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Turning creativity into enterprise

Live performances at Smash Palace next week by Te Wananga o Aotearoa Maori performing arts students will not only present a range of genres and styles but will contribute to their coursework.

The line up includes DZT, Ter3ign, Levi and special guests The Pines, whose lead singer/guitarist Tyna Keelan is the Te Wananga o Aotearoa Level 5 diploma students’ kaiko (tutor).

“We have more than 10 acts – everything from solo acoustic to reggae, RnB and soul, hard rock and deathcore,” he says.

The wananga’s Maori performing arts kaiko can determine the focus of the course as long as it meets curricular requirements.

Students in Keelan’s Maori performing arts course range in age and experience. The youngest is 16, the oldest is 52. Some have live performance experience, for others the Smash Palace gig will be their first time on stage.

“The wa gives us a wide spectrum to move in,” says Keelan.

“I’ve taken it upon myself to make it a music course.”

With years of experience that ranges from performance to marketing in the music industry Keelan’s course is about more than honing his students’ musicianship. Along with performance the course covers production, recording, songwriting and music business skills such as publishing, contracts, licensing and how musicians can promote themselves and their music.

Not only do his students get the opportunity to meet professional musicians and learn from them they are about to benefit from a music managers’ forum that is to be held in Gisborne later this month. Keelan has performed with many top New Zealand bands such as Katchafire and has delivered TED talks in Auckland about the music industry. He has been a Silver Scroll compere , a Waiata Maori music award winning songwriter and producer, and last year was a Silver Scrolls finalist for the song Kalega with Rob Ruha.

“I’ve come straight from the music industry,” says Keelan.

“Students learn about digital syncing. These days how we make money from music is to synchronise TV programmes, ads, the music behind someone’s YouTube video, radio and opportunities for licensing.

“They learn about legalities and how to manoeuvre in the industry. They learn about the technology used for recording and about getting their music on radio.”

Income can also be made from licensing and merchandising. While musicians make very little income from streaming platforms such as Spotify, the number of times a track is streamed contributes to where the song is placed on music charts. This in turn helps determine how much radio play the song gets.

“The important thing is it’s not about being the best guitarist in your bedroom but the best person who can move through the industry, understanding how to promote themselves and being professional and personable and to understand the various revenue streams,” says Keelan.

“It’s about turning creativity into enterprise.”

Te Wananga o Aotearoa Whirikoka music showcase, Smash Palace, August 24-25, 8pm. Entry is free.

SCHOOL OF ROCK: Te Wananga o Aotearoa Maori performing arts day class students Levi Mackay (left), Lucky Jatav, Brodie Clarke, Seth Niwa-Apelu, Whakamoe McCallum, Jayden Bishop, Marcia Ackroyd, Waiora Paul-Utiera, Mihikiterangi Mareikura and Haimona Lardelli are ready for their music showcase. Picture supplied