Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Sounding off

A review of NZ On Air's music activities has recently been completed by music industry veteran Chris Caddick, and has been delivered to NZ On Air. I believe it will be released in the next week or so.

Caddick wrote a previous review for NZ On Air of their offshore funding activities (see Phase 5 PDF here), which boiled down to 'send more bands to Australia, forget the rest of the world'. This absurd attitude was what Flying Nun bands faced from our music industry in the late 1980s when they said they wanted to go to England. It's utter rubbish. To date this new funding push has produced no visible returns for our acts in Australia.

Rob Mayes of Failsafe Records has very definite opinions on what NZ On Air should be doing with its music programmes (and has expressed them fervently numerous times on the Public Address forums). He's written a discussion a paper on it, which collects a range of views on the subject, mostly disparaging. You can download the PDF of the paper here. He's also got a Facebook group, Sounds Like Us.

I posted a link to Rob's paper on Twitter and had some interesting feedback on it, mainly along the lines of some good points mixed with some personal jibes.

Mayes' FB group lends its name to an article written back in May during NZ Music Month by Vicki Anderson of Christchurch paper The Press. The article was critical of NZ On Air's role in our music scene. She published a full, unsubbed version of her article with Brendan Smyth in August (according to the date on  -the full version is here. Jane Wrightson, CEO of NZ On Air joins in on the comments also.

EXCERPT: "I ask Smyth why South Island musicians are under-represented in the funding allocation. This year, 83 grants have been awarded, only four of which went to South Island-based artists. We pay taxes too.
" Perhaps their songs just weren't good enough?'' Smyth says.
We stare at each other for a moment or two. For a fleeting second I can understand the urge someone else had to wrestle him to the ground...."

Not a very pleasant sentiment coming from any writer, really.....

Andrew Dubber sent me a link to an article he wrote for a UK audience on NZ On  Air - read it here (PDF). As Andrew notes, It's a few years old now but still relevant.

ADDED Vicki Anderson's original Sounds Like Us article is here. "At an industry gig late last year, one of the [NZOA] head honchos went to shake my hand as my name was being told to him by a third party. He pulled it away so fast he caused a breeze. "Oh, it's you, you wrote that story about us," he said, turning around rather deliberately, so I was left staring at his blue-suited back..."

ADDED Hugh Sundae posted a link to a story he did on TVOne's Closeup in 2005 on Phase 4 NZ On Air funding.  As Hugh says in the comments..."I remember receiving some very upset emails/calls the next day.. and I thought it was rather tame."


Hugh said...

Here's a story on phase four I did in 2005.. if anyone is interested. I remember receiving some very upset emails/calls the next day.. and I thought it was rather tame

Rob said...

Thanks for posting the links Peter.
When does recounting experiences with nz on air and criticism of staff actions become personal jibes? I pretty much pass on comments of others relating to the staff at NZ on Air. If people are taking something else from these recounting of events then they perhaps have to look at their own bias.
I have no personal beef with the staff. They're pleasant enough people by all accounts but the core of the discussion paper is we have been poorly served by them and importantly completely missing the original intent of the broadcasting act which is their governing document.
If people take anything away from the discussion paper I hope it will be that they read the relevant bits of the broadcasting act and understand that "reflecting" culture and identity is its core theme. It's a social objective under the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. NZ on Air have been serving predominantly economic agendas,(crate radio hits on commercial radio, guage success by album and singles charts, international sales and success) which are possibly worthy in themselves but it's not the job NZ on Air were set up to achieve, a job that has been left essentially unaddressed.