the digital revolution.
In the following article Peter Tschmuck of the Institute for Cultural Management and Cultural Studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, who was a visiting professor at the James Cook University Townsville in 2010, analyses the recorded music and licencing market in Australia from 2000-2011. He highlights that the recorded music market in Australia has lost 55% of its volume since 2001. Despite the booming market for digital music, the increase could not compensate for the losses in the physical segment. Nevertheless the market of music licencing has profited from digitization. Thus, the collecting societies for performance rights and neighbouring rights profit from increasing revenues, whereas the mechanical rights society suffered from the digital paradigm shift.
Music file sharing is often blamed for the sales decline of recorded music in Australia too. Jordi McKenzie of the School of Economics at the University of Sydney presents results from a study on the impact of music file sharing on sales rankings in Australia. Analysing the results of the study, the author comes to the conclusion that “(…) there is no clear evidence that piracy impacts sales rankings (…)” (p. 96). Instead, the changing environment should be taking into consideration by looking for a more elaborated explanation for the sales decline of recorded music in Australia.
Philipp Peltz of Macquarie University in Sydney reviews the digital distribution models for music that prosper in Australia despite or even because of the presence of file sharing services. He investigates four different business models – free, ad-funded, pay-per-use and subscription-based – models from the content providers’ perspective. The content providers can choose between two different strategies: (1) to lower the barriers to access music to create a strong promotional effect or (2) to heighten the barriers to provide exclusivity. Therefore, the author concludes that in digital music distribution there will be no “killer application” but a mix of different services that can be combined in an overall marketing strategy.
Whereas musician benefit to a lesser extend from digital und physical music sales in the digital age, they more heavily rely now on the revenues from the live music business. Breda McCarthy of the School of Business at the James Cook University Townsville, therefore, highlights the booming music festival market in Australia. In her contribution, she explores the concept of festivals in the digital era and presents the results of several studies on the Australian festival scene to come to the conclusion that “[t]here is growing recognition that festivals have a wider ramification for destinations and benefit musicians, attendees, the community and the wider society” (p. 131).
Guy Morrow of the Department of Media, Music and Cultural Studies at the Macquarie University in Sydney deepens the analysis of Australia’s live music market by a case study on the Australian tour of the independent rock-folk band Boy & Bear. He highlights that the bands in Australia has to take higher risks in concert promotion than in is usual the US and the UK. It is common for a mid-level Australian artist to manage and promote their live shows themselves, without the assistance of a promoter. “Therefore (…), the Australian live music industry more readily lends itself to the potential of start-ups (…)” (p. 152) that support artists in their efforts to manage and promote concerts.
The challenges of digitization for the recorded and live music business forced musicians to search for additional revenue sources beyond the traditional business models. Laurie Murphy, Andrea Schurmann and Gianna Moscardo of the School of Business at the James Cook University Townsville highlight the potential of music branding. In their chapter they examine the links between music and brands using three cases studies in Australia: Wolf Blass, Qantas and the TV-show Offspring. The case studies, therefore, illustrate “(…) the role that music can play in fostering brand knowledge transfer at all levels, at developing ties between the brand and the consumer and between consumers in the brand community , in defining and differentiating brand personality, and in weaving the brand into thoughts, feeling, emotions and daily experiences of consumers” (p. 172).
In a similar way music plays an essential role in Australian team sports such as rugby, Australian football and cricket. Philip Pearce shows in his contribution the synergies music and sports have in Australia. The Australian Rugby League for example mainly uses Australian music as promotional songs and Australian artists regularly appear at the Australian Football League Grand Finals. Thus, sport events are a perfect promotional tool for musicians on the one hand, but music is vice versa an important emotional element in the dramaturgy of sport events. Thus, “there is a happy marriage of music and the sport” (p. 188).
However, the main indicator for the popularity of Australian music are the sales charts of the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). In his contribution, Peter Tschmuck analysed the ARIA charts in the period of 1988 to 2011. He identifies a cycle of popularity of Australian popular music. In the years from 1988 to 1995 Australian superstars such as INXS, AC/DC, John Farnham and Kylie Minogue charted high despite the dominance of international repertory. A generation shift to younger acts such as Powderfinger, Silverchair, Grinspoon, Savage Garden and The John Butler Trio shaped the period from 1995 to 2002 with less chart successes for Australian music. However, in 2002 the Australian music market entered the “Golden Age of Australian music” with great chart successes by Australian acts, which was fuelled by casting shows on the one hand and the emergence of innovative indie labels on the other. Since 2008 Australian music is less successful in the charts which indicates a new transition period in the popular music market.
In the concluding article in this book volume on the Australasian music biz, Ryan Daniel of the School of Creative Arts at the James Cook University Townsville analyses the role of music business and industry knowledge transfer in current undergraduate music programs in Australia. The author highlights that 55% of all undergraduate music practising programs do not offer compulsory courses in music business, industry and entrepreneurship. Of the 25 courses that include these courses, 17 did on a limited level. Thus, only 14% of the degree courses involve a substantial component of enterprise learning. Therefore, the author identifies an urgent need to expand the offer of substantial business and entrepreneurial courses for music students to enhance their ability to accomplish with the challenges in their professional field.
To sum up, “Music Business and the Experience Economy. The Australasian Case” provides for the first time a cross-disciplinary contributions on the Australasian music business. The articles cover legal, economic, entrepreneurial, marketing, sociological, musicological and music educational topics. The book is, therefore, a good choice for anyone who wants to know more about on the production, distribution, consumption and education of music in Australia and the neighbouring countries.