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May 9, 2011 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

What Does New Zealand Music Month Do?

There is no denying NZ Music Month has had positive effects on the exposure of New Zealand music. The statistics show that there has been a huge jump in New Zealand content on commercial radio over the last decade or so. There are also increases in the sales of New Zealand music in the month of May, with an over 100% increase from April to May 2009. These are significant advances in the promotion and availability of NZ music, and in the fostering of a public that isn’t afraid to like music from New Zealand. No musician (I imagine) would be happy to be liked for being from New Zealand, as much as they would be happy to be disliked for being from New Zealand. Yes, your nationality can have an influence on your music (Don McGlashan’s ‘There is no Depression in New Zealand’ is quite clearly a song with ties to our sweet country), but it shouldn’t be part of the criteria for liking a particular song or band. That being said, if there is a suggestion in the NZ public that music is less creditable because it comes from NZ, this is something that needs to be addressed. And 2% NZ content on commercial radio would seem like a pretty clear indication that something was awry. So the NZ music industry came together to create NZ Music Week in 1997, with the goal of increasing NZ content on commercial radio. And the local content figure of 20% was reached in 2006. But with 19-20% NZ content now a regular level on commercial radio, what is it that NZ Music Month actually does?

The NZ Music Commission runs NZMM, along with a selection of other NZ Music based companies; NZ On Air, RIANZ, APRA, Independent Music NZ, and the Radio Broadcasters Association. The stated goal of NZMM is to “help you get to great gigs, make new musical discoveries, and get excited about your faves from the past” ( The NZ Music Commission states that it is “spreading the word about key releases and live shows directly to the public and also to relevant media nationwide. In addition to this the Commission stages official NZ Music Month events and works with brands and sponsors to integrate as much relevant activity into May as possible” ( Translated, this sounds like, ‘We established a brand to push a goal, unfortunately we reached that goal and now have a marketable brand with nothing focused to market. Shit.’ So the NZ Music Commission altered their goals: “For some years now commercial radio has been playing significantly more local content than they were a decade ago, and the focus of NZ Music Month has changed accordingly.” Of course, nowhere is there any mention of specifics of the altered focus.

NZ Music Month feels as though it has become a brand in itself. There is this entity now, NZ Music Month, that has a self-serving purpose, whose self-promotion has superseded the promotion of the music itself. There are massive posters bearing the black and white targets all over the country, but are we aware of the music, the artists, the bands the recordings, more than we are any other month, or do we become accustomed to the firing range our inner city is transformed into, and any number of slogans? What does this entity, who are very successful when it comes to the public knowing about the fact that May is NZMM, actually DO for NZ bands and artists and performers? The quota, or NZ Music Code, is not specific to May, and is a voluntary code that has been in existence since 2002. Is there any funding for local bands, maybe for advertising gigs? Or putting on shows? NZMM surely has a large postering budget, but it seems it is all spent on its own self-serving agenda. Wouldn’t it be more to the point of their goals to funding poster advertising in some way for shows featuring all NZ artists during May? I would imagine this would be much more beneficial to NZ bands, across a broad spectrum of artists, for anyone who meets the simple requirement of being a NZ musician, and they could get a base foundation for the advertising of their show. This seems like it would get the actual NZ artists attention, with much more ease than Joe Blow realising it is May and therefore NZMM, but not knowing anything other than Midnight Youth are playing at the Auckland Zoo (this is not strictly happening in any sense of the word).

This is not an anti-NZMM piece. At all. We are a small country, with a strong history of cultural cringe unlike any other country in the world, but also with a fantastic broad range of talent across the board. There was and is a need for this talent to be given a boost, to find a place for great music within our culture to be heard and appreciated, and not because its made by New Zealanders but because it is good and that’s why we like it. But if it’s by a New Zealander and that is why we don’t like it, then something has to change. The figures for the increase of NZ music played on radio since the political campaigns of the mid-1990s are enough to portray that there is a sea change towards appreciating music from New Zealand. However, it seems that NZMM has been less about NZ music, and more about NZMM and the large commercial bands being able to play a mid year show. I can’t see how NZMM benefits the vast majority of NZ musicians, and this surely is something that the NZ Commission should focus on rather than their promotion of the Music Month brand.


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  1. shit says:


  2. Monica says:

    Dude, I so agree!

  3. Lottie says:

    Heck yeah bay-bee keep them conmig!

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