What’s Happened To New Zealand’s Music Industry?

New Zealand Herald have been running a special project called ‘Don’t Stream It’s Over’, looking at the ‘rise and fall’ of the Kiwi music industry.

It’s an interesting look at the so-called heyday of Kiwi music, a time in the early 00’s when bands like Zed and Fur Patrol reigned supreme and the, “New Zealand music industry was entering a renaissance that would see a record number of local acts take over radio playlists and enter the top 40 charts.”

The article states, “Between 2000 and 2010, a staggering 324 New Zealand singles entered the top 40. By comparison, the seven years since have seen just 141 Kiwi tracks reach that same milestone. This year to date, only seven local songs have made it into the charts – and six of those were by Lorde.”

In a nutshell, in today’s musical landscape, the top 40 charts are being dominated by international artists, and only Six60 and Lorde seem to be making a dent. Our top 40 charts are based on sales and streaming numbers in NZ, although it’s fairly tricky to determine just how local streams are counted for the charts.

The Herald’s piece is an in-depth look at the recent history of New Zealand music; explaining the changes to government funding along the way, and the huge impact that Spotify has had since hitting our market in 2012.

It also explains that Recorded Music New Zealand are discussing how they can change the charts to, “reflect what’s dynamic and growing. Those conversations are still underway but the consensus is clear: The current system isn’t quite right.”

This comes after a debacle which saw Ed Sheeran dominating the NZ Top 40 Singles chart with 16 songs in the chart at one time, when his new album ‘÷’ first came out. NZ On Air Head of Music David Ridler said it was “a horrible situation” that “was awful for music”.

While it might be good that the charts get an overhaul to reflect what’s going on here, is it really a problem that Kiwi acts aren’t hitting our Top 40? We have plenty of talented Kiwi musicians making a splash internationally (Broods, Aldous Harding, Fazerdaze, and The Naked & Famous instantly come to mind), and it seems like Kiwi artists are not solely focussing on building just their Kiwi audiences anymore.

With easy access to international blogs and spotify playlists around the globe, artists are making waves in their own genres globally and pulling in millions of streams - which translates to real revenue and opportunities for international shows. There’s definitely less incentive for Kiwi artists to focus on getting local pop radio-play and local sales, but is that even a bad thing?

Read the full piece here.