We’ve long held a theory that Australian music is the strongest it’s ever been. It not only feels like there’s more great bands than ever, there’s more ways to hear them and engage with them.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world is finally recognising just how great Australian music, with bands like Tame Impala and artists like Courtney Barnett absolutely exploding overseas.
Now if we could just get the local record-buying public to take notice of all the great music happening Down Under, everything would be sweet. Don’t get us wrong, there have been some bright spots.
This year has seen some notable Number 1 albums from Australian artists, including Violent Soho and Flume, and last year saw the likes of Tame Impala get knocked off the top spot by fellow Aussies Northlane.
But that climb up the charts is still a struggle for many Australian musos, regardless of their genre, particularly as far as singles are concerned. But as we said, there are some bright spots to focus on.
As News Corp recently noted, there are currently seven records in the top 10 of the ARIA albums chart, marking the first time that homegrown artists have dominated the chart in such a way in four years.
Human Nature’s Gimme Some Lovin’: Jukebox Vol. II is currently occupying the top spot of the ARIA chart, followed by Let Me Be Clear, the latest EP from Gang Of Youths.
Meanwhile, Hellions are sitting at Number 4 with Opera Oblivia, followed by Zenith from Voice winner Alfie Arcuri. The Avalanches’ Wildflower sits at Number 7, with Delta Goodrem’s latest at Number 8, and Keith Urban at Number 10.
The other three spots are occupied by international blockbusters, like Adele and Beyonce, who sit at Number 3 and 9 respectively. Adele’s 25, it should be noted, is one of the highest selling albums of the modern era.
But our Aussies are still able to give them a run for their money. Though on the singles chart, as News Corp notes, it’s a different story, with just eight Australian songs making it into the top 50 singles.
If you need anymore proof that it’s easier to get a top 10 album than a top 10 single, look at Alfie Arcuri, whose album sits at Number 5 but whose single failed to even stay in the chart after the singer won The Voice.
This may be a commentary on the diminishing returns of winning a reality singing show, but it also illuminates just how different the singles chart is to the albums chart.
For one thing, we’ve seen several low-selling albums make it to Number 1 this year, but singles still need comparatively strong numbers in order to scale the chart, where they compete against big-time international artists.
The highest charting Australian single is currently ‘Papercuts’ by Illy and Vera Blue with the next homegrown single coming in all the way down at Number 18. Flume’s ‘Say It’ is the only other Aussie single in the top 20.
How does one explain this? Well, streaming certainly plays a big role. As News Corp reported last month, ARIA include streaming data in their singles tally, with 175 streams equalling one download.
Thus major artists are able to rank high on the chart or even top it without selling, theoretically speaking, any downloads or physical copies at all. Remove streaming and Drake gets bumped from Number 2 to Number 6.
But the streaming world is of course entwined with major labels, and playlists, home page curation, advertising, international popularity charts, and proprietary radio stations like Beats 1 drive listener demand.
So for now we’ll have just have to celebrate our dominance of the albums chart, though things may soon be about to change once ARIA begins tallying Bandcamp sales, as it has suggested it will.