TEXAS IS CALLING for breakthrough Irish musicians, as industry focused festival SxSW (South by Southwest) – hosted in Austin, Texas this week – prepares to hone in on 2017’s most likely new stars.

The American festival has come under fire in recent weeks, as several artists pulled out in protest at prohibitive contracts for acts that require US visas. They do nonetheless remain both the best location in the world to see major acts play tiny venues, and the top spotting ground for newcomers to throw themselves in front of the abundant waiting music media.

Ireland has traditionally had a strong association with the festival,  with Arts Council funding provided to assist the travelling musicians in ample expenses in getting themselves on front of their audience, provided through arts agency First Music Contact.

Past years have seen ‘Music From Ireland’ – First Music Contact’s showcase at the event – feature the likes of Hozier, Damien Rice, The Strypes, Girl Band, and Walking On Cars. This year’s Irish contingent might be unfamiliar to those outside of music circles, but look just as likely to succeed.

Amongst those taking flight are up-and-coming pop-rock band Picture This, young rockers The Academic and lo-fi atmospheric soloist Jealous of The Birds. Globally-influenced soul singer Loah and spaced-out alt act Cloud Castle Lake will represent the capital.

Loah – the stage name of Sallay Matu Garnett  – will be releasing her debut EP in April, and is already heavily tipped to make waves locally off the back of her jazz/ soul mix and inventive vocals. She’s dubbed her style ‘Art Soul,’ and has already worked alongside the likes of Hozier and Kila.

Speaking of the event, Loah told the Gazette “I first heard about SxSW when I was staying in New York and a bunch of friends came back having had the most incredible experiences there. I remember thinking I really want to play that one day. So it’s always been on my radar as being a parallel galaxy in its vast scope of music and people and technology.”

“I’d love to meet industry people working at a wider level, European and American and further afield even and get exposed to loads of other musicians. I’m particularly excited as Erykah Badu (my queen!) is playing, as is Goldlink, who I love. I have a really bright and surrendered outlook on it – whatever happens will be great and I’m gonna make the most of the experience.”

A Face in the CrowdISSUES SURROUNDING TICKET RESALES are growing again in Dublin, as the highly-profitable secondary ticket market ramps up for the summer peak.

Ticket touting remains legal in Ireland, though Fine Gael TD Noel Rock recently put forward a motion looking to criminalise the resale of tickets at above their official price. Since his tabling of the bill earlier this year, Rock has received protesting submissions from the likes of the IDA, Ireland’s Foreign Direct Investment body. The IDA highlight the value of the companies leading the market – some of whom have Irish headquarters – to our economy.

For punters, though, this is a growing problem. Companies such as Viagogo and Seatwave (the latter a Ticketmaster-owned company whose resale options appear on the Ticketmaster website, highlighted once the original offering is sold out) are highly profitable agencies. Intentionally or otherwise, the companies seem to incentivise the buying of popular tickets for the explicit purpose of resale.

This is particularly prevalent with big-name gigs. A ticket for U2 in Croke Park this summer, for example, starts at €240 on Seatwave at the time of writing (face value €44), and goes up as high as €1,000 (face value €200). Ed Sheeran – who has personally spoken out against above face-value reselling this month on his Twitter account – has seen tickets for his 3Arena date listed at over €600 each (face value €77), while a ticket to Ireland’s potential Six Nations decider against England will set you back almost €1,200 after booking fees (face value €60).

In the case of J.Cole, whose 3Arena date sold out shortly after going on sale in late February, tickets were on Seatwave ahead of the show’s swift sell out. With such a quick turnaround allowed, and highly inflated prices, it’s hard to believe these tickets were not bought with profit in mind. In some cases, the reselling company stands to make more in resale fees than the total original ticket price.

Overhead, The Albatross. Savage.

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