By ELLEN READ

So how much is the local music industry worth? Well, it largely depends on how you measure it - New Zealand artists, songs, airplay, videos, record sales ...

The possibilities are numerous and the numbers hard to gather. Labels, managers and artists are reluctant to divulge their earnings and official statistics are scant.

But available figures show local music is growing in economic importance, with the share of local sales and airplay increasing.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise puts the value of the music industry at $146 million a year, with growing exports of about $5 million annually.

Its Music Export Development Group released a report earlier this year setting the goal of increasing foreign exchange earnings by a factor of 10 within the next 10 years.

Figures from other industry bodies show the six-year trend of New Zealand music sales as a percentage of the total market steadily increasing year by year from 4.33 per cent in 1998 to 9.25 per cent last year and 11.94 per cent year to August 31 this year.

(Those numbers are for artists signed to New Zealand companies and do not include local artists signed to overseas recording companies.)

Last year, retail sales of music made by New Zealanders in this country were worth about $23 million (including GST).

Airplay royalties brings money in too.

In May, local content on radio hit an all-time high of 25.4 per cent - compared with December 1997, when NZ music on the radio had a share of just 5.26 per cent.

Radio is still attaining higher percentages of plays for NZ music than what was set in the voluntary quota which aims for 20 per cent by 2006.

Free-to-air music TV station C4 aims for 30 per cent local content already.

Copyright society the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) has, for the first time, distributed more than $100 million to members and affiliated societies during the past year.

APRA's just-released annual report shows that music royalties collected from broadcasters and live performance of music rose about 6 per cent in the past year and includes $16 million flowing in from international societies.

Retail sales of NZ music have doubled since 2000.