IMNZ’s New Chairperson Pippa Ryan-Kidd

IMNZ’s New Chairperson Pippa Ryan-Kidd

With the celebration of the 2021 Taite Music Prize behind them, Independent Music New Zealand (IMNZ), the trade association for independent record labels and self-releasing artists, announced a revised board lineup for the next 12 months, with Pippa Ryan-Kidd becoming the first female to helm the organisation as chairperson. 

IMNZ was formally founded in 2002 by a collective of local labels who realised that the independent sector was growing and wanted to combine their energies to help develop that vital driver of NZ’s music industry. Well known for her work behind the scenes, Ryan-Kidd has enjoyed her own substantial 30+ year career in the music and retail industries, starting with HMV in the UK, and locally working with Auckland-based Southbound Distribution for 12 years. In recent years she has focused on the role of artist management with Tami Neilson. Now nearing 20 years in operation IMNZ has certainly put its stamp on the local music business scene and NZM asked her to remind us all of IMNZ’s structure and activities.

How often does the IMNZ board meet?

There are eight members on the IMNZ board for 2021/2022 and we meet monthly for general business, plus we have sub steering committees for each of the events we produce each year.

The board, including the chairperson role, is decided through a yearly election by members. Each year all members are encouraged to put themselves forward for board membership if it is of interest. The system works really well with board members who are elected for consecutive years able to carry over a lot of knowledge when it comes to building the events we run – and of course, new members always bring fresh ideas.

How many members does IMNZ have now? Are there different categories?

IMNZ currently has 224 members – that includes companies and individual artists. Most of the companies cover multiple artists so exact figures on the number of artists varies depending on their rosters at any point in time. There are two categories of membership:

  1. Artist membership – for self-releasing artists, managers and small labels representing a single release.
  2. Label membership – for labels, managers and artists representing two or more releases/copyrights. 

Does the board seek to reflect the diversity of membership? 

Yes. This year the board consists of four women and four men, and is made up of members representing artists, artist managers, labels, production, PR and publishing. We seek to include board members from across as many regions as possible – current board members serve from Whakatū/Nelson, Ōtautahi/Christchurch, Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland and Ōtepoti/Dunedin. 

  • Pippa Ryan-Kidd, Auckland (Chairperson)
  • Scott Ltd, Dunedin (Deputy Chairperson)
  • Pennie BlairNative Tongue Music Publishing, Auckland (Secretary)
  • Dan ClistLoop Recordings, Auckland (Treasurer)
  • Hariet EllisFlying Nun Records, Auckland 
  • Mel ParsonsCape Road Recordings, Christchurch
  • Zac ArnoldSunreturn, Auckland
  • Mikee CarpinterCommotion Ltd, Auckland 

The three board members who live in the South Island can attend physical meetings, or they can zoom – as can the Auckland-based members. Covid has actually reinforced the idea that business can carry on remotely. We try to coordinate the in-person meetings for all the board, with the events that we run – the Taite Music Prize, Going Global, and Going Local.

What is IMNZ’s core purpose or raison d’être?

The core purpose has always been to represent independent New Zealand music rights holders locally and globally; help our members grow their businesses and be recognised for the amazing work they create. Our vision is for a long-lasting thriving NZ independent music culture and industry.

We work to three mandates: Advocate, Educate and Celebrate. 

Advocating is forming that collective voice to create bargaining opportunities alongside global organisations WIN (Worldwide Independent Network), Merlin and our compatriot independent trade associations. Educate is the focus of two of our main events of the year; Going Global and Going Local alongside a rolling list of training seminars and experiences we offer to members. Celebrate has its epitome with the annual Taite Music Prize which has been highlighting our excellent releases for over a decade now. It’s such a thrill to see the status of that award rise to international recognition – all due to the amazing music we create here of course.

Is that any different from when IMNZ was first established?

No. Our core purpose remains steadfast although we make adjustments as to how we deliver that to stay up with the times.  And of course, as an incorporated society we are bound by law to comply with the stated objects and rules of the association. 

Where does IMNZ get its income to meet annual running expenses from? 

IMNZ is a non-profit trade organisation and is registered as an incorporated society. We are funded by the NZ Music Commission alongside our annual membership dues. For individual events we also have extra industry funding partners such as APRA and Recorded Music, or third-party sponsors. 

IMNZ employs a General Manager – Dylan Pellett. Dylan manages all the events under board governance. The chair, deputy chair and secretary are all paid nominal fees to go towards compensating for the time required to fill those positions. 

The Taite Music Prize is the most public of IMNZ activities – what other major activities does the organisation undertake?

In order of events for our calendar year: 

Taite Music Prize – April 20th 

Named after the late Dylan Taite, the Taite Music Prize‘s purpose is to recognise outstanding creativity for an entire collection of music contained on one album. The winner receives a cash prize of $12,500, to be spent as they wish – with thanks to founding partner of the Taite Music Prize, Recorded Music NZ. Also recognised at the ceremony are the Independent Spirit Award; the Independent Music NZ Classic Record – acknowledging a defining NZ record from our yesteryear and the Auckland Live Best Independent Debut award – celebrating the freshest talent of Aotearoa. The winner receives a $2,000 cash prize, plus a performance or technical upskilling opportunity thanks to Auckland Live.

Going Local – annually in May to coincide with NZ Music Month

IMNZ produces an annual networking session called Going Local. It’s an informal way to meet with some established people already working in the music industry, who can offer advice and knowledge that will help to answer questions. Common participants include representatives from organisations such as the NZ Music Commission, IMNZ, NZ On Air, Recorded Music NZ, APRA AMCOS, MMF NZ and commercial businesses like publishers, legal practices and more. We also engage with local musicians to present their experiences within the industry.

Going Global – annually in September

Going Global Music Summit is an annual showcase of new music featuring national artists, occurring in September alongside the Going Global Music Summit industry seminars. The Summit takes place in central Auckland and is produced by IMNZ in partnership with NZ Music Commission and ATEED. Going Global Music Summit provides musicians, producers, composers, labels, promoters, industry professionals and fans a chance to perform, discuss, learn, teach, and interact in front of an audience of like-minded peers in an environment that encourages the global exchange of ideas, techniques and trends.

Beyond a couple of bands there hasn’t been much room for many artists at the top of the IMNZ Charts for a decade it seems. Is that a bad thing?

Great question. It definitely shows the effect that long-tail streaming stats can have. It is a global issue and we are looking to revamp the charts in the near future. We want to be able to provide some meaningful stats that IMNZ members can use when measuring their sales/streaming performances, and reinvigorate that playing field again.

In 2021 what’s the biggest challenge NZ’s indie musicians and labels face that the major labels and their signed artists don’t?

The answer to that – in any year – would probably be money!

However, I see this as a challenge for all musicians in NZ today. Covid has changed the landscape for everyone obviously, and most artists are trying to find their own space in a world where playing live can be an unstable situation. Here in NZ we now have so many artists recording, releasing music and touring within the same space and time frame. It does put pressure on many outlets for these releases including venues, fan’s attention and of course media attention.

As we have quite a small media landscape for music in NZ, all artist’s media opportunities are under pressure from this scenario, and it has led to quite a top-heavy situation. Emerging artists (usually independent), in particular, are finding it extremely difficult to vie for media attention.  Is there an answer? We are all in the process of changing the way in which we work and achieve goals in this different world, so the answer probably lies in a mixture of constantly upskilling ourselves with current and new technology around digital platforms, while still trying to play live as much as possible.

IMNZ are trying to help with this by providing our IMNZ members with more online resources, upskilling opportunities and workshops that connect them with third-party music industry providers from all around the world.

Aside from its obvious effect on artist incomes etc, has Covid had an impact on IMNZ itself?

Sadly we have had to cancel the 2021 Going Global programme which we only recently started promoting for mid-September. We will produce the planned NZ artists showcase but the seminar programme won’t go ahead.

Beyond that we have all been learning the benefits and downsides of working remotely with each other. The benefits can be time management and scheduling, savings in travel costs, and flexibility for board member interaction.

Alongside that, it has become obvious to many that teams really benefit from good old human interaction – so in order to keep ours a strong team, we do encourage board members to participate in the IRL meetings at least a couple of times a year.

Like all event producers, we have learnt to have backup plans, should our events not be able to run as scheduled. Even at the planning stage, we need to make sure that with sudden lockdowns, border closures etc, our content and presentation of the events is top standard – Plan A, Plan B, Plan C  – should we need to change course at any time.