Oli Wilson

Oli Wilson

Director Research, Toi Rauwhārangi College of Creative Arts

Associate Professor Oli Wilson undertakes research on the music industry, as well as in recording and production, ethnomusicology and popular music studies. He is co-primary investigator in the Amplify Aotearoa research project, which examines fairness and equality in the music industry.  Another main area of research concerns the  impact new digital and communication technologies have on music culture in indigenous communities. He has undertaken extensive research on the recording industry in Papua New Guinea, and has published on New Zealand and Australian popular music. He is the current co-editor of the journal Perfect Beat: The Asia Pacific Journal of Contemporary Music and Popular Culture. He also plays keyboards in the iconic New Zealand band The Chills, and regularly performs in New Zealand and overseas.

  • Expertise

    Popular music studies, ethnomusicology, critical music studies, ethnographic research methods, recording and production research, Pacific studies.

    View Dr Oli Wilson's expertise profile

  • Technical areas

    Music performance (keyboards), arrangement, production

  • Research Highlights

    Amplify Aotearoa: Gender Diversity Among Aotearoa/New Zealand’s APRA AMCOS membership
    The Amplify Aotearoa: NZ Music Community Diversity Survey report was developed by Associate Professor Dr Oli Wilson and Senior Lecturer Dr Catherine Hoad from Te Rewa o Punga School of Music and Creative Media Production of the College of Creative Arts, in partnership with APRA AMCOS New Zealand. The researchers conducted the Amplify Aotearoa survey in 2019, which was disseminated to the wider music community. This report specifically looks at the responses of over 600 New Zealand songwriter members of APRA AMCOS (the member organisation representing songwriters and composers in Australasia), which provides a robust census for statistical stratification. The survey collected quantitative and qualitative data with two key aims – to find out more detailed demographic information about the music community and to find out more about the challenges they’re facing, in a confidential and anonymous manner. Across the responses, gender emerged as a key factor impacting opportunities, barriers, and experiences of discrimination, highlighting the need for analysis on intersectional issues that impact gender diversity. 
    Read the report here: https://apraamcos.co.nz/media/19169/amplify-aotearoa-gender-diversity-report.pdf


    Not our ‘Dunedin sound’: Responses to the historicisation of Dunedin popular music
    The music that was produced in Dunedin, New Zealand, during the 1980's occupies a unique place in the global indie music canon. In writing about this supposed ‘Dunedin sound,' critics and scholars alike have fixated on the city's remoteness: it is believed to be distant from metropolitan centres of music industry power and influence, and consequently supported a subversive and democratised local music scene. This article explores the implications of the ongoing historicisation of Dunedin's popular music scene along these lines, and highlights the ways in which the valorisation of the city’s musical heritage obstructs problematic power dynamics that impact the way young musicians in the city express place and musical identity. Our research applies an embedded participatory ethnography to unpack the ideological positions occupied by contemporary local musicians, and to critique factions within the contemporary musical scene in the city. 


    Ples and popular music production: A typology of home-based recording studios in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (2014 - sole authored journal article)
    This article was published one of the world's best refereed journals in the field of ethnomusicology. It represents the first extensive study on the recording industry in Papua New Guinea, and is one of only a handful of publications (including from anthropology, sociology, geography etc) to examine urban socialities in the region. This article details the socio-cultural systems that underpin the operations of over 12 recording studios, a significant sized sample, and contributes to a growing trend in studies of indigenous music and culture in which local epistemologies are foregrounded.


  • Qualifications

    Mus B (Otago University)
    PhD (Otago University)

  • Professional Affiliations

    International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM)
    International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM)
    Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM)

  • Supervision

    Oli has supervised a number of successful and high profile musicians, including Jon Toogood (MFA) of Shihad, Devin Abrams (MMus) Drax Project producer, Pacific Heiights, and formerly of Shapeshifter, and Wellington talent Estère Dalton (Master of Creative Enterprise). He is currently supervising two PhD students, Jesse Austin Stewart, who is researching music and democratisation through music technology design, and Anna Edgington who is researching gender inequality through creative recording projects.