10 Reasons Being a Kiwi Musician Rocks

10 Reasons Being a Kiwi Musician Rocks

We all know it can be tough making headway as a Kiwi musician, it can be one of the most challenging industries to create a baseline income.

But living in New Zealand gives us special perks, small leg-ups and privilege other musicians from around the globe miss.

1 – Funding.

New Zealand agencies, by law, need to fund a set amount of music projects per annum. The total budget for Creative New Zealand is around $43 Million to cover all areas of the arts, and they must spend it all. Likewise, NZ On Air has roughly $2 million per year specifically for new singles and music projects. Some initiatives like The New Zealand Music Commission purpose is to encourage Kiwi music into the global spotlight.

And don’t get discouraged if you are rejected the first time, funding is not only for the already funded and orchestral groups. Agencies have a vested interest in supporting a diverse range of genres. If you meet the guidelines, your time will come.

2- Radio Airplay.

New Zealand radio stations have had a self-imposed 20% minimal Kiwi music content since 2000. Not all stations tow the line, but if they are able the vast majority of the ones that count do.

Kiwi Musician3 – Smaller, tight-knit industry.

Smaller might sound like a negative, but the New Zealand music “industry” is much more intertwined than you might think.

The majority of grass-roots level management and promotional companies are a small business or one-man-band operations. They are mostly known to each other, so information gets shared and passed along quickly.  There is a close comradery between operators, so for better or worse, antagonisers get weeded out quickly.

4 – Relative to other countries, we have an extraordinarily high number of touring international acts.

While this is an excellent stimulation for the country’s economy in general, it is also essential exposure for our local acts which support the tours. The pool of local bands available to support international mega-groups is relatively small, and it’s not as difficult as you might think to get on the short-list.

For a local group based in, say, Los Angeles to become support for the next Foo Fighters concert would be close to impossible. A quality band in Auckland with a great fanbase has a relatively good chance to be picked because the overall pool of compatible groups is small.

5 – A close musician scene.

Though music fans can be fickle, Kiwi musicians are generally very supportive of local music. Even Kiwi headliners love to support local music where they can.

Also, it’s not as hard as you may think to contact pretty much any New Zealand music celebrity (except, perhaps Lorde) and ask for advice. If you are genuinely looking for help and guidance, if you ask the management company nicely and if the artist has time, you can pretty much chat one-on-one with anybody you like.

Kiwi Musician6 – The touring circuit is small and well established.

In New Zealand, there is one touring circuit most bands take when covering the nation. The venues are well set up for live events, there are plenty of sound and light companies around, and promoters know the ropes. In contrast, try touring Europe, the US or even Australia.

7 – Limited competition.

No matter what style of music, or how fashionable and trendy it is right now, you statistically have no real competition.

Even the most vanilla, white bread pop music genre has only a handful of bands tops making waves. If your music style is more focused, avant-garde weirdo space reggae, you have a much greater chance to pretty much dominate your demographic overnight.

8 – Tall Poppy syndrome.

Kiwis are a weird bunch when it comes to success. When you’re the little guy, the underdog or the minority, Kiwis will champion your cause like their lives depend on it. But there is a tipping point, however, that once you become too big all of a sudden you’re open season for trolls and shit-flinging.

Kiwi Musician

9 – Volunteers.

Kiwis traditionally love to jump in a get involved with any crusade they’re passionate about, music included. Finding a dedicated fan base who will literally become unpaid slave labour for your world domination music plans is not as hard as you might think. Heck, your mom will do it now.

10 – Support groups.

There are some excellent resources for Kiwi musicians, especially in the youth sector. Some have agendas like the various “Music Quest” type competition, but plenty exists purely to advance the music arts. Zeal, Play It Strange, MMF, NZ Music Foundation Wellbeing Service, and the NZ Music Month initiative are good starting points.

11 – Getting paid for doing nothing is easier than you might think.

Let’s call this one a bonus, as it only applies to bands anywhere. Getting paid for your music online streaming services like Spotify, Bandcamp, and iTunes is becoming a more lucrative now than your traditional record contract. Being part of a well-curated playlist is more important these days than printing CD’s.


What are your thoughts on the New Zealand music scene? Leave a comment below; we’d love to hear your insights.

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