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#InConversationWith Mark Roach

We are a community of people in every profession and sector using music to create more value in towns and cities all over the world. In the special series #InConversationWith, we talk to accomplished members of our community and uncover their journey.

This story features Mark Roach, Director of Auckland City of Music (NZL), Executive Manager for the NZ Music Hall of Fame, Special Projects Manager for Recorded Music NZ and Director of Muse Creative.

Profile at a Glance

  • Full Name: Mark Roach

  • City, Country: Auckland, New Zealand

  • Work Profile/Designation: Director of Auckland City of Music (NZL), Executive Manager for the NZ Music Hall of Fame; Special Projects Manager for Recorded Music NZ and Director of Muse Creative.

  • Current Company: Auckland City of Music

  • Previous Notable Work: Music licencing specialist, former label owner, founder of the regional music office for Auckland, Executive Manager of New Zealand's Music Hall of Fame.

How did you get to where you are today, professionally?

I got the music bug at university over 30 years ago whilst helping out with student union shows, which led to me aspiring to be a musician. After a brief period as a somewhat average performing artist, I found my strengths lay in the backstage areas and I became an artist manager and indie label owner. That led to co-founding our national representative organisations for both artist managers and indie labels, and set me on a course of infrastructural organisation for our industry. I next went to the master rights PRO to redevelop their licensing business, and that in turn led to becoming project manager for the adjacent recording industry body. It’s been under this banner that I founded the regional music office for Auckland, partly in response to venue closures and the need for better municipal music policies, and partly as a solution to protect and promote music heritage which is under my remit as the executive manager of our local Music Hall of Fame.

Which would you say it’s your main project right now? For those who aren’t familiar, please describe it and talk a little bit about it.

Equaliser (EQ) is my headline project. It’s a gender equality programme where we award music video grants to female musicians who then in turn use female directors to make their videos, thereby increasing opportunities for women professionals in both the music and screen sectors. The project doesn’t stop there, however. We’re also creating a community of these professionals so that there is a greater network of women who can find each other in order to produce new works and level the playing field. We also provide networking events and online hangouts to enable this.

EQ also supports UN Sustainable Development Goal #5 (Gender Equality), and the EQ concept was first dreamed up by myself and my colleagues from UNESCO Cities of Music Adelaide, Hanover and Norrköping. Each city has undertaken EQ projects in their own way as suits their regional conditions, goals, parameters, etc. I describe EQ as ‘open source’, by which I mean that anyone can use the EQ banner for their own city projects (and regardless of whether they are UNESCO cities or not) so long as it meets the basic criteria of addressing gender equality (if you’ve got an idea , get in touch!). A new website has been published ( which will become the repository of EQ projects from around the globe as the initiative slowly but surely grows.

Walk me through a typical day-to-day working as the Director of the Auckland City of Music

No day is the same for me as I wear a lot of professional hats, not just as Director of Auckland City of Music. At the moment I spend a lot of my time working on policy and proposal documents, and meetings about infrastructure and strategy. We are fortunate in Auckland to have some talented and skilled people in municipal economic development and arts & culture roles, so I spend time in collaboration with them helping to develop their projects or marketing initiatives, and acting as the conduit to connect them up with the right pathways and people in the music sector. I’m also the Communications Coordinator for the 59 UNESCO Cities of Music, with my main objective there to create a system whereby we can all converse and collaborate more readily. I also work one-on-one with creative cities that are either closer to home (there are 3 other non-music creative cities in New Zealand) or that I have strong professional relationships with around the world. It’s definitely varied!

How does your work impact the music ecosystem of your city? Do you have any milestones that you’d like to share?

My thinking on how best to achieve strategic goals is always evolving and although I wouldn’t say we have had a transformative effect on our ecosystem (yet!), I do see the pathways that are needed taking shape, refining, and becoming clearer as we progress year-on-year. 5 years in, we are now seeing the maturation of the brand and the consolidation of that within the municipal organisations and music sectors. More and more people and organisations are seeking the office out, either to connect them up or to assist them with initiatives which all equate to Auckland’s perception as a city of music. One of the milestones I’m most pleased about is the establishment of grassroots venues organisation. Protecting those “R&D labs” of the music sector was a crucial part of establishing a music office, and it was one of the key priorities in our first strategy. Via our office we were able to seed-fund the establishment of a venues organisation, which is now operating independently and representing the grassroots venues both in our city and across the entire country.

What would you like to see discussed more regarding music cities topics? What do you think are the most pressing topics to address?...

To read the full interview, network with Mark Roach & our 1800+ global members, and getting a chance to be featured as part of our #inconversationwith series, join the Music Cities Community!

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