Precarity, creative justice and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Victorian music industries
Keywords:COVID-19, Music industries, creative justice, precarity
Prior to 2020, while the music industries in the Australian state of Victoria were gaining in strength and were world-renowned in many respects, they were also characterized as a sector that runs largely on luck and public good will, where many places that had previously offered some security were eroding. This luck ran out in a spectacular fashion with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. This research, based on surveys and interviews conducted during the extended Victorian lockdown, describes the experiences and responses of music workers across the sector to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mark Banks’s concept of ‘creative justice’ is used to examine how the precarious nature of much music-related work prior to COVID-19 created a situation where workers were acutely vulnerable to a crisis of this nature, and where the harms they experienced during this time were compounded by how precarity positions them both financially and discursively. The understanding of precarity as a pre-existing problem in the industry discussed here makes it clear that although the pandemic was experienced as an unprecedented and unique event, the impact that it had on many in the music industries represented an exacerbation and continuation of already-existing issues. Suggestions from participants about how they can be supported in a rebuilding music sector show that questions of justice are forefront in their minds, and should be considered in decisions around rebuilding to prevent talent loss and maintain a diverse music scene.
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