As the name suggests, NZ On Air is all about connecting Kiwis with New Zealand content. But when it comes to music, Australia is becoming an increasingly important part of the promotional mix.

All the major streaming platforms run their NZ operations from Australia, which adds a new dimension to the funding agency’s work in promoting the country’s music to audiences across the Tasman.

In New Zealand, the NZ On Air promotions team pitches homegrown songs directly to radio stations, with a particular focus on tracks that have emerged through one its funding schemes.

However, with streaming platforms such as Spotify, NZOA can only really back up the promotional activities of the NZ labels, according to head of music David Ridler.

“We feed them pitches every fortnight, but it’s a different relationship than with radio because they are based offshore,” he says. “We try to provide them a market snapshot of NZ – this is what’s really popping at radio in New Zealand the moment, these songs are researching really well – and just try and bring some extra artillery to the table.”

David+Ridler NZ on air
NZ On Air head of music David Ridler

Ridler believes the organisation has established a good working relation with the likes of Spotify, Amazon, YouTube and Apple Music, and will try and visit them in Australia two or three times a year.

The same applies to Triple J as well. “It’s not in our brief because they’re not serving NZ audiences, but they are definitely influential with the streaming services and the whole Australian market,” he explains.

“I wouldn’t say we actively plug them in the same way that we do radio here, but they are across all our releases and we do meet with them every time we are in Australia.”

Given the importance of Australian-based companies to the promotional process, Ridler admits there could be a case of having someone based permanently on this side of the Tasman. However, it all comes down to resources and he believes there is more value in facilitating even stronger ties between streaming platforms and the NZ music business.

As well helped them host workshops for NZ artists, NZOA also played hosted to a number of Spotify representatives at this year’s Homegrown Festival, an annual Wellington event devoted entirely to NZ artists.

“We managed to get everybody backstage passes and they got to meet the bands and artists, meet the label people and managers, and just really involve themselves in the NZ music culture. They went away absolutely buzzing. To me that’s as valuable in terms of activity as having someone over there.”

Ridler is certainly pleased that there seems to a “genuine buzz” in Australia about the breadth and quality of the music coming out of New Zealand, and believes NZ acts should try and benefit from that.

“The advantage with the Australian market is that it is five times the size of New Zealand, so if you get a significant crack on a big Spotify list in Australia you are going to get five or six times the volume of listening and that can lead on to a Triple J playlisting which can then lead to influential playlisting in other markets as well.”