2023 Sound Stories

The financial reality of pursing a dream

An empty stage with a full band set up
The stage at UChub, one of the various live music venues in Canberra.

Musicians in Canberra are finding that pursing their dreams of writing, recording, and playing music is costing them thousands out of their own pocket.

While being a musician may seem like a creative and glamorous job, the financial costs involved fly under the radar.

Canberra musician, Gia Ransome, has recently recorded and released her debut single Boots, and while she was able to do majority of her project on her own, her pockets couldn’t cover everything. 

Gia turned to receiving financial support through funds and grants offered by government organisations within Canberra.

She was lucky enough to be a recipient of the Small Projects Grant, which ranges from $500 to $5,000. By receiving this, now she is able to finance the publicity needed to promote her music.

While she was fortunate enough to be a grant recipient, she says others would struggle without it. 

“I just don’t see artists are going to be able to do it, funding themselves, because every release is thousands and thousands of dollars of hard work and money and everything and people are paying this out of their day jobs, but they’ve got expenses too,” she says.

Gia feels many local musicians share the same position.

“The amount of bands who are just stuck playing small venues here just ‘cause they don’t have the funding to record or release music is just insane.”

MusicACT is a government funded organisation that works as a professional development program, and part of their role is to help applicants apply for grants.

Director of MusicACT, Daniel Ballantyne, says it’s the most important way they can support musicians.

“We help applicants and try and give them, I guess, a tactical and strategic advantage in their applications,” he says.

Daniel says funding for contemporary music in Canberra over the past years has been very positive.

Story notes
  • All sound and background effects recorded by Brad McIntosh
  • The majority of live music featured is by local band Nina Leo from their show at The Shaking Hand on 13 April
  • Genesis Owusu was recorded at Groovin’ The Moo 2023
  • Gia Ransome’s Boots is available on all major streaming platforms.