4 May 2012

NZ Music Month


Here in New Zealand, like the rest of the world, it's May. Unlike the rest of the world, it's New Zealand Music Month - a month created 12 years ago to celebrate our music. It's a great and noble idea, but does it actually achieve anything?

While I support the idea of celebrating our achievements, and think that it's a healthy thing to do I don't think the current format works. What we get during May is a lot of gigs, featuring local bands, more airtime for local musicians on radio and TV, and some talk from politicians about how they enjoy NZ music and support it (usually followed by a NZ music quiz in which 90% of the politicians fail miserably when asked about NZ music).

The problem is the bands who get to play the gigs tend to be the ones getting a lot of exposure anyway, so are going to draw crowds regardless of the time of year. The talk from politicians is usually nothing more than just talk and doesn't result in any greater support of our music.

And at the end of the month everyone gets to feel like they've done their bit and things go back to normal. What would be great is if we could find some way to carry that momentum forward through the rest of the year, and at the same time spread the love so that more local bands gain some benefit and exposure from the month. I'm not saying I've got any ideas on how we can achieve this but it'd be great if we saw some ongoing benefits to the music community and got more people out there supporting up and coming local artists, by actually going to shows the other 11 months of the year, and buying more local music.

Don't get me wrong, it's important to look at the scene and our strengths (and weaknesses) and celebrate successes. It's a healthy thing to do and many industries/businesses outside music take the time to do it. It's just that we seem to think that just celebrating that success is enough, without looking beyond it to how we grow and improve our community.

Your thoughts, ideas and suggestions please people... What do you think of NZ Music Month? What do you plan to do for it? Any events you're particularly excited about? How do you think we move from having one month each year, to having our music celebrated and supported every month, every year? Hit the comment box below (anonymously is fine).

There was going to be a whole extra piece this week but I think this is long enough for one week. Next week I'll have some new tunes for you to get into, and the week after that I'll be talking about music publications in New Zealand... stay tuned.


  1. Certainly a fair point about the NZMM showcases mostly being about well established acts. Have to say that I looked through what was on offer (gig wise) in Welly on the NZMM website and wasn't hugely excited. It'd be great if a bit of the effort and (I assume) funding to promote NZMM events went into providing opportunity for talented, but not necessarily well known local artists to play some shows.

    On a slightly different subject, I think starting local gigs a hell of lot earlier could certainly make it a bit easier for the casual punter to get along to see more NZ Music. Gigs at certain venues that start at 11pm with three bands on the bill cut out a fair bit of the potential audience. Why not start at 7.30, like in the UK?

  2. Really, though, it comes down to the level of buy-in from bands/performers. As long as we don't view NZ music month as an 'opportunity', because it really isn't, then it would return to being a celebration/pay-lip-service/self congratulation kind of thng...which it really IS.

    1. Good point. I do get the feeling that some musicians see it as a opportunity to push their music for a month and then slow down for the rest of the year (and then wonder why their music stalls).

      This was aimed more at supporters/fans of NZ music, who think that by going to gigs for a month they've done their part and don't have to go see any local bands for the rest of the year.

      There's nothing wrong with looking at what we do well (and conversely, not so well) and celebrating that.