“Fuck Game of Thrones! The main threat to the live music scene isn’t downloading music, it’s downloading crazy-good TV,” says Kiwi legend and Face the Music guest BLINK. ANDY HAZEL laughs, and then feels awkward.
Ahead of his contribution to the Face the Music industry chat-fest, New Zealand music mogul and man of action Ian Jorgensen, better known as Blink, is, as ever, full of ideas. The man responsible for the legendary Camp a Low Hum festival, November’s five-city Square Wave Festival and manager of Wellington’s latest venue Puppies, is always happy to share advice.
“I think I’m just confident in my ability to take on anything. I’m also a bit of dick,’ he says casually. ‘I’ve had my fails like everyone else, but I’m always willing to take on a massive risk, and New Zealand is a small place. The benefit of being here is that it’s easy to reach out to everybody; you only need to make an impact in four cities, so it’s simple for me to raise the profile of an artist or band. In the US, you have to work hard for a long time and you probably still won’t make a dent. The problem with New Zealand is that it’s easy to get to the top and once you’re there, there’s nowhere to go. With my festival [Camp A Low Hum] it’s a big as it can get, which makes you think, right, now what can I do with this?’
Having taken his can-do attitude around the country and around the world, Blink collated his experiences in the book D.I.Y Touring the World; a repository of advice on how to travel on next to nothing. ‘Part of the reason I wrote the book is because every time someone wanted to know anything, they’d email me; ‘Who puts posters up in Dunedin? Who can mix us in Auckland?’ So I put out a book that featured everything I knew about touring. Since I’d toured overseas, I put out another book that had everything I know about touring the world.’
‘The same piece of advice I tell everyone,’ he continues, ‘and what everyone at this conference will be talking about, is this; people underestimate how hard they have to work on any project,’ he pauses. ‘When I booked my first tour, I wouldn’t start the day until I’d emailed at least 20 venues. I did that every day for six weeks. Sometimes it would take an hour or two, sometimes most of the day. Setting little goals before you relax achieves a lot. And another thing’ he says warming up, ‘people never think big enough either. With [his new festival] Square Wave, it’s the first year I’m doing it; I’m kicking it off straight away in 5 cities with 70 artists. If you’re doing the work anyway you may as well make it big.’
Despite his litany of impressive efforts and inspired bands, there are sad facts that enthusiasm can’t overcome. “If anything, the music scene is dying in New Zealand,’ he says unemotionally, “and it’s not because people are downloading music. It’s because they’re downloading TV; that’s my competition. It’s Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones and these amazing TV shows, that’s why people stay at home, and everyone I know does this! No one stayed at home in the early 2000s, back then it was just…Friends, now TV is crazy good. If it weren’t my job, I’d be home watching TV too. Fuck Game of Thrones!’ he laughs.