Forget about the event, focus on the music - that's the message from the New Zealand Music Commission on this year's NZ Music Month.

Now in its ninth year, the annual industry event was officially launched with an industry showcase featuring a host of new and rising stars of the local scene. As events move into full swing this week, Kiwi acts were riding high in the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand charts: hip-hop sensation Smashproof retained the No.1 spot in the singles chart for a record-breaking 11th consecutive week with Brothers (MTC/Universal), rising rockers Midnight Youth entered the charts at No. 2 on the album chart with their debut "The Brave Don't Run" (WEA), while a brand new Kiwi collection "The Great New Zealand Songbook" (Sony Music Entertainment) was the week's biggest selling compilation album.

These are the sorts of achievements that Steve Newall, event manager and executive coordinator at industry body the New Zealand Music Commission, is keen to showcase. "If there is any theme for us this year, it is that this is all about the music not the month," he tells "The less we are seen the better; we want the artists and shows in the foreground, not the event itself."

NZ Music Month was conceived to shine the spotlight on local music in all aspects of the music business, including retail, radio, television and live. As well as the aforementioned industry showcase - which featured performances from the likes of Midnight Youth, Bang! Bang! Eche! and Sola Rosa - the 2009 events include a tilt at the world record for the world's largest guitar ensemble (a May 24 event backed by local music channel Juice TV and casino operator SkyCity), a new "The Nation's Favorite Song" show from music channel C4, and a full roster of live performances, such as an on-going schedule of 'secret' MySpace gigs.

Newall is confident that all sectors of the music industry will benefit from this year's event, because the mainstream media is a lot more receptive to a wide range of music stories during the month.

"Last year, there was a very noticeable spike at retail, with NZ music sales up 80% on the previous month," Newall says. "But there are a huge amount of events happening across the country and the industry benefits on a number of different tiers."