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Professor Behind New WAM Research Says Economics Only One Piece of Puzzle

By Jonathon Davidson
Infographic provided by WAM

WA’s music industry is worth nearly a billion dollars according to new research from ECU and WAM, and research member Professor Robert Powell says the economic findings are only the beginning.

Analysis carried out by the researchers at ECU used available data existing in places like X-Press magazine to pain-stakingly count how many gigs there were in each venue across WA for the entire year of 2014.

The study, available via the WAM website, found that the Rosemount Hotel is the single most often played venue in WA, hosting over 700 shows in 2014.

Robert Powell, Associate Professor at ECU’s Marketing and Services Research Center, says that the significant findings are only the first piece of the puzzle in determining specifically how much money the WA music industry makes.

One of the biggest gaps in available data identified by the team of researchers is many performances across WA are relatively low-key and not recorded – a lot of older pub bands are still promoted by chalk on a blackboard out the front.

“A lot of the music that goes on is done in pubs so we don’t have all the info and we need to get a full picture,” he says.

Another element that urges further research is the little investigated societal impact of the contemporary WA music industry.

“This study only looked at the economic side of things … there’s also the social and cultural impact.”

Because the sources of data were limited to ABS data and local publications, there was a strong Metropolitan coverage of data.

Professor Powell also believes that the music scene in regional WA was likely underrepresented, calling for future research grants.

Secondary research including qualitative interviews and surveys are on the cards, as are talks regarding a state-wide database where venues would log performances in the name of ascertaining accurate figures.