Nearly one in every four songs played in 2021 on the main contemporary commercial music networks was from a New Zealand act and we’re hearing more waiata in te reo Māori.

Commercial music radio stations played record levels of New Zealand music again in 2021 with the annual figure reaching 23.84% for the first time in history, according to NZ On Air, the Radio Broadcasters Association and Recorded Music NZ. It followed on from 2020 in which 20.95% of airplay was NZ music.*

The previous highest annual figure for local music airplay on commercial radio was 20.77%, achieved in 2005.

According to NZ On Air Head of Music David Ridler the results show just how much connection there is between the vast array of musical talent in Aotearoa and their local audiences.

“The quality of local artists, song-writing and production is going from strength to strength, across a broad range of genre including pop, dance and beats/R&B, but also across many niche audience genres. Despite all the difficulties posed with the ongoing pandemic, local recorded music continues to shine and meaningfully connect with New Zealanders.”

Recorded Music NZ Chief Executive Damian Vaughan says it’s a continuation of the momentum that has been building for local artists for the past few years.

“The volume and quality of recordings released by local artists here in Aotearoa over the past few years is just phenomenal. It’s so encouraging to see that support across radio build and build and that so many artists are receiving airplay across a wide spectrum of genre.”

Jana Rangooni, Chief Executive of the Radio Broadcasters’ Association (RBA) says “these kind of numbers felt a long way away in 2016 when radio was playing around 12% and 13% local music. It has been great to see a concerted effort between NZ On Air, local labels and rights holders and the Radio industry to steadily increase the levels of local content. We have so many great artists producing the kind of music New Zealanders just can’t get enough of. For us it’s part of what makes New Zealand radio different to streams produced by algorithms used by our new global competitors.”

Tracking the figures for Radioscope/Recorded Music NZ since 2001, chief data collator and analyst Paul Kennedy says it’s a genuine thrill to see such sustained radio and audience support for local music on the airwaves.

“It’s fantastic to see these results roll in so consistently over the last two years. Particularly to see so many of the country’s most high-rating stations making big strides and hearing so much Kiwi music during peak listening times.”

Kennedy also notes a surge in airplay of local music in te reo Māori on commercial networks in the past three years. In 2019 there were 4,582 radio plays of waiata reo Māori and this grew to 25,070 radio plays on major commercial networks in 2021. There was a notable surge kicked off by Waiata Anthems week in September 2021.

NZ On Air was allocated two years of additional Music funding in the Arts Recovery package in May 2020. The extra funding has boosted the agency’s investments in multi-single Projects, individual Singles, and rounds focusing on Development, Pasifika artists, waiata reo Māori (with Te Māngai Pāho) and Children’s Music. In 2021 more than 400 music singles and projects were supported with NZ On Air funding.

NZ On Air funds and promotes a variety of contemporary popular NZ music songs to ensure audiences in Aotearoa can discover and enjoy a wide range of homegrown music. NZ On Air’s music funding and promotional support helps to provide wider content choices for both mainstream and targeted New Zealand audiences.

Editors note:

* The data relates exclusively to airplay on commercial radio and does not include music played on public, student, iwi, Pacific and other radio – all of which are tracked separately, and also had exceptionally strong local content results in 2021.

The Radio Broadcasters Association has a Voluntary Music Code agreement in place with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage which targets 20% local airplay on contemporary commercial radio stations.

NZ On Air funds and promotes a variety of contemporary popular NZ music songs to ensure audiences in Aotearoa can discover and enjoy a wide range of homegrown music. NZ On Air’s music funding and promotional support helps to provide wider content choices for both mainstream and targeted New Zealand audiences.