A proposed national arts scheme to benefit Australian arts and education
By David Maegraith, @DavidMaegraith
1. Australian visual and music artists struggle to build awareness of, and revenue from, their art.
2. Australian students of visual arts and music often do not have the chance to promote their works.
Australian big businesses use visual arts and music in their operations, primarily through the use of
stock photos and artwork, and music for on hold and presentations.
However, the vast majority of stock image sites are American, with images produced by
Americans. (For example, iStockphoto)
‘See Hear’ is a proposed scheme to harvest the funds that big Australian businesses already pay for
the use of visual arts and music, to distribute to struggling Australian visual and music artists via a
clever, yet simple and professional scheme.
How it would work
Australian businesses regularly pay artists for their work, for example in the form of stock photos
from websites, to use in marketing materials, and a licence fee to APRA to use music on hold.
Currently businesses are not required to source artwork from Australian artists, and this is where
See Hear would change the landscape.
See Hear is a simple proposal that would involve setting up a large, professionally-managed online
stock library of Australian-only visual artwork – photos, illustrations, videos – and music.
The website would be public and open to anyone in the world to pay to download the artwork;
however Australian large businesses and government agencies would have a special incentive to get
behind the scheme.
Incentive for large Australian businesses and government agencies to support See Hear
As many large businesses and agencies use on hold facilities, these companies and agencies would
be legislated to contribute to See Hear in the form of an annual licence to use Australian-only music
on hold for a fee of $1,000,000 per year.
APRA or a similar agency would be tasked and resourced to administer the music delivery and fee
administration to ensure only suitable music would be used on hold, and the licence fee is properly
However, large companies and agencies will be able to recoup a sizeable portion of their annual fee
through this simple agreement:
Stock images purchased on See Hear will credit towards the annual music use fee
For example, Company A pays the $1m fee to enable all Australian music on hold for a year for their
phone system. This could be set up to be paid quarterly at $250,000. So at the start of the year
Company A pays $250,000.
During the first quarter of the year, Company A decides to purchase stock images from See Hear to a
total of $10,000. (Note this is not an unrealistic figure – often companies and agencies will pay
hundreds of dollars per image from US stock image libraries.)
See Hear pays the Australian artist/s a commission for use of their downloaded images.
Then, a portion – for example 50 per cent – will be credited towards Company A next music on hold
fee instalment of $250,000. In other words, Australian companies and government agencies are
benefiting both Australian visual, and music artists.
A win for all stakeholders!
A note on the music section of See Hear
Of course, only a small percent of Australian-made music is suitable for use on hold. Therefore, it is
proposed that the distribution of the music on hold licence fee is made equitably to all musicians
who are represented in the See Hear library, regardless of whether their music is used on hold.
See Hear is for living artists over 18
The scheme would primarily be instigated to ease the living pressure on Australian artists aged over
18. Therefore, it is proposed that See Hear only lists Australian artwork – visual or music – created in
the last 10 years, by a still-living artist.
Revenue goal $100m = $1m music license fee x 100 companies or government agencies
Expenses: See Hear platform, staff and maintenance, royalties to Australian artists
See Hear for Students
This scheme is also for Australian visual art students and musicians in learning. Australian artists
under 18 years old would still be able to create and upload artwork to See Hear, and sell the works
at market price, however revenue from student sales would be split between their school or college,
and artists over 18 registered on the site.
This would have the twin benefits of:
1. Giving incentive for Australian schools to encourage arts students to contribute to See Hear,
as it benefits the school financially; and
2. Further benefits Australian artists over 18, in addition to the revenue they earn from their
own artwork sales on the site
Appendix –list of large Australian companies that could support See Hear
South Australia Electricity
AMP Bank Limited
Bank of Queensland Limited
Bank of Melbourne
Bank of Sydney
Bank of Western Australia
Delphi Bank Australia
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank
Rural Bank Limited
Macquarie Bank Limited
Members Equity Bank Pvt
National Australia Bank
Mutual Bank (QTMB)
St. George Bank Limited
Teachers Mutual Bank
Bendigo Bank Telco
Public Transport Victoria
Department of Transport
Transport for NSW
Public Transport Authority
of Western Australia