The dust is beginning to settle on last week’s federal budget but for some, like the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (AMRAP) who help local musicians get radio airtime on community radio, the battle has only just begun.
Although $64.1 million was allocated to Arts in the budget, with $3 million going towards music, the government has decided not to continue supporting AMRAP, whose current funding will cease in June.
“Amrap is funded through the Department of Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy, and as such does not affect any Arts funding the music sector receives,” says AMRAP’s General Manager Chris Johnson.
“It’s a major setback considering a recent community station census found that Australian music airplay has risen 5% since AMRAP was launched and now averages 37% across community radio nationally.”
Managed by the CBAA (Community Broadcasting Association of Australia), AMRAP assists in supporting home grown musicians by working with 300 community radio stations and reaching over 1,500 broadcasters.
Since 2011, AMRAP’s online music catalogue AirIt, has gained 800 unsigned musicians and over 100 Australian labels. This led to the demand for over 60,000 tracks to be distributed to 200 radio stations.
Their CD Mailout Service has distributed 20,000 copies of Australian CDs to community radio. The updated service, AMRAP Pages has also promoted Australian music through radio websites and social media.
“For many years AMRAP has been a critical national project that provides core infrastructure to boost access and support of Australian music across the entire community broadcasting sector,” says Johnson.
“AMRAP runs on a shoestring and while Senator Conroy seems to be able to find millions to support commercial television and the national broadcasters apparently community broadcasting and its support to Australian musicians can be left out of the equation altogether.”
“Community radio plays such a critical role in the development of Australian musicians”, adds Catherine Haridy, Chair of AMRAP with the Community Broadcasting Foundation, and also Chair of the Australian Artist Managers Association and manager of Australian artists Eskimo Joe and Jebediah.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to see such a valuable project that gets Australian music to radio stations all over the country cast aside at this point and we are determined to work with Government to find a way to keep the project going”, Haridy said.
Talks are underway with Senator Steven Conroy in an effort to get the department to reconsider, but given the governments political decision to try and bring the budget to surplus, any lobbying may be falling on deaf ears.