International performer Fiona Joy Hawkins says without a paying audience, musicians struggle to make ends meet

Tough gig: Kendall resident and musician Fiona Joy Hawkins said live streaming does not adequately value the work of musicians.
Tough gig: Kendall resident and musician Fiona Joy Hawkins said live streaming does not adequately value the work of musicians.

How can music streaming apps or live streaming videos pay the bills for musicians in a market where eyes and ears are money?

International performer and Kendall resident Fiona Joy Hawkins said without the opportunity to tour and play before live audiences, many musicians are turning to live streaming or apps that take a huge slice of the value out of their work.

Ms Hawkins was performing concerts in China and America in the pre-COVID world. Now she uses a mobile phone to film those same performances.

"Streaming is new and exciting, but after a while it does drop off. There are select people who are making a living from it, but a lot have given up," Ms Hawkins said.

"I get $3.50 for every 1000 streams through songs on music streaming apps and I may get 10,000 streams a day.

"We really are all sitting around waiting for the next format but unfortunately streaming isn't really going anywhere at the moment.

"The listener is happy, it's really great for the listener, but it's not great for the musicians. The walls are coming in on us as musicians."

Ms Hawkins said for the average musician, live streaming is not viable and traditional income made through the sale of albums and CDs is dead.

"To move forward and grow your audience you have to put out a new single once a month," she said.

"The ideal time would be every three to four weeks because the algorithms pick up your song and need at least a two week stretch to get the benefit of the release."

Official China Tour Trailer - Fiona Joy Hawkins.

There are more opportunities for business-minded artists to provide music for sync-licensing in film, television and gaming, provided they have knowledge of copyright law, Ms Hawkins said.

"Musicians cannot just be creatives anymore to make a living. They have to be business people with skills, know how copyright works and know how the industry works," she said.

"It's a juggling act."

Club Muso Mid North Coast, a not-for-profit organisation started in Port Macquarie during 2020, aims to help live music thrive in the region.

Chief executive Mella Miante, who plays in the blues and roots band Barrel Dawg, said there is not enough income in streaming or live streaming for artists to survive.

"I think it's problematic for musicians in general. Unless you have good streaming equipment and connection it's impossible to hold a good stream consistently," Mrs Miante said.

"Live streaming shows work for dedicated soloists, duos or acoustic artists, but it doesn't really work for bands. Obviously this is too difficult for some of the older musicians and we have seen many musicians return to day jobs to survive.

"All of the streaming platforms take their percentage and even if you use 'pay me' style scenario you're asking people reach into their pockets for something they are so used to getting for free.

"We have seen a rise in different online promoters and businesses, where they bring in multiple artists to stream. In those cases artists do get paid, but so do the promoters."

SWEET TUNES: Kendall's Fiona Joy Hawkins. Photo: supplied.

SWEET TUNES: Kendall's Fiona Joy Hawkins. Photo: supplied.

Mrs Miante said artists are also receiving extra pressure to get their licensing and copyrights in order, which is increasingly being cracked down on.

"A normal way for a musician to market their work would be to tour it and use word of mouth. If we are all shut down, how does a normal artist reach those audiences while competing against millions of others trying to do the same thing," she said.

"All these issues are a real problem at the moment. It's the worst I've ever seen it on the Mid North Coast and it's going to be a very long recovery."