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by Sam Clark


Wow, it’s May already? We’re almost halfway through the year, the break is approaching and, most importantly, it’s Aotearoa Music Month!

Music Month is a time to celebrate the rich variety of artists we have across the motu. Get out there and buy tickets to that gig, or that record you’ve been eyeing up. There’s so many ways to support artists in Aotearoa, even if it’s just showing up and buying some merch.

It was heartbreaking to see legendary promoters/DJ collective Friendly Potential announce their indefinite hiatus a couple of months ago. They took a hit from their festival, Beacon, despite putting together an incredible hand-picked line up of local and international artists. They’ve done so much for music in Aotearoa over the years, bringing over a diverse selection of underground artists - from Nina Kraviz and Omar S to composer Nils Frahm at the Town Hall. Their radio show put over 400 DJs and artists on the airwaves, many of them from Aotearoa. In a sense, they paved the way for like-minded club nights. They made strides in the club scene here, by prioritising their ‘safer space’ policy at all their gigs. It created an atmosphere that should be the norm, which is unfortunately still hard to come by. Groups like Friendly Potential organise these incredible, one-of-a-kind gigs, but they need our support. It’s a big reminder to give back to music in Aotearoa, however you can.

Beacon Festival was amazing – which is why it was so sad that they didn’t get the love they deserved. It’s what a festival should be – great music, beautiful (but not over the top) set design, with lots of areas to hang out. And over summer, 121 and Welcome to Nowhere were very much in the same vein. At both festivals, the venue was genuinely lovely to be at – with lots of shade that everyone had access to (cough, Laneway). It’s not very often the day of a festival is a highlight – usually you’re running to get as far away as you can to avoid cooking in the sun. It'll make me think twice before I shell out for another New Year’s festival. To quote a friend – they’re just background music to take drugs to.

During Aotearoa Music Month, we can also be critical of the industry and think of how things can be improved. Spotify is terrible, but we all use it because it’s convenient – myself included. Spotify pays artists abysmally, yet they would be nothing without their music. I hate to break the news, but their ‘recommendations’ are derived from contracts with big music labels. Streaming music is also terrible for the environment. Every time you play a song, a server powers up and sends a file to your device from halfway across the world. You should listen to what makes you happy – apart from the charts. There’s so much interesting music out there that doesn’t come from the board room at Universal. Use this month to support local and independent artists!

Sammy Backroom


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