AGSC Covid-19 Affected Survey Results


The survey was sent out to AGSC members and readers of our e-news. Total of around 583 people on subscriber list who are active. Also promoted via our Facebook page and word of mouth.

58 people completed the survey.
85% were members of the AGSC.
15% were non-members but working in the sector as arrangers, orchestrators etc,

40% identified as a screen composer solely, with almost 100% identifying as a screen composer in addition to other jobs such as engineer, arranger, performer, educator, teacher, lecturer, sound designer, session musician and piano technician. One respondent (1.72%) was a writer/director.
Loss of Work and workplace

20.7% reported losing ALL work as a result of Covid-19, with almost half (46.5%) reporting loss of SOME work and 32.7% reporting SUSPENSION of work.
57% of respondents work from home and usually do, with 32.76% saying they NOW work from home and just over 10% who were working at the same workplace.
Government Support and Eligibility

Over a third of respondents 36.21% indicated non-eligibility for government support or income stimulus packages, 31% were unsure and just under one third said they were eligible for some support.
When asked which packages they were eligible for, 32.76% said Jobkeeper, 5.17% said JobSeeker, and over 55% gave no response, indicating they most likely did not know. A small percentage thought they were eligible for both JobKeeper and JobSeeker while 3.45% were working overseas and not able to apply or were supported by someone else so they didn’t need to apply.  3% were applying for a government resilience grant (AustCo etc).
When asked which packages they were NOT eligible for, 53.7% answered either Jobseeker, Jobkeeper and Govt Grant/Jobseeker  or a combination of all or any(more than half of respondents).  A number of respondents didn’t not answer this question which may indicate they didn’t know which type of support they were eligible to apply for.
Reasons for not being eligible for all three types of support included:
“Working contract to contract”;
“Registered with an ABN for under 12 months”;
“Full-time freelancers with multiple employers and still teaching but now on-line.”
Those who were not eligible for Jobseeke (8.62%)r included reasons such as:
“earn too much”;
supplementary income from APRA/AMCOS (publishing royalties) prohibits it”.
Those who said they were not eligible for JobKeeper said they were:
“unable to provide relevant documentation as company only 12 months old; company tax not due until May 2020 but application required it to be done by March 2020”;

  • “ I am a sole trader”;

  • “ Unable to show diminished income in assessment period”;

  • “need to have worked for a single employer for 12 months past; unable to prove 30% reduction in income, having been a student this time last year and a newly set-up business this year”;

  • “Because I run a small business with an ABN”;

  • “Because I’m a sole trader who hasn’t yet lost ‘enough’ income.”

Lost of Income

Over a quarter (25.86%) of respondents estimated losing 76-100% of income in the next 6-12 months.
17.24% estimated a loss of 51-75% and around a third (32.76%) estimated losing 26-50% of income, with nearly 20% saying it was too difficult to estimate at this point. Over 75% estimated losing at least 25% or more of income and nearly 50% estimated losing up to 50% of income.
In terms of dollars, this equated to:
Just under 21% estimating a loss of $5-$15K
Just under 21% estimating a loss of $16-$25K
22.41% estimated a loss of $26-$50K and
15.52% a loss of $50-$80k.
A very small percentage estimated a loss of over $80K.

82.76% said they would not lay off staff over the next 3-12 months, which is possibly due to the fact that screen composers mostly work in isolation and as sole trading entities or contractors. Just over 5% said they would lay staff off.
Sub-contractors (session musicians, assistants, orchestrators etc.) were the big losers in this section, as over 85% of all respondents said they would be unable to hire between 1 and 50+ contractors. 41.38% said 1-5 people would not be hired, with 17.24% unable to hire between 6-10 people.  
Related to this, subcontractor fees lost and not paid were estimated as:

22.41%   <$5K
20.69%    $5-$15K
13.79%     $16-$25K
18.97%    $26-$50K
3.45%      $50K+
8.62%       too difficult to estimate
Other Loss of Income

Other loss of income, including projected income for the next 6-12 months (which comes from various sources for screen composers, including performance royalties, cinema releases of films and projects yet to be contracted, was also significant with half the people reporting a projected loss between $5K and $50+K.   Less than twenty per cent (18.97%) thought they stood to lose between 0 and $5K and 31.03% found it too difficult to estimate at this point.
18.97%     <$5K
20.69%     $5-$15K
10.34%     $16-$25K
5.17%       $26-$50K
6.90%      $50K+
31.03%      too difficult to estimate
Resumption of regular work

  • When asked how long it would take before they could resume regular work as as a screen composer, almost two thirds (67.24%) thought it would be 6+ months, with only 12.07% estimating 4-6 months and just 15.52% estimating between 1 and 3 months

  • Specific comments about how work has changed for screen composers personally were illuminating to say the least.

  • “… all projects have either paused production or completely gone away…”

  • “with the suspension of the Australian content obligation [for the FTA broadcasters] I suspect that there may be no further work for up to a year…”

  • “I was due to go to X to sound design and compose for a feature film – for 3 months – cancelled, $300,000 lost income”.

  • • “Screen composers work is erratic to start with but the impact of COVID-19 means that nothing is going into production. As sound and music are at the back end of production it's likely we will be unemployed for some time. I supplement my composing work with playing live and that is no longer an option either.”


  • • “I was about to start work on a 20-part children's television series.  However, lockdown occurred with only two weeks left of filming on block 1 (Eps 01-10) of the series.  Because the episodes are shot out of sequence this meant that we had no complete episodes and therefore all post production had to cease.  I just lost $80,000 of work, a portion of which would have gone to subcontractors.”

  • “Work I have performed and completed and delivered prior to CVD19 is not being paid for - "waiting until after" CVD19 is over before they pay me.”

  • “It has had a very big effect on my livelihood. This is my passion, and I love what I do. Being unable to conduct my business, due to COVID19 is incredibly de-stabilising. The fact that we don't know when this will resume is very worrying. In practical terms, the series I was about to start has been suspended with no clear indication of when production will resume. It was mid shoot. I am also affected as I will now struggle to pay my studio rent (have asked for a rent reduction), have moved my studio home, to accommodate my child's online schooling, and generally feel like a non-essential part of society right now. This is not the optimum conditions for creativity, and whilst I was previously prolific in my writing, I have suddenly come to a grinding halt.”

  • • “The biggest issue for me is that fact that my work has been suspended. This means I technically haven't lost the work, however it is also uncertain when and if it will resume. And whilst I wait, I am not earning any money and unsure where to look and how to find work. In the meantime, some of the contracts are being amended to accommodate the change of situation with COVID 19 (as this may not technically come under a force majeure).”

  • “I am a freelance musician, film TV, gaming composer, music tutor and band leader. So I earn money from multiple types of music work.  As a session musician I have lost a few sessions that were booked in.  As live musician I have lost numerous gigs that were booked in and many more that will now not be offered due to venues, festivals and events closed and cancelled indefinitely.  As a composer it is hard to collaborate and work with producers and session musicians for projects. Although some gaming work I can continue remotely as I have mostly done in the past this way.  As a music tutor, I have been fortunate enough with the approval of schools and co-operation of students to be able to continue teaching private lessons via Zoom and Facetime. Although I expect quite a few cancellations and discontinuations from families that I cannot afford it as the year progresses.”

  • “I had a feature film ready to be shot in September/October. At this stage it is still unclear if it can be shot both from financial reason and Covid restrictions. This means by the time it gets to me in post it will be delayed further.”

  • “Due to the dire circumstances and necessary restrictions imposed by the COVD19 pandemic, two potential films and at least one TV series slated for this year have either disappeared, or have been postponed indefinitely. This has resulted in considerable losses of work opportunities and income deficits, not only for myself, but also for the many musicians, singers and highly skilled associates in my team, who are all now mostly unemployed; a net loss of many hundreds of hours of paid work, and losses of income totalling well into a healthy six-figure range.”

  • “…. looking past what I already had lined up over the next 1-2 months, there will undoubtedly be a long-term lag in screen composing work for the next 6-12 months because of the halt in screen production that will likely extend for some time due to the difficulty of re-opening sets with social distancing protocols. I estimate this industry-wide scarcity of work will cause a significant drop in my earnings for the latter half of this year, and possibly beyond, depending how long it takes for the industry to get back on its feet.”

  • “Session recordings delayed indefinitely with some relocating overseas due to Covid. Lost up to 40% of planned work indefinitely, up to 50% pay cut on continuing work. "

  • “I am assigned to a feature film production as the composer but the film is yet to be shot and has been postponed indefinitely. “

  • “I was working as an assistant to a composer overseas and (currently in Sydney for other reasons). A couple of days after I arrived, I received a call that all projects were on hold indefinitely and therefore, there was no work for me for the foreseeable future. I'm employed on a project-to-project basis. We were about to start work on two really exciting projects - a TV show and a film. It would be my first time working on a TV series … Losing this job is pretty devastating as it has taken years of work and networking in the USA for me to be able to get this gig. … I'm still paying my rent there which is a huge financial strain."


  • “It's still early days but I believe the mental health impacts of living with a global pandemic have yet to be acknowledged. Anecdotally people seem to be sleeping erratically. I have experienced panic attacks on a couple of occasions.  Additionally the recent relaxing of Australian content quotas means that when things do go back into production there will be less work. We are facing protracted uncertainty. We may no longer have a viable future."

  • “Our industry is very interconnected and uses multiple contractors who are currently ineligible for government assistance. Out whole industry needs more support at this time.”

  • “It's a very stressful time, and like the rest of the world, I have been very fearful. When the reality of the pandemic first hit earlier this year, I was initially anxious, overwhelmed, and depressed about the potential long term impacts for the world, and for our industry. After much soul-searching, I am resolved to overcome the negatives, and focus on the positives. With solitude and reflection, we can find peace, and embrace the time for reflection, nurture and self-improvement. I remain optimistic, and hopeful that we can bounce back.”

    Our industry is very interconnected and uses multiple contractors who are currently ineligible for government assistance. Out whole industry needs more support at this time."

    Prepared by Annie Parnell for the AGSC​​Page 1 of 2

USEFUL LINKS - click each to get more info


Department of the Arts - General and Income Support Information


Government Stimulus package Income Support for Sole Traders and Small Business

ATO & Jobkeeper Payment



The Support Act Wellbeing Helpline is a free, confidential counselling service that is available to anyone working in Australian music (all genres), or the Australian Performing Arts, who needs to talk to someone about any aspect of their wellbeing.



Early Performance Reports and payments information

Live Streaming Music Licencing under Covid-19 lock-down





Update from Graeme Mason, CEO and Covid-19 Emergency funds and other information

Screen NSW

Screen Victoria

Screen QLD


Screen Tas

SA Film