Breaking up with ARIA: towards a new taxonomy of data for predicting live touring success
This contract research report examined the impact of Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) charts, New Zealand (NZ) charts and regional Spotify charts on consumer purchasing behaviour in the Australian live music industry.
By investigating the impact of music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music on patterns of taste-making in Australian popular music culture, this report provided a timely examination of how music streaming services have changed the cultural ecology of music in Australia. This was done via an examination of their impact on music sales charts, radio airplay and live performance opportunities. In particular, this report aimed to understand the potential impact Northern Hemisphere curated playlists had on the future of Australia’s homegrown talent, and the country’s popular music industry more broadly. The reports outcomes contributed to our understanding of the impact of streaming services on the Australian live music industry.
This report used a mix of qualitative and quantitative research approaches and found that with the increasingly globalised music industries, aided by rise of streaming services, the ARIA and NZ charts have come to be dominated by international artists. There are several compounding factors causing this:
- Larger overseas audiences skewing the listening data that drives Spotify’s algorithm, privileging overseas acts as a result
- the global dominance of hip-hop and pop music, genres Australian artists traditionally underperform in
- the dominance of curated playlists over music discovery, from which Australian artists are largely excluded as a result of our geographic location and the size of our industry
- the use of streaming service popularity to determine commercial radio play and the lax enforcement of local content quotas
- international PR teams for global megastars can influence the Spotify algorithm, and
- the conflict that the dominant members of ARIA, the major record labels, have in prioritising international over local artists
Despite the dominance of the ARIA and NZ charts by international artists, general optimism regarding the state of Australian music prevailed. All our interviewees pointed to a clear disconnect between the charts and live music in Australia and NZ and argued for a broader ecosystem of data to be used in determining demand for live performance.