Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Changing Times

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  • Russell Brown,

    As noted in Mike Bradshaw's interview, NZ on Air's style in music funding has over its course changed. He puts it at the 5 year mark (98?). Make of that what you will.

    As I've noted above, there were some huge and important successes for NZ music in the decade after 1995. I think Mike's wrong about that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17939 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    he seems to be well up on the actual govt docs

    Oh cmon, just read the parts of the Act linked here

    Brendan Smyth himself has said the act is the mandate

    Honestly, I kinda doubt that many of the artists would agree.

    They're hardly likely to say otherwise though are they ?...especially if they want to keep their snouts in the trough.

    BTW check the edit to my last post :)

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    compromise to commercial interests

    Conchord Dawn commercial? Don't make me laugh

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    Nesian Mystik's album was released in 2002 and went on to 4X platinum. Bic Runga's Beautiful Collision came out the same year and went 11x platinum.

    Scribe's first was in 2003 -- 5x platinum and massive cultural cut-through. Through this period, NZ music in general had a growing share of a declining overall market.

    Thats little to do with NZonAir funding and everything to do with the artists quality of songwriting and in the hiphoppers case, the lower costs of production, the availability of technology, the rise of alternative media as a means of promotion and marketing and the openness of radio to finally support foreign hiphop.

    The local hiphop stuff was built off the back of a lot of groundwork in the underground and it was dumb luck that those guys were around to capitalise on the groundswell of public support and changing attitudes.

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • brownthenose,

    there were some huge and important successes for NZ music in the decade after 1995. I think Mike's wrong about that.

    I didn't read Bradshaw's comments to mean that NZ music became shit in 98, more he's saying there's a fundamental shift in how NZ on Air addressed its primary objectives around 1998, (not 95?) and this impacted counter productively in his eyes come from an artistic viewpoint as he mentioned.

    Napier via UK • Since May 2010 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Are you really saying the artists I listed earlier would have made better records with no support whatsoever?

    Are you saying they would have made worse records without the handouts? Sorry, a continuation of my questions before Russell, I'm still waiting for definitive answer as to why we need to see more of NZ on air, given that it's readily available online.

    obviously as Mike mentioned

    As you said at the start, there are a lot of people who have benefitted financially, whose businesses are effectively 50% or thereabouts subsidised by NZ On Air’s existence. So there’s going to be fairly powerful vested interests within the NZ music industry who are going to want that $60m just to be rolling over, adjusted for inflation, and given another ten years.

    But beyond certain people and groups' vested interests?

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    Conchord Dawn commercial? Don't make me laugh

    commercial drum n bass as opposed to some really out there shit like Tays hakaider and audio slut incarnations.

    http://www.myspace.com/theaudioslut

    He was/is an an underground legend, a true pioneer and inspiration to countless foreign acts. concord dawn were cloned poo.

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Robbie, you said

    Without the handout and having to rely on your own talent might mean you'd produce a better quality work without having to compromise to commercial interests to satisfy the funding benefactor

    To me, it seems clear you are talking about someone compromising their existing sound because of funding - not whether they were in some experimental niche beforehand.

    concord dawn were cloned poo

    Cloned from what? Conchord Dawn's sound had an influence on their genre worldwide (which is hardly a big market) but you'd be hard-pressed to convince anyone who knows much about drum n bass that it was a "commercial" sound, let alone that it was because $50k of local funding corrupted their delicate artistic sensibilities. I'm delighted that the genre got a share of the funding at all.

    Much prefer constructive suggestions from you than cheap slagging of performers.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Are you saying they would have made worse records without the handouts?

    If it meant they had less time and fewer resources, it hardly seems a stretch to suppose so.

    What do you think?

    Sorry, a continuation of my questions before Russell, I'm still waiting for definitive answer as to why we need to see more of NZ On Air, given that it's readily available online.

    I'm mystified as to what you mean by "already available online", but whatever. I thought I'd gone on at some length.

    There's some in this thread who think everyone should get a pony, some who think no one should, and some who think both things at the same time. I appear to be finding it difficult to get away from having to defend everything to everyone.

    Actually bored now. Ask someone else.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17939 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    if you really want to go the d'n'b route Sacha, what aboutThe Upbeats ?

    Correct me if i'm mistaken but 2 self funded albums ?... international critical acclaim, a shit load of 12" vinyl ?

    another one of those, gotta make it overseas before you get a look in here ? i would wager the same could be said for concord dawn, though it doesnt hurt your chances if you had Dirty records pimping your shit and in their case maybe another one of those, fund the pimp rather than fund the artist jobs ?

    its hardly cheap slagging off, i ever dug concord dawn. they didn't innovate, they imitated the more "commercial" aspects of drum and bass/techstep at that time and were arguably clones of Bad Company or a shitload of other soundalikes who cloned the )EI3( sound. I much preferred Bulletproof in that vein.

    and if you're gonna rep them champ, then at least spell their name properly. There's no H in conchord.

    edit...OK morninnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggggggggggg light had its moments :)

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    If it meant they had less time and fewer resources, it hardly seems a stretch to suppose so.

    What do you think?

    I think money doesn't really come into it unless your Def Leppard

    Bleach

    Bleach has sold north of 1.7 million copies -- quite an accomplishment for an album that, on its back cover, wryly proclaims that it cost a paltry $500 to record the 13 tracks. I'm not sure anyone told Kurt Cobain of its populatiry, though -- before launching into "About a Girl" from Nirvana's MTV Unplugged set in 1994, the singer deadpans, "This is off our first record. Most people don't own it."

    Please Please Me

    at 10:00 am on Monday, 11 February 1963 at EMI Studios (whose name was later changed to Abbey Road Studios), The Beatles and George Martin started recording what was essentially their live act in 1963, and finished 585 minutes later (9 hours and 45 minutes).

    and that $100, 000 to record an album is perhaps extravagant.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    I'm mystified as to what you mean by "already available online", but whatever.

    If i want to see or hear New Zealand content, there are 1000s on youtube, why does the Government need to pay to make more?

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • brownthenose,

    why does the Government need to pay to make more?

    Why is the ministry of Culture and Heritage involved so heavily in the Radio Hits game?

    Napier via UK • Since May 2010 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    I thought I'd gone on at some length.

    ah, I just found you wrote the post in the spot where you said you were cooking the curry. Thanks Russell, not a bad answer. Sorry for any misunderstandings there. Certainly the developments you mention would have been untenable without NZOA. But most would argue that now, with the infrastructure so firmly established, that it wouldn't be a bad time to see if this puppy really floats.

    I don't mean underlying motive in any negative sense. Genuine curiosity in what you're into;

    Because they've helped bring to birth a bunch of great records that otherwise might not have been made to the same standard.

    Production. Not a biggie for some, but certainly the lubricant for the masses.

    And your argument that NZOA funding competitively penalises the people who don't get it doesn't really stack up. Firstly, the people who don't get any support generally aren't actually competing with the people who do.

    Certainly not in an artificially manipulated environment as you have there, but I'd hasten to point out, everyone is competing.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Bleach has sold north of 1.7 million copies -- quite an accomplishment for an album that, on its back cover, wryly proclaims that it cost a paltry $500 to record the 13 tracks. I'm not sure anyone told Kurt Cobain of its populatiry, though -- before launching into "About a Girl" from Nirvana's MTV Unplugged set in 1994, the singer deadpans, "This is off our first record. Most people don't own it."

    But Bleach had only sold 30,000 copies before it got to piggbyback on the success of a much more expensively recorded-in-Hollywood-for-a-major-label follow up ($65K in 1991 money). A follow-up that took off because of MTV's high rotate of a well-made video ...

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 638 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    But Bleach had only sold 30,000 copies before it got to piggbyback on the success of a much more expensively recorded-in-Hollywood-for-a-major-label follow up ($65K in 1991 money). A follow-up that took off because of MTV's high rotate of a well-made video ...

    None of which was funded by the US Government. I'm not sure why you began that sentence with a contrasting subordinating conjuction when you're providing additional information to support the case that very little money is sufficent to get the attention of major players. In this case DGC.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    What's with the NZ Government's dutch courage in believing they can compete in that arena?

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    None of which was funded by the US Government. I'm not sure why you began that sentence with a contrasting subordinating conjuction when you're providing additional information to support the case that very little money is sufficent to get the attention of major players. In this case DGC.

    Nirvana were working in the world's largest and most influential music market, had famous friends and access to David Geffen, and thereby money and MTV. They also happened to be the most important group of their generation.

    The whole point of funding (or otherwise protecting) local content is that artists in tiny markets face a tide of highly produced content (TV, music, whatever) that they can hardy aspire to taking on on a business level.

    Would there have been Outrageous Fortune if local TV networks faced the choice of spending millions of dollars producing it, or spending a few thousand buying a US network show? No.

    The Australians do it differently -- with a strict local content quota and a requirement for pay TV to contribute to a local production fund -- but the impetus is the same. It's impossible to compete with productions from much larger, richer markets. Not a problem if you're happy with having nothing but the most vestigal local culture, but otherwise, you're obliged to intervene somehow.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17939 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    What's with the NZ Government's dutch courage in believing they can compete in that arena?

    By that logic,then, the government should give up on any form of industry development, and settle for being a cultural and economic client state.

    This is actually getting boring.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17939 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    According to studio records and since verified by Jimmy Page himself, Led Zeppelin purchased 36 hours of studio time to record Led Zeppelin I (this includes mixing). Including artwork and studio time the album collectively cost Led Zeppelin 1750 pounds.

    or

    On the contrary to Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, The Beach Boys took an ungodly amount of time and money (by 1966 standards) to record the Brian Wilson masterpiece "Good Vibrations". This song was recorded over the course of 6 months. "Good Vibrations" was recorded in 17 different sections at 4 different studios. The first section recorded took 26 takes alone. In the end the recording sessions cost $50,000, and used 90 hours of tape. It is rumored that $15,000 of the recording costs went to capturing the right theramin take. Brian Wilson had a vision and used the studio, multi-tracking and tape to build a 'pocket symphony'. Though costly and by no means done efficiently or in a timely manner, this is a masterpiece. This song is a fine example of a band using the studio as a tool to perform something they couldn't do live. Approaches to recording have forever been altered since. I couldn't imagine the work that went into building one cohesive song out of 90 reels of tape and hundreds of takes they had at their disposal.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    It is rumored that $15,000 of the recording costs went to capturing the right theremin take.

    Worth every cent.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 638 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Worth every cent.

    "Wilson, just an ear, but what an ear"

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    By that logic,then, the government should give up on any form of industry development, and settle for being a cultural and economic client state.

    If that development can bring reasonable economic returns into New Zealand rather than simply being a swill-go-round I don't see a reason to shy away from the development of industry. But one could hardly make a case that the music industry has succeeded at anywhere near the level of the film industry. Beyonce isn't coming to York Street to record her next album.

    ... had famous friends and access to David Geffen, and thereby money and MTV

    All for $500 and a ton of sweat.

    The whole point of funding (or otherwise protecting) local content is that artists in tiny markets face a tide of highly produced content (TV, music, whatever) that they can hardy aspire to taking on on a business level.

    ACDC

    Would there have been Outrageous Fortune if local TV networks faced the choice of spending millions of dollars producing it, or spending a few thousand buying a US network show? No.

    I don't have an issue with the TV aspect of things. given the business plan required in terms of the level of organization, number of people employed, level of accountability to get the grants is significantly greater, and the benefite considerably more visible, I fully support this in fact.

    But paying $50,000 to 4 guys with a drug habit to produce 14 songs? ha!

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • Robbie Siataga,

    Hope you post back what Brendan says bout my idea Russ, and if he takes it on board with a change in selection policy, doesnt that prove my initial point about reluctance to post ideas that get co opted to maintain the status quo in NZoA personell ?

    Brendan Smyth: I've been with NZ On Air since the beginning, 1989, when the agency was set up. Before that I was ten years at the Arts Council which is like the National Endowment for the Arts in America. At the Arts Council, I did the music job. At NZ On Air, I did the radio job, but that became a music-on-the-radio job. I created and still run all of NZ On Air's programs to get more New Zealand music on the radio. I've got no music credentials at all! I can't sing and I can't play the guitar, but I am a big fan.

    http://prod1.cmj.com/articles/display_article.php?id=84047737

    cos the thing is, how is he even remotely qualified to sit in judgment on the relative cultural and artistic merit or even commercial viability of songs if he's never been a muso, never ran a label, never contributed to creating a music vid and never ran a mile in those of us who have's shoes ?

    it's like getting a hardcore boxing fan to judge a heavywieght fight or a rapid sports couch potatoed rugby junkie to coach the all blacks or John Key to judge 'kiwi idol' innit ?

    now wheres my fucking pony ? No.. i dont want a gelded chestnut one I want an appaloosa and it better have some legs cos i'll want to ride it hard :)

    Since Feb 2010 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • DD,

    I just saw previous posts about Broadcasting Act and NZ on Air mandates. I merely pointed out that there is nothing in the Act about how NZ on Air should act or what decisions it should make, or how it should make them because the Government (ie the Ministry for Culture and Heritage) is excluded from that in section 44. Sacha, if you want to disagree with my reading of the Act while not coming up with any interpretation of your own - that's fine. I'm a working, independent, hard gigging muso who hasn't got the time to argue. I also have plenty of my own capital and I don't need to get it from record companies or the Government. I'm interested in this debate for other reasons.

    Likwise, Russell. Sorry, I haven't got time it takes to engage you fully on the points you raised on digital content. One thing I will say, though, is the Culture and Heritage briefing to Jonathan Coleman is a tad old (12 years), but the bit you quote mentions the trend of audience fragmentation. This actually highlights how NZ on Air is so out of date with its thinking, and why there is a case to be made for pursuing smaller niche markets, not the mass market (sorry, I haven't got time to make the case - I am hired for a recording session at 1pm, got to dash) . If market fragmentation is still Culture and Heritage thinking then we do have to ask the question how much influence do they really have on NZ on Air - not a lot it seems.

    Since May 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

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