Aotearoa's music industry is about to get a high voltage boost through a new online platform - along with some live stage shows - to help uncover a new wave of Kiwi musicians.
After 2020 short-circuited much live music because of the pandemic, live entertainment company Live Nation has launched the Ones to Watch platform, in partnership with Vodafone, to profile up-and-coming Kiwi artists and make it easier for fans to discover them.
A series of live invitation-only showcases featuring some of the young stars - the first was held recently in Auckland - are also being staged. Live Nation's Managing Director in New Zealand Mark Kneebone says that is welcome news in a year when the live music industry was hard hit by the restrictions imposed in the fight against Covid-19.
"It almost goes without saying it's been a tough year, but we'll say it anyway," he says. "What we've been through in 2020 reinforces the need for a focus on local talent now more than ever and we are happy to contribute.
"There is a wealth of new music talent simmering in Aotearoa and Ones to Watch is here to show it off. We want to champion the most exciting up-and-coming Kiwi artists across all genres whether it be pop, EDM (electronic dance music), hip hop, rock or any other form; we are trying to find the best local talent and help create a demand for their own live shows."
Over the coming year, the platform will feature 12 hand-picked new local artists considered to have international potential and will feature editorial profiles, interviews, video and playlists.
The first four are west Auckland-based five-piece indie pop band Park Rd, electro-synth duo Imugi, Auckland singer-songwriter, podcaster and YouTuber Paige and rising Wellington-based vocalist - and keen piano jammer - Rllkl. Kneebone says another four will be added at the end of summer.
He says while reading about music is a good start, it is also about experiencing it "live in the sweaty flesh" and, to that end, Live Nation is planning a series of quarterly Showcases.
"These are aimed at not just getting the artists performing in front of a live audience but putting them in front of key industry professionals," he says.
"Why are we doing this? Well, while there are a lot of Kiwi platforms pumping tunes across radio waves and cyberspace, more often than not they tend to be focused on a specific genre or sound. We felt there was space to showcase the brightest new music talent regardless of how they fit into increasingly blurred genre divisions.
"It doesn't matter if someone's making surf rock spliced with EDM or whipping up country trap beats in their backyard – if it's good, we'll shout about it."
Kneebone says Ones to Watch began in the United States in 2017 and has launched the careers of many musicians who are now household names including American singer-songwriter Halsey and English singer Dua Lipa. In New Zealand the platform will also highlight emerging artists from around the world.
Vodafone NZ Consumer Director Carolyn Luey says Vodafone has a history of supporting local music talent and is continuing this legacy by bringing the Ones to Watch platform to New Zealand.
"With the cancellation this year of so many concerts and gigs, our hope is it will be a boost to the industry by not only fostering the awesome talent we have but also giving Kiwis the opportunity to fall in love with budding local artists," she says. "We also believe it will add to the rich musical diversity we enjoy."
Vodafone and Live Nation launched a long-term partnership in 2019 through which Vodafone has provided its customers access to Live Nation's entertainment portfolio including music, comedy tours and festivals.
"The strategic multi-year partnership is committed to bringing the best live experiences to Aotearoa and the best New Zealand artists to the world," Luey says. "The emerging Ones to Watch platform builds on this partnership and a shared dedication to support grassroots initiatives."
As well as access to the online platform, Vodafone customers will also be given the chance to win tickets to the invitation-only quarterly showcase events.
For competition details and more information go to: www.vodafonerewards.co.nz
To discover your next music obsession visit: www.onestowatch.com