Inside Hawaii's Music Business
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New Idea to Sustain Hawaii’s Music
Kuuipo Kumukahi understands the challenges of the music business.
Photo: David Croxford
She has been performing since high school and still plays several gigs a week. She also records often, has won numerous Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, and works with the Hawaiian Academy of Recording Artists and the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. Yet, she says, she still works at her “day job” as director of a facility for ARC, the Association of Retarded Citizens.
The four-time president of HARA says the academy has no official statistics on the local music business and its role in the overall economy. But, she says, the industry’s importance is reflected in the success and popularity of the Na Hoku awards, which are produced by HARA, and the success of Hawaiian music in the Grammy Awards.
Kumukahi has some thoughts on funding and growing the music industry. “Each May, HARA sponsors the Mele Mei, with a month of almost daily workshops, free performances and concerts. We work with (tour operator) Kintetsu Japan. They bring big groups for the events,” she says.
In fact, Kintetsu brings groups to Hawaii all year and is only one of the many companies bringing in tour groups from Japan, Korea and other markets. The people come for hula and the music. “It is a package, the music, the dance, only from Hawaii,” Kumukahi says.
Her newest idea: a contribution of $1 per visitor from each of the hula and music tours so musicians can be paid. Not big money, but a little something for their work. The money could also fund programs to teach music to Hawaii’s youth and help them learn to survive in the music business. HARA could manage the funds, she says. “I am willing to take on whatever kuleana is necessary to make it happen.”
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