New Zealand Music Month, the annual industry shindig which turns the spotlight on Kiwi music, is shaping up to be one of the biggest yet.

Now in its eighth year, the event was officially launched today (May 1) in Wellington by associate arts, culture and heritage minister Judith Tizard. NZ Music Month 2008 will feature more than 450 gigs from a variety of bands and around 60 new title releases.

With two local Artists -- Shihad and Flight of the Conchords -- occupying the top two spots on this week's NZ albums chart, Tizard says the event couldn't have got off to a better start.

"It's hard to believe that back in 2001 only 6% of album sales for the month were by New Zealand acts," she says. "But within six years our home-grown acts now makeup around 20% of album sales."

Last year, one in five albums sold in May was by a New Zealand artist, with sales of Kiwi music almost doubling during the event. For the past three years, a New Zealand song has also been at No. 1 on the radio charts for the entire month of May.