Amplify Aotearoa

Dr Catherine Hoad and Associate Professor Oli Wilson from the School of Music and Creative Media Production are making the New Zealand music industry a safer and more inclusive space with their research and work with SoundCheck Aotearoa.

What are the experiences of people in the music industry in New Zealand? To answer this question, Dr Catherine Hoad and Associate Professor Oli Wilson from Te Rewa o Puanga School of Music and Creative Media Production in the College of Creative Arts have conducted a survey, in partnership with music industry body APRA AMCOS (the member organisation representing songwriters and composers in Australasia). Known as Amplify Aotearoa, the survey collected quantitative and qualitative data with two key aims: to collect detailed demographic information about the music community and to learn about the challenges it is facing.

The results pointed clearly to significant issues in the industry, indicating that gender is a key factor in creating barriers to opportunities. A concerning 70 per cent of women in the music community reported experiencing bias, disadvantage or discrimination based on their gender – seven times the rate of men. The qualitative responses included reports from women of being undervalued, overlooked, and patronised by their peers.

‘Nearly half of the women said that they didn’t feel safe in places where music was made or performed,’ says Dr Hoad. ‘This is the first time that a survey like this was done for the New Zealand music industry, but we have heard stories about these experiences for quite some time.’ Associate Professor Wilson agrees, adding that the survey provides ‘resounding evidence for what was already well articulated online and in the media’.

Gender is a key factor in creating barriers to opportunities

Dr Catherine Hoad and Associate Professor Oli Wilson

Dr Catherine Hoad and Associate Professor Oli Wilson, Te Rewa o Puanga School of Music and Creative Media Production

The results of the study gained wide publicity and supported the formation of SoundCheck Aotearoa, an action group comprising leading figures in the music industry in New Zealand who are dedicated to making it a safer and more inclusive space.

For the past year, SoundCheck Aotearoa has been running professional development workshops around the country; known as Professional Respect Training days, these are free of charge for members of the music community. The content includes definitions of sexual harassment and harm within New Zealand legislation; options and pathways for reporting sexual harm, along with support services and available strategies for preventing it; fostering a respectful work environment; and WorkSafe obligations and legal requirements for workplaces.

‘Oli and I have been lucky to play a part in developing those workshops,’ says Dr Hoad, who goes on to explain how they adapt them for different environments. ‘This year, we ran a workshop for music educators about how to create safer environments for teaching and learning.’ The project, she adds, has provided ‘the opportunity to acknowledge and amplify those experiences that people had in the industry’, and enabled her to see ‘a pragmatic change’. ‘I agree that the most satisfying and important part of the research has been how it has influenced change in our industry,’ says Associate Professor Wilson.

On the back of this work, Associate Professor Wilson and Dr Hoad have broadened their research team to include other colleagues at Massey, notably Dr Dave Carter, Dr Jani Wilson and Associate Professor Warren Maxwell, and with further research in the pipeline they have received funding from the New Zealand music industry and government organisations, with grants totalling over $2 million. The upcoming research will provide agencies with robust data on education opportunities, and work closely with the live music industry.

Dr Hoad and Associate Professor Wilson continue to advocate for education as an enabler of positive change. ‘Our approach to research has always been teaching-inspired, and our teaching is always research-led,’ says Associate Professor Wilson. ‘Our work tries to link the classroom to the industry and vice versa.’ Dr Hoad agrees, noting the value of hosting the SoundCheck workshops at their Wellington campus. ‘It has been important for our students to see that we’re at the forefront of those changes.’ Their interest as researchers, she adds, extends to music education for primary and secondary-aged students – ‘their access and resources, and the demographics in those classrooms. We want to know, how does that translate to university, and then into experiences in the industry?’

Associate Professor Wilson is encouraged by the response to Amplify Aotearoa, especially given the amount of public funding the music industry receives. ‘Our work has provided another opportunity to consider how this industry works for everyone.’

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Catherine Hoad and Oli Wilson

Learn more about the researchers making the New Zealand music industry a safer and more inclusive space.

 Catherine Hoad

Catherine Hoad

Senior Lecturer

Catherine is a senior lecturer whose research stages critical interrogations of the relationship between race, gender and nationhood in heavy metal music scenes, cultures and practices. Her teaching focuses on music and community, critical analyses of media texts and frameworks, and developing diverse perspectives on the cultural, social and political dimensions of creative practice.

Professor Oli Wilson

Professor Oli Wilson

Associate Dean Research

Oli’s research seeks to make our creative sectors more sustainable, accessible, and fairer. He has collaborated on major research projects with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Toi Mai workforce development council, and APRA-AMCOS among others. He is also an accomplished artist, and regularly tours internationally as keyboardist with The Chills.