He throws a good bash, that Campbell Smith. You might have heard about his company's Christmas party. The cops were called after a stoush outside. The subsequent headlines linked Scribe - one of Smith's management firm's star clients - to an assault, and Smith's phone ran hot for days. "The star wasn't involved", is still the official line from Smith's company, CRS Management.

On January 21, Smith throws another party with an even more salubrious guest list. It's the biggest gig of the year in New Zealand: the Big Day Out.

"It's a monumental thing to put together, there's no two-ways about that. It's the biggest thing I've ever done. I've put shows and tours on for years but nothing on this scale," he says.

But that's not his only gig. Smith must be one of the most powerful people in New Zealand music. He is also Boh Runga's husband, Bic's brother-in-law, and has managed the pair for years.

He is also a lawyer - he graduated from Auckland University in 1990 - for some of the country's biggest stars, including Hayley Westenra and Nesian Mystik. CRS Management - his initials stand for Campbell Roy Smith - looks after the business affairs of Scribe, Brooke Fraser, Blindspott and Dimmer.

And he is chairperson of the Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust, of which Boh and Bic are patrons. In March he takes over as chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (Rianz) and the managing director of Phonographic Performances New Zealand (PPNZ).

Rianz protects the rights of record producers, distributors and musicians, and PPNZ is the recording industry's fee-collection company. PPNZ grants licences to anyone playing or using recorded music in public and the fees collected are re-distributed to the owners of the music.

Put simply, Smith will be in charge of making sure our musicians are paid.

Some might remember Smith from the radio a few years back. He was Roy the lawyer, the founder of Law Line on Auckland student radio station bFM, from 1993 to 1997.

"Marcus [Lush, the breakfast host of the time] and I dreamed up the Law Line idea in the middle of some heavy drinking on a Wednesday night and we started it on air the next morning."

On that first morning he decided to use Roy, his middle name, just in case he couldn't answer the listeners' questions. "With that hangover and all I didn't want to humiliate myself under my known name."

Smith was also chairman of the bFM board in 1995 and 1996. He says his time there helped him to bust into the music industry and gave him a good connection with musicians.

Although he is far more professional and business-like now, he hasn't lost that casual student approach. His Grey Lynn office is chaos. The radio is blaring. When he gets off the phone there is no hand shake, yet he asks after you first. He's staunch, but smiles and laughs to emphasise a point.

"I keep adding jobs," he says, after explaining how it'll take a week to "wash up" after the Big Day Out. Then he will take Brooke Fraser to Europe and start his new job.

Some would say he is one of the most powerful people in New Zealand music.

"I guess," he says dismissively. "I just straddle a lot of areas now."

Smith's experience in artist management brings a more personal face to the music industry, and a younger one who is more in tune with the demands of an industry suffering from a global downturn in the age of the MP3.

He says in the past Rianz and PPNZ have been seen as organisations full of "fat-cat record companies" that solely collect money.

"There is no space now for record companies to sit back and collect money, and be wealthy from doing that. They have to work hard. It's the changing face of the music industry."

Smith believes there is more money to be made in local music by simply ensuring those who should be paying for the music do so. "Like the Timaru Tearooms," he says. "I'm not sure if there is a Timaru Tearooms, but I think the key point is that that means more money for the artist.

"This is not just a whole bunch of money going into the pockets of record companies. It's money that is collected and properly accounted to the artists, and the record companies.

"I think we are in a different era and perhaps it is time we had someone younger. Basically, my whole working life has been involved with all the main issues that are going on now [in music]."

These issues include music piracy, music downloading and the government's proposed changes to the Copyright Act to allow "format shifting" - the shifting of songs from, say, Bic Runga's album to a PC, iPod or any other portable MP3 player.

"The thing that always amazes me, and in some ways it frightens me," says Smith, "is when you think of how quickly it's changed already.

"First of all, I think we have to create an environment where we can look forward to where we think things might be going and be reactive in making sure we're developing alongside these. At the moment, we're reactive and possibly a little too late."

An example of this was the BRN&GTBRNT campaign that Rianz ran a few years ago to combat the burning of CDs.

Smith didn't like the campaign. "The sentiment of the BRN&GTBRNT campaign was bang-on, but it always smacked to me of being a bit hastily put together. It seemed a little bit cheesy in the end. We started off with a couple of artists and then I didn't really like the way it came across."

He says the challenge is to provide punters with easy-to-use and legal ways of format shifting and downloading. His view on format shifting is that the copyright law should not be tampered with.

"This view is shared by the music industry worldwide - format shifting will open the floodgates to unrestricted piracy. There are ways and means for the artists and the record companies to enter into agreements with punters to allow them to format shift. But it should be a decision that a copyright owner is allowed to make. I don't think changing the law is the way to fix that situation."

Smith's not a bad person to have to go into bat for you. Just ask Hayley, or Scribe.