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Tonight The Tuning Fork hosted managers, industry professionals, artists, and celebrities, to celebrate the people behind some of the biggest artists in the New Zealand music industry at the MMF Music Manager’s Awards.

For 13 years the awards have been held annually to reflect and celebrate the achievements of artist managers, many who are often out of view of the public. The awards have become one of this country's most respected music industry events.

Alastair Burns was awarded the prestigious Recorded Music NZ ‘Manager of the Year' award for his work with Marlon Williams and Julia Jacklin. Under Alastair’s wing, Marlon Williams has sold 30,000 albums, performed on Later with Jools Holland, and completed a global album tour, which included appearances at Austin City Limits, London, and Los Angeles. Alastair also secured Julia Jacklin an SXSW appearance, which led to international record signings, and twenty major festival appearances including Glastonbury and Splendour in the Grass. Last year Alastair won the Breakthrough Manager and International Achievement Awards.

This year a new award was introduced.  The ‘Emerging Manager of the Year’ award is for managers who have just started managing in the last two years.  The award was won by Nicole Thomas and Paula Yeoman for their work with the artist Theia. Nicole and Paula Yeoman have made great strides with Theia’s career in a short time.  After securing her a record deal with Warner NZ and Australia, Theia released her first single ‘Roam’, which quickly became a Spotify favourite amassing 6.5million streams. It made viral charts across the globe and became a hit in New Zealand, peaking at number one on the New Zealand Airplay charts where it remained for seven consecutive weeks. 

The award for ‘Breakthrough Manager of the Year’ went to Matt Headland for his work with KINGs. In 2016 KINGs had an amazing year. He was awarded ‘Best Breakthrough Artist’ at the New Zealand Music Awards, broke Lorde’s record for most consecutive weeks at number one in the New Zealand Music Singles Chart for single ‘Don’t Worry Bout It’, and has been streamed over 5.5 million times along with over one million YouTube streams. Matt has also helped KINGs sign multiple deals with Warner Music New Zealand, Ministry of Sound Australia, Universal Music Germany, and Sony Music Canada.


The New Zealand Music Commission ‘International Achievement’ award was given to Julie Foa’i for her work with Te Vaka. Julie has been managing Te Vaka for twenty years, with this year being one of their biggest in the international limelight. After signing Opetaia and Te Vaka to Walt Disney to write songs for the Moana movie, she licensed thirteen tracks to the film and the band wowed a star-studded audience with a live performance of three songs from the movie at the world premiere in Los Angeles.  The album reached number two on the Billboard top 200 albums charts, number one in New Zealand and was nominated for an Oscar. 

Tami Neilson won ‘Best Self-Managed Artist’ for the second year in a row. In 2016, Tami was nominated for an APRA Silver Scroll Award for her song ‘The First Man’, as well as being nominated for Album of the Year and Best Female Artist at the NZ Music Awards. In September she headed off on a North American Tour, which included an appearance at the Americanafest in Nashville. She charted on the Americana Music Charts and CBC Radio Canada, and was featured in Prime Rocks documentary “The New Sound of Country.”

‘Best Independent Tour Award’ was won by Rodney Hewson for his work on Anika Moa’s ‘Songs For Bubba’s 2’ tour.  The tour covered eighteen cities, which included two shows per day in a different town or city.  In true Kiwi fashion, entry to each show was a gold coin donation and reached a collective audience of more than fifteen thousand people in two weeks.

Tonight the music venues were also in the spotlight, with the OneMusic 'Best Small Venue’ award going to San Fran in Wellington, and the OneMusic 'Best Large Venue’ award going to Auckland’s The Powerstation

The ‘Industry Champion’ award for 2017 was awarded to APRA AMCOS for their contribution to the New Zealand music industry. APRA AMCOS license organisations to play, perform, copy, record or make available their members music, and distribute royalties. They have 87,000 members across New Zealand and Australia who are songwriters, composers, and music publishers.
The MMF Mentoring Program provides opportunities for new artists to have one on one time with industry specialists, and the Achievement Award recognises the efforts of a member who utilises the resources provided by the program and shows great initiative. This year the 'Achievement Award' was presented to Andrew Papas. Andrew is a highly motivated musician, who serviced his debut single to radio and achieved airplay on ZM, Mai FM and The Edge for his single ‘Burn It Down.’ The single was in the Australian Heatseekers chart peaking at No 3, and was playlisted on the highly influential USA Spotify Heatseekers: Hiptronix.

The 2017 MMF Music Managers Awards winners are:

Recorded Music Manager of the Year – Alastair Burns (Marlon Williams, Julia Jacklin)

Emerging Manager of the Year – Nicole Thomas and Paula Yeoman (Theia)

Breakthrough Manager of the Year – Matt Headland (KINGs, DUNES, Jamie McDell)

NZ Music Commission International Achievement Award – Julie Foa’I (Te Vaka)

Best Self-Managed Artist of the Year – Tami Neilson

Best Independent Tour – Rodney Hewson (Anika Moa – ‘Songs for Bubba’s 2 Tour’)

OneMusic Best Small Venue – San Fran, Wellington

OneMusic Best Large Venue – The Powerstation, Auckland

The awards would not be possible without the support of our incredible sponsors, who recognise the key role that managers play in the success of New Zealand music. In 2017 our major sponsors include: The NZ Music Commission, Recorded Music NZ and OneMusic

All photo credit to Steve Bone Photography.