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28.09.12 Music Week 37

“Radio is still the biggest medium in terms of listenership in the country and it’s one of the true key

areas where you’re going to make money” FEIDHLIM BYRNE, NIELSEN

potential in modern Irish music right across the board these days. “It used to be that Ireland was only known for rock bands and solo artists,” she tells Music Week. “Now you have electronic artists like Solar Bears, MMoths and Toby Kaar wowing audiences and, behind them, people like Young Wonder and Faws piquing people’s interest. “Funeral Suits, Delorentos and Cast of Cheers

are all keeping the ‘rock’ flag flying, however. Then you still have the solo artist magic vibe of Lisa Hannigan, Villagers, James Vincent McMorrow with Lisa O Neill and Hudson Taylor.” Dorgan is seeing healthy international success

from smaller Irish acts, even if they aren’t boasting sell-out arena tours spanning the globe. “There is more demand for Irish artists at the

showcase events we do,” she says. “We don’t select the acts, so when you expect an event to select 10 artists and they end up picking up 21, as Eurosonic did this year, then you can only take it as a good sign that Irish music in general is doing pretty well indeed.” It’s true that the economic crisis has hit the Irish

music market hard and, with such a small population to target, it’s understandable why the Irish audience alone won’t satisfy certain companies. But the country’s music execs have by no means turned their back on their home crowd entirely. “Although gold here is only 7,500 and platinum

15,000, on certain artists, we really do punch above our weight in the Irish market,” says Universal’s Crossingham. “The last Mumford & Sons album has done 100,000 here, the last Florence album has done 120,000 and the Rihanna album before last has done 120,000 – so the sales are still there but you have to come here and work it.” Crossingham suggests that airplay hits are still

incredibly influential in Ireland, with nearly 90% of people listening to radio for over two hours a day. He also warns against the idea that UK media has a huge influence in Ireland, labelling it a myth. “The BBC and Channel 4 are way down the list on the electronic programme guide,” he offers as an example. “UK radio has no influence here really and very few UK TV shows have an influence.” Nielsen’s International Operations manager

Feidhlim Byrne tells Music Week that Irish radio does look towards the UK to an extent “but a lot of [Irish] stations are very strong in themselves and make their own decision based on what they think.” While Byrne advises Irish musicians and labels

at every level on anything from digital distribution to working with collection societies, Airplay stats remain a staple and Byrne agrees that radio remains a key to success in the territory. “Radio is still the biggest medium in terms of listenership in the country,” he says. “It’s one of the true key areas where you’re going to make money. You make it through royalties from airplay and gigging and touring. They’re really the two key areas. Irish promoter MCD pays testament to country’s live scene as well, happily reporting that business is

“People find it difficult to understand why we still describe BMG as a start-up when we’re already fourth biggest music publisher in the world,” says Mary Ann Slim, managing director of BMG Ireland, “but that’s what we are.” BMG Ireland has been open

barely a year and, speaking from her office on St Stephen’s Green, in the heart of Dublin, Slim is positively buzzing just days after signing her first act, Dublin five- piece Little Green Cars (above). “Little Green Cars are exactly

the kind of artists Ireland excels at,” she says. “They are hugely talented and write melodic songs which have a timeless, cross- cultural appeal.” BMG is not the only one who

thinks so – the band are the latest signing by Glassnote Records and will be released on Universal Island in Ireland and the UK. BMG Ireland was originally set

up to administer the S1 Songs catalogue worldwide which boasts songs from The Byrds, Leon Russell, John Denver, Sheryl Crow, Evanescence and Creed among its copyrights. “And don’t forget Disco

Inferno,” says Slim. “That’s one of my favourites.” But as well as administration, sync and marketing, BMG Ireland

has two other priorities. First is picking up catalogues and writers whose work becomes available. “We’re increasingly successful in making the argument that BMG really does offer a genuine alternative to the established players,” she says. But second is signing artists like

Little Green Cars with international potential. “Realistically we’re not in the business of signing writers with only domestic appeal,” she says. “We’re about leveraging the BMG network.” Despite the fact that she

envisages signing no more than “one or two” such artists a year, Slim is proud of the fact that BMG is the only major international music publisher with a base in Dublin. “There’s a real benefit in having a presence on the ground.” The company’s close links with

BMG Chrysalis UK really helps, she argues. “If you look at the UK roster, we already have Imelda May, Lisa Hannigan, Bell X1 and Damien Dempsey so BMG represents amazing Irish talent.” Nevertheless it’s still early days.

“We’re definitely the new kids on the block,” she says. “The music business in Ireland has done a tremendous job both in satisfying its home market and generating a string of international successes. We’re also here to learn.”

holding up on the circuit. MCD promoter Noel McHale warns against complacency, though, reminding us that those in the live sector need to keep the impact of the credit crunch in mind. “We are in a recession in Ireland and have had to watch ticket prices,” he says. “We need to be seen to give value for money and

give the music fan a good experience. When people do take the trouble to spend their hard earned money on an event we have to deliver a top class customer experience.” McHale is confident that Ireland’s live music

market will remain healthy, picking pop music as particularly strong with One Direction gigs selling out up to a year in advance. There is a general optimism across the Irish

market overall. “We are riding a wave of creative success that I’m sure will translate globally in the next five to 10 years,” says First Music Contact’s Angela Dorgan, who believes the industry will become more confident in the years to come, adding, “With Music 3.0 conversations around tech initiatives, Ireland will be a leader in ideas about how music can adapt while keeping artists and their protection at its core.”


Little Green Cars


Frances Moore chief executive IFPI The last decade has seen the recorded music industry suffer a steep decline, with its trade value shrinking by more than half in the last five years alone. The fact is that Ireland

has been seriously affected by digital music piracy and despite the imaginative and bold response by some players in the market, not enough has been done to tackle the problem. There are 20 licensed digital music services in the country, but they face continuing unfair competition from unlicensed blogs, cyberlockers, file-sharing networks, stream ripping services and websites. Ireland’s music industry was one of the most

proactive in the world at trying to tackle the problem. IFPI’s national group, IRMA, reached a groundbreaking agreement with the country’s largest ISP, eircom, in October 2010 that led to the introduction of the first voluntary graduated response scheme in the world. The implementation of the graduated response

scheme by eircom provides an interesting counterpoint to some of the hysterical accusations made about such programmes. The system involves a series of three warning messages followed by the sanction of internet account suspension for one week and then, if the infringer still continues, by suspension of up to one year. Eircom found that only 15-20% of users continued to infringe after the first warning, mindful of a future sanction. Just 0.02% of infringers identified by the programme ignored all three warnings and faced account suspension. Before eircom started its graduated response

programme the Irish High Court confirmed that it was fully compliant with data protection law. Despite this, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner issued enforcement proceedings against eircom. These enforcement proceedings were quashed by the High Court on the 27th of June 2012. The Court took the opportunity of confirming the legality of the eircom graduated response programme at that time, however the Data Protection Commissioner has appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. This has meant that other Irish ISPs have not voluntarily introduced such measures, preferring to wait for the outcome of the case before taking any action. It is to be hoped that the Irish Supreme Court will

be in a position to deal with the appeal expeditiously and clear the way for other Irish ISPs to follow eircom’s lead and voluntarily introduce graduated response measures to combat the mass distribution of music over unlicensed peer-to-peer networks. There was good news for rights holders in

February 2012, when the government finally wrote Article 8.3 of the European Union’s Copyright Directive into Irish law. This makes it much more straightforward for rights holders to seek court orders requiring ISPs to block users’ access to copyright infringing websites. Ireland’s recording industry has stepped up to the

plate, licensing a diverse range of digital services and brokering a pioneering effective deal with the country’s largest ISP to combat online piracy. It is only with measures covering the whole market and not only eircom that internet users can be migrated to legal digital music services and the decline of recent years can be reversed, enabling the local recording industry to grow again.

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