Music of Adelaide includes music relating to the city of Adelaide, South Australia. It includes all genres of both live and recorded music by artists born or living in the city, live music events happening in the city, and other aspects of the music industry relating to Adelaide.

Adelaide is a UNESCO City of Music. It enjoys several annual music festivals and awards, and possibly has more live music venues per capita than any other capital city in the southern hemisphere. Organisations such as Music SA and the Music Development Office, backed by the state government, help to nurture the live music industry and the careers of emerging artists.

Artists of some renown such as Sia Furler, Paul Kelly, Redgum, Cold Chisel, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Hilltop Hoods, No Fixed Address and Guy Sebastian originate from the city.

Live music

2013: Reverb report leads to new support

In 2012, the Don Dunstan Foundation, in partnership with Adelaide City Council, the Australia Council, Arts SA, Adelaide Fringe, the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and Regional Development Australia Barossa, hired British music promoter Martin Elbourne as Thinker in Residence on a project named "Reverb". The project aimed "to create collaboration and unified action for a healthy, more sustainable music scene" in South Australia. A report based on his recommendations was produced in 2013, entitled The future of live music in South Australia.[1][2][3]

As a result of Elbourne's report, the Music Development Office and adjunct St Paul's Creative Centre was created by the state government (then under Arts SA, now Dept of Innovation & Skills) in 2014, with the goal of "build[ing] pathways into creative and industry development, with city vibrancy and economic benefit being the ultimate outcomes", which it does by facilitating grants, fellowships and other means of developing the careers of contemporary musicians.[4][5][6]

A new independent body called Musitec and an advisory body known as the Music Industry Council were also established.[7][8][9][10]

City of Music

Adelaide was awarded a UNESCO City of Music title from the United Nations in late 2015, after an application driven by the Festival Centre, the Music Development Office and Adelaide City Council. It was the 19th city to gain the status.[11][12][13]

In 2015, it was said that there were more live music venues per capita in Adelaide than any other capital city in the southern hemisphere,[14][15] and Lonely Planet labelled Adelaide “Australia’s live music city”.[16]

2017–2020: Live Music Action Plan

In 2017 the City of Adelaide produced a report entitled Adelaide: City of Music: Live Music Action Plan 2017−2020, after holding its first Live Music Summit to coincide with a visit by other global UNESCO Cities of Music on 8 March 2017. The report outlined the council's strategic plan and role in sustaining live music in the city.[17]

Live music events

The city and surrounding area showcases many different genres of music with international and local artists in events such as the Adelaide Festival of Arts, , Adelaide Fringe, the world music festival WOMADelaide (held annually in Botanic Park), the Adelaide Guitar Festival and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Music SA is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1997 to promote, support and develop contemporary music in South Australia, which it does by providing training at many levels, professional development advice and live performance opportunities.[18] Among its other activities, it has run the annual Umbrella: Winter City Sounds event since 2016, growing each year. Described as "a grass roots organic creation that is made up of local venues and mainly local performers", it offered over 350 live events in 2018. In association with the biennial Adelaide Guitar Festival, it presents "Guitars in Bars" each year, as part of Umbrella.[19][20][21]

The touring music festival, St Jerome's Laneway Festival, visits Adelaide each February with a range of contemporary artists, since 2014 at Hart's Mill in Port Adelaide.[22][23]

Classical music

The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1937, with William Cade as conductor.[24] The ASO often plays for the State Opera of South Australia, the Adelaide Youth Orchestra and Adelaide Chamber Singers.[12]

Music education

Music education starts in primary and secondary public and private schools across the state. A number of public schools (19 as of 2019 have been designated "music focus schools" by an Education Department program called Instrumental Music (IM). Some of these are the APY Lands schools, Marryatville High School, and Whyalla High School.[25]

The primary tertiary academy of music is the Elder Conservatorium at the University of Adelaide.

In the south-east of the state at Mount Gambier, James Morrison opened the – a tertiary level, dedicated jazz school offering a degree in jazz performance.[26]

Music organisations

As well as those mentioned above (Music SA, Music Development Office, etc.) there are other organisations based in Adelaide which focus on various aspects of the music industry.

SCALA (Songwriters, Composers, and Lyricists Association) is a non-profit, incorporated association, founded in November 1987 in Adelaide. Its goal is to support and encourage songwriters, composers, and lyricists in any style and genre, regardless of their level of skill and experience.[27] It runs a venue for original music, workshops, the annual FOOM (Festival of Original Music) Song Competition, and regularly releases albums of original music[28] (the 23rd such CD being released in 2015[29]). SCALA also hosts special events, often at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in the inner western suburb of Thebarton, such as "Showcasing Aboriginal Artists" in June 2019.[30]

Awards and events

From 2017–2020, the South Australian Government’s newly established Live Music Events Fund promised funding to the AIR (Australian Independent Record Labels Association) Awards and concurrent music conference, to take place at the Queen's Theatre in Adelaide. The events take place in July, along with Music SA's Umbrella: Winter City Sounds, a program of live music across Adelaide, and a couple of food and wine festivals in the city.[31]

Music SA presents the annual South Australian Music Awards (SAM Awards), which replaced the Fowler's Live Awards from 2015, with support from the Music Development Office, APRA AMCOS and other sponsors.[32][33] The 2019 Awards are to be held at the Bonython Hall in November.[34]

SCALA presents the annual FOOM (Festival of Original Music) Song Competition, with the finals awards event held in September at the Wheatsheaf Hotel.[35][36]

Local radio

Local community radio stations Fresh 92.7 and Radio Adelaide play and promote local music.


Music venues for live music of all types and for musicians at all levels of experience include the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Elder Hall, Adelaide Town Hall, Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre, Lion Arts Factory, The Gov, and a host of smaller pubs, theatres and halls.


(Local names in parentheses for reference)

Musicians of note

Adelaide has produced a number of popular bands and musicians, including Australian hip-hop crew Hilltop Hoods, pub-rock act Cold Chisel (and soloist Jimmy Barnes), and Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian.

Other popular bands include Atlas Genius, Testeagles, Eric Bogle, The Mark of Cain and the Superjesus. American Ben Folds has also lived in the city, inspiring his song titled "Adelaide" from the album Super D.

Electric Fields, winners of the 2016 Emily Burrows Award[39] and Best New Talent in the 2017 National Indigenous Music Awards as well as being a contestant for representing Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest,[40] hail from Adelaide.


The following is a list of some artists, past and present, originating in Adelaide and/or based in Adelaide.

See also


  1. ^ "Meet Adelaide's new musical Thinker in Residence Martin Elbourne". The Advertiser/News Corp. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Martin Elbourne's Live Music Residency". University of Adelaide. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  3. ^ Elbourne, Martin (2013). "The future of live music in South Australia" (PDF). Part of the "Reverb" live music project, with City of Adelaide and other partners, with author being the thinker-in-residence. Don Dunstan Foundation. Retrieved 2 September 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "South Australian Music Development Office recognised in Parliament". Live Music Office. 8 December 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Contemporary Music Grant Program: FAQs". Government of South Australia. Dept for Innovation and Skills. Retrieved 3 September 2019. This program is delivered by the Music Development Office (MDO).
  6. ^ "About". Music Development Office. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  7. ^ Waters, Benjamin (10 September 2010). "A year later: How is the Future of Live Music looking in South Australia?". University of Adelaide. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Musitec". Music SA. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Music Industry Council". Music Development Office. Government of South Australia. Dept Innovation & Skills. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  10. ^ "The Future Of Music In South Australia. Thinkers In Residence Reverb Report by Martin Elbourne". Live Music Office. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  11. ^ Fedorowytsch, Tom (12 December 2015). "Adelaide gains UNESCO city of music recognition". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Live music in Adelaide". City of Adelaide. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  13. ^ "UNESCO City of Music". City of Adelaide. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  14. ^ Sutton, Malcolm (4 March 2015). "Cold Chisel a reminder of SA's music scene before pokies and inner-city apartments 'decentralised' it". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  15. ^ Baker, Andrea Jean (16 May 2017). "Is Melbourne the music capital of Australia? Sydney or Adelaide might pip it to the post". The Conversation. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  16. ^ "South Australian Live Music Venues Open for Business". Music SA. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Adelaide: City of Music: Live Music Action Plan 2017−2020" (pdf). City of Adelaide. 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ Walter, Skye (9 October 2017). "Twenty Years of Music SA!". MusicSA. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  19. ^ "About". Umbrella. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Umbrella Winter City Sounds is Back for 2019!". Scenestr. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  21. ^ "Adelaide Guitar Festival Extends 2019 Guitars In Bars Programme". Scenestr. 2 May 2019. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  22. ^ Kelly Noble (2 December 2014). "Port Adelaide New Home To St Jermone's Laneway Festival". Glam Adelaide. Glam Digital Pty Ltd. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  23. ^ "The 2019 lineup is here!". St Jerome's Laneway Festival 2019. 18 September 2018. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 February 2006. Retrieved 14 January 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) History of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
  25. ^ "Instrumental music education". South Australia. Dept for Education. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  26. ^ "Home". James Morison Academy of Music. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  27. ^ "About". SCALA. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  28. ^ "Songwriters, Composers & Lyricists Association Inc. (SCALA)". SA Community. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  29. ^ Saunders, Matt (9 October 2015). "The Songwriters, Composers and Lyricists Association's 23rd Compilation of Original Music "Brighter Than The Sun" – CD Review". The Clothesline. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  30. ^ Miller, Adrian (5 June 2019). "SCALA ~ Showcases Aboriginal artists: Witness some of Adelaide's finest indigenous songwriters @ Wheatsheaf Hotel: Interview". The Clothesline. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  31. ^ "National music awards to headline winter entertainment in Adelaide". Australasian Leisure Management. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  32. ^ "About". SAM Awards. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  33. ^ "Home". SAM Awards. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  34. ^ "Nominate your favourite artists for the 2019 South Australian Music Awards". CityMag. InDaily. 29 August 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  35. ^ "FOOM". SCALA. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  36. ^ "SCALA - FOOM Song Competition - GRAND FINAL! in Adelaide". Eventful. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  37. ^ "Rhino Room". Adelaide City Explorer. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  38. ^ Wheatsheaf Hotel
  39. ^ "Emily Burrows Award recipients hit WOMADelaide". APRA AMCOS. 9 March 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  40. ^ "aussievision | Post". Aussievision - Eurovision from Down Under. Retrieved 20 July 2019.

Further reading