‘State of the Nation’ is a blog project for 2015 exploring the current status of Irish music through those in the know. In it, I talk to musicians, venues owners, PR folks, DJs, journalists, bloggers and anyone else with insider knowledge on Irish music, and ask them just what we’re doing right, and what we’re doing wrong. This index links to the interviews published to date.
Aidan Cuffe (Goldenplec.com) “I’ve spent 13 years doing this. Every day and night is filled with GoldenPlec work. Keeping events information up to date, trying to be the most comprehensive and support shows of all sizes, from PR driven events to the smallest shows. We want to be covering them all.”
David Judge (Abner Browns/ Canalaphonic) “as a business person though I would be of a view that maybe people should do stuff for themselves. Yes, it’s difficult and you may have to work for nothing as i am doing at the moment, but I do believe if you are good enough and work hard enough it will happen.”
Aaron Smyth (VannMusic) “There are so many great Irish acts right now that are creatively pushing each other to bigger and better things. The level of music now doesn’t compare to any other time in recent memory.This has led to burgeoning communities amongst artists.”
Joe Panama (Overhead, The Albatross) “While I think streaming is great and it’s taken all the effort away from stealing from artists, I think it’s lead to a really passive sort of listening. Without having done even the most cursory bit of research I’d bet that most people who are using a streaming service are doing so while they’re glued to a screen.”
Gary Doyle (Street Ceol TV) “Every day we come across somebody new that we haven’t ever heard of and I don’t think it will ever cease to amaze how much talent is packed into this tiny island. It’s so difficult for up and coming musicians trying to get recognised.”
Bettine McMahon (Knockanstockan) – “More education, infrastructure and support I say! I think there should be “Jobs Bridge” or such an enterprise scheme for working musicians. There needs to be better fiscal support, as we have all seen too many artists struggle to make a living and thus sacrifice their art.”
Eoghan O’Sullivan (The Point of Everything/ We Play Here) – “Down in Clonakillty, about an hour away from Cork city, lies De Barra’s Folk Club, my favourite music venue. it’s aching with history, with photos of so many stars from the 60s to the present day adorning its walls. There’s nothing fake or forced about the place, it’s all genuine. If a band you likes plays there, chances are it’ll be the best gig on their tour”.
Kenneth Killeen (12 Points Festival) – “The scene in Ireland is actually similar to a lot of other European cities. But you can only understand that when you host the festival abroad and see how difficult it can be to reach audiences in Porto, Stavanger & Umeå. They too have the similar audience development hurdles to Ireland. And it’s important to realise that.”
Ciaran Byrne (Cauldron Studios) – “we’ve seen a complete flip in terms of who’s paying for recordings these days. It mostly seems to come direct from the artist themselves, but there are still a small amount of progressive companies who still encourage new acts. Mostly, we don’t get to hear the demos they’ve been working away on for years”
Katie Hogan (NuMu) – “We’re booming! No one can deny that Irish music is on the rise, with more Irish acts being signed sealed and delivered than ever before. The world is watching Ireland, I hear of some big Irish labels such as Universal have bigger budgets this year with the aim to sign more Irish acts.”
Alexis Vokos (Delphi Label) – “it’s challenging to get over the hurdles to build an audience internationally. Primarily I think these are cost-related, as when the best Irish music does reach international ears with a bit of budget behind it, we have seen what can happen in recent times. Radio is also a tricky area for artists and labels in Ireland”
Linda Coogan Byrne (GoodSeed PR) – “If you sound like a pop band, go to a label, send your music to an AnR person and pitch your music, make sure its well produced and build it up. If you sound like an indie band who has recorded a demo in your attic then don’t expect to be played on national radio as it won’t fit the standard or remit.”
Greg Synnott (7BillionPeople.Net) – “Meltybrains? and Girl Band both have the ability to go so far, and are doing so much experimentation and new things. They are stand out acts who deserve to fill out bigger venues, even if I selfishly want them to stay small so I can enjoy their music in more intimate locations.”