Selling Lokal Music

A Comparison of the Content and Promotion of Two Locally Recorded and Released Albums in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea


  • Oli Wilson Otago University



ethnography, Papua New Guinea, popular music, Port Moresby, recording industry


This article examines the production and reception of local popular music in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and draws on ethnographic research undertaken in recording studios in Port Moresby, a major centre for music production in Melanesia. Specifically, the linguistic and musical content of two contrasting albums, Gera Verere by the band Waterfall Tunes and Cool as Ice by soloist Flora Suve, are compared in the way they were constructed, promoted and marketed. Both albums were released in 2009 by a newly established record label called Spaida Trakz. The label’s perspective on the relative success versus failure of both albums (in terms of sales) informs the analysis and was attained through participant observations at the record company’s offices and complemented by a series of interviews with its staff. These insights demonstrate how perceptions concerning place and cultural identity were both exploited or neglected by Spaida Trakzin its attempt to connect these albums with local consumers. Through this comparison, this article examines the broader sociocultural processes that underpin the operation of the recording industry in Port Moresby, and explores PNG popular music’s capacity to reflect and embody indigenous knowledge.

Author Biography

Oli Wilson, Otago University

Oli Wilson is a lecturer in the Music Department at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand, where he teaches popular music studies and ethnomusicology. In addition to the musical cultures in Papua New Guinea, Oli Wilson’s areas of research include music in Oceania, particularly indigenous New Zealand popular music, the music industry, recording and studio production (as creative practice) and recording studio ethnography.


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How to Cite

Wilson, O. (2014). Selling Lokal Music: A Comparison of the Content and Promotion of Two Locally Recorded and Released Albums in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Journal of World Popular Music, 1(1), 51–71.



Popular Music in Australia and the Pacific