State of play

Live original music venues in Western Australia


  • Dawn Bennett Curtin University of Technology



Live music, popular music, venues, Western Australia


Just as music is fundamental to the vibrancy of cities and regions, venues are central to music. With a focus on live original music, this project gave a voice to venues across Western Australia, gathering data relating to capacity, audiences, performance activity and genre. Significant barriers to hosting live original music were revealed as overly complex licensing and legislative processes, the gentrification of key entertainment areas and changing musical tastes. Combined, these barriers have resulted in a decline in the number of small to medium-sized venues hosting live original music. Findings, common to many locations, suggest the need for urgent action to develop new audiences, enhance performance opportunities, overcome a dominant ‘cover band’ culture and assist venue managers to find their way through the legislative maze.

Author Biography

  • Dawn Bennett, Curtin University of Technology

    Dawn Bennett is a Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Creative Workforce initiative at Curtin University in Perth, Australia. Her research focus is the working lives and economic circumstances of creative artists, and her research portfolio incorporates Australian and international studies.


Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2010. Western Australian Statistical Indicators, 2010 (cat. no 1367.5).[email protected]/Products/48EBAF6134C05F22C A25774B001DE074?opendocument (accessed 1 July 2010).

Ballico, C. 2009. ‘Regulating the Notes: A Case Study into the Impact of Government Regulation on the Live Music Performances of Perth’s Original Contemporary Musicians’. Unpublished honours thesis. Perth: Edith Cowan University.

City of Perth. 2007. Perth’s Creative Industries: An Analysis. Department of Culture & the Arts, Department of Industry & Resources, Department of Premier & Cabinet, Perth.

DCA (Department of Culture & the Arts). 2006. The Western Australian Contemporary Music Program. Perth: DCA.

—2007. ‘Sound Attenuation Support Program Review 2007’. Perth: DCA.

—2008. ‘Review of the Western Australian Contemporary Music Program’. Perth.

DPI (Department of Planning and Infrastructure). 2008. ‘Department of Planning and Infrastructure, City and Regional Planning. Network City’. au/Plans+and+policies/Publications/273.aspx (accessed 2 July 2010).

Gibson, C., P. Murphy and R. Freestone. 2002. ‘Employment and Socio-spatial Relations in Australia’s Cultural Economy’. Australian Geographer 33(2): 173–89. doi:10.1080/ 00049180220150990

Grodach, C., and A. Loukaitou-Sideris. 2007. ‘Cultural Development Strategies and Urban Revitalization’. International Journal of Cultural Policy 13(4): 349–70. doi:10.1080/ 10286630701683235

Gubrium, J. F., and J. A. Holstein. 2003. Postmodern Interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Henderson, S. 2008. ‘Canadian Content Regulations and the Formation of a National Scene’. Popular Music 27(2): 307–15. doi:10.1017/S0261143008004108

Hoegh-Guldberg, H. 2007. Estimating the Value of the Music Sector. Sydney: Music Council of Australia.,com_kb/task,article/ article,9/ (accessed 2 July 2010).

Homan, S. 2003a. ‘Geographies of Noise: Youth, Live Music and Urban Leisure’. Youth Studies Australia 22(2): 12–18.

—2003b. The Mayor’s a Square: Live Music and Law and Order in Sydney. Sydney: Song Lyric Productions.

—2008. ‘A Portrait of the Politician as a Young Pub Rocker: Live Music Venue Reform in Australia’. Popular Music 27(2): 243–56. doi:10.1017/S0261143008004030

Jacobs, K. 2008. The Live Music Revolution: Putting Live Music Back into Venues. Sydney: Australasian Performing Right Association.

Johnson, B., and S. Homan. 2003. Vanishing Acts: An Inquiry into the State of Live Popular Music Opportunities in New South Wales. Sydney: Australia Council and the NSW Ministry for the Arts.

Jones, R., and M. Tonts. 1995. ‘Policy Change and Social Sustainability: The Case of the Western Australian Wheatbelt’. Conference of the Study Group on the Sustainability of Rural Systems of the International Geographical Union, Tsukuba University, Japan.

Live Performance Australia. 2008. ‘Submission to Review of Export Policies and Programs’. Submission to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, May.

Markusen, A., and A. Gadwa. 2009. Arts and Culture in Urban/Regional Planning: A Review and Research Agenda. Working Paper #271. Minneapolis: Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota.

McCann, P. 1999. ‘Music Sector Value Soars’. The Independent, 14 July. (accessed 12 June 2009).

Morrow, G. 2006. ‘Selling Out or Buying In? The Dual Career of the Original and Cover Band Musician’. In Access all Eras: Tribute Bands and Global Pop Culture, ed. S. Homan, 182–98. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Music Publishers Association. 2005. ‘Live Music Forum’. Publications/Articles_News/Live_Music_Forum.html (accessed 11 June 2009).

NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts). 2006. UK Creative Industries Face Threat from Emerging Nations. London: NESTA.

NMC (National Music Council). 2002. Counting the Notes: The Economic Contribution of the UK Music Business. London: National Music Business.

Norton, Y., and D. Laing. 2000. Nice Work if You Can Get It! A Survey of Musicians’ Employment 1978–98. London: Musicians’ Union UK.

RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). 2004. ‘Year-End Report’. http://www. (accessed 2 July 2010).

Statistics Canada. 2003. ‘Profile of the Culture Sector in Atlantic Canada’. Ottawa: Cultural Statistics Program, Tourism, and the Centre for Statistics in Education.

Stratton, J. 2008. ‘The Difference of Perth Music: A Scene in Cultural and Historical Context’. Continuum 22(5): 613–22. doi:10.1080/10304310802311634

Wardle, J. 2008. A Comparison of State and Territory Legislation and Regulations Pertaining to the Presentation of Live Entertainment in Liquor-licensed Venues in Australia. Sydney: Music Council of Australia.






How to Cite

Bennett, D. (2010). State of play: Live original music venues in Western Australia. Perfect Beat, 11(1), 49-66.