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Live Music Ticket Sales In Sydney Down 40 Per Cent In Wake Of Lockout Laws

Written by Michael Carr on February 19, 2016

In case we needed any more proof of the damage the lockout laws have wreaked on Sydney’s nightlife, today the Federal Government’s Live Music Office has revealed that live music ticket sales in the Sydney CBD lockout zone have crashed 40 per cent since the laws were introduced.

This despite Premier Mike Baird insisting the laws have actually helped the city’s live music and nightlife industries, since they were introduced in February 2014.

Based on data collected by APRA-AMCOS – the body that gathers and distributes royalties to musicians – between January 31 2013 and February 1, 2015, not only did live performance revenue drop by a whopping 40 per cent, attendance in general was down 19 per cent across all live music venues. Meanwhile the venues themselves are spending less on live acts, with live music spending dropping 15 per cent.

“These figures demonstrate the actual impacts for musicians, venues, businesses,” the Live Music Office Policy Director John Wardle told SMH.

“People are looking at this closely to try and find a way through because they are going out of business.

“The music industry had no time to prepare so the impacts were greater than they might have been,” What we have [been handed] is an indiscriminate process that impacts well-run businesses.”

You don’t have to be a statistician to see that Sydney’s nightlife is dying. Artists from Flight Facilities to Alison Wonderland, Art Vs. Science, The Preatures and Nina Las Vegas have all spoken out about how the legislation is stifling the very cultural scene that helped grow their careers.

The Basement and Plan B booker Nathan Farrell sees it too, with venues across the board having to scale back programming as the crowds head home ever earlier.

“There’s less foot traffic, venues used to do early and late shows but they are now compacted into a one smaller night,” he told SMH.

“There was a culture of young promoters doing interesting late night events that just isn’t there any more. The Basement used to have a dinner and show before, say, Vince Jones, then as one set of fans would leave, another 400 younger fans would come in a different set of doors for a late night DJ. That’s definitely stopped.

“At Plan B were looking at booking at after-party for an international act but we couldn’t do it because we couldn’t get them in the door before 1.30am.” That would mean “thousands” in lost revenue.

“It’s profound. A lot of people are avoiding the city altogether because it’s too hard.

“They think ‘there’s a big scary lockout, we better move early or get out of the city’.”

John Wardle says the the industry has come to the conclusion that an exemption from the 1.30am lockout is the only thing that can save them. “If you understand the metrics of the late night economy, then you realise an exemption is ultimately what is required.

“Venues are having to change their programming, there’s a migration of audiences away from the city that is happening earlier in the evening, there’s [an issue about] the reputation of the city and it clouds every discussion about live music … we can’t seem to get away from this cloud.”

Wardle urged the NSW Government to follow the lead of Victorian and South Australian governments, who have established meaningful discussion with industry and community leaders about how to nurture the city’s nightlife and live music industries, rather than chase them out of town.

“It would do amazing things: build better relationships, capacity and help everyone understand the metrics of the industry so they can deliver better solutions.”

Meanwhile as the pile of evidence against Sydney’s lockout laws grows ever higher, Queensland’s parliament looks set to introduce even tough laws in their state.

Dividing leaders around the country, thousands of Sydney-siders are gearing up for a massive demonstration against the laws, this Sunday.

Sticky Fingers – Ghost Town

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