Posts by Ben Howe

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Not Dead Yet,

    Did you really think it was well researched? If I'd read that knowing nothing about the music industry I'd be lead to believe it only had two components - major record labels and NZ on Air. She spoke to three people from RMNZ, one from NZ on Air and one of the artists from the 2000s. No current artists, live music, venues, independent labels etc etc.

    Also little mention of the myriad of artists excelling internationally today, which mostly started happening around 2010....this was roughly the same time that the major labels backed away and the financial incentives to make radio friendly hits were removed. Coincidence?

    That said, she did get one thing right - the domestic industry is in pretty poor shape economically - though not musically.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2009 • 12 posts Report

  • Hard News: Friday Music: The Soft…,

    Yes thanks for the post as well Paul. I'm just copying something I also put on FB here

    As you know, charts are fundamentally mostly promotional tools. So for me the issue is that the new methodology will mostly wipe out much in the way of diversity - in particular NZ music/independent music. It is, therefore, now likely to be of little promotional value for any of those groups. It is only (mostly) of promotional value to mainstream music imported from overseas.

    That was much the case before as well, thats the way of the world an I’m good with it.

    But at least under the old system it was nice to know that occasionally a local act releasing a record on vinyl only, playing 8 minute instrumentals and all being 40+ years old could occasionally sneak into the to 40 album charts based on being no.1 in Real Groovy and Flying Out. Looking at the threshold of the lowest position in the album charts now, I doubt that will happen anymore.

    I realise the argument for doing it the way you have is that it is the 'truth' or ‘more accurate' - but actually as I’m sure you know, numbers can be cut in dozens of different ways - especially with something as complex as streaming. In fact even the new methodology makes a number of tweaks in relation to back catalog, being cut in a specific way with intention to make the charts more current, interesting and therefore more likely to be of promotional value.

    Nothing wrong with that either, it makes sense. Except that it seems a bit selective to make that one tweak, but not to consider others which might make the charts interesting or relevant to the quite large membership of the organisation who actually produces the charts in the first place.

    And so if the charts aren’t interesting or relevant to those people (our fellow indie labels and artists), or our audience either, then it makes sense to ask ourselves the question why contribute at all? It’s not like we don’t have a lot else to do!

    Auckland • Since Dec 2009 • 12 posts Report

  • Hard News: Friday Music: The Soft…, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    If the reason to introduce streaming was to make the album charts accurate to people's actual music consumption, then they should have gone the whole hog and included the oldies back catalog.

    However, they weren't included because the charts are much more a promotional tool than anything else, and if they included the oldies it would look stupid to have the same old albums in there week in and week out.

    So in fact new configuration can't claim to be accurate (because oldies have been taken out) and it also looks like it is likely to have also removed much in the way of promotional value for either local music or independents.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2009 • 12 posts Report

  • Hard News: Friday Music: The Soft…,

    It also means there probably isn't a lot of point in smaller independent music retailers (like Flying Out) submitting our figures every week to the chart because now nothing we actually sell is likely to appear in them.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2009 • 12 posts Report

  • Hard News: About Campbell Live,

    "things have reached a strange pass when the grown-up editorial voice in the room belongs to the damn sponsor." - Nice line. Sad but true.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2009 • 12 posts Report

  • Hard News: Friday Music: After Kiwi,

    Hey Russell, I just posted a bit of a rant on my facebook page about Kiwi FM closure – I have copied it below as I think it covers off something around the closure that will otherwise be overlooked….as per the bottom, figures are imprecise, though perhaps someone could ask APRA and Recorded Music NZ to confirm or correct them?

    really bummed about the closing down of Kiwi FM. Quite apart from the fact that it was a great station and exposed lots of local artists, it also means many THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS LESS performance royalties to LOCAL songwriters, recording artists and labels and many THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS MORE performance royalties going straight offshore to Justin Beiber, Rianna, major record labels and international publishers.

    Obviously I don’t have the detailed figures in front of me, but each percentage point LESS NZ music on the radio could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars LESS going into the local music economy and the same amount MORE going offshore. That means less money being re-invested back into local music, which just further exacerbates the situation.

    Frankly, I am tired of the weak (though noble) attempts to try to rectify this kind of cultural and corporate imperialism – a scenario where I would guesstimate that for every dollar spend on music within New Zealand probably more than 90c of it goes offshore. Obviously that set up benefits some, but not those of us involved in local music.

    Some things, like the “radio code” and NZOA grant’s are a good idea to try to mitigate this problem, but if they are just ignored, then they are clearly not enough on their own.

    Thanks guys, Rant over!

    disclaimer, figures are off the top of my head, but likely to be generally correct, either that or even worse than what I have said
    *now lets all get back to discussing that other awesome Mediaworks product – X Factor

    Auckland • Since Dec 2009 • 12 posts Report

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Good ideas and grumbles, in reply to Russell Brown,

    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.

    I agree totally Russell that the people in charge do a massive amount within (and beyond) their remit, although maybe I didn't make this clear enough. My point is that the structure they are working within is problematic for local music.

    I think what needs to happen is

    1. A legislated for local music quota starting at 20%. Clearly the "code" isn't working, and when it came in many years ago the idea was that if radio didn't stick to it then there would be legislation. They have rarely met the 20% "target", and currently it is around 17%. Australia, Canada and many other countries with stronger and larger local industries have a quota to protect themselves. In Australia ARIA has a policy of supporting the local quota.

    2. Explore ways where One Music licensees are either measured more accurately OR can opt in to playing a certain % of local music (via some kind of separate agreement). Although I realise the issues with measuring accurately, and also the danger that the local % may in fact go down, I think many small business would embrace the idea of playing local music and this would give us the opportunity to lobby them to do so with actual financial results. For example I will always go to a local cafe over starbucks. I would also be happy to promote local businesses who did this via the various FN/AH etc channels. If indeed measuring more accurately is totally impossible/impractical, then explore ways where licensees can nominate that they will play X% of local music, and royalties be distributed on that basis. I believe small local businesses would also get behind this, though I am also aware there may be some practical issues around these ideas I am unaware of.

    A quota would bring more money to the local music industry/artists, and although there is some risk, I think the second idea, if managed correctly, would also bring more money to NZ music.

    If Recorded Music NZ and APRA adopt a 20% quota as a formal policy and start lobbying government (alongside the other organisations) for this, then I don't mind eating my hat on my former comments. Likewise if they come up with a solution to the second issue.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2009 • 12 posts Report

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Good ideas and grumbles,

    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 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

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Original Beats, in reply to Russell Brown,

    sorry Russell!

    Auckland • Since Dec 2009 • 12 posts Report

  • Hard News: Flying Again, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Grant - I would like to know as well.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2009 • 12 posts Report

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