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Census confirms Melbourne's status as one of world's Live Music Capitals

21 Mar 2013

Melbourne boasts at least 460 live music venues and live music contributes more than a $1billion to the Victorian economy per annum, according to the largest Live Music Census ever conducted in Victoria.

The Victorian Live Music Census 2012, which was carried out by Music Victoria in partnership with the City of Melbourne, NMIT and over 100 student volunteers, also found that on a typical Saturday night 97,000 patrons attend Melbourne’s live music venues and 900 musicians, 740 DJs, 237 production staff and 2,730 venue staff are employed.

The report also revealed that Melbourne hosts 62,000 popular music gigs annually – many featuring multiple-artists bills, attracting 14.4 million annual patron visits to small venues, major concerts and Melbourne-based music festivals.


“This is the largest survey of its type carried out in Victoria,” said Music Victoria CEO, Patrick Donovan, who said the organisation planned to complete the regional component of the census later this year. “It captures the most accurate snapshot of what our world-renowned industry looks like. This is the industry that Music Victoria proudly represents and if you’re passionate about this industry and want to support it, become a Music Victoria member during our Jump On The Bandwagon membership drive.”

“This report pieces together all the components which make Melbourne a world renowned music city,” added Chair of City of Melbourne Arts Portfolio Councillor, Rohan Leppert. “Melburnians have always loved their music scene, but now our understanding of that audience and our music scene is better than ever. From the live music venues, to the artists, musicians, producers and punters; Melbourne’s thriving music scene is thanks to all of you.”

“We look forward to continuing work with Music Victoria, and the industry, to ensure Melbourne’s music scene is supported and continues to grow.” 

Project organiser, Dobe Newton, added: “Being involved in this unique project with the future leaders of our industry was an exciting and rewarding experience,” he said. “Their hard work has confirmed Melbourne as one of the world’s great music cities. The data collected will be invaluable in helping to promote and protect this wonderful cultural asset and the jobs and joy it creates.”

The full report can be viewed at

Background to the report:

In July 2012, Music Victoria and the City of Melbourne commissioned Stage One of a unique research project – a detailed ‘census’ of the city’s live music venues. Stage Two will examine regional venues later this year.

Over 100 volunteer collectors were enlisted from music-related courses at Victorian TAFEs and Universities, and on the night of Saturday 13th October they visited and collected data from over 90% of our live music venues.

The collectors’ job was to confirm and expand on previous work completed by Deloitte Access Economics (Victoria) and Ernst & Young (National) commissioned by Arts Victoria and APRA respectively.

As well as observing and recording data on the night on venue operation, audience numbers, musicians and staff employed, they also surveyed patrons and musicians.

The responses to these consumer and musician surveys were added to those recorded over five years of NMIT’s ‘State of Play’ research to provide an unprecedented sample of 2,500 live music fans and 1,000 working musicians.

The Census findings confirm that Melbourne is not only the live music capital of Australia, but has a legitimate claim to be considered one of the world’s great music cities.

Venue numbers:

Greater Melbourne has 460+ venues that regularly (minimum of two nights per week) provide live music performances:

  • Melbourne CBD – 149 small venues (pubs/clubs/bars) and 18 concert/theatre venues.
  • There are 194 venues in the inner-suburban ‘precincts’ – Abbotsford/Collingwood, Carlton, Brunswick, Fitzroy, Northcote, Prahran/South Yarra, Richmond, St Kilda and South/Port Melbourne.
  • Outer Suburban Melbourne – 139 small venues.
  • In the Greater Melbourne area there are an additional 50+ venues offering ‘occasional’ live music.

Key Census Findings:

On a typical Saturday night - 

  • 97,000 patrons attend Melbourne’s live music venues
  • Door/entry charges generates $745,000
  • Additional patron spending (food, drink, merchandise, transport) generates $3.7 million
  • 900 musicians, 740 DJs, 237 production and 2,730 venue staff are employed

(Using the ABS formula for Full Time Equivalency – 103 FTE musician jobs, 82 FTE DJ jobs, 41 FTE production jobs and 468 FTE venue staff jobs)

The Big Picture – Annual Operations:

The Census data, plus findings from previous reports and 10 years of ‘State of Play’ research, creates the following annual ‘big picture’:

  • 62,000 popular music gigs annually – many featuring multiple-artists bills
  • 14.4 million annual patron visits to small venues, major concerts and Melbourne-based music festivals
  • $1.04 billion generated annually from ticket/door revenue and additional patron spending at gigs
  • Annual Full Time Equivalent employment for – 18,200 musicians, 14,150 DJs, 6,437 production staff and 77,391 venue staff


The Census is the most comprehensive live music study undertaken in this – or for that matter, any other city with the possible exception of Austin, Texas.

It reveals patronage approximately three times greater than for an entire AFL season, and doubles the economic generation previously reported.

ABC News video report

Tags: Live Music


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