Cheat sheet: What is the New Zealand Music Industry Manifesto?

Welcome to the Cheat Sheet, a clickable, shareable, bite-sized FAQ on the news of the moment. Today we figure out what the New Zealand Music Industry Manifesto means for local music.

The what?

The New Zealand Music Industry Manifesto. It’s basically just a detailed vision board, an agreement between a bunch of our local music representatives (APRA/AMCOS, OneMusic NZ, Recorded Music New Zealand, the Music Managers’ Forum, Independent Music New Zealand and the New Zealand Music Commission) that outlines a plan of action for making the most of the huge musical talent in New Zealand.

Over the past few years some strange things have been happening – beneath huge successes like Lorde and six60 a gulf is emerging. In the streaming era charts and playlists have been getting harder to crack, particularly for new artists, and campaigns (including Equalise my Vocals, in conjunction with The Spinoff) have highlighted some long-standing issues for the industry. The manifesto paints a picture of where we are from multiple angles – and attempts to get all stakeholders to live in the now: the statement “the broadcast environment is now online” is both hard to argue and something which will challenge many in the industry.

So what does it say?

Putting it simply, it’s a five-part plan with an end goal to strengthen and grow the existing music industry in New Zealand from the ground up, to create “a thriving and sustainable contemporary music industry”.

Go on then, quick-fire round, name the five parts.

Okay.

  1. Value. This is about solidifying local music at the heart of our national identity, to promote the merits of creativity and the culture displayed through music.
  2. Protection. Valuing intellectual property so artists are protected and can afford shelter and food as well as all the sick equipment that makes the music in the first place. This part will also help to see returns into the economy so we can continue to fund cool artists from across the country.
  3. Investment. More strategic investment will help to showcase the huge range of talent, from small fringe artists to classical artists to live music to Waiata Māori and Te Reo Māori. There’s just so much talent!
  4. Education. Studies say there are huge benefits to learning music in school, so a push for music education from early childhood through to tertiary would help to foster and grow early talent and could just end up making way smarter young people.
  5. Expansion. Let’s take this talent to the world, baby! Thinking globally and helping local artists carve pathways into the international market will give New Zealand artists a huge hand in exporting their goods. And we have some seriously good goods.

What’s wrong with New Zealand music at the moment?

Because this is a multi-partner official release, nothing is exactly wrong, but the manifesto highlights some areas where there could be improvements. It brings up some very interesting points about the distribution of funding across genres. In 2015, $31 million dollars was invested in New Zealand music, and almost $24 million of that went to classical music. Classical music only brought back around $15 million of the $472 million that New Zealand music contributed to the economy last year.

Classical is great! 

Sure is! And the manifesto is at pains to make sure we know they’re not trying to fight the classical musos.

Yeah, but that disparity is quite large.

True. The authors couldn’t resist slipping in a little knife:

Manifestos are usually radical and revolutionary, will this be radical and revolutionary?

It reads like they’re asking nicely for more support – but are not ruling out taking to the streets if these graphs stay so divergent:

OK, so what now?

All those organisations listed above just get to work, really, ideally with the government alongside them. This isn’t an overnight plan, it’s more of an ideal, a shining star in the distance for the music industry to look towards. If all goes well we’ll see growth of New Zealand culture through music, both locally and worldwide, with greater government support for the industry. But if we don’t… well, musicians know how to get loud.


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