New Zealand music achieves record level of local airplay

By Claire Trevett

The popularity of bands such as Fat Freddys Drop, and new albums by favourites Bic Runga and the Feelers helped boost the airplay of New Zealand music on radio to record levels last year.

The annual NZ Music Performance Committee check has revealed nearly 21 per cent of all music on commercial radio in 2005 was by New Zealand groups.

A voluntary target of 20 per cent local content by the end of this year was set in 2002, when the industry drew up a New Zealand Music Code to avoid the Government imposing a mandatory quota.

The industry has hit its target of 20 per cent a year earlier than expected, and is up from 18.6 per cent in 2004.

The committee chairman, Michael Glading, said much of the growth was across the adult contemporary and easy listening genres, which were well ahead of target.

"Feedback from both broadcasters and the music industry gives us confidence that the 2006 target will be met, provided everybody pulls their weight."

Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey said since 2002 airplay of New Zealand music had doubled in all genres "from classical to hip-hop".

"The fact that this target was reached last year, 18 months ahead of the target date, is evidence the New Zealand music industry is continuing to move from strength to strength."

He said in 1995 only 2 per cent of music played on air was New Zealand made.

The code is due for review by the end of the year.

Mr Maharey said he would consult the Radio Broadcasting Association and the music industry to decide where to go next with the code.

He said radio in Australia and countries of a similar size to New Zealand, such as Ireland, had up to 50 per cent local music.

"We want more New Zealand music played, and more exporting of New Zealand music so we get a share of the big international acts."

The figures would have been boosted by 100 per cent New Zealand music station Kiwi FM. However, RadioWorks has decided to replace Kiwi FM in Auckland with The Breeze - the most popular station in Wellington.

RadioWorks spokesman Roger Beaumont said it was trying to keep Kiwi FM on air in some capacity, but the Breeze was an important brand for the company so introducing it into Auckland was a priority.

In last November's survey, Kiwi got a 0.2 per cent audience share of the Auckland market and was listened to by 15,400 different listeners each week.

The commercial radio stations are also in the midst of the marketing spree that accompanies the six-monthly survey of listeners.

The results are due out in April and will show whether Radio Live has made any impact since it launched it last year to compete against Newstalk ZB.

A new weekend line-up is to start on Radio Live this weekend with Brian Edwards of National Radio fame in the late 1990s taking over the Saturday morning slot and former Listener editor Finlay Macdonald hosting a Sunday morning show with a focus on current events and politics.

Edwards will feature Max Cryer - recently ousted from his slot on Kim Hill's National Radio show - and Macdonald will be joined by another National Radio casualty, political commentator Tom Frewen.

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