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New Zealand Music Month

Page 4 – About New Zealand Music Month

Many New Zealand musicians have struggled to achieve commercial success and make a living as performers, except by covering the music of overseas acts. While early televised music shows like C'mon and Happen inn brought some local talent into the public eye, they rarely showcased New Zealand music. The key to doing this was to increase its airtime on commercial radio.

In 1995 New Zealand songs made up just 1.6% of the airtime on commercial radio. Campaigners began to urge the introduction of a quota system that would force commercial radio stations to play more New Zealand music. Some questioned the merits of a quota, arguing that New Zealand music and artists should stand or fall on their own merits. Supporters maintained that the small size of the New Zealand market meant that local talent needed help to compete with the big labels and corporations that dominated the music industry. To promote the playing of local music, a New Zealand Music Week was introduced in 1997.

The place of popular music in our society and its contribution to the cultural well-being of the nation were recognised in 2000 by the establishment of the government-funded New Zealand Music Industry Commission (now the New Zealand Music Commission). The commission sought to ensure more New Zealand music was heard and by a wider audience. To do this, it expanded New Zealand Music Week into New Zealand Music Month. During May each year local acts and music are showcased on broadcast media and in live performances. The airtime given New Zealand music on commercial radio stations increased from around 10% in 2000 to nearly 23% in 2005. The amount of New Zealand music sold also grew, from 5.45% of the total market in 2000 to over 10% in 2004.

This campaign and other initiatives have been so successful that some people now ask whether New Zealand Music Month is necessary. Others argue that it continues to remind New Zealanders of the need to support local music.

How to cite this page

About New Zealand Music Month, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated