Music industry

For our live music industry, the state government roadmap is a road to nowhere

There is no roadmap for reopening Victoria’s concert halls.

The state government has announced a roadmap to reopen the state once we reach 80% of double vaccination levels, but we are not there. The current map ends at a density quotient of one person per four square meters for sites, which is a fraction of our normal licensed capacity. A room which would normally hold 1000 people is reduced to 150, a pub with a 200-seat music room could accommodate 20 or 25 people. Most sites cannot open at this level and no site can trade sustainably.

We are on a road to nowhere.

Even at one person per two square meters, we cannot survive. We know this, because one person per two square meters is the maximum we have been allowed during this pandemic. During a brief window in early 2021, when no viruses were circulating in our community, the state government declared that we had reached “Covid Normal”. Crowds of up to 85,000 were welcome at the footy, while concert halls were capped at one by two square metres, around 30% of our normal commercial capacity. Week after week we lost money. We were open, but we were bleeding slowly.

Our venues, and by extension the entire live music and club sector, have been in effective confinement for 19 months. Government support, while very welcome, has never really reflected the reality of our situation. Jobkeeper ended six months ago, but music industry professionals have never returned to work. Promoters, bookers, managers, technicians, roadies, publicists – they fell through the cracks.

As small businesses with liquor licenses, the sites have received piecemeal support, but that support tends to fall off a cliff when everyone comes out of lockdown, even if we don’t. Musicians are rescheduling shows and rescheduling shows, their pay slipping further and further away.

Our sector is resilient. It is populated by passionate, enterprising, risk-taking people who love music. We love the joy and community it brings. But 19 months of disenfranchisement and oblivion have taken their toll. We are already exhausted and disillusioned, and now we are left behind.

What we want, as an industry, is for the Victorian government to recognize how important music is to the soul of our city and state – not just with words, but with actions. We want:

  1. A step-by-step roadmap to reopen concert halls to 100% capacity.
  2. Ongoing, venue-wide financial support until we return to 100% capacity.
  3. Ongoing, large-scale financial support for businesses and music industry professionals until we return to 100% capacity.
  4. Direct consultation with concert halls in planning the relaunch of the sector.

We want to be able to confidently schedule shows in the iconic venues of this city – venues that will stand long after the temporary outdoor Covid stages are gone.

Melbourne was once known as the live music capital of the world. Music is in our blood. We want music fans to be proud of this city and this state when the dust settles.

That’s what’s at risk here – our cultural life, our community, dancing and singing together, lifting our hearts and voices together, fostering the love and joy of music. We all want it back.

Please sign our petition, share it and let the Victorian government know that the music industry matters to you. Help us get it back.

Save Our Scene is a campaign put together by a collective of Victorian music venues, listed below, calling for government help for the industry. It represents small to medium sized independent music venues across Victoria, including some of the most iconic and longest running music venues in the country.

12 Bar 170 Russell 24 Moons 29th Apartment Afro Hub American Hotel Echuca Alpine Retreat Mt Buller Angel Music Bar Bad Decisions Bar 303 Bar Open Barwon Club Bar Oussou Bass Lounge Bendigo Hotel Blackcat Bodriggy · Brown Alley · Brunswick Green · Cactus Room · Cafe Gummo · Caravan Music · Chandelier Room · Chasers · Cherry Bar · Circus Bar · Club Pandora · Color · Commercial Hotel · Compass Pizza · Corner Hotel · Croft Institute · Dog’s Bar · Dr Morse · Eddies Bandrrom · Edinburgh Castle · Electric · Evelyn Hotel · Ferdydurke · Fiftyfive · Fortyfive Downstairs · George’s Bar · Glamorama · Grace Darling Hotel · Grand Hotel Mornington · Halls Gap Hotel · Hotel Nicholas · Howler · Inflation · Irish Times · Jazz Lab · John Curtin Hotel · Labor In Vain · La Di Da · Laundry Bar Fitzroy · Leadbeater Hotel · Longplay · Loop · Lost Ones · Major Toms · Mango Lounge · Max Watts · Melbourne Pavilion · Merri Creek Tavern · Mr Boogie Man Bar · Musicland Fawkner My ONE eon · New Guernica · Nighthawks · Northcote Social Club · One Six One · Open Studio · Paris Cat · Pause Bar · Pawn & Co · Piano Bar · Pier Bandroom · Platform One · Post Office Hotel · Prince Alfred Hotel · Prince Bandroom · Radar · Revolver Upstairs · Rooftop Bar · Royal Oak Hotel · Rubik Warehouse · Saints & Sailors Port Arlington · Section 8 Bar · Shady Lady · Sooki Lounge · Stay Gold Brunswick · Sub Club · Swamplands Bar · Theater Royal Castlemaine · The B.East The Bergy Seltzer The Bridge Hotel The Butterfly Club The Carlton Club The Charles Weston Hotel The Colonial Hotel The Croxton Bandroom The Drunken Poet The Eastern The Espy The Forum The Gasometer Hotel The Golden Vine · The African Horn Café · The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar · The Night Cat · The Old Bar · The Palais Hepburn · The Penny Black · The Pinnacle · The Rainbow Hotel · The Retreat Hotel · The Standard Fitzroy · The Thornbury Theater · The Toff · The Tote · The Tramway Hot el The Wool Exchange Torquay Hotel Tramp Volta Wesley Anne Westernport Hotel Westwood Hotel Whole Lotta Love Workers Club Workers Club Geelong Yah Yahs Yarra Hotel Abbotsford Yarraville Club