13 May 2017

Three Wise Men - the producer, the manager and the artist

From RNZ Music, 1:10 pm on 13 May 2017
Scott Maclachlan, Greg Haver and Kings

Scott Maclachlan, Greg Haver and Kings Photo: Alex Behan

The New Zealand Music Month Summit takes place at the Auckland Museum on 20 May, featuring 15 speakers from various parts of the music industry.

The theme this year is 'passion' - an essential quality in the quest for a successful music career. In the build-up to the summit, we gathered together three of the speakers with very different backgrounds to discuss the ever changing music industry and New Zealand's place in it.

Kings won the 2016 Tui for 'Breakthrough Artist of the Year' and is an artist known for his DIY attitude, Scott Maclachlan manages Leisure and Sole Mio and is also the man who guided Lorde through her early career, and Greg Haver is a music producer known for his work alongside bands like the Manic Street Preachers.

Haver reflects on the changing nature of music production and consumption.

"So many great studios have closed down which is a shame, but you can’t stand in the way of technology. I work in a completely different way now to how I would of when I first came to New Zealand fourteen years ago. Now I would only do some recording in a big fancy studio, and the rest I would do at a bach by the sea or a little small project studio somewhere, you know. The technology has progressed so much you can open your laptop and make a record. 

"You have to listen to so much more music now just to find the good stuff. It’s a good thing that more people are being more creative now, but I do think the onus is now on the listener to find good music. It’s easier than it’s ever been, just pick up your phone and start listening.  I enjoy the ease of listening to music these days."

Scott Maclachlan says that the constant deluge of cookie-cutter pop songs and pop stars can make it difficult for artists to be heard. 

"There is a lot of music out there, it’s difficult in that respect being an artist these days. I think the audience decide on a song and they’ll consume that song and that’s kind of the end of the interaction.  If you have a lot to say as a person or something you really want to get out there, it’s difficult to connect with the audience because there isn’t really the time to build that. It’s very different to five years ago, and not always for the better for the artist. 

"Albums and songs have such a short shelf life now and the audience aren’t investing anything more than time, they’re not buying anything, they don’t own anything.  What I’m starting to say to my artists is maybe we don’t make albums anymore.

"Maybe the way to maintain interest in the artist is just by steadily putting music out and keeping a dialogue open between them and the audience through various platforms and playing live but don’t hinge your success on 12 songs because your audience isn’t interested in that anymore." 

Kings is an astute artist who knows the value of timing and persistence. Despite winning 'breakthrough artist' last year, he had been plugging away for six years before his big break came.

"I went to a keynote where Scott was speaking and there was a key piece of information that he said that stayed with me. If everyone is writing one type of song and you write another type of song, you are that much more likely to be seen because of that point of difference. I think that is still one of the creative person's best tools - to read the game and intercept it."