Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Friday Music: Good ideas and grumbles

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  • Russell Brown,

    The full text of Don McGlashan's response to Blink's Playing Favourites interview with Kim Hill, which was read out in part last Saturday:

    Blink is one of my NZ Music heroes. Live music in this country needs advocates, and there are few as tireless, imaginative and fearless as he is.

    The book is a robust rattling of the status quo. His “Two Shows - One Night” plan is a great idea, and his dissection of the relationship between the liquor industry and live music is timely and accurate. A true grass-roots activist, his enthusiasm for manning the barricades and throwing paving stones at the bourgeoisie is always backed by a sound understanding of why he’s fighting: it’s because he believes music is essential for the human soul, and for the soul of the community.

    I believe in the same things, but I have to say that, in his section about APRA and PPNZ, while he makes some good points, much of what he says isn’t right. His main beef seems to be with the way APRA deals with money collected from businesses who play background music. He feels it should go precisely to the writers who’ve had their music played. It’s a good idea, but it’s simply not possible with the technology we have right now. The fact that most hairdressers and cafe owners are now happy to pay One Music a small fee at the end of each year to play music in their venues is the result of years of hard work on the part of APRA and PPNZ (who’ve now combined into One Music to make things easier). The fact that those same hairdressers and cafe owners now recognise that music adds value to their businesses - that real people actually write and record music and need to be paid for it so they can write more - is a great step forward and something to be really proud of. If the same hairdressers and cafe owners were also forced to log every song they played, they just wouldn’t do it, or they’d just refuse to play anything at all. Some kind of music watermarking - where everything that’s been recorded and released gets a unique identifier, which can be read by a black box, matched against a global database and tallied up - is not far away, but until that day, other, less perfect, ways have to suffice. Sure, using radio-play data as a way of working out how to distribute background music income to writers is inaccurate, but it’s the best idea that anyone’s come up with yet.

    He also criticises One Music for demanding background music fees from record stores. Not so. Record stores that play the music they sell aren’t required to pay a licence and never have been.

    Remember, APRA isn’t a record company, or a government agency, it’s a society, that comprises the vast majority of writers of music in NZ and Australia. As collection societies go, it’s one of the best in the world, and the fact that it’s the only such society in this part of the world - and it’s been around so long - means that it’s recognised by businesses and government as a respected voice that represents its members. It means that APRA can lobby governments to better protect copyright, and work with big businesses like radio or TV networks, internet companies and airlines to get a fairer deal for music. Blink seems also to suggest that independent collection societies could start up and challenge APRA’s operation, which is true, but one lean entity makes a lot more sense to me.

    Finally, Blink wraps up with a general broadside at the APRA Silver Scrolls, which he says is wasteful and pointless. I certainly don’t agree with him on this. The Silver Scrolls is one of the few major events on the music industry calendar that truly prioritises music and the craft of music writing. Part of APRA’s charter is to spend a small percentage of what it collects on advocacy, grants and recognition of excellence in music. Musician's lives are pretty fragile economically; we need to celebrate what we do, and most people who go to the Silver Scrolls come away glad of that opportunity to celebrate, and glad of the chance to connect with other writers. As events of its kind go, it’s also good value for money. Awards ceremonies are important for all the different sectors in our music scene, and APRA supports a large number of them. The Taite Awards, the Pacifica Music Awards, the Waiata Maori Music Awards, and the Country Music Awards provide milestones, inspiration and a sense of cohesion to those different communities of writers, and they’re just a few of the events that APRA helps make possible.

    Overall Blink makes a leap: from the realities he identifies with background music collection and distribution, plus his general uneasiness with APRA’s monopoly status, plus his vehement antipathy to the Silver Scrolls - to the statement that APRA is a corrupt, inefficient organisation that rips off musicians. It’s an athletic leap, and I think an unjustified one. As APRA NZ Writer Director I represent Kiwi songwriters and composers on the APRA board, which means I sit in on endless board meetings, and see the operation of the society and management up close. I have to say I’ve never run across such a committed, high-minded organisation, nor one so given to relentless self-examination. It does really good work - mostly behind the scenes - for its members, and for music in general. APRA needs people like Blink to challenge it. We’re on the same side, sticking up for the value of music in the face of all those all those forces that are out to devalue it. I hope Blink brings his ideas to APRA; they’ll certainly be listened to and acted on.

    Don McGlashan July 2014

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Also, the kind of venue Blink writes about pops up in Palmerston North - the Kickstarter-funded Great Job.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The full text of Don McGlashan's response to Blink's Playing Favourites interview with Kim Hill, which was read out in part last Saturday

    Wow, that was a really great effort. It seems to me, from the outside, a lot of organizations could learn from APRA when it comes to genuine and constructive engagement with its critics.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I've also read Blink's book and it occurred to me that it should be more accurately titled "The Problem with Live Music in New Zealand..." as most of the book is about the ins and outs of the live music scene.

    I like that Blink has written it and there are a lot of good ideas in it. From what he's written, it seems that there are a lot of easy improvements that could be made to the NZ live music scene, so I'm hoping that it inspires people to make changes. I'm with him on the crazy low admission prices bands charge. $5 for a gig? That's what I was paying in the mid '90s, - and even that was cheap student prices. It's nuts that a band wouldn't charge at least $15 today.

    I have no issue with the Silver Scroll awards. The performances are usually quality and APRA always put videos of the night online. And it's not just the one Silver Scroll award - there's also the contemporary music and Maori composition awards, the most performed awards, the Hall of Fame award - as well as the three genre awards presented earlier in the year.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    My response to Dons thoughtful response below.

    Holy Crap, Don knows who I am? I always suspected maybe he was wondering why Pearl was going to Wellington every February… but very flattered by those amazing words.

    I am really stoked that Don has pointed out some other ideas from the book. I have been trying to pull back on my discussion with people about the APRA essay as the book is way more than that one essay.

    He feels it should go precisely to the writers who’ve had their music played. It’s a good idea, but it’s simply not possible with the technology we have right now.

    The technology IS we need is already here. I don’t think using this tech is the answer as yes it would could cost money to implement for the businesses in question, but to say we don’t have the technology is so mistaken and a massive problem when a company like APRA need to be well ahead of the curve in every regards when it comes to music reporting and data. They could very well be looking at ways to implement that technology on a massive scale and making it cheap, but to my knowledge they aren’t. Some businesses (overseas), especially clubs already implement this tech, but yes, I don’t think it’s the answer

    It is VERY important that artists are paid for the broadcasting of their music, I have never complained about this, its why I’ve paid so much money to APRA over the past decade. I’m just tired of seeing it go to the wrong people when it doesn’t need to. I think its great we're in a position now that so many companies are paying their fees...seems a good opportunity to ensure it gets done right.

    Sure, using radio-play data as a way of working out how to distribute background music income to writers is inaccurate, but it’s the best idea that anyone’s come up with yet

    “The best idea anyone’s come up with yet”. Really? Who has been asked? The reason using radio-data is because it’s easy and means those already getting paid, get more, so are happy with APRA so won’t kick up a stink – it’s the very definition of a rich get richer, poor get poorer system. I bought together a team of ground breaking software developers to meet with Ant Healey and he never asked them once for their ideas – and still hasn’t.

    APRA have removed a very misleading line from their website “APRA and PPNZ ensure that this license income is distributed back to the appropriate license holders” since the publication of my essay – even though I bought this up with them privately before publishing the essay (nothing happened till I went public). Their removal of this line makes it clear they see how it is misleading, - however, rather than removing the line, they should have just tried to make the line true.

    The past six months I’ve been visiting many cafes and restaurants and much to the chagrin of my girlfriend, moaning about how the music they are playing is not reflected on any radio station I am aware of – rock, easy listening, pop, student etc.. Mostly the music I’m hearing is most accurately reflected in playlists from access and community radio stations, who I’m sure have very minimal influence over what is paid out. Just have a think about the last time you went to a restaurant (not counting fast-food joints) and heard something you hear played often on the radio. I hear mainly background, ambient music. In cafes I hear reggae, soul, motown, local singer-songwriters etc..

    He also criticises One Music for demanding background music fees from record stores. Not so. Record stores that play the music they sell aren’t required to pay a licence and never have been.

    I promised a particular record store I wouldn’t bring them into it, and yeah, I acknowledge that them receiving an invoice from OneMusic may have been a mistake (after all, APRA don’t seem to be aware of accurate record keeping systems). I was pointing out why Record Stores shouldn’t be charged and yes, and glad that OneMusic don’t, though, It was simply to lead onto another part of the essay where I talked about rather than OneMusic demand money from businesses to pay money (of which they can’t collect accurate data) – that they start looking at businesses as broadcasting opportunities and just like how record stores promote the music they sell, getting more businesses involved in the selling and promotion of music. Just an idea I threw out there.

    Remember, APRA isn’t a record company, or a government agency, it’s a society, that comprises the vast majority of writers of music in NZ and Australia. As collection societies go, it’s one of the best in the world

    “It’s one of the best in the world?” Yet, they admit their collection processes aren’t entirely accurate. Haha, what criteria exactly does it require to self proclaim yourself the best in the world? Shit, if all it takes is being inaccurate and making assumptions – I’m one of the best authors in the world.

    Blink seems also to suggest that independent collection societies could start up and challenge APRA’s operation, which is true, but one lean entity makes a lot more sense to me.

    I just threw that out there. Having one company can be a great idea, however, that company needs to be transparent so as not to abuse monopolistic practise. Especially when they are not even transparent to their members.

    Finally, Blink wraps up with a general broadside at the APRA Silver Scrolls, which he says is wasteful and pointless. I certainly don’t agree with him on this.

    Musician's lives are pretty fragile economically; we need to celebrate what we do, and most people who go to the Silver Scrolls come away glad of that opportunity to celebrate

    My opinions on this event reflect many (outside of those based in Auckland and not heavily involved in the music industry) and yeah, I totally agree that there should be celebration of a “song”, however, award ceremonies tend to alienate those not involved and the Silver Scrolls do alienate many and create more of an “us against them” mentality which we don’t need. However, my principle beef was paying money to APRA, not seeing who it was going to and seeing these events happen which have nothing to do with the songwriters that should be receiving the money. God, I care so little about award ceremonies, they are so unimportant to me and irrelevant to most.
    It is an illustration of one of the myriad of ways in which the “industry” spend money pointlessly though. The awards would be just as well served with a gig at The Kings Arms and charging a cover to pay for the bands, not costing anyone any money. Just like how the NZMC spend a bunch of money putting on events at showcase festivals where you could just get some local to book a venue and put on a sweet show for any NZ bands there…achieving close to the same result for no dollars.

    "Musicians lives are pretty fragile economically; we need to celebrate what we do” as Don says, I agree that musicians lives are fragile economically, how does an awards show help with the economic situation? I am really struggling to see how this fixes things. How does taking money AWAY from musicians to celebrate a few help anyone’s economic situation, other than the winner of the award (if there is a cash prize) and the bands who performed at the event (assuming they got paid). I am pretty confident I could come up with hundreds of ways to help musicians struggling financially with the amount of money APRA spend on the Silver Scrolls…the first idea that comes to me? Give the royalties to the songwriters like you’re meant to ;)

    Overall Blink makes a leap: from the realities he identifies with background music collection and distribution, plus his general uneasiness with APRA’s monopoly status, plus his vehement antipathy to the Silver Scrolls - to the statement that APRA is a corrupt, inefficient organisation that rips off musicians.

    I still maintain this. Paying for Camp A Low Hum each year I’ve been paying fees for bands who play and am never shown where this money goes. I’m told songwriters who aren’t members would get chased up if not members, they aren’t. Telling me who is getting the money I’m paying seems to be too much for me to ask for. APRA’s reporting to songwriters is so bad, they don’t even know if they’ve been ripped off by an event. Just as I am unable to get a report to see where my fees are going, on bands statements they never even get to see if they got paid from Camp or not, so if I didn’t pay, they wouldn’t be able to chase me up.

    This sort of reporting seems mandatory, and for a company who is one of the “best in the world”, to not be able to report accurately where their income is coming from to their members, when they have that very information – seems ridiculous.

    It does really good work - mostly behind the scenes - for its members, and for music in general. APRA needs people like Blink to challenge it. We’re on the same side, sticking up for the value of music in the face of all those all those forces that are out to devalue it. I hope Blink brings his ideas to APRA; they’ll certainly be listened to and acted on.

    I have been very impressed at how in the past few weeks APRA have really taken my ideas seriously and my email discussion with Anthony I feel may lead to some real results, however, I have bringing up some of the same issues I have been trying to get attention from APRA for numbers of years. It is sad that it took me having to write a really inflammatory essay for them to acknowledge the same things I’ve been saying all this time.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    I have been very impressed at how in the past few weeks APRA have really taken my ideas seriously and my email discussion with Anthony I feel may lead to some real results, however, I have bringing up some of the same issues I have been trying to get attention from APRA for numbers of years. It is sad that it took me having to write a really inflammatory essay for them to acknowledge the same things I’ve been saying all this time.

    Yeah, I guess, if that's what it it took. But in my experience Apra have always been fairly open and engaged. They were quick to offer reasonable licences for online use of music, for example.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    Thanks for the write-up Russell. Very much appreciated. A few things I wanted to clarify.

    I think there are some issues with some of the ideas -- do we really need a whole lot of barebones recording studios? Is there really a shortage, and how will people with existing businesses feel about the government handing out money to start-ups to compete with them? -- but they're worth looking at. I'd give Blink money to try out his ideas and see what worked in practice.

    I don’t think I made quite clear what I was proposing with these “studios”, but I was encouraging more the creation of community spaces which happened to be based around a studio (i elaborate more about these spaces being used for video creation/radio stations etc..). I feel there is a lack of community in the scene these days and central points where musicians and hang out and interact is key to restoring that. Yeah, the studio funding idea was fairly pie-in-the-sky, but ya know, just wanted to get people thinking about long term ideas.. Places like this particularly in smaller towns could really help build community around them.
    However, the ideas that were important to me in that essay was the community radio stations idea and also the touring schools idea - ie: developing new audiences rather than exploiting current ones

    The first thing to note is that the title is really patronizing to all the songwriters who do know what's going on and understand why they're Apra members

    All the APRA members I talked to had no idea that APRA charged businesses for background music and then distributed this according to radio data but strongly implied to businesses that it was paid to the “appropriate rights holders”. Yeah, my wording was strong, and I didn’t talk to every member, but haha, like APRA, I had to make an assumption based upon a sample number ;)

    Pretty much all the people I know who've stayed in music rely to some extent on music rights income via Apra.

    And this is the very point. APRA and their distribution of income is VERY important to NZ musicians. Is it wrong to ask for some transparency and accountability?

    The fee schedules range from $12.65 per day live music is featured at a small venue to $19.55 for a big room. This doesn't seem as unreasonable to me as it does to Blink, but I guess I'm not running a music venue.

    If running a music venue cost JUST sub $20 a day, sure, it would be no issue, but this adds on to all the other daily overheads and works out to thousands a year ( and I doubt any venue is gonna smile at getting a bill asking for a few thousand dollars a year). But AGAIN, haha, the issue is not necessarily paying the fee, it’s that there is no reporting showing me that the money even gets paid out. Who are we even paying the fee too? Venues never get to see where the money goes, and THAT is the problem.

    There's potentially a further problem if the live music fee is levied and the acts that play on the night aren't Apra members. But there's a way around that, even if the artists are members: both users and creators of music can opt out in various ways. It's quite a flexible system. Not all performing rights organisations do this kind of thing.

    The opt out clauses are very rigid and shouldn’t be required. How about there is just some simple transparency. Something simple like music venues are asked to pay this in advance, then after a year, all those songwriters who don’t claim or hand in returns etc, well, the venue gets the money back that isn’t paid out to members? There are many other ways to make the system better, that is just one idea.

    But I don't think any of that justifies the repeated use of phrases like "crooks and gangsters" and "extorted", or the outright pissiness about other Apra activities: its various scholarships and grants and the Silver Scroll Awards.

    Yeah, I was trolling, definitely, but haha, if you’d paid them the amount of money I have over the past decade and seen nothing happen when you’d asked for fair requests, well, haha, you’d be pissy too. I never really call them gangsters, just ask the reader to consider if what APRA is asking is similar to how a gangster operates. I am certainly not the first to compare the actions of PRO collections agencies to the operations of gangsters and I won’t be the last.

    Would Blink really prefer that Apra and RMNZ completely turned their backs on the New Zealand music scene, did no good deeds and sent the money offshore instead?

    Sure, haha. They already send a ton of money offshore already that is “potentially” meant to go to local artists when using radio data to evaluate background music, so why just stop there?

    I am pretty sure music in NZ would continue just fine without those awards

    The reference to a the Silver Scrolls as "a lavish, alienating joke of a ceremony celebrating ONE song" is ridiculous. The great thing about a Silver Scrolls ceremony is that each finalist's song is reinterpreted and performed on the night by another act -- often a young band or singer who gets a good fee for doing so. The event itself is free for members, but it's not really "lavish" and calling it a joke is pretty much trolling

    Yeah, you’re right, definitely trolling and I can see how some really enjoy the event - though from my end, it’s just another boring award show and services the same end as all other awards show. Haha, one of the essays I left out of the book was detailing how I would do an awards show, but it’s something I might launch in the next year or two…if I don’t, I’ll publish the essay and someone else hopefully run with the idea. It’s nice to acknowledge important influences yearly, but the way it’s currently done leaves a lot to be desired. Haha, stay tuned ;)

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    I've also read Blink's book and it occurred to me that it should be more accurately titled "The Problem with Live Music in New Zealand..." as most of the book is about the ins and outs of the live music scene.

    You've very right, though, haha, it would have made that ridiculous title even longer and yeah, not referenced as clearly the essay which inspired it, but yes - it is predominantly focused on "live music".

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    NB. I've been working on this award concept of mine since 2009. I'm really happy with it. I spent ages working out what awards were meant to be about, what people wanted, what should be achieved and the best way to make it fair and transparent and reflective of an entire year of music through multiple genres, scenes and communities. Excluding none but still effectively highlighting the significant achievements of the year.

    I have a solution...just gotta find the time to do it.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    while it may still be early days post book... but dammit can't ALL venues, promoters and others follow Blinks lead and publish ya bloody set times - a facebook post 3 hours before doors isn't overly helpful (points for trying though) and also stick to them (as much as possible)!

    The book I thought was fill of some really good ideas and thoughts... put forward in a generally positive way, cheers Ian

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    Would Blink really prefer that Apra and RMNZ completely turned their backs on the New Zealand music scene, did no good deeds and sent the money offshore instead?

    Sure, haha. They already send a ton of money offshore already that is “potentially” meant to go to local artists when using radio data to evaluate background music, so why just stop there?

    I am pretty sure music in NZ would continue just fine without those awards.

    Mmmm ... maybe. But a lot of people feel differently. I'm just taking issue with your logic there. The fact that there's a should've-been-fixed-yesterday problem with one area of performing rights collection isn't an argument for Apra to cease being a member of the music community. People do care about those things, and I don't see how scrapping support for all awards and grants in order to send more money offshore would be a good thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to bob daktari,

    while it may still be early days post book… but dammit can’t ALL venues, promoters and others follow Blinks lead and publish ya bloody set times – a facebook post 3 hours before doors isn’t overly helpful (points for trying though) and also stick to them (as much as possible)!

    I like the early-and-late shows idea too. It would be fun being able to rock up for a 6pm start.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    I'm with him on the crazy low admission prices bands charge. $5 for a gig? That's what I was paying in the mid '90s, - and even that was cheap student prices. It's nuts that a band wouldn't charge at least $15 today.

    For comparison, most Elefant Traks gigs around Australia are $30-$40, often plus a $5 booking fee. I've paid $60+ to see some local bands and ~$100 for people like Sarah Mclachlan and Ani Difranco.

    How do those prices compare with other performing arts like theatre and dance? It's been a while since I saw anything non-free in NZ but I vaguely recall $30 being cheap for Fresh of the Boat in Wellington circa 2000.

    FWIW venues in Oz are really struggling because pubs find it much more lucrative to steal from pensioners and addicts via pokie machines than to fight NIMBY residents to play live music. {insert rant here}. I saw Joelistics in the basement of a gay bar the other day, a venue that sucks but the choices are very, very limited.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1232 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I'm a big fan of earlier shows than late, always have been - not everyone who likes music is a nightowl, plus live music doesn't sound any better after midnight especially if you have to get up and go to work the next day and I doubt the bar take is that much better by elongating the evening either

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    can’t ALL venues, promoters and others follow Blinks lead and publish ya bloody set times... I like the early-and-late shows idea too. It would be fun being able to rock up for a 6pm start.

    Very much so. No offense to intro bands, but I'd rather be at home having a nap if the lead act is only going to play from 11:15-12:00 and the doors open at 7:30. And if I could go to a gig that ran from 6pm-9pm rather than 7:30-ish...9:30 until midnight I'd be very happy indeed.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1232 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I've just noticed the detailed response to Blink on the Apra website.

    Ian is a passionate supporter of music, songwriters and musicians in New Zealand. He has many great ideas, runs excellent events and ran a great music venue. We welcome good constructive criticism of what we do and we champion and support his enthusiasm for music, especially the independent music scene. In the past we have even supported his events financially through funding from APRA’s Music Grants program. We are listening to Blink’s issues and have undertaken to make changes where we can and where we agree it’s needed. Some of the changes he believes need to happen are indeed already in the pipeline. It is important to note that there are a number of points he makes in his book that are incorrect and we have outlined our response to these below.

    It's worth reading.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Howe,

    The thing that people overlook when discussing the 'problem with NZ music' is that "The Music Industry in NZ" (all music business in NZ) is mostly controlled by offshore interests. That is where most of the money goes. The subset within it of "The NZ Music Industry" (Blink, Don, Me, local bands etc) are left with the scraps. Unfortunately, in most cases, we seem preoccupied with arguing about funding rather than that real issue.

    The recently released report on NZ music at WeCreate.org.nz shows that around 90% of purchased music in NZ goes to imported overseas artists/labels, and commercial radio plays around 83% overseas content. The independent percentages within these will be much smaller again. While the local bands in Blink's book are debating whether to charge $5 or $10 for a show, Vector Arena is selling out stadium acts with $100 plus ticket prices. For me, these are very depressing statistics.

    The only way the local "NZ Music Industry" (including bands) will actually survive these tough times (in an overall shrinking music industry) is to grow the local market share - probably to at least 30% or more.

    However that growth will, on many occasions, run counter to the interests of "The Music Industry In NZ" - ie music larger businesses whose primary income comes from imported artists/product/copyright/live music.

    There is no question the individuals working for and governing both APRA and Recorded Music NZ are good and well intentioned people. However, the reality is that APRA/AMCOS is an Australian organisation with one NZ representative (Don) and the controlling interests in Recorded Music NZ are the offshore Major Labels. The governing parties all derive the majority of their income from bringing overseas artists/copyrights to NZ, selling them, maximizing their royalties, then taking most of the money elsewhere.

    So, very broadly speaking, the question Blink asks is a very valid one - to what degree does the governance of these organisations genuinely wish to further the interests of those of us who create, care about, listen to and invest in local music?

    Auckland • Since Dec 2009 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ben Howe,

    The recently released report on NZ music at WeCreate.org.nz shows that around 90% of purchased music in NZ goes to imported overseas artists/labels, and commercial radio plays around 83% overseas content. The independent percentages within these will be much smaller again.

    Hmmm. I think that every time PWC puts out a report trumpeting another increase in digital advertising spend -- which goes almost entirely offshore, with a bit for the foreign-owned local media companies and almost nothing for independent online publishers like us.

    So, very broadly speaking, the question Blink asks is a very valid one – to what degree does the governance of these organisations genuinely wish to further the interests of those of us who create, care about, listen to and invest in local music?

    Good question -- not least because it's not the duty of those organisations to do so. But does Apra's 95bFM sampling still just happen to take place during NZ Music Week? And pretty much all I can remember about Mike Chunn's time as head of Apra NZ was cheerleading for NZ music. Apra kicks in for the Smokefree Rockquest and the Taite Prize, and RMNZ helps fund Independent Music NZ when it's not really required to.

    The people in charge do as much as they can within (and probably sometimes beyond) their remit -- so what else would change things? That's a genuine question, btw.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    Apra kicks in for the Smokefree Rockquest and the Taite Prize

    Along with the Silver Scrolls, haha, ironically, APRA really dig competition ;)

    Like Ben mentions and is the underlying theme of my entire book, our only answer to making this industry work is to engage more of the population. Conventional thinking when it comes to funding and competitions is just ignoring what we really need to be doing and that is focusing all energies on gaining new audiences, giving music a value and making sure those responsible for paying us do so transparently. I don't see how competitions and (current) award models are helping - rather they generally create further seperation between the have and the have nots.

    I'm not gonna bag on those comps cos i do see some good from them but it confuses me, so much effort into getting a limited amount of young musicians competing at a young age, when lack of musicians is not the problem - an audience for them is. I like the SFRQ, I think its a fun avenue for young people and I don't see it being harmful, but I'd like to see a similar amount of money if not more poured into building a future audience, not just future musicians.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen,

    The people in charge do as much as they can within (and probably sometimes beyond) their remit -- so what else would change things? That's a genuine question, btw.

    Young blood in charge. shake shit up. People with new ideas. People raised in the technology we use now, not those struggling to catch up. I'd ask "da yoof" what they want to see, what they need. The average high school leaver year old probably has a much better idea on tech and where the music industry is going than some of those in charge. I'm all for traditional approaches and not jumping to new techs, but I have never seen any real consultation from the industry with young people and I see this as a severe problem.

    Much of the most interesting stuff musically in this country has for years been created by those under 20/25. Why have they no say in where its heading?

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    Young blood in charge. shake shit up. People with new ideas. People raised in the technology we use now, not those struggling to catch up. I’d ask “da yoof” what they want to see, what they need. The average high school leaver year old probably has a much better idea on tech and where the music industry is going than some of those in charge.

    Just not true any more. I don’t know anyone more in touch with the way his industry is changing and being disrupted than Adam Holt of Universal NZ. When Lawrence Lessig came here, Ant Healey was in the audience.

    You’ve also got people like Chris Hocquard and Ashley Page, who have built digital infrastructure with DRM NZ – and, of course, have Broods about to take off in the US. And Andy Murnane of Dawn Raid, who has done *really* well for Janine and the Mixtape in the past month. And, of course, Ben Howe. They’ve all had their failures to learn from, but they’re smart and experienced.

    I’m all for traditional approaches and not jumping to new techs, but I have never seen any real consultation from the industry with young people and I see this as a severe problem.

    Rianz/RMNZ have actually done a great job in getting all that heritage catalogue re-released and in some cases remastered and restored for digital. They’re really not running away from this. In part because if you’re a major with lots of copyrights, music streaming revenue actually starts to work.

    Much of the most interesting stuff musically in this country has for years been created by those under 20/25. Why have they no say in where its heading?

    I definitely agree with you here. There seem to be a lot of good young artists lately, but are there skilled people amidst them in management, inspirational and tech roles? Are there Chris Knoxes and Doug Hoods?

    I do dwell on the fact that while the current NZ heritage projects (like those reissues, Audioculture and Ben’s beautiful vinyl reissues) are a great thing, I might feel a bit pushed out if I was 20 years old and making new music. But I try and do my bit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Jorgensen,

    Are we maybe also talking about a regional issue here too? Like all the people I've just mentioned, I'm in Auckland. It's easy to not see far past that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Jorgensen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I don't disagree that you've got some talented elders working today, but I'd love to see what some fresh ideas would do and don't understand the industry's reluctance to realise that they prob don't know as much as they think they do (including me). It's just the tired old way of looking at things going with the status quo.
    One of the principle reasons I keep stopping projects is because I don't want to stifle those with better, fresher ideas.
    Your pointing out of the success NZ acts are achieving overseas is JUST what I mean. Overseas success shouldn't need to be the answer. We need to create a sustainable career here for people who want to stay in NZ, raise families, who enjoy living here. Currently we don't really have that option. I don't care about Broods "success" or anyone else enjoying their 15 mins, I just care about creating an infrastructure here where artists can enjoy a career and where going overseas is an option to build on it, not the only option.

    wellington • Since Apr 2010 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    Where to start here?

    OK so APRA, in my experience, have always been very approachable. The board might be primarily controlled in Australia but they have a good staff in Auckland and I have used them as a resource when making decisions about 'exploiting my IP' and what not for about 12 years. It is my personal experience that they are a very transparent organisation and one that is pretty much a union for songwriters (they used to send out thorough breakdowns of where you earnings come from, like giant phone books, i doubt anyone read them).

    Where the disconnect between APRA land and Low Hum land comes in, is probably down to the fact that most small bands will not be making any money from APRA at all. If you get huge amounts of play Active and BFM play you will start to see some tiny money but it is only when you cross over to mainstream radio/music tv/sync licenses that you will start to see enough money to feel like there is a point to this company. This isn't APRAs fault, TV, commercial radio and film are the places where advertising rules and APRA takes a cut of the money. That is where the money is. If you make excellent music that is simply too interesting to be on The Edge, your low-fi videos too edgy for C4 and you haven't had any lucky breaks in film then your music is simply not generating money.

    BUT, the retail thing and live music fees is a great topic to raise. I agree with Ian 100% that technology is here to log everything we play in most shops. Even if it was in 500 retail outlets and cafes chosen at random to use as sampling it could work. I have no doubt that the music getting played in NZ cafes is vastly different to what we hear on our questionable commercial radio networks.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    It just feels misguided to me to see APRA as somehow THE PROBLEM. The Silver Scrolls are a great night. They might reflect a portion of the industry that is a bit more established/old (the this years winner was 17...) but I am much less cynical about the scrolls than the VNZMAs (and I have won lots of those).

    It is my experience that all the people high up in these organisations (APRA, Recorded Music NZ, Universal, Sony etc) are real music fans who were once young people in bands putting on gigs at the Gluepot or wherever. They generally care about music and why shouldn't people who have been working in the industry for that long get the sweet deal jobs. Chris Caddick from Recorded Music NZ is an awesome dude who knows as much about NZ music as Blink!

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

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