Hard News by Russell Brown


You don't know what you've got till it's gone

So Simon Grigg was inspired by Andrew Dubber's Deleting Music website ("How the music industry is erasing culture in the digital age") to revisit a theme he's explored before – the need for a good New Zealand music archive project, to preserve not just popular music, but the media and imagery around it.

We're doing a little of it by digitising and streaming music videos at NZ On Screen (although I shall not rest until Sharon O'Neill's 'Asian Paradise' has been added), but a real music archive would need to do more than that. There are original masters mouldering, and important recordings in danger of simply being lost for good.

Fortunately, the legal deposit requirements will mean that there are copies of at least some of the recordings in relevant archives, but a popular culture archive needs to be about dissemination as well as preservation. I'm up for any sort of discussion about this, especially if the big music companies can get over their squeamishness about public-good archives.

I think Andrew sums it up nicely:

My concern is that because music is only represented as an economic force at a policy level, decisions are being made that threaten our collective cultural capital. And sadly, most of these decisions are being made purely in the short-term interests of corporations, rather than in the interest of citizens, for the preservation or propagation of culture – or, for that matter, the good of artists.

In following this path, we are quite literally Deleting Music.

Let's stop doing that.

PS: The top post on Andrew's site has me all giddy: although many original masters have been lost or erased, a compilation of reworked classic 80s Chicago house tunes is being prepared for release in January by DJ History. I'll buy that for whatever music costs these days.


It's Fair Go's season finale on Wednesday – and the last hurrah for Kevin Milne – so we're getting out of their way and making Media7 on Tuesday evening instead. Our guests are Chris Bourke, the author of Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964 and Nick Dwyer, the presenter and co-creator of Making Tracks, whose second series starts on C4 next week.

I'll talk to them about their respective works – which I think both use muisc as a means of exploring society, culture and technology – and we'll finished up contemplating the demise of Real Groove and the ways we discover music now.

If you'd like to join us tomorrow (remember, that's Tuesday), we'll need you at the Victoria Street entrance of TVNZ by 5.30. Drop me a line if you're coming.

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