The music industry has a long road back to recovery. Photo / Getty Images
Front Page Podcast Host/Columnist - NZ HeraldVIEW PROFILE
NZ Music month has just passed and you'd be forgiven for not noticing or taking full advantage.
After two tough years, the music industry is in the first stages of a long road toward recovery after the obliteration caused by Covid-19.
NZ Herald culture editor Karl Pushmann tells the Front Page podcast the impact of the pandemic on the music industry was "simply apocalyptic".
"It completely killed the whole music industry. It just wiped it out for pretty much two years. The impact was just nightmarish, really."
The music and live entertainment industries weren't alone in facing this harsh impact. Businesses and livelihoods across New Zealand were rocked. Those industries similarly face a long road to recovery.
One thing that has always set the music industry is its cultural impact on society and its ability to bring people together.
"People find their tribes when they go to music venues," says Puschmann.
"They get a sense of community and a sense of belonging. They find their identities through music, and they get inspired to start creating their own stuff. Not having that communal feeling has been really impactful for a lot of people."
The other major impact on the industry over the last two years has been the exodus of talent from roles that used to keep the gigs rolling. Many of those music employees have been forced to find more sustainable work elsewhere, potentially depriving the scene of some talented musicians, producers as well as stage and event managers.
"There was definitely a brain drain and that was a huge concern," says Puschmann.
"There have definitely been big concerns about losing skilled workers from the industry in the offstage sector: Lighting and sound engineers, roadies, and just everyone who makes a show or an event happen.
"A lot of skilled workers were forced to leave the industry. There was just nothing for these skilled workers to do. Hopefully, with live music returning, they'll return as well and stay at that level that international acts need."
Puschmann says that this problem has been alleviated to some degree by a Government funding boost of around $120 million for the arts and culture sector back in February, which will hopefully bring some people back to the industry.
The loss that's more difficult to quantify and can't really be summarised in a spreadsheet concerns the artists and Kiwi talents who weren't able to create and build a following over the last two years. Have we perhaps missed out on the next big superstar?
"That's a loss that we can't quantify," responds Puschmann.
"All art is derived from inspiration. Someone might go to a show, get impacted and they want to start making their own music. They build their own little community around them. So, unfortunately, we'll never know. But maybe, they'll still go to a gig and get that spark ignited."
Puschmann says the industry's recovery in the coming years will largely be dependent on the support of fans, who go to shows and purchase merchandise.
"The industry is putting on shows and events, and it's really up to us, the public, to support their efforts. We need to get to shows, go to venues and events, and support the industry. There are very few things like seeing live music. Whether you're going to a show at the Spark Arena with 10,000 people or a small show at the Whammy bar with 150 people, the feeling is still the same …
"The best way to build back the industry is just to get along to these shows, and maybe buy a T-shirt from the merch stand to help the band that's playing."
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