Petition for radio to play more Australian music kicks off

Former Editor & Content Director

The local music quota debate appears to be rearing its head again, with a petition kicking off online calling for at least 35% Australian music to be played between 6am and 6pm Monday to Friday on Australian radio.

The initiative comes off the back of work by musician Jack River, who recently penned an open letter to media outlets and big businesses calling on them to do more to visibly support Australian artists.

Since then, numerous organisations have tweaked their playlists and issued statements in support of the movement.

The country’s #1 DAB+ station, Coles Radio, said it would increase its focus on Australian music, and Qsic – which soundtracks stores including 7-Eleven – has followed suit.

There is also a petition doing the rounds for corporations to play Australian music whilst they have consumers on hold.

Then this morning, the music industry came together to formalise the movement and push for businesses to do more via the ‘Our Soundtrack Our Stories’ campaign.

This latest petition calls on people to demand the radio quotas for Aussie-made music are increased.

Prior to the petition’s launch, ARIA CEO, Annabelle Herd, told Radio Today that radio is a hugely important platform for Australian music. She noted, however, that she can’t see any radio station in a metro market currently reaching 25% Australian content.

“Radio is still a hugely important platform for Australian music, particularly for emerging local artists to reach mass audiences. A strong local music ecosystem benefits everyone so it makes complete sense for radio and music to work in close partnership,” she told Radio Today. 

“From what we can see though, no commercial radio station in a metro market is currently reaching 25% Australian content, partly due to some anachronistic format and genre rules that determine the level of the quota. It’s also unfortunate that there is no requirement for Aussie music to be played in peak hours.”

She noted, however, that regulation should always be a last resort.

“I would much prefer that we work in collaboration with radio to get these numbers up, and to do as much as possible to showcase and promote our amazing Aussie artists – some of whom are having extraordinary success overseas.

“This conversation, of course, is not just about radio. The Government is currently having a good look at local content policy for film and television including on streaming services. It is time to do the same for music. The local music industry has been hit particularly hard by ongoing COVID restrictions and lockdowns so it is the perfect time to look at how we support, foster and grow the incredible talent we have within our shores.”

The CEO of Commercial Radio Australia (CRA), Joan Warner, meanwhile, defended radio’s position and said the medium is already one of the most heavily regulated in Australia, and anything further would be detrimental.

“Radio is a strong contributor to Australian music and CRA has worked closely with ARIA and APRA AMCOS to develop a definition of Australian music and put in place monitoring to ensure stations are meeting and in some cases exceeding their quotas,” she told Radio Today. 

“Stations provide significant airplay for established and emerging Australian artists. For example, under the rules, stations playing 20% Australian music must ensure that not less than 20% of that music is new Australian music – that is music published within 12 months prior to broadcast. In addition to airplay, stations provide a substantial amount of support for the music industry through interviews, competitions, events and promotion of concerts and other live gigs.

“This all provides an avenue for artists to promote their product and reach the 80% of Australians who listen to commercial radio each week. Radio is all about featuring local voices and supporting local communities. We are already one of the most heavily regulated industries in Australia, particularly in comparison to global competitors, and any further regulations would be unnecessary, burdensome and restrictive.”

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5 Aug 2021 - 1:21 pm

The new Australian music quota needs to be changed too.

‘New’ needs to be more defined: make it less than 6 months old. That way stations can’t hammer songs that are 9-12 months old and meet the quota.

Gives more opportunity to new up and coming artists. Radio will need to find more acts.

5 Aug 2021 - 2:04 pm

When I worked at **** the Group PD would do everything he could to shove Australian Music post 10pm weeknights and late night Sundays. To meet the quotas he would constantly try to bury Aus music.

Ex SCA metro MD
5 Aug 2021 - 3:24 pm

This was always a battle with my PD. I wanted to get more on air and was continuously told no. I was always told to hide the Aussie music 9pm to midnight and the 6am hour on weekend to fulfill our minimum. It would not be uncommon for RNB Fridays to not play a single Australian song all day.

Current PD
5 Aug 2021 - 7:15 pm

As a current PD, I’d stack all my A’s with Oz content if the research showed they were the most popular. But broadly speaking, most Australian music doesn’t test too well. And very rarely will a current Aussie song that gets an add make it to a re-current.

If the streaming services had more regulation around content quotas (I don’t even know how they could make that happen), that MIGHT help the fact that we don’t see many good testing Aussie songs come around by increasing their familiarity.

5 Aug 2021 - 10:33 pm

If only 20% of music is Australian and it’s being over subscribed in off-peak hours anyway, how can it possibly get more familiarity than the 80%+ of songs being actually played in peak times? It’s like not letting someone stand for election and then using that to prove nobody voted for them.

Aussie Music is good
6 Aug 2021 - 8:58 am

Australian music will research if it is played. Enough spins in peak hours and it will become familiar. You would see a spike in Shazams and other chart metrics. (except for iTunes because who cares right?).

The problem is Aussie radio would rather take a punt on an international act rather than an Aussie one. It is a radio culture issue.

6 Aug 2021 - 10:48 am

Nova are actively trying to petition to play less Aussie music

6 Aug 2021 - 12:07 pm

So is SCA. Annabelle Herd needs to be tough on these people and hold them accountable.

Maybe regulation would fix it?

Steve Rockwell Murray
6 Aug 2021 - 1:16 pm

35% shouldn’t be a problem, I mean Australian Radio for Australian Music. As far as Testing Well, poor results come from Broadcasters force feeding International Drivel down the Audiences throats for years. Time to turn it around and Support Australian Artists and Venues, it shouldn’t be up to Triple J and Community Radio to always do it. 35% between 6am – 8pm 7days a week would suffice. As I said Australian Music for Australian Radio. ACMA needs to lay down the rule.


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