The popular music industry in Australia : a study of policy reform and retreat, 1982-1996

Breen, Marcus (1996) The popular music industry in Australia : a study of policy reform and retreat, 1982-1996. PhD thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


This study examines the political economy of popular music policy initiatives during 1982-1996, when the Australian Labor Party was in government Federally and in the State of Victoria. Building on the cultural studies concept of articulation, the popular music formulation theory is proposed as the basis for examining the alignment of the fields of social and industry policy with the existing popular music industry. A series of case studies examine the ALP'S interest in popular music policy, the influence of Australian popular music achievements on the policy formation, the role of activists within the party and the subsequent inquiries and proposals that flowed from the party's concern to establish programs that would offer social provisioning outcomes. Using concepts derived from institutional economics, the thesis shows that the existing popular music industry, in particular multinational record companies, were disinclined to participate in and financially support the policies. Positive outcomes were realised in the creation of institutions such as Ausmusic, the Victorian Rock Foundation and The Push. Although dependent on public subsidy, some of the initiatives offered a new funding model, such as the failed blank tape levy. Alternatively, the examination of community music programs found that some local or micro projects generated industrial characteristics of their own, to become economically self-sufficient, rather than dependent on subsidies. Evidence that the private interests of the existing music industry determined their reluctance to participate in the policy programs became clear with the Prices Surveillance Authority's Inquiry Into the Prices of Sound Recordings in 1990. The research found that from 1982 until Labor lost power in 1996, no effective method had been established for engaging the existing music industry in funding and supporting the policy initiatives. With the possible exception of the evolution of industrial characteristics within community music programs, no resolution to this policy failure is apparent.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1606 Political Science
Keywords Music trade, Government policy, Australia, sound recording industry, popular music
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