Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Changing Times

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  • Russell Brown,

    In 2007 Andrew Dubber and I wrote a rather long assessment of change in the media around contemporary music for NZ On Air. It's here (PDF) and this is the blurb:

    Public Broadcasting in The Digital Age - October 2007 (Russell Brown and Andrew Dubber) (PDF 235 KB)

    New Zealanders' media consumption is dramatically changing and people are accessing broadcast-style content via the internet. This report explores the implications of these changes on publicly-funded programming and music.

    I'd have to say that not a lot has happened since.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    Let's acknowledge the fact that the system to date has seen the market for NZ music expand exponentially. I'm more worried that National will just dump the whole thing so that they can give the uber-wealthy some more tax breaks.

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 371 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    While I would acknowledge that there is more NZ music around, that doesn't meant that it a good thing. I know music is ridiculously subjective, but is it really a good thing artists like Midnight Youth, Dane Rumble etc to get funding. Sure they shift units, but they are often just pale imitations of overseas bands.

    Meanwhile, like you mention Russell, other musicians stuggle for funding. Or are we preaching to the Classic Hits brigade who need to fill their quota?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 208 posts Report Reply

  • JP Hansen,

    The Beatles started out as pale imitators of US bands, they did OK in the end.

    :-P

    Waitakere • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • John Fouhy,

    As C4 and MTV have become more youth-oriented lifestyle channels and shied away from playing music in prime time

    Is this because people don't watch music videos any more, or because people prefer to get their music videos from youtube?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    Beatles started out as pale imitators of US bands, they did OK in the end.
    :-P

    Touche!

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 208 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie,

    If publicly funded music and TV was required to be released under a Creative Commons licence (or similar), we might get to see and hear a lot more of ourselves, and the per-unit-sold(/downloaded) cost to the government mightn't be so alarming.

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    As Steve Allen once famously declared Imitation is the sincerest form of television , is it also the case with the great majority of popular music? What is intrinsically 'New Zealand' about New Zealand music--other than te reo Maori and Pacific Island influences, of course?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Beatles started out as pale imitators of US bands, they did OK in the end.
    :-P

    Touche!

    OMG! You're not Beliebers are you?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • peter mclennan,

    The other big point Duncan makes its that NZ On Air's mandate is unchanged since 2000 - now think how much the broadcast environment has changed and evolved since then. Radio is way way down on people's methods for discovering new music.

    And the argument over NZ On Air funding artists for overseas development (esp when they fund commercially driven product at home, which has no export potential, lets face it) - Russell theres a fantastic article in the Feb/March NZ Musician magazine you should read, looking at the Caddick Report on NZOA's Phase 5 scheme. The article also highlights two labels that got $500k in funding each to establish an offshore beach head. Seen any results from that yet?

    AK Central • Since Nov 2006 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • peter mclennan,

    Mark Kneebone on Russell and Andrew's "Public broadcasting in the digital age" document... from Real Groove iv transcript...

    "NZ On Air know they have to do some changes. There was a report done by Russell Brown and Andrew Dubber that was done on the future of online promotion and it’s relevance to NZ On Air funding that also covered TV. It’s kicking around somewhere.
    "Personally, I didn’t actually agree with about half of what they wrote. I thought they missed the mark, and to be fair, it was written a few years ago, so shit’s changed again. It’s also very funny that when NZ On Air put it out, the first paragraph was 'This does not represent the viewpoint of NZ On Air'. They recommended some pretty drastic changes – That online was the future, and they were right. But they were talking about tools and mechanism that are now outdated. And fair enough, they wrote it in 2007..."

    AK Central • Since Nov 2006 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    What is intrinsically 'New Zealand' about New Zealand music--other than te reo Maori and Pacific Island influences, of course?

    I defy you to point out a band that sounds like The Phoenix Foundation from anywhere else. Or The Chills for that matter. Or early Enz.

    There is a thoroughly unique strand that goes through NZ pop which is almost continuous back to the mid sixties. On the extraordinary new PF album I can hear The Hi Revving Tongues and The Chills and Blam Blam Blam which I doubt is conscious but it's very much us.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    I defy you to point out a band that sounds like The Phoenix Foundation from anywhere else. Or The Chills for that matter. Or early Enz.

    There is a thoroughly unique strand that goes through NZ pop which is almost continuous back to the mid sixties. On the extraordinary new PF album I can hear The Hi Revving Tongues and The Chills and Blam Blam Blam which I doubt is conscious but it's very much us.

    Word up!

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    shot...so feel like answering some of the questions i posed in the other thread ?

    in the meantime...

    at the heart of the problem is that, even though it has edged in that direction over time, NZ On Air is not a music funding agency..

    if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and acts as the prime agency for funding music. It's a music funding agency duck.

    his placement of the debate is spot-on. The music industry does lie in an odd place between the poles of art and commerce, and our public sector practices have long been an ill fit for that. I hope and trust Duncan's work here will help navigate a way forward.

    so Russell you're gonna sit this one out and comment from the sidelines ?...pfffft

    Fuck the industry. What about the artists who have to compromise their art for the sake of commerce as dictated by the NZ on Air funding criteria ?

    As i noted earlier, Take Dawnraid as a perfect example and the complete sellout and turnaround Deceptikonz had to do to fit the radio format and funding criteria at the expense of the Homebrew crew ?

    Remember this

    and the ill fitting public sector response was to reward Dawnraid and incentivise them to produce more of this shit which to no one, even the artists themselves, in their right mind knows is even close to being commercially viable nor what anyone wants to see or hear on NZ air now or ever ?

    Whether or not you agree with Duncan's characterisation of the agency's "strange, uncoordinated muddling through the mists that lie between art and commerce,"

    the strange un-coordintated muddling i liken to the GWBush jr presidency. Sure it's governed by legislative acts but within that the top dog has the power to direct policy and influence legislation.

    The blame for the fact that NZoA under Brendan Smyths stewardship is still muddled and un co ordinated can only lie at his feet. He's neither laid out his vision nor accepted input from others towards a newer mandate nor lobbied to change it.

    He's only protected his job and covered his arse while prolonging his feeding time at the public funded taxpayer trough and acted as feudal lord over the musical serfdom.

    He's got to go if new criteria and a new mandate are implemented. In short he's had his day and that day has been. Time to let someone else carry us forward now.

    We all know this. The only difference is, he's not my mate or someone i need to curry favour with so i can scream it from the hilltops but whats the point if no one else echoes it through the valleys of power.

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    and to avoid cross threading so the good folk can wax lyrical about the auckland food and wine scene in peace i'll repost some questions here...

    so is Isaac a limited liability company or a paid consultant to NZoA ?

    The former.

    and you're cool with this guy and his company having a...

    really close working relationship with NZ ON Air, have done since 2003. We work closely with Brendan and David on the domestic side for videos, new recording and also album grants, but also work closely with Mike McClung on the international stuff as well

    it sits well with you that a profit driven 'music marketing company' representing artists which isn't exactly a management company nor a record label has

    a unique situation in that we apply and process stuff on their (artists) behalf because it makes it far more manageable. We’ll be working with five bands as opposed to a manager who has only got one.

    which essentially means...a special position in the supposedly unbiased ear of the funding body, to lobby on his own behalf as "Isaac", and his own record label, "Tardus", as distributed subsidiaries of Universal music.

    http://www.umusic.co.nz/

    oh hang on...so what is Isaac again and who is this guy ?

    why does he have access to privileged information as witnessed by the meeting about the court case which prevents NZo A from doing an internal review ? Was IMNZ represented ?

    I would be astonished if IMNZ wasn't represented.

    of course you knew he is the chair of Independent Music NZ and sits on the Music Commission board as well.

    http://nzmusic.org.nz/about/

    It would have been nice to also put his other hats up for show in that interview. Don't you think ?

    Sounds like not so much a conflict of interest but a rather fortuitous congruence of interests. Nice work if you can get it.

    Politics eh ? why bother with paid consultancy when you can 'clip the ticket'.

    Honestly Russell. Is this the place to be getting so deep into the rabbit hole and how far do you want to go ? And If not here then where ?

    It's obvious you believe the net is the future for NZoA, so does Mark Kneebone when he name checks you, even though he thinks you're initial 2007 report is past it's use by date and doesnt agree with half of it anyay...something personal there ?

    By the way, what happened to the report you did with Andrew Dubber ? Is it something to be updated and made more relevant given the on line changes since ?

    So should i be interviewing you independently on the side for my blog and asking questions like the above ?...and more such as, do you think blogs, twitter, facebook groups etc and the like are an effective means for influencing and forcing change in established institutions or is it just easily dismissable, self promotional pissing in the wind ?

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    To a hip hop beat . . .

    "He's got to go!
    We all know dis,
    We all know dis,
    Only difference is,
    He's not my mate,
    Or someone i need to curry favour with,
    So I scream it from the hilltops
    But whats the point,
    If no one else echoes it through the valleys of power.
    (Fading) He's got to go,
    We all know dis."

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and acts as the prime agency for funding music. It's a music funding agency duck.

    But. It. Isn't.

    It operates under the Broadcasting Act, and it was created as the Broadcasting Commission. Maybe that should change, but you wanting it to be something else doesn't make it so.

    The Music Industry Commission, on the other hand, is dedicated to New Zealand music. I wouldn't be unhappy to see it given more funding to control.

    Fuck the industry. What about the artists who have to compromise their art for the sake of commerce as dictated by the NZ on Air funding criteria ?

    As i noted earlier, Take Dawnraid as a perfect example and the complete sellout and turnaround Deceptikonz had to do to fit the radio format and funding criteria at the expense of the Homebrew crew ?

    I think it's ludicrous to blame any of Dawn Raid's decisions on NZ On Air. They weren't delicate little artists -- they always saw themselves as businessmen. No one made them put out crappy pop records.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It's obvious you believe the net is the future for NZoA, so does Mark Kneebone when he name checks you, even though he thinks you're initial 2007 report is past it's use by date and doesnt agree with half of it anyay...something personal there ?

    You really are determined to seek progress by starting feuds, aren't you? Good luck with that.

    FWIW, I like and respect Mark and I wouldn't expect him to agree with everything in the paper we wrote.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The other big point Duncan makes its that NZ On Air's mandate is unchanged since 2000 - now think how much the broadcast environment has changed and evolved since then. Radio is way way down on people's methods for discovering new music.

    Yep -- that's the key point Dubber and I made in the 2007 paper.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    REAL GROOVE: But if you’re the head of an organisation that is currently operating under a system of rules and governance which are no longer relevant, isn’t it your place to lobby the government to update that? Otherwise you’re risking forcing your own extinction. Your inability to fund genuinely relevant projects is going to see diminishing returns for you, which are then going to see the likelihood of cuts being more easily justified.

    MARK KNEEBONE: That’s exactly what they tried to do in the end of 2008, start of 2009. They commissioned a report on domestic music funding, what it was for and all the rest of it, and it got axed. The reason it got axed was nothing to do with NZ On Air. There was an ongoing court case, which is still going between PPNZ and the Radio Bureau, our radio broadcasters’ association. That was based on the value of radio airplay for radio. There were questions in the review that had to be asked such as 'How much value does your company place on radio play?' because they were looking at 'Should we be funding things for online' and all the rest of it, and of course no one from the record companies could answer those questions because they were currently in court fighting over those exact same things. There was a meeting that I can tell you about between myself, Adam Holt, Campbell Smith, Jane who runs NZ On Air, Brendan Smyth and Kristen Beauman who runs PPNZ, and we sat down and they said 'Can you do this review?' and we went through the sample questions and everyone said 'Not until this court case is over'.

    So what's the deal with the court case mentioned and why is it taking so long for the report to come out. Who's stalling and why ?

    I cna understand Chris Finlayson the Minister for Culture/heritage not having his head in the game cos he's too busy selling the Foreshore seabed "solution" but i hope someone's keeping score for him and he's capable of charging in to the ruck to free up the ball.

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • peter mclennan,

    "Yep -- that's the key point Dubber and I made in the 2007 paper."

    So, this change has been coming for nearly a decade that they still havent done zip to adjust? They can have the status quo, cos in a few years, it won't be worth squat. Leave the industry fighting over crumbs.....

    AK Central • Since Nov 2006 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    So what's the deal with the court case mentioned and why is it taking so long for the report to come out. Who's stalling and why ?

    It's more that no one's backing down. The broadcasters and PPNZ have very different ideas about the proper level of rights fees from radio -- which are taken as a percentage of the advertising income of a given station. Music stations pay more, mostly-talk stations pay less.

    And court cases just take a looooong time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and acts as the prime agency for funding music. It's a music funding agency duck.

    But. It. Isn't.

    It operates under the Broadcasting Act, and it was created as the Broadcasting Commission.

    explain ?... semantics, in that it funds artists and labels not music ?

    oh right, like i dont download music. i download data.

    You really are determined to seek progress by starting feuds, aren't you? Good luck with that.

    FWIW, I like and respect Mark and I wouldn't expect him to agree with everything in the paper we wrote.

    out of conflict comes resolution out of chaos comes order. Maybe it'd be good for us all fif he were to pick the bits he didnt think you guys missed the mark on and expound on them...yeah ?

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I cna understand Chris Finlayson the Minister for Culture/heritage not having his head in the game cos he's too busy selling the Foreshore seabed "solution" but i hope someone's keeping score for him and he's capable of charging in to the ruck to free up the ball.

    Ah, but again: the responsible minister is Jonathan Coleman, the Minister of Broadcasting. Finlayson is responsible for Creative NZ, someone else is responsible for Trade NZ, etc.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    I think it's ludicrous to blame any of Dawn Raid's decisions on NZ On Air. They weren't delicate little artists -- they always saw themselves as businessmen. No one made them put out crappy pop records.

    Dawnraid didn't fund the vid/tune and no one twisted NZ on Air's arm in deciding to fund it.

    The point is, NZoA have been more hit than miss in 10 years of funding what they think we should see and hear.

    It shows in the album stats you put up and when you apply that to singles and vids hardly any of it will stand the test of time. Yeah sure it got on air for about all of 2 weeks so it met the criteria but then...nada and so it should be.

    There's no natural selection process here, there's no evolution. Its backasswards looking de evolving NZ music to the lowest common denominator while pandering to commercial interests and foreign tastes and it sucks.

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

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