Making Music Profitable for New Zealand Artists
It’s hard to be an artist, when the commercial realities make it difficult to get gigs or recording contracts so 12 months ago, I thought as the new Executive Director for Buy New Zealand Made, I could do a little something for New Zealand artists.
Why Paying Musicians Works When Producing For Social Newsfeeds
When the ‘Making It New Zealand’ video series was being produced on a shoe string budget with in-house editing and post production, the only thing I didn’t skimp on was paying New Zealand artists for their creativity. This is a key thesis in my book 100% Kiwi business, that creativity is commercially valuable for businesses.
In fact, I wanted to go further than purchase from artists…I wanted to delve deep to find the artists that were undiscovered yet. One artist I found on Soundcloud called Venn had only 2 followers at the time (he has 136 now) asked “How did you find me?”. The truth was I spent a couple of evenings a week trawling Soundcloud and Spotify for music that would work as the backdrop to what New Zealand manufacturers were making.
You can listen to that playlist here.
Matching Music to the Making It New Zealand Series
New Zealand Artist: Venn
The Venn Limbic System track became the monotonous backing track to the robotic workflow that had been installed at Taurus Leather Company in Auckland to help make more construction toolbelts at a better competitive price with less leather waste to allow them to enter the Australian marketplace.
This track was perfect and the ‘Making It New Zealand’ episode wouldn’t have had the same feel without this track. The music and the visuals co-exist, complement and build on each other. Watch and listen for yourself here:
How Much Is New Zealand Music Worth?
Quite a lot if you’re famous like Lorde, except even Lorde had to get an early break on Soundcloud with one of the 60,000 listens to her first track just happening to be a recording studio exec on the other side of the world.
Just like Lorde, all musicians start with a single follower, a single fan or a single track. I wanted the Buy New Zealand Made Campaign to be the first paying client of up and coming Kiwi musicians and so I went about approaching artists around New Zealand to licence a track for the Making It New Zealand episode.
I set a price of $200+gst per track licenced for a single use on the Making It New Zealand episode. That price was reached simply for the reason that I had 30 episodes to produce and had $6k leftover from travel and filming so allocated it all to New Zealand artists.
I also committed to ensure that a link was included in the copy so that people could easily buy the track themselves. Their album cover and track was also burnt directly into the video episode.
We paid on time or ahead of time.
Who Got Picked?
The first artist selected for episode 1 of the Making It New Zealand episodes was almost an accident. I was sitting in a cafe in Invercargill between film shoots getting some lunch, and I overheard a conversation between a boy and his mentor. When I heard the mention of Smokefree Rockquest my ears picked up and I listened a little more intently.
At a quiet moment, I introduced myself, handed them both my business card and said I was looking to commercially licence music from local musicians to be the backing track for ‘Making It New Zealand’ episodes. His mentor got back to me with some names and within two weeks, I had received music, and they were receiving licence fees.
Dunedin Brings The Tunes To Invercargill
New Zealand Artist: Lachie Hayes
A 21 year old Southland musician from Dunedin named Lachie Hayes was selected for the very first episode with his track ‘Shoot ’em Once’. He’d released it just 6 months earlier.
It fit the genre of making furniture down in Invercargill and gave the first episode a feeling of expectation and excitement. Ian Rosel from Robax Products who features in the episode LOVED IT and so did his Auckland bunk bed retail customers who embed the video to help them sell the origin story of the product. Except this wasn’t the music of the boy I’d met at the cafe in Invercargill.
17 Year Old From Southland For Southern Cross Produce
New Zealand Artist: Gabriel Lal
The artist that I bumped into in that cafe in Invercargill was Gabriel Lal and by Episode 3, we had fused his track “I’m New” as the backing track for the delicious carrots and parsnips that Southern Cross Produce grow. The track had such a delicate freshness to it while also having sharp metallic notes that lended itself well to the mix of freshly growing produce being sorted by shiny metallic machinery.
Here’s the final episode with Gabriel’s music as the backing track starting with this brilliant sunrise timelapse from my stay in Invercargil.
Hills Hats Caps Off Global Music Fame
New Zealand Artist: Fat Freddy’s Drop
Ok so Fat Freddy’s is not exactly an up and coming band, but we got a little lucky for episode 4. It turns out that the owner of Hills Hats in Wellington is good buddies with the band having supplied them a ton of beautiful looking New Zealand Made hats over the years. So Simon asked them ‘hey can you give us a track to use as the backing track to our Making It New Zealand episode?’. They replied ‘yup sure can. Here’s Cortina Motors.’
The track has such a fast pace to it that I had to let the music guide the pace of the edit. As Simon showed us through the hats they make for pilots at Air New Zealand, the caps they make for New Zealand Defence Force and then through to all the fashion hats available for purchase at their store in Petone or online it fast was becoming clear to me that getting the music right was going to be paramount to the series.
Have a watch of this episode set to Fat Freddy’s Drop track Cortina Motors.
National Candles Lights Up The Music
New Zealand Artist: The Nudge — Dark Arts
Of course when you’re filming how candles are made in New Zealand by National Candles, it helps to have a backing track that is related. Not always easy to find, especially when you’re trawling through Spotify and Soundcloud, as luck would have it, up popped ‘Dark Arts’ by The Nudge.
It was perfect and also a little homage to my own teenage years having been in a band with the old brother of Iraria Whakamoe back in the 90's!
Bring Bling To New Zealand Jewellery
New Zealand Artist: Hoody Time
Jen Hansen produces the most stunning and delicate jewellery. I knew the backing track for this needed to be bling and reflect the new generation of New Zealanders who could be the ideal customers for this kind of 120 diamond studded Kiwi jewels.
Luckily, Hoody Time appeared on my Instagram timeline and even more fortunately, Hoody Time was from Nelson. When I asked what tracks of his he’d recommend as backing tracks for Jens Hansen Jeweller’s the reply was ‘Paris’. Wow what a track.
Gloriously delicate with a flicking high hat as Hoody Time rolls through Paris, the centre of world fashion and culture. This was a perfect cultural riff for the Jens Hansen episode. See for yourself.
Hoody Time also got a look in with a very deep hitting house track for our visit to Talley’s Ice Cream. The industrial nature of the track would have been too hard for almost any other episode, however the extreme levels of noise in this production plant makes the whole episode feel like an aural assault. Unlike most refined professionally produce corporate videos, I wanted to keep the roughness in the visuals and the audio to reflect just what it’s like to manufacture in New Zealand.
Now We Go Deep ft. Hoody Time - Single by Stravy
Album · 2015 · 1 Song. Available with an Apple Music subscription. Try it free.
While this episode may not be suited to their ice cream customers, they were gracious enough to let us in to an area where hygiene standards are so high, no one had ever been let into with a camera before.
Streaming Music For Flowing Tapware
New Zealand Artist: 10A
Felton do shower heads and tapware and have manufactured them in New Zealand at scale for decades. There are so many Felton shower heads installed around New Zealand that just replacing what’s already out there would take over 1 million shower heads!
The ‘Messenger’ track provided a beautiful volley of high pitched electronic notes that sounded like water converted into digital sound. 10A was the first artist I’d come across that made it easy to buy from them with music actually priced up and ready to purchase. This reduced the time it took to contact an artist and get a copy of the music, something that took way more time that it should have.
10A profile | TRAKTRAIN
10A profile page. Check out the new beats and promotional offers from this artist! Popular tags: drake, 10a, rap. Top…
Jelly For Jelly Beans
New Zealand Artist: Mmdelai
When finding music, a little trick I’d learned was to search for something related to the company name in Soundcloud. This ethereal synthwave dream pop track by Mmdelai fitted the bill perfectly for New Zealand’s only maker of jelly beans.
Mmdelai makes her music in Christchurch which was close enough to be selected as the backing track for the Rainbow Confectionery based in Oamaru.
New Zealand Grown Music…and Flowers
New Zealand Artist: Ngatea
Van Lier Nurseries are the go-to for florists throughout New Zealand for their hand tended rose varieties that are grown by the hectare in temperature controlled environments.
..and when a florist orders roses, it is carefully packaged up and sent to those florists by Samuel Barriball. Samuel also happens to be the artist Ngatea and while we were there filming said “I’m a musician. Could I have my music on this episode.” “Of course.” I replied.
Samuel chose the track and I did the edit and then accounts sent him his cheque for $200.
Advice To Business Owners And Marketers Looking For New Zealand Music
Finding New Zealand Music is to use commercial wasn’t easy particularly when I wanted to support the unsigned musicians just starting out. It took time to listen and took time to know what episodes would be right with what tracks.
In total we paid out over $4,000 to New Zealand artists. Some to musicians who received three or four $200 cheques for music we licensed. I could have done more of course, and sometimes you’ll see that when I was time pressured to release the video and had no suitable music, there is royalty free music from Epidemic Sound used. While that filled my urgent need, it didn’t help out a New Zealand artist.
Why isn’t there an Epidemic Sound like subscription service for New Zealand artists?
Buy New Zealand Made would be a supporter of something like that.
Here’s my top five tips for finding New Zealand artists:
- Search for ‘New Zealand’ or ‘Christchurch’ in the search bar of Spotify and Soundcloud. This can reveal artists who have added their city in their profile.
- Add in something related to your film to your search query ie: “jelly” if your episode is about jellybeans.
- Approach the artist via DM on their social profiles. Instagram and Soundcloud tended to get instant answers. Facebook less so and email… well try and avoid until you’ve contacted them on social. Artists were in general slow to reply.
- Be generous with both promoting and paying musicians. Pay it forward so we can have more New Zealand music on our commercial platforms. Once you’ve had your offer accepted, get a copy of the music sent to you.
- Look for the artists who enable you to ‘download’ the music via Soundcloud without getting in contact with them. That helps you see whether the track fits with what you’re trying to do. If it works, then you can go back and licence it.
Advice To New Zealand Musicians On What To Do
If you’re just starting out in music and don’t have a recording contract as yet, there’s some things I’d recommend from a buyers perspective on what to do to remove barriers to dealing with businesses who want to pay you money for your music.
- Make your music easy to find. Put it on all the platforms like Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube and as a Podcast.
- Make more music. The more tracks you have available, the more options I’ve got to give you more money.
- Make more in a single genre. I gave one artist $800 for 4 tracks because they were all riffs on a single musical theme that just happened to fit with the style of what we were creating on the ‘Making It New Zealand’ episode.
- Make your artwork easy to download. If you want your album artwork burned into commercial videos, make it easy to download. Many times I had to screenshot to give credit which isn’t idea.
- Keep negotiations simple. Make it easy for businesses to give you money. Unless you’re super famous or have a recording contract, you’re not likely to have enough leverage. Value yourself… but don’t make the business owner or marketer jump through hoops. There’s millions of alternative tracks out there.
- Share and upload the finished episode. Where your music has been licensed and used, share it with your friends and fans! Upload it to your website as an example of a business who has valued your work enough to pay for it.
- Don’t be afraid of free…. at least in the early days. The more opportunities you have get known, the better. If a business can get your awareness and credibility, weigh that up against the cash. Of course, if you’re not getting paid, it’s hard to pay the bills but don’t be afraid of free in the right circumstances. The ‘Making It New Zealand’ series has brought 750,000 viewers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. That music acknowledgement is worth something.
- Follow up with new music. Only one artist of the 20+ we paid sent me new music they’d been working on. Of course I licensed more because he made it easy. Keep sharing what you’re doing with existing paying clients. Keep in their ear.
New Zealand Musicians: What To Do Now
We are of course always in need of new music.
If you have new music we can licence from you for the upcoming ‘Making It New Zealand’ Series, please watch the series first to see if your musical style fits, then email a maximum of three tracks to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Making It New Zealand backing tracks.
Selected tracks will be licensed at $250+gst each. Yup, if you’ve read this far…we’ve upp’ed the rate for episodes from July 1st onwards when our new licence year begins.
We’ve released 40 episodes of the ‘Making It New Zealand’ series now that highlights what Kiwis are making and manufacturing in New Zealand.
Go subscribe to the series here: http://bit.ly/makingitNZ
Provenance Marketing Show
We have also started another series called the Provenance Marketing Show.
If you’d simply like a plug for your music, send it in to email@example.com with the subject line: Plug my music on the Provenance Marketing Show. No fee will be paid for this but your music will be featured on the show which is then sent to over 1200 New Zealand Made business owners and marketers.
When they ask you to licence your music, you’ll know what to do.
To hear your music on the Provenance Marketing Show podcast, subscribe to:
Provenance Marketing Show on Apple Podcasts
The Provenance Marketing Show explores what products New Zealand businesses are making and how they create a market…
Thanks for reading this article celebrating New Zealand Music.
If you have digital music you’d like to apply the Kiwi trademark to on the album cover or on the back of your next limited edition vinyl release apply for a licence here.
If you are a business who would like to see if you qualify to label your products with the Kiwi trademark, check your eligibility here.