‘It was hard before and it’s even harder now’

The impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s live music and arts entertainment industries


  • Kat Nelligan RMIT University
  • Pariece Nelligan Deakin University




live music, arts and entertainment, popular music, creative industries, music industry, COVID-19, mental health


This article offers reflections on the impact of COVID-19 on the arts and entertainment industries in Australia, with a specific focus on the music industry. The pandemic has placed added financial and psychological strain on the industry’s workers and performing artists, many of whom were already struggling emotionally with financial instability and job insecurity prior to the pandemic. The federal government’s inadequate financial support for arts workers, and its failure to protect Australia’s cultural and economic assets of live music and entertainment during the pandemic, are discussed. There is a need for a COVID-19 recovery plan that addresses the impacts of the pandemic and pre-existing issues of financial instability as well as the federal government’s undervaluing and underfunding of arts industries in Australia. The article is written from the perspective of the authors’ personal experiences as creative practitioners and researchers in the creative industries, and is based on media articles and research reports published prior to and during the pandemic (2018–2021). 

Author Biographies

Kat Nelligan, RMIT University

Dr Kat Nelligan is Lecturer in Music Industry in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, Melbourne. Her research areas include marketing and branding narratives in pop music, and mental health and wellbeing of music industry workers. Her forthcoming book, Brand Lady Gaga, will be published in 2023 (Bloomsbury). She is a songwriter, music producer and performer who composes music under the artist name of Zaffiri (zaffirimusic.com).

Pariece Nelligan, Deakin University

Dr Pariece Nelligan is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the centre for Research in Educational Impact (REDI) at Deakin University, Melbourne. She is a co-author of the book The Creativity Hoax: Precarious Work in the Gig Economy (Anthem Press, 2018) which examines the creative ambitions and careers of poor and minoritized youth. She has published research on the creative economy and creative vocational aspiration and careers, precarious labour and gig work, youth employment and transitions, and non-formal education and training.


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How to Cite

Nelligan, K. ., & Nelligan, P. . (2021). ‘It was hard before and it’s even harder now’: The impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s live music and arts entertainment industries. Perfect Beat, 21(2), 144–158. https://doi.org/10.1558/prbt.19345