Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Changing Times

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  • Russell Brown,

    Presumably a review could consider that too. There's still a need for videos, they just have to be made for both TV and online.

    Brendan Smyth declared a couple of years ago that it was expected that funded videos would also be viewed online.

    This was, ironically, seen by some of the labels as threatening one (or more) of their revenue streams -- because until PPNZ and Apra do a deal with YouTube, there's no rights money in that (and even if they do, there's very little in it).

    And then you get the craziness of Warner corporate's automatic takedown machine removing videos that local artists (and labels!) distributed by Warners have placed on their own YouTube channels.

    There could even be flow down effects. You didn't get the funding for the album, but we'll pay a third of the amount to get you in a studio and get a couple of songs out as seed funding. If they do well, we expect to see you back here in 6 months with a revised album proposal.

    I do wonder if there should be fewer of the big recording grants and more small ones.

    I think Amplifier also has a strong case for some kind of funding as a platform for artists -- but people will probably bitch about that, given that Chris Hocquard has an interest in bFM (or, actually, the management company in the governance role) and represents many other artists as a lawyer.

    But people wearing multiple hats is just a fact of life in a market as small as this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Now I know Russell, as an expert on these matters can probably do all that, so my question is, why aren't you Russell ? Why are you sitting this one out and commenting form the sidelines. ?

    If you can help and don't, then at least help me understand why and where i've got it wrong and how to make it right ?

    I did think Sacha was a bit patronising there. What I think you're failing to acknowledge is the goodwill that nearly everyone involved has. If it was a simple as one or two villains, it would be a lot easier to sort out.

    You're pretty much slagging anyone who's got off their arse in the past decade, without offering any solutions of your own. And even if there is cronyism, it certainly wouldn't be any more than you get (or is perceived) in "pure" creative funding agencies.

    In the case of the shift to online music discovery, it's really another version of the same issues that having been facing every other branch of the media. Shit has really, really changed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    To be fair, i'm only slagging of what i consider the hardcore serial troughers and the silent backroom brigade with vested interests, whoever they may be.

    of course i got off my arse and Brendan kicked it to the kerb in 2001 for saying 'fund what artists produce not change artists to fit the funding' and if you look past the slagging theres a whole bunch of salient points and relevent questions needing to be asked which havent been answered.

    I've got solutions but this isnt the place to air them cos i don't trust NZoA heads won't take them and use them to keep themselves in the mix.

    Mostly my biggest solution is, clear out Brendan and his cronies then start an official, open submissions, discussion document, or whatever, where i can put them. He is the biggest barrier to change, he's proven his reluctance to, so the question is why ?

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I've got solutions but this isnt the place to air them cos i don't trust NZoA heads won't take them and use them to keep themselves in the mix.

    Oh, come on.

    You've been accusing me of having nothing to say?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    I've always been amused at the regimental regularity of the grants decisions, as if there are as many songs written in the summer months as in the winter months. and every regulated period will produce the same quantity of worthy recipients.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    and every regulated period will produce the same quantity of worthy recipients.

    You will find, behind the scenes, that songs that were rejected in one round are approved in the next for a variety of reasons. A lot of acts re-apply over and over.

    Why it wasn't good last time but is fine this time is beyond me. Radio folks, in my experience, mostly program from offshore data anyway and most wouldn't know a hit that they were not told was a hit if their world depended on it.

    Cruel? Yes, but fair.

    That does, I guess, swing the argument back around to the gatekeepers.

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

  • Robbie Siataga,

    Oh, come on.

    You've been accusing me of having nothing to say?

    Ok, the one throwaway solution i have put forward is like you suggest, an 'amplifier' like server for applicants to upload, users to buy off, labels/agents to listen to demos to and broadcasters to program from, thus scrapping hard copy CD submissions and the kiwi hit disc with the most sales getting video funding.

    sure you can manipulate it by registering heaps and buying loads to affect the charts like back in the day but you'd be found out real easy and get nada.

    only why re invent the wheel just use 'amplifier' and go off their charts already.

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    A lot of acts re-apply over and over. ....That does, I guess, swing the argument back around to the gatekeepers.

    heh, not on from an environmentalist's perspective.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    And even if there is cronyism, it certainly wouldn't be any more than you get (or is perceived) in "pure" creative funding agencies.

    So that makes it alright ?

    As long as everyone's doing it you're sweet with it cos that's how it's always been in the music industry and arts funding game, so if we can't beat them we should join them ?

    The recommendation for all prospective artists seeking public funding according to the NZon Air mandate then is...

    Make shit music, take the money, wind your neck in, keep your mouth shut, kiss the big man's arse at the free pissup and look the other way when you see others not doing it ?

    Fuck that !!!

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    cronyism

    "pure" creative funding agencies

    so a complete lack of transparency is normal?

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    What I think you're failing to acknowledge is the goodwill that nearly everyone involved has. If it was a simple as one or two villains, it would be a lot easier to sort out.

    Nearly every one ? Most of nearly everyone will be the passionate and powerless ones at the bottom who enter the industry, innocent with goodwill, seeking to promote art and culture, thinking it's a level playing field and their art or services will be judged on merit by people whose goodwill also extends to the desire to capture and preserve art and culture.

    Unfortunately the music and funding industry beyond the artistry of the musicians and producers is a game best suited for self serving villains whose goodwill only extends to capture the best price for their brand of art and preserve their own culture. The art of getting funded, in our instance, then becomes subject to the individual taste of commercial interests and selected tastemakers who deliberately cater for the lowest common denominator of branded art. The perfectly disposable, artistically neutered, culturally bland radio hit.

    In doing so, these selected tastemakers become villains for betraying the value of art and culture in favour of capturing status and belonging to an elite who's sole purpose is self preservation. The artists come and go. If they're lucky they get to dip their head into the intoxicating waters of public funding. Only once you are baptised to the dark side and compromise your art, you are expected to forever be compromising it, to prostitute it to your particular pimp and sell out your soul to the dark arts funding priests at NZ on Air. If you don't or can't anymore, the pimp moves on to the next fresh young face who can and will allow themsleves to be exploited for profit and the priests anoint another soul to the darkside.

    The pimps being the same, mostly unseen and unchanging faces who lurk in the background, and for a price are only too eager to push your art into the ears and faces of the powers that be at NZon Air's temple of temptation. So in essence it's not even music or artists getting funded. It's certain people, pimps that NZon Air for whatever reason have decided are arbiters of tastes befitting our untrained ears and dumbed down minds. Pimps charged with acting in good faith and goodwill on behalf of the artist, but really...

    Sadly the NZ on Air music funding system was never set up to favour the artist or what they produce that might add value to NZ's cultural heritage and any goodwill artists initially have, soon evaporates as one becomes wise to the dark arts program, and programmers, running behind the scenes.

    The current sytem was, with good intention, set up to capture and preserve art and culture in it's broadest definition and to promote it on all NZ airwaves. That good intention was usurped by a few villains within the funding body, and outside, colluding and conspiring according to the narrowest definition of a flawed mandate to preserve a system that vests all power and responsibility unto themselves with no accountability to the audience, the artists or the taxpayer upon whose work, attention and portion of income provides them with the means to perpetuate their villainy and then promote the products of their definition to only one portion of NZ's airwaves, the mainstream and commercial sector.

    NZ on air, as they have always said, isn't in the arts and culture funding game they're in the funding radio hits game. A game that essentially sets them and the staff up as doing the work of what would normally be an A&R/marketing/sales team at a record label.

    I don't know that is neccessarily something public servants like Brendan Smyth or his team should be doing or are qualified to do but its something he's been doing and being well paid to do since the QE 2 arts council funding regime for going on 30 years now. If he's learnt anything, its how to cover his arse and his tracks for any mention of impropriety, capture the favour of successive gov'ts and form relationships to preserve his status as the most powerful man in NZ music.

    It shouldn't be that way but it is, and if anyone doesn't think so, then start a label, promote an artist, suckle up to the funding tit and meet the priests who squeeze the udder. Look into their serpent eyes, listen to their forked tongues and make your own mind up. And if you deign to bow down and pimp artists souls to their temple, there are gifts to be accepted, riches to be had, parties to be attended but at what cost to your own soul ?

    Warning : woe betides those who would betray the dark arts pact one signs to become part of the anointed.

    umm... so is that enough acknowledging of good will Russell ? :)

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And even if there is cronyism, it certainly wouldn't be any more than you get (or is perceived) in "pure" creative funding agencies.

    So that makes it alright ?

    No. But you you were arguing for an culturally/creatively based system. I don't think it would fix what you think is wrong. Creative New Zealand gets exactly the same kind of sniping.

    But frankly, this is about the chip on your shoulder against anyone who's actually doing anything -- the Music Industry Commission, IMNZ, NZ On Air.

    You're sitting there using words like "pimp" and "villain" about those people. And you haven't made a single practical policy suggestion. It's really not worth arguing with you any more.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    "pure" creative funding agencies

    so a complete lack of transparency is normal?

    No, that was poorly phrased. What I meant was that an arts-oriented funding agency like Creative New Zealand is vulnerable to exactly the same accusations as Robbie's making about NZ On Air.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    No, that was poorly phrased.

    No... it wasnt a slip of the keyboard, what you're saying is that cronyism is endemic to the arts funding sector and now you're trying to back pedal. You're saying it's just a matter of how much one is willing to turn a blind eye to it to keep ones snout in the trough. For fuck's sake grow a pair and own that shit !

    Stay focused Russell, we're not talking about CNZ, we're talking about NZon Air and the other music bodies being held up for public scrutiny and accountability purely on value for money as they expect their artist's value to be judged purely in financial terms.

    For all that you say i've got an axe to grind, you're not saying i'm lying about how it really is behind the scene or that IMNZ and the music commish have been successful in the aid they provide to select groups cos the stats say they're failing.

    You're not even saying you think Brendan should stay or that he's worth keeping. In financial terms and for the last 30 years he's been gatekeeping arts funding, is he really still worth the salary, does he still provide value for money ?

    It seems you're happy to dance round the fire and that's cool. Next time you're suckin back the free piss at a taxpayer funded soiree or nobbing it with the industry fatcats at one of them trendy auckland eateries, have one for me and all the other poor saps whose money you're pissing up and that is supposed to work for the benefit of promoting NZ art and culture.

    I'd love to get the attendance stats for these particular soirees.

    http://www.amplifier.co.nz/news/56875/nz-music-month-2010-official-music-month-national-seminars.html

    and do an exit poll on attendees to see if the speakers were of significant value. Id say the answer would be yes because it costs nothing to attend but i bet the speakers arent doing it out for goodwill...Value for money, doubt it, perpetuating the status quo and a bit of cronyism, i reckon ?

    And for all that, they're mostly geared towards creating pop idols for the radio and associated industries. The focus isn't on capturing art or preserving culture. About the only one worth attending might be Lyndon talking to the Dobbynator cos it'll be a hoot, even so check out the blurb.

    and gets him to give tips on how he writes those massive radio hits. A must for all songwriters!

    to be fair i dont really think thats Daves prime motivation for writing songs. I would venture he's more an arts and culture type of guy. But hey, for all you other songwriters, you need radio hits or at least the funding bodies tell you you do, but the truth is, radio and the funding bodies need your art to sustain their income. Only your art shouldn't neccessarily have to be geared towards massive radio hits and you shouldn't have to kiss anyones arse for a hand up in promoting your art.

    If you're serious and music is your calling you'll want longevity in a career, you'll want an opportunity to create without the pressure of always scrambling for the dollar, you'll want growth as an artist, you'll want to forge a deep and meaningful lifelong connection with your audience.

    The current system and personell doesnt provide for that. Me contribuiting a single practical policy suggestion isnt going to change that either. Nothing short of scrapping the mandate and the entrenched cronies, starting from scratch with a clean slate to eliminate the focus towards radio is going to do.

    I think deep down we all know that and that we also know radio is dying. Do you agree Russell ?

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It seems you're happy to dance round the fire and that's cool. Next time you're suckin back the free piss at a taxpayer funded soiree or nobbing it with the industry fatcats at one of them trendy auckland eateries, have one for me and all the other poor saps whose money you're pissing up and that is supposed to work for the benefit of promoting NZ art and culture.

    What taxpayer-funded soirees are you referring to -- or is this just another part of your elaborate victim fantasy? FWIW, the music month launches etc have always been funded by sponsors, most notably Vodafone.

    And NZ On Air's administrative costs are 4% of total funding. It's a very efficient organisation, which is why Jonathan Coleman gave it the Charter money he'd taken off TVNZ.

    You're not even saying you think Brendan should stay or that he's worth keeping. In financial terms and for the last 30 years he's been gatekeeping arts funding, is he really still worth the salary, does he still provide value for money ?

    Go back and read what Simon Grigg said about Brendan Smyth.

    I'd love to get the attendance stats for these particular soirees.

    http://www.amplifier.co.nz/news/56875/nz-music-month-2010-official-music-month-national-seminars.html

    and do an exit poll on attendees to see if the speakers were of significant value. Id say the answer would be yes because it costs nothing to attend but i bet the speakers arent doing it out for goodwill...Value for money, doubt it, perpetuating the status quo and a bit of cronyism, i reckon ?

    And that really sums up what sucks about your attitude. I'm fairly clear now that you want to play the victim and nothing anyone says or does will change that.

    For fuck's sake, the Music Commission and the Music Managers Forum have put together a seminar programme in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, culminating with the summit on the 29th; RIANZ, NZ On Air et al are sponsoring the summit. It looks really useful.

    And I'm pretty sure the speakers will be doing it for goodwill (and in the case of the foreign speakers, travel costs). People do a hell of a lot out of simple goodwill in that sector. Really, why would you shit on people like Peter Baker of Rhythmethod, who's done so much to change things for independent artists?

    For you it's just another opportunity to whine about anyone who's actually doing anything at all. You still haven't advanced a single positive idea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Nothing short of scrapping the mandate and the entrenched cronies, starting from scratch with a clean slate

    Robbie, even if you think so ill of everyone in the industry, consider that cutting off one head is not going to stop another popping up unless you tackle the roots.

    Genuine change means persuading a whole lot of parties that you see more clearly than them how things could be better. That's hard work and it takes skills that frankly I don't have yet, but at least I'm committed to learning. I'm sure you can do better too.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    You still haven't advanced a single positive idea.

    To be fair, there was using Amplifier to select recipients. Otherwise, I agree it's hard to see the shoulder for the chip.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Genuine change means persuading a whole lot of parties that you see more clearly than them how things could be better. That's hard work and it takes skills that frankly I don't have yet, but at least I'm committed to learning. I'm sure you can do better too.

    And it's not like there aren't lots of people in the industry with ideas for change, or as if everyone agrees on what the change should be (they don't).

    And I should probably just chill out. But idle slagging like that does really wind me up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Actually, yes, I should say genuine change also involves listening to what others suggest. This area does not seem bereft of good ideas, probably just agreement at all levels which ones to pursue.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    For fuck's sake, the Music Commission and the Music Managers Forum have put together a seminar programme in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, culminating with the summit on the 29th; RIANZ, NZ On Air et al are sponsoring the summit. It looks really useful.

    yeah but look at what their focus is. It'll be useful if you want to make massive radio hits and get them played.

    Maybe homebrew should turn up and learn a few tricks eh ? Turn em into the next great cookie cut american hiphop clones. BTW their fundrasier made enough for a shit hot vid. Can't wait.

    or lets look at Rhian Sheehan. i'd love to see his latest work performed live in welli next month. the album for which hasnt got a shit show of getting radio play but is so deserving of complementary music vid funding but wont because it doesnt meet the criteria.

    Yeah i know what Simon said, so am i to take it that you two are joined at the mouth ? So what and who do you mean by gatekeepers ?

    Look, Im not shitting on anyone who isnt doing stuff with goodwill and best intent at a discount so if they're not offended by my opinions it probably doesnt apply to them. Why are you so offended ?

    To be specific, I'm only concerned with and speaking towards the music/video funding arm of NZ on Air. Does the minister know anything about how it's really run beyond what Brendan and the board surreptitiously report to him ?

    Now about that elaborate victim fantasy...pfffft says my tattooed blue arse. Dismiss with that shit cos yeah i'm just some ignorant welfare dependent Samoan with an attitude aren't I ?

    You're onto a real winner with that line Russ though i think you do your best writing when wound up. I love seeing that fire coming through and exposing the soft underbelly :)

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Fundraiser tonight in Parnell

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Young Sid on RadioNZ now - what a traitor, talking to the man like that

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    accusations

    but surely the problem is a lack of transparency?

    (policy suggestion: greater transparency)

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Aren't there similar concerns with Film Commission funding? Balancing commercial imperatives with public ones is tricky but yes, there seems no decent excuse for hiding decisions or criteria for them.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Most of nearly everyone will be the passionate and powerless ones at the bottom who enter the industry, innocent with goodwill, seeking to promote art and culture, thinking it's a level playing field and their art or services will be judged on merit by people whose goodwill also extends to the desire to capture and preserve art and culture.

    Exactly. I recall my single experience with NZOA was when out of the blue, a member of NZOA suggested to a friend of mine that I apply to NZOA (a thought I'd never considered) which I duly did, and naturally I was rejected. I never applied again. What's the point? An organization that goes round eliciting and then rejecting art is simply fucking evil. There's no need to draw people out of the woodwork to spit on them. If you don't want it, don't pretend.

    Maybe Robbie is not simply playing, perhaps he is another victim of this kind of number generating, I know I played my part in helping to provide the numbers on something like "every period we receive 450 applications*". 450 applications sounds good, it sounds like NZOA is popular, that it serves the a need in the community. But as NZOA members are breeding their own numbers, what do those numbers mean. Naturally the Establishment specifically asking citizens to submit art so they can reject it is a kick in the pants. Naturally I left the country not long after. Though I didn't fly out until we'd already joined the war machine in Afghanistan, 2 days before the invasion of Iraq, when it was clear we were going to continue to support the US war effort in Afg regardless of the illegality of the invasion of Iraq. I'm happy to lay claim to your victim label Russell. And I think the fact that you'd use the word, is a comment on the establishment (whether unwittingly or not).

    I think a telling feature of this whole NZOA argument, and the fact that there is even an argument, illustrates how divisive arts and culture are. The fact that Robbie is quite specific in his attacks on Brendon indicates the necessity and historical precedent for a leader of sorts in this kind of patronage.

    We expect someone to be there to take the fall when things don't quite turn out the way we expected. If you ask me and Robbie what should be selected, there will naturally be disagreements. The same with any 2 people. If you ask 4 people then multiply that number of conflicts of taste. How many members on the NZOA board?

    So all you're ever going to get is watered down compromise. Strangley the great work on the Sistine Chapel by greats such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and Sandro Botticelli, wasn't patronized by the group Italy On Ceiling IOC, because the players weren't able to form that group,

    1 because Julius II was a bit of a motherfucker
    2 the acronym had already been copyrighted by some sports outfit

    Alone, Pope Julius II pratonized some of the greatest decorative art in known history. Just one man. Sure he had helpers, but if the Fresco had been shit he would have taken the fall and been duly judged. Naturally he couldn't have allowed that to happen. He was accountable.

    and what we have with NZOA is a total lack of accountability.

    You'd have a purer more rational system, if you split the single recording grant say from the video grant, and put one individual in charge of each on a on year contract to be replaced the following year. You'd have your 2004 vintage singles and your 2005 vintage videos. It'd be a connoisseurs dream. But least of all, you'd have some fucking accountability.


    enthusiastic vitality- recorded 12/2000 (prior to NZOA exp)


    dispirited washed out pap- recorded 5/2003 (post NZOA exp)


    *number from ass.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

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