Going out and staying in

Oh hey – NZmusic.com. Remember that site?

NZmusic.com was a community-based website about New Zealand music. It was created as a side project by Wellington-based web design house Morse Media. I think it just came down to the Morse founders Dust and Teina being massive New Zealand music fans and wanting to have a little side project to experiment on.

I logged into NZmusic.com for the first time in ages. It told me I’ve been a member for 10 years and 4 weeks. That’s ancient in internet years.

I first joined in December 2000, and I had one very specific reason for joining: I wanted to watch an MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave video, which in turn led me to write this piece on their album a few months later.

In the days before Wikipedia, in the days before YouTube, in the days before Myspace, NZmusic.com was a place you could go to find out information about local bands, and watch a few of their music videos, even though they were low-quality and took ages to download on dial-up.

If the world wouldn’t listen to your favourite band, who didn’t even have a record deal and had barely toured outside of their hometown, you could find a handful of genuine fans of this band who’d be quite happy to discuss how, yeah, this band were musical geniuses and if there was any justice in the world, they’d be huge.

NZmusic.com was also a refuge for small-town teens who’d never have the chance to see their favourite bands play live, and probably didn’t have many, if any, friends who liked the same music that they did. A 14-year-old and a 28-year-old could equally argue about who was the best New Zealand drummer of all time, and no one really cared about (or noticed) the other’s age.

After I moved back to Auckland in 2002, NZmusic.com was the gentle hand that guided me out of the house. I’d go out to gigs at tiny bars like the now-closed Temple bar on Queen Street (and see Paselode blow the roof off), or to more populated gigs at the good old King’s Arse.

“The Shrugs are my new favourite band,” I declared on Sunday 17 November 2002 at the outrageous time of 3.41am “Anyone who can add in a bit of that Gwen Stefani/Eve song into a slow rock song is surely deserving of my adoration.” This was not overtiredness. The Shrugs are still one of my favourite bands, though they don’t play that particular song these days.

And it wasn’t just fans – actual proper band members were forum regulars too. In a discussion of music videos, I reckoned that Shihad’s “Pacifier” video didn’t really work because it was a direct copy of “A Clockwork Orange” and didn’t add anything new to the mix. Then along came Shihad’s drummer Tom, who commented “I’m alone on the issue within the band but I think the use of Clockwork Orange was trite at best – Lots of people love it though.” Whoa!

There’s an idea that any successful online community will eventually go offline. That is, with all the forum posts being made, eventually someone will say, “Hey, let’s meet up.” And that’s what happened with NZmusic.com. I eventually came to know some of the regulars from the forums, meeting up at gigs. There were also rumours of secret hook-ups, but also good friendships formed from it.

But then I stopped posting. It seems to have happened at some point in 2006, giving me at least five solid years of NZmusic.com before the decline.

The site started to fade when the New Zealand music area of the forum changed from discussions of New Zealand music to bands promoting their gigs. “hey we’re playing at shaykz on saturday come along and support nz music!!!!” No. We never went to gigs to “support New Zealand music”. We went out to see good bands play and to have fun.

So the site filled with boring posts and somehow NZmusic.com lost its heart. People noticed and made a few requests for something to be done (what?), but the Morse team were busy working hard with their paying jobs.

Rather than any sort of dramatic flouncy departure (“That’s it! I’m never posting here again! Hmph!”) I accidentally stopped posting, stopped visiting the site, until one day I realised it had been well over a year since I’d last visited.

NZmusic.com still exists, but it’s significantly pared down from its glory days. The forum is still there, but it’s filled with comment spam and doesn’t seem to have any regular users anymore. None of the older content remains – all the information about bands, the videos, the hilarious press releases is all gone.

It’s easy to blame Facebook for the decline of a community-based website, but there are now sites to pick up the slack, like Cheese On Toast, and A Low Hum‘s glorious celebrations of music, both run by old NZmusic.com regulars. And that’s not to mention the whippersnappers behind sites like The Corner, keeping the music love going.

Sometimes I find myself feeling a little nostalgic for the old NZmusic.com, but realistically, it’s gone and it’s never coming back, just as surely as 2002 can’t come back again. Instead NZmusic.com has left a legacy, a fragmented but staunch community of New Zealand music fans who continue to share the love.

17 thoughts on “Going out and staying in”

  1. Blimey heck. I’d completely forgotten about nzmusic.com. How cool that the website is still (at least partly) up and running, if only so I can see a handful of my previous posts.

    And I’ve always loved that it tells you how long you’ve been a member.

    9 years 13 weeks for me. Erk. As you say, that is a long time on the interwebs.

    Not sure if it’s buggy or if I only ever used it for the videos (and how did I!) in the earlier days, but my posts only range from 2004-2007. But I’m so glad anything at all is there.

    1. Yeah, the older posts don’t seem to be there any more, which is a bit sad.

      I just had a look at the site on archive.org and was surprised at how current the site design looked (complete with a fancy footer), and it also reminded me of the long-running thread titled “Today was a day when…” with replies ranging from details of awesome gigs to sad personal moments.

  2. Comment not related. I just really wanted to say re: “Man, I love it when people use ‘everyday’ to mean ‘ordinary’ or ‘commonplace’ and not (incorrectly) to mean ‘every single day’.” that we must have been separated at birth.

    What’s really shocking is when large chain stores use it incorrectly in their two-storey high billboards and shop signage. And they do. Frequently.

    1. OMG, I know! I’ve seen it on billboards, delivery vans, in shop windows. Every time, a little part of me dies. That graffiti sign thing gave me hope.

  3. Ah, those days..it was a really cool community and great for passing the time of day at work! 8 years, 40 weeks, although I haven’t posted since 2007.

  4. Those were the days, indeed!
    Quite a formative influence for a lot of people methinks. Got me on the right track musically anyways.

    God knows what I’d be listening to now if it wasn’t for that website…

    Ah, the memories.

    Will aka DJ Will aka not a real DJ.

  5. Jon Jr.
    9 years 6 weeks

    Hahaha.
    The memories…
    I tried to get back into it a year and a half ago, but there was nothing there apart from Wainuiomata (the security guard at AIR studios in London).
    NZmusic.com was the real deal for me at the time.
    In hindsight it had a similar feel for me to Facebook.
    I made quite a few friends from there.

  6. I’m a bit late to this party! I’ve glanced at nzmusic.com a couple of times over the years, but its been a sad place, with tumbleweed drifting about and not much else going on. Enjoyed my time there (started 9 years and 45 weeks ago) and there hasn’t been any kind of substitute for it.

    1. Hey Manamana! I miss Luci too. As far as I know, he’s very much a real person. He used to have a blog – real quality shit – but it was hosted on Geocities so it was all lost when Geocities shut down. He’s now on Facebook and recently enjoyed Hello Sailor at the Upper Hutt Cossie Club.

      1. Hi Robyn!

        I just snorted and sprayed a bit on my monitor after reading the name – Geocities haha i remember it first starting being something along the lines of….

        Free!!! Professional looking websites for all ages. Easy templates means nana can get involved too!! Also all free accounts will receive a MASSIVE 6MB hosting space for free!! (that’s like 10 family photos and there will still be enough room left to type in everyone’s hobbies and display their CVs) Keep it online forever!!

        I remember that lovely Hamilton? family you helped step into the dubdubdub age with a fancy website. (If you archived that somewhere i’d love to read it again.)

        You can bet Luci would have been the last to leave the Geocities realm, going down swinging in some kinda ‘Occupy Geocities’ human rights violation protest. I also imagine a little piece of him died inside after eventually having conformed to facebook. haha.

        Wow, yeah. All this time i honestly thought he was someones fiction. I hope he managed to quit smoking, or at least start legal proceedings against B&A Tobacco.

        You’re right too Robyn. NZM was a really long time ago in internet time. I dunno what my age on that site was but it must have been close to 10yrs also. I can’t remember when i last had anything to say on NZM, i do remember looking at it a couple years ago, the most recent post aside from the spam was made months earlier in reply to someone months before them. Kinda sad, i remember thinking someone should put it out of it’s misery. A far cry from it’s glory days when those forums behaved more like IRC than forums.

        I remember my real life friends considering me a bit strange for having ‘internet friends’ back then, because the internet was only for emailing. One expressed concern for my safety when i told her i would meet up with internet friends at gigs. Same friend told me i would be coming home in a box when i went on a road trip to Wellington with Prozaco. (internet friend) haha.

        Please note: Said friends now have 975 friends on facebook, constantly spam LMFAO LOL OMG WTFCOPTER to me in txt messages, and think i’m weird because i still don’t exist on facebook, twitter or the like.

        The internet is getting old and soon it will get retro. That’s when i’ll get involved again. Those old hand made V1.0 NZM forums, with zero functionality were the beginning and end of social media for me. After those went, the internet went down hill.

        A bit boozy, obviously right.

  7. It’s so sad that the site doesn’t seem to be there anymore, bar a few very small remnants. It seemed like the owners lost enthusiasm … I am convinced if it had stayed usable, similar to how it was, then it would still be active (although all forums seem to have dropped off in usage with facebook arriving on the scene).

    I remember meeting a few people off there too, and I remember once someone listed me in their top ten posters which was a moment of joy for me haha.

    That period 0f 2002-04 was awesome.

    1. Cheers, James. I often wonder what NZM would have turned into if it had been given a bit more attention and resources. Even though Facebook is so dominant, there are still plenty of niche communities out there using open forums.

  8. For some weird reason I tried to get on nzmusic.com this evening; unfortunately it just redirects to a “legitimate” Forex Trading site. Such a shame.

    I certainly enjoyed my time as a part of the NZM community. It was an opportunity to find out a bit more about this amorphous blob called New Zealand music. A lot of fun and some “interesting” characters

    Cheers

    Big_Stu

    1. Hey, it’s nice to hear from you! Just recently I was reminded that Steriogram got their fancy American record deal after an A&R guy came across one of their videos on nzmusic.com. Does stuff like that even happen anymore?

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