Our research has focused upon those directly involved with different export offices and schemes across different national contexts. However, we acknowledge that there are many ways that artists and artist managers approach exporting their goods and services. For our purposes, we primarily engaged with those who became involved with and through international music market events; how artists and managers fare outside existing export circuits awaits further study. In keeping with the primary focus of our case study nations, popular music was the central context of activities for exporters. While international marketing events such as ClassicakNEXT and Jazzahead have become prominent in their own right, jazz, classical and experimental genres were not a primary concern here. The artists and managers surveyed and interviewed also regarded themselves as professional or semi-professional. While the project focused on the different career stages of musicians, we did not investigate the contexts of amateurs, hobbyists and formal or informal music education-related activities. In relation, the wider tentacles of an export ecosystem—software and instruments, music books, the music (higher- education) sector, online resources and inbound tourism, for example—are not examined in this study.
While there were exceptions, we encountered a persistent problem in attempting to provide a decent picture of the Australian music industiy in general, and its export activities in particular. Despite reassurances from our industiy partners that the project surveys were designed to assist the industry (in providing an export focus for the first time to govermnents and industiy sectors), survey participants were loath to provide economic data relating to their annual incomes. Many participants completed the first two stages of surveys—with questions about types of music activity, locations and so on—while leaving the income data section blank. While this is not surprising, we clearly did not ease participants’ concerns about the ways in which the data were to be (anonymously) deployed.
At the same time, we found general enthusiasm among the various industry workers and administrators about the project. Before and after interviews, we often received “it’s about time” comments from interviewees who believed passionately that the export sector was under-researched. This certainly assisted us in obtaining inteiviews, and for the most part, industry and government interviewees were generous in sharing their experiences and data. On occasion, this provoked repetition of industry or government positions with little deviation from the party line. For some, the interviews were possibly regarded as a “rhetorical strategy” (Hesmondhalgh and Baker, 2011, p. 16). For others, it was an opportunity to reflect more broadly on domestic relationships to other international experiences. As researchers, there was implicit (and sometimes explicit) pressure to “deliver a good narrative” about exports that reflected the same local concerns across different national contexts in relation to funding, opportunities and the overall viability of popular music as a cultural and public good.
Conclusion: “Born Global”?
While we explore the ways in which popular music export activities have become more complex, the basic processes and thinking have not changed since the arrival of rock and roll in the 1950s: A music act seeks aesthetic and commercial approval of their music “product”, where hopefiilly wider recording, performance and genre traditions allow the artist to be “read” by another territorial audience. The music export sector represents a good example of similarly “reading” globalisation, discursively and in practice. The much longer debates about the possible homogenisation of culture (e.g. Tomlinson, 1995) have lessened, perhaps, in the 2000s to more practical questions about how and where the cultural industries can become part of much larger cultural structures. Across film, television, fashion, sport and music, the “nation is not enough”: The cultural industries must increasingly seek markets beyond their borders. For the Swedish government, not only should SMEs seek to expoxt, but we are told that ‘“born global’” industries “such as IT, computer gaming, music, design and trade, start-up enterprises are global from the very beginning” (Government Offices of Sweden, 2015, p. 15).
In this sense, the term “born global” requires some unpacking, where it might entail a series of industrial processes (preparing and executing merchandise, performance and promotional activities for export), a general (industrial) “structure of feeling” about desires or acknowledgement of wider consumption/produc- tion circuits of exchange or as a warning to cultural industries (“you must be born global to survive”). The term first appeared in a report to describe small and medium-sized Australian enterprises in the manufacmring industry that operate globally in a short time after their creation (generally within six years) (Rennie, 1993). Others have referred to “firms establishing international revenue streams after two to three years” or "firms specifically created to go international by design” (Skene, 2017).
In transferring the “bom global” concept to the music industries, we are concurrently investigating many current understandings about contemporary practices, not the least that older pyramid career structures (gradual transitions from local to national to international success) are less relevant in an era of instant streaming success, and where national borders are also less relevant in constructing regional and global audiences. In relation, the range of social and digital media platforms holds the promise of more immediate (and potentially deeper) connections between audiences and artists beyond their immediate national borders. The implications do not simply rest with individual careers or even national markets; they reveal an enormous capacity for not simply producing local inflections of
Figure 1.2 Music export framework.
global genres, but artists from the “outside” actively leading and reshaping them. Rather than dissolving into cliche (“we are all born global now”), in this book we wish to interrogate the extent to which the entrepreneurial instinct has changed for aspiring artists, and the consequences for how the music export is organised, promoted and coded across a range of industrial and governmental contexts.
In relation to the mixture of cultural policy, creativity, media technologies, trade and “nation” themes, this book offers the following central questions as pertinent to understanding the contemporary music export:
- • What are the economic and cultural contributions of the music export sector?;
- • What are the export strategies and practices of artists, managers and related industiy workers?; and
- • What are the entrepreneurial modes of national export activity, including national music export offices and schemes?
Throughout this book, Australian contexts and practices are prominent in discussing these questions. We also examine the same activities in those countries notable for music export activity, amidst the rise in the allocation of resources by industries and governments to capture increased exposure and revenues. In Chapter 2, we examine the global scope of music exports, the impact of different music-media technologies upon the sector and the flows of artists and songs across different territories. In Chapter 3, we look more closely at the structures and mechanisms artists, managers and labels must confront, and the meanings of being “export ready”. Negotiating a range of key players and gatekeepers is significant, and in Chapter 4 we investigate the global circuits of presentation and promotion, and the implications for understanding contemporary networking practices. Chapter 5 examines the emergence of Australian government and industry efforts to export, and the contemporary operations of Sounds Australia as the nation’s export scheme. In Chapter 6, we look at international practices through examination of national export schemes/offices in Norway, Finland, Sweden, France, the United Kingdom and Canada. In Chapter 7, we conclude with key observations about contemporary music export practices by revisiting understandings of “born global”, the significance of ongoing technological change and the potential impacts of COVID-19 for future markets.