The Live Music Landscapes of Melbourne and Sydney

Over the past 30 years live music in Australia has changed quite significantly according to a study by Sarah Taylor, a musician and phD student at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

Beginning her study from 1983 in Melbourne and Sydney, Taylor has compared gig guides of the two cities to identify differences and similarities in local music scenes, mapping the changing landscape of live music in Australia.

Taylor found that while the number of bands in Sydney and Melbourne have increased, the number of local gigs has decreased significantly. Back in the 80s bands would grow their popularity by playing in the heart of the cities, eventually expanding to the outer suburbs. Also the bands would typically play multiple gigs in one night. According to Taylor, both are patterns that are not nearly as common today.

In Melbourne the 90s saw local gigs clustering to a few areas such as Fitzroy, which peaked in number of live performances. In comparison, Sydney experienced an unstable period in live music history with venues opening and closing shortly after. Mapping the performances of Sydney reveals a more fragmented pattern for live music than that of Melbourne. Part of the tough times faced in the live music industry in Sydney was caused by strict liquor licenses making it difficult for new local bars to survive.

Today, emerging musicians in Sydney still faces a more difficult environment, according to Taylor, and they are forced into performing free shows. She blames this as the reason for the low number of gigs in Sydney.

The music landscape of Melbourne, on the other hand, has changed once again with gigs clustering in the city centre at venues like Ding Ding Lounge and what was Pony. Taylor argues that it may be related to the fact that the city has spread out geographically meaning that to convince a large audience to come to a venue, the music has to be performed from a central location.

For an in-depth insight into the study by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), click here.

www.rmit.edu.au

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