Study to understand community radio’s contribution to Australian music

Monash University has been successful in the latest round of Linkage projects, with the Australian Research Council (ARC) having awarded $218,000 for a three-year study of Australian community radio’s contribution to the Australian music and creative industries.

The project, Community Music Radio: Building the Music-Media Ecosystem, is led by researchers from Monash and Griffith universities in partnership with the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA); the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF); Australia Council for the Arts; and APRA AMCOS.

The project has three core aims:

  • To establish the economic and sociocultural contributions of community music radio;
  • Assess the role of community music stations in the discoverability and visibility of Australian music on global digital platforms; and
  • Produce a series of community music radio station and music artist case studies of diverse music genres and locations.

Monash researcher Associate Professor Shane Homan believes that the sector is long overdue for examination of its links for and to Australian music.

“This funding provides for the first time the opportunity to dig deep into how community stations operate across different music genres and local contexts that can in turn provide a national picture,” Associate Professor Homan said.

Jo Curtin, CBF’s CEO, said they are proud to be a partner in this important project. “Community radio has played a hugely significant role for decades broadcasting and promoting Australian music to listeners around the country. Having a deeper understanding of the positive cultural, social and economic contribution of music radio will be invaluable in our role funding a thriving and resilient sector.“

Kirsty Rivers, Head of Music for Australia Council for the Arts, said, “This research will provide valuable insights into the contribution of community radio, and its role in supporting our diverse and thriving music industry. This comes at a critical time – as the industry works to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and to navigate significant social and technological change. We are excited to partner with Monash University and the CBAA on this ARC Linkage project.”

Jon Bisset, CBAA’s CEO, said, “The CBAA is delighted to be partnering in this project. We have always known that community radio has a unique and important part to play in helping to get Australian music heard across the country. Across our sector, stations play on average 36% Australian music each week.

“This is because stations are deeply connected to and integrated with their local music scenes, with presenters running labels, putting on gigs and building grassroots relationships and networks. We look forward to sharing the results with the wider industry to further nurture community radio’s contribution to Australian music.”

Griffith University researcher Professor Susan Forde said the project was a great opportunity “to really understand the full ecology of the Australian music industry and their audiences”.

“We’ll be looking at opportunities provided to musicians and artists by small, local community radio outlets right through to the ways that the industry can interact with major global streaming platforms. The inclusion of First Nations music and musicians in this project is particularly important and has allowed us to offer research opportunities for early career Indigenous researchers. The project will also include LGBTQI+ and non-binary artists and programmers to really capture the diversity of Australian music.”

Monash University’s Professor Heather Anderson, who is an expert on the modelling of economic productivity, says the project’s emphasis on economic value “will reveal a broad range of beneficial social and cultural activities associated with Australian community radio.” The three-year study is expected to commence in August 2022.