We knew the federal government’s attitude towards our arts sector wasn’t what it ought to be after they unveiled their latest budget, which included significant cuts to the Australia Council, who are responsible for handing out arts grants in Australia.
However, we couldn’t anticipate just how out of touch the government seemingly are with artists and particularly musicians trying to make a living in Australia. Case in point, they’ve just launched a website to help explain their 2015 Budget to small business owners.
It’s actually a rather helpful little measure. It explains the budget in plain terms, highlighting the impact it will have on small business owners and on tax, urging small businesses a.k.a. “the engine room of the Australian economy” to invest.
However, as SBS and Triple J presenter Marc Fennell notes, the examples the website uses to help illustrate the tax savings small business owners stand to reap from the budget are just a tad out of touch, if not utterly, mind-bogglingly fanciful.
If a user indicates that they work in the arts sector, they’re given the example of Stephanie (or in our case, Jacqueline), a local musician who “performs in a band that she runs as a small sole trader”. Good on you, Stephanie.
“Stephanie’s taxable income in 2015-16 is $300,065.” Wait, what? “Stephanie will receive a tax cut of $1,000. In addition, any assets that are purchased for a price below $20,000 will be eligible for immediate deductibility.”
Okay, hold up, what planet is the government living on where they think an independent local musician makes anything even remotely in the ballpark of $300,000? Stephanie and her band must be gigging like crazy. King Gizzard, eat your hearts out.
As Tone Deaf reported back in March, far from making low-to-mid six figures, a survey of Australian musicians conducted by the Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN), which acts as a representative body for musicians in Australia, found many musicians actually end up going into the red for their careers.
Of the musicians surveyed by AMIN who receive some kind of income from performing, most earned either $50 – $200 monthly before tax or $200 – $500 monthly before tax. On average, members were earning $1,000 – $5,000 monthly before tax from other hobbies or paid employment.
Despite earning a meagre income from their music, most were still contributing $150 towards their careers. Just 4 percent of respondents indicated they contribute nothing at all towards their music careers. So most musicians in Australia are actually spending money on their music careers.
Also, a 2011 report by Ernst & Young claimed the average income for a professional musician today fell somewhere between $7,000 and $12,000 per year, so not quite the handsome sums that Stephanie, if that is her real name, seems to be raking in.
Meanwhile, a 2013 report by News Limited claimed Australian federal backbenchers take home $195,130. So, basically, the government’s Budget 2015 website seems to indicate that Australian independent musicians actually earn more than Australian MPs.
Oh, and more than your average AFL player, too, who only manage to pull in about $251,559. But about the government’s other examples?
Well, let’s look at Paul, who owns his own bakery. How much does he take in? Nowhere near Stephanie’s earnings, with only $35,460 per year. Grab a guitar and start strumming, Paul.
300k for a "small sole trader" in a band?? Does anyone in the government actually know anyone in the music biz??? pic.twitter.com/HYFHN7iaHU
— Marc Fennell (@marcfennell) July 12, 2015