Following an extensive report commissioned by the Music Board of the Australia Council into music recording, aimed at understanding the needs of the music recording sector and what is needed to help it grow, the Australia Council has decided to set up a pilot grant program aimed at assisting indie labels.

The Recording initiative will provide funding to develop, produce and market high quality sound recordings for commercial release, including costs associated with artist fees, recording and production costs, marketing and promotional costs, and administrative costs.

Prepared by Assoc Professor Shane Homan from Monash University and a small team of researchers, the group pulled together the views of a diverse range of stakeholders including all sections of the recording industry: large and small, mainstream and niche; local and transnational.

According to the Australia Council, support for the small to medium organisations that make up the “grassroots” of the industry was consistently identified as vital by those interviewed, from multinational recording companies to individual artists.

There was also a consistent view that access to any direct government support should be made available through a competitive application process. Interviewees endorsed the arms length peer review processes of the Australia Council and the report recommends that any further Australian Government funding for the recording sector should be processed through the Music Board’s application based processes.

According to the report, industry stakeholders confirmed that the local recording sector has been subject to the same structural changes that have transformed the global recording industry in recent years, affecting the fundamental relationships between revenue structures, audience development and artist development.

The report also found that new recording, mentoring, promotion and export initiatives are crucial to ensure the recording sector’s high levels of creativity are maintained and matched by a greater presence in national and overseas markets.

In addition to funding programs there was a strong view that tax incentives, comparable to those offered to other cultural industries, should be available to support the production of Australian sound recordings.

Industry organisations also stressed that further regulatory certainty about the provision of local music content on Australian media platforms, and related copyright protections, would be needed to drive further investment into recorded music.

In compiling the report, the Music Board of the Australia Council found that through discussions with key industry partners ARIA, PPCA, APRA/AMCOS and AIR, that there is great scope for targeted assistance to stimulate small recording businesses across the entire range of music genres and traditions in Australia.

The pilot funding initiative will see the Australia Council set aside $50,000 for a limited number of grants, with the hope that the success of the pilot program will further strengthen the case for increased support for future funding of music recording.

It is envisaged that a minimum of three applications will be funded through this program.

Applicants must at the closing date have an existing catalogue of at least five commercially available releases, from at least three different artists.

Successful applications will propose to produce and release a number of recordings with this funding, over a 12 month period. Applications that propose an outcome of a single recording by one artist are not eligible. If your project is for a single recording, then you should consider applying to the New Work (Writing and Recording) category.

Applications for the new grant close 18 February 2013, and decisions will be advised in April 2013. Funded projects can start from 29 April 2013.

You can read the full report here, or if you’d like more information about the new grant you can read about it at the Australia Council.