Industry Q&A: Damian Vaughan – CEO, Recorded Music NZ

With more than two decades in the music industry, Damian Vaughan brings a lot of knowledge to his role as CEO of Recorded Music NZ. We sat down with him to chat about his role and NZ Music T-Shirt Day.

Get involved in NZ Music Tshirt Day

Tell us a bit about who you are and what your role is in the music industry? I am the CEO of Recorded Music NZ, the industry organisation representing recording artists and record companies in New Zealand. In addition to advocating for the rights of our members, we also administer collective broadcast and public performance licensing, we produce the annual Vodafone NZ Music Awards, the Official NZ Top40 Charts, the NZ Music Hall of Fame and administer a Music Grants programme for educational and/or charitable music projects.

How long have you been working in the music industry, and how did you first get involved? Over 20 years in various roles at APRA and IMNZ here in NZ and also PRS for Music in the UK. But I started my career initially as a vocalist in metal bands, then got into drum n bass production, started a record label with friends to put out our own music and also worked for independent kiwi label Kog.

What do you love about being a part of Recorded Music NZ? We get to work in, and with, music every day and represent artists and music creators, which was always the dream. Our team and the people we work with are all so talented and absolute superstars but what makes it fun is that we are all passionate music fans.

What makes the NZ music scene so special and diverse? We have always had such a strong and vibrant local music scene, and it is going from strength to strength. What makes it special in my opinion is that there is such a collegial spirit and strong community vibe throughout the entire local industry. Our music whanau are always ready to help each other, sharing knowledge, making introductions, and working together for the good of the entire industry.

What are some of the most exciting things happening within the NZ music industry/scene heading into 2020? From a recorded music perspective, the industry has been on a very healthy growth trajectory for the last five years and we see that continuing. Driven almost entirely by the enthusiastic adoption of streaming platforms by kiwis as the number one way to listen to recorded music. This growth is translating into more investment back into our local industry and we are really seeing an explosion of new artists across so many styles and genres. It feels as if we are at the beginning of a new golden era of kiwi music.

Tell us about Music Helps – what is their role in the music industry and why have you chosen to work with them this year? MusicHelps is the official charity of the Vodafone NZ Music Awards. They develop and support projects around Aotearoa that use music to help people who are at risk, vulnerable, experiencing health issues and disability. Some of the music projects supported by MusicHelps include music therapy in healthcare, in hospices, working with at-risk youth, disabled people or community/whanau groups in areas of economic hardship. Through these projects, the charity has helped over 60,000 people in need thus far.

What is NZ Music T-Shirt Day? How can people get involved and what makes their support, on this day in particular, so important?

NZ Music T-Shirt day is a nationwide celebration of kiwi music to raise funds for MusicHelps. The premise is simple, wear your favourite kiwi band or artist t-shirt on Friday 8 November and make a donation to show your support. Post your pics on socials, make a donation, and use the hashtag #nzmusictshirtday to let us all know about it.

You can wear your own tee from home of course, but if you need to get a new t-shirt we have produced seven exclusive NZ Music T-Shirt Day designs from Lorde, Six60, Herbs, Shihad, Th’ Dudes, True Bliss and Split Enz to choose from, and all proceeds will go to MusicHelps. These T’shirts are available now online and in-store with our friends at JB Hi-Fi.

Who are some Kiwi musicians we should definitely check out and why?

Troy Kingi (who is performing at this years VNZMA’s and finalist for Best Maori Artist and Best Roots Artist) – His latest album Holy Colony Burning Acres is awesome, and earlier record Shake that skinny ass all the way to Zygertron was also incredible, and in an entirely different style. I absolutely love his ambitious plans to release ten albums in ten years in ten different genres.

Troy Kingi & the Upperclass - Ethiopia [Music Video]


Tali (finalist for Best Electronic Artist at this year’s VNZMA’s) – Her 2018 record Love and Migration was a fantastic return to her drum n bass origins.


Alien Weaponry – Three-piece Te Reo thrash metal band who blew the roof off Spark Arena at last years VNZMAs

ALIEN WEAPONRY - Blinded (Official Video) | Napalm Records


JessB – Awesome kiwi hip hop MC. Her performance at last year’s music awards was also amazing.

JessB - Time Out (feat. Abdul Kay)


Chaii – loved her tune ‘Digebasse’ and her new single ‘South’ is equally as impressive.



Finally, what three artists should we have on our Spotify playlist right now?

In addition to the above kiwi acts, some other recent favourites to check out:

Animals As Leaders – instrumental progressive metal band. They are a technical delight for the ears.

ANIMALS AS LEADERS - Arithmophobia

Two Fingers – heavy electronic music from Amon Tobin. Their tune ‘Fools Rhythm’ is unreal.

Sampa the Great – her debut album The Return is such a great record. ‘Final Form’ is a tune.

Sampa The Great - Final Form (Official Video)

 NZ Music Tshirt Day takes place on Friday 8 November. To get involved head to their website.

The 2019 Vodafone NZ Music Awards is on Thursday 14 November at Spark Arena. Get your tickets via