Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Changing Times

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  • DD,

    Robbie, if you don't trust existing music industry groups to lobby on behalf of your interests you need to start/join another lobby group. You will want to work at getting a broad constituency and building it up with members who are recognised as "credible". "expert", authoritative" etc., and appoint a good spokesperson who knows his/her stuff. It's not easy but it looks like there might be a mood out there for a new industry group.

    I proposed the idea of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage putting out a discussion document on music funding to gauge feeling in the industry and see what ideas are out there. A discussion document is a public way for every stakeholder to have a say and it doesn't have to mean capture by some of these people you are suspicious of (although it might). I, for one, would like to see a proper debate that is inclusive and doesn't take place behind committee doors.

    Since May 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    uh yeah Rob...

    How about doing the Ecan thing and sacking Brendan and his mates, then appointing outsiders with real world skills and proven ability to look at the whole shebang with fresh eyes and ears.

    cos the thing is, theres 'the music commission' appointed panel of music experts 'outward sounds' programme which gives out grants to tour and market for which most who have availed themselves of have also failed dismally at.

    http://www.mch.govt.nz/funding-guide/fund/200970/F

    http://nzmusic.org.nz/international/recipients/

    the third conversation on the Real Groove site. It's with Mike Bradshaw, Crowded House's current manager. Pretty provocative opinions,

    this from there cos i used to be one of this

    lot of really great people out there on the breadline running great little labels, encouraging people to get into music that are really struggling. Their opinion is as relevant as Universal and Sony music. That’s what needs to happen. There has to be a more distinct overview and look at how and if the current system is working and should keep working the way it is. That’s what needs to happen.

    and it needs to happen on line or in full public view otherwise it'll happen as some verbose report easily buried in the backroom filled with quotes by pseudonyms to scared to say what they really think for fear of being blacklisted by Brendan and his cronies.

    Cos lets not kid ourselves. That is what happens, one only need look at Vicki Andersons piece where she states

    I'd like to ask someone at NZ On Air these questions but NZ On Air no longer take my calls.

    At an industry gig late last year, one of the 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.

    Having experienced that as a small label owner you do feel...

    too weary about the whole saga to even contemplate looking into it again.

    ...or even applying for funding again.

    God knows why Tourettes (but i suspect he's a bit sado maso:) still bothers trying to get into the system...

    with its insinuations about personality and status trumping musical talent and potential. Tourettes – who has been turned down for NZ On Air funding “over 20 times” by his own count – sees as having a depressing amount of merit. His own experiences with the organisation have a near Kafka-esque quality to them. “There was nothing,” he says of the endless denials. “You don’t even get anything. You’re just not on that list of names

    cos if you're not in by now you've missed the boat but I suppose i still live in hope that the tides changing and soon there'll be a new captain at the helm.

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Is there some amendment to the Act that makes it illegal not to blow millions on "radio friendly" pop music? Have I missed something?

    Sorta. Even in TV, nothing gets funded without a broadcast commitment -- no matter how authentic and great the idea is. The networks are essentially the gatekeepers of what can be made -- especially now that the TVNZ Charter has been abolished. The reason you don't see many decent documentaries made for TV these days is that the networks hate them, not that people don't want to make them.

    It's the same with radio. NZ On Air is obliged to fund things that, in theory, will be nationally broadcast.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18700 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    There are some good ideas there Rob, but i'm always left pondering how The Government marginalizing artists benefits the greater good?

    Manufactured culture? Oppressively conditioned social responsibility? Successful precedents always outweigh the failures.

    This overriding sense that cultural pantheons of days gone by can be reproduced with a bundle of money, that the glory days of New Zealand music in the 70s and 80s weren't as much a product of their surroundings as much as a definite, quantifiable vein that needed only to be mined, is simply passé and ignorant of the function and responsive role of music.

    conditionality can't be faked (for long).


    NZOA specifically with regards to music is not unlike Союз композиторов СССР

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_of_Soviet_Composers

    In 1936 Dmitri Shostakovitch was victimized for his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. He was criticised in a series of critical articles in Pravda, the newspaper of the Communist Party, starting with ‘Muddle Instead of Music’, which was rumoured to have been written by Stalin himself. This critical stance was supported by the leadership of the Composers' Union.

    Nothing good will ever come from systems like these, but some good can exist despite/with/without their assistance.

    Never let the Government stand between you and a good time.

    You and I both know Robbie, that your time would be better spent plotting the next big thing. They have sucked you into their game.

    Which is it going to be? Politician or artist?

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 898 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Even in TV, nothing gets funded without a broadcast commitment -- no matter how authentic and great the idea is. The networks are essentially the gatekeepers of what can be made

    Yeah.
    And that's always been a problem. And it's past the point where the writing on the wall is clear enough...
    There's never, for example, been much- if any- funding for smaller broadcasters. But now that anyone can broadcast on the net- and there's plenty of spare satellite space- NZ on Air's raison d'etre needs to evolve quickly before it disappears completely.
    There's not much stopping NZ on Air, eg having their own Freeview channel- both to air content the commercial stations won't, and to ginger-up the commercials with some thoughtful competition.
    The 'dual-gatekeeper' model (with one gatekeeper, the broadcasters, having ahem, most of the power) has, IMHO, been quite destructive to NZ broadcasting, and all too often worked directly against NZ on Air's stated cultural goals.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1466 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    eg having their own Freeview channel- both to air content the commercial stations won't, and to ginger-up the commercials with some thoughtful competition.

    ...This I like, if every video gets played at least once, assuming it meets broadcasting standard requirements.

    democracy ffs.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 898 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    freeview ?... theres already c42 which IMNZ have got their hooks into for free broadcasting in contra for advertising to artist royalties. Nah it needs to be online like soundcloud/amplifier/youtube

    You and I both know Robbie, that your time would be better spent plotting the next big thing. They have sucked you into their game.

    Which is it going to be? Politician or artist?

    Honestly, one of my kids is going to be the next big thing. Shes got star written into her genes so i dont even have to plot.

    and i'm happy enough designing t shirts and art directing the odd piece but i've got a voice and a chip on my shoulder that needs knocking off so i guess it's looking like politics :)

    Shot DD...So are you in or do you have vested interests best served by pseudonymity ? How many people does one need for a lobby group ?

    maybe hit me up offsite ?

    http://pollywannacracka.blogspot.com/

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    How many people does one need for a lobby group ?

    One, if you plan on lobbying via the New Zealand Herald.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1549 posts Report Reply

  • phildog,

    I defy you to point out a band that sounds like The Phoenix Foundation from anywhere else.

    Fair call maybe - but here's a riff that sounds very much like The Phoenix Foundation's Buffalo. "Hank Marvin" by the Exploding Budgies - http://ht.ly/1HyQT

    Since Jan 2007 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • DD,

    Even in TV, nothing gets funded without a broadcast commitment -- no matter how authentic and great the idea is. The networks are essentially the gatekeepers of what can be made

    I don't accept that argument. The point now is that there are so many alternative forms of broadcasting (eg internet radio and video channels, podcasting, phone applications, community radio, student radio etc) we need a proper debate on the future of NZ on Air. The commercial networks are not the gatekeepers anymore - everybody is jumping over the gate if they can raise enough money to produce and distribute something, but not everyone can afford to and there are many good projects out there that deserve to be at least considered for funding. Why is there still a NZ on Air focus on commercial radio and TV? It's outdated.

    Besides all this, it is my understanding that NZ on Air does fund some b.net and Kiwi FM programmes (at least according to their last published report). They are just not putting their money where there mouth is and helping to fund the content that goes on them.

    Since May 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Reliance on commercial gatekeepers is a substitute for having to make and stand by quality judgements when rationing resources.

    That role shifting to audiences rather than traditional middlemen is part of the impact of the internet on all culture industries and media. And the channels do not have the same constraints anymore either.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16471 posts Report Reply

  • DD,

    I agree Sacha. NZ on Air has to be part of the biggest cultural phenomenon since the invention of the printing press, or get swept aside by it.

    Since May 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Why is there still a NZ on Air focus on commercial radio and TV? It's outdated.

    To me that's the bit that needs to change. I don't buy all the slagging off of NZOA for helping fund mainstream pop, because it's our mainstream pop and as worthy of support as non-mainstream stuff. Perhaps spread a bit more widely, but mainstream pop are very strong cultural ties for many of us.

    It's governed by legislation that needs to move forward a couple of decades. TV and radio should only be part of the equation. The money amounts seem very high when some parts of production have gotten cheaper. Things a sensible review and an amendment to the Act could do.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6161 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Without much comment and drifting off-topic a bit (but only a bit because it speaks to the value of the music produced at the edges rather than simply targeted at the centre), this interview with Martin Mills, the owner of the world's most successful indie is pretty good reading.

    Oh, and Robbie, I've just found this blog post of mine in response to a question from you back in '06, and I've reposted it. Funny how little has changed, huh?

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    but here's a riff that sounds very much like The Phoenix Foundation's Buffalo.

    And I can point you in the direction of a '77 keyboard line from The Subway Sect that sounds very much like The Clean's seminal '81 Tally Ho, but it's not what your influences are, or even what you've borrowed, it's what you do with that surely. Or mostly.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I don't buy all the slagging off of NZOA for helping fund mainstream pop

    Too much of that and not enough of anything else might be what's challenged.

    Pop is by definition what's popular, and part of NZOA's remit is about promoting belonging and national voice and getting biggest impact for its investment. However, the fundamental assumption behind that has shifted with multiplying channels and lower entry barriers, and a more diverse national discourse and population.

    It's a matter of voices plural now (and probably always was if we're honest with ourselves). There is no longer one tv show that everyone watches, one radio station they keep on in the background, one song they sing, one topic they discuss the next day. That's last century calling.

    It's governed by legislation that needs to move forward a couple of decades. TV and radio should only be part of the equation.

    Agreed. More significantly, why should a small group of unaccountable people (commercial broadcasting programmers) get to decide what will be popular before it's even made? Bollocks to that.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16471 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Sacha:

    Agreed. More significantly, why should a small group of unaccountable people (commercial broadcasting programmers) get to decide what will be popular before it's even made? Bollocks to that.

    Sounds a bit like the Top of the Pops mentality of 1977:

    When you see the kind of bands that were doing the rounds on 'Top Of The Pops' at the time, it really puts the Pistols into perspective. They really were like something from another planet. And as Julien Temple pointed out himself, the weird thing is 25 years later the Sex Pistols still look contemporary, it's everybody else in the film that look like freaks.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4154 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    Oh, and Robbie, I've just found this blog post of mine in response to a question from you back in '06, and I've reposted it. Funny how little has changed, huh?

    haha Simon, a most excellent response... it really is like groundhog day !

    ...and to think Brendan has known it was broke since then and done nothing to fix it. 4 yrs on he's still the gatekeeper and i'm still the crazy guy on the fringes pissing in the wind knowing i've got ideas worth shit and can spot talent a mile off.

    I should note, its unfair to lay the blame for crap selections totally at the broadcasters/programmers door. The thing that needs reminding, is that NZ on Air personell make a preliminary cull of the applicants to weed out the undesirables, and that is where potentially great tunes dont get a look in, for whatever reason including personal bias, before passing them on to the programmers to decide in their infinite wisdom who gets the dosh.

    I just wonder if this is the year of critical mass needed to convince Brendan its time to go ?

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    I should note, its unfair to lay the blame for crap selections totally at the broadcasters/programmers door.

    Never forget, they are only playing your record because they have to.

    Also, and I need to say it again: I have to admit, as I've said before, that I'm really not at all comfortable with attacks on Brendan per se. Yes I know he directs NZ on Air's music programs and I think we all agree they need radical revision, but his contribution over the last 30 years is monumental and this can never be taken away. I have huge respect for the man and what he's achieved.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Focusing on Mr Smyth is like targetting your school principal about national standards rather than the Board that employs her or the Minister and government who make the rules.

    Sure the manager can advocate to the higher-ups but they don't have enough power to make change happen on their own. That will take more than firing the wrong person.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16471 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The commercial networks are not the gatekeepers anymore

    For NZ On Air funding? Yes, they are. Nothing gets funded without a screening commitment from a broadcaster.

    - everybody is jumping over the gate if they can raise enough money to produce and distribute something, but not everyone can afford to and there are many good projects out there that deserve to be at least considered for funding. Why is there still a NZ on Air focus on commercial radio and TV? It's outdated.

    Fair question. But apart from Radio NZ (also funded by NZ On Air), commercial radio is what near everyone else who listens to radio listens to. And with the exception of TVNZ 6 & 7 -- which aren't funded by NZ On Air -- basically all the TV people watch is commercial.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18700 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    Fair enough Simon, that's admirable you've got your mates back, but in this game you're only as good as your last gig/tune and Brendans gig/tune for at least the last 5 years has been sub par.

    Respect where it's due but it's the classic, yeah i liked your old stuff better than your new stuff.

    I'm sure hes a nice guy to go to dinner with and chat about inane shit over a glass of wine cos he'll prolly pick up the tab, but his legacy wont be remembered for what he achieved, it'll be for what he didnt when he had the chance.

    I'm sure you said yourself he was a man for his time but that time has been. Fact is, there's nothing so unattractive as holding on to power for its own sake.

    Why else maintain the status quo ?

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    I'm sure you said yourself he was a man for his time but that time has been.

    I don't recall saying that but really, its got little to do with watching his back. After all these years I think he's tough and thick skinned enough to watch his own. Yes I like him as a person but that's neither here nor there.

    However there is also a wealth of knowledge and experience there that I, as a New Zealand taxpayer, don't want to toss away. He knows his stuff and in a nation where civil servants at his level are more often than not muppets that's quite something.

    Which is why I agreed with Sacha above:

    Focusing on Mr Smyth is like targetting your school principal about national standards rather than the Board that employs her or the Minister and government who make the rules.

    Brendan does not exist in a vacuum where he defines the parameters, as much as he may be an easy target. Target those parameters instead. They offer a huge and even easier target.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    Focusing on Mr Smyth is like targetting your school principal about national standards rather than the Board that employs her or the Minister and government who make the rules.

    Nah it's like targeting the school principal for despite having the resources still continually churns out morons into the workforce...none of which go onto higher learning.

    If i was the school board i'd be firing the principal first up. If this were a rugby team or a pro soccer team he woulda been gone 4 years ago.

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    But you're not the board. In that scenario you are a parent, or even less powerful, a student.

    The principal is not allowed to spend money on whatever they feel like - and nor is the Board for that matter.

    It seems a better understanding of advocacy and power might be one of the barriers to change.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16471 posts Report Reply

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