Dublin Mobility, June 2013

On 19th June I took a one-day trip to Dublin as part of the IMMHIVE project in order to research the local music scene. I was particularly interested in finding out about vocational music education opportunities, music heritage and tourism and digital culture.

With only a few hours in the city, I had to work fast. I made a whistle-stop tour of various locations and interviewed a number of people involved with music in Dublin along the way. I also took a number of photographs.

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My general impression of the city is that the music scene is very vibrant. Live music and music retail in particular seem very strong. Lots of bars and restaurant seemed to offer some form of music, whether that from DJs or live bands and artists. I also saw numerous buskers on the street, no doubt buoyed by the large amount of tourists that visit the city.

I was also able to visit a number of excellent record shops, ranging from those which sold traditional Irish music, outlets serving the contemporary chart market, and specialist shops dealing in 2nd hand and new music in a variety of genres. The staff in the shops were more than happy to give me information about my areas of interest in the city and my interviews below provide some interesting insights into what goes on in Ireland’s capital city. I hope you find them useful.

First of all, however, I visited Brian Carty at The Sound Training Centre. The centre offers vocational courses in Audio Production, Sound Engineering, Music Technology, and Live Sound, Lighting and Stage Production. As well as these longer courses leading to a qualification the centre also offers short, weekend courses to people interested in learning more what the centre offers.

Next I spoke to Robert Curly, a music fan and publisher of Comic Books who works in SubCity Comics. Robert gave me his perspective on what it’s like to be a music fan in the city. We talked about attending gigs, music heritage, and buying music in the city. I also asked Robert about training opportunities for musicians and music entreprenuers

After meeting Robert I took in a few of the city’s many record shops and put many of the same questions to staff. Here I am speaking to Owen Davies, who works in Claddah Records, a shop selling predominantly traditional Irish music. In an illuminating interview, Owen gave me some interesting and alternative views on the manner in which vocational music training is delivered in Ireland.

Next on my tour was Spindizzy Records, a shop selling a mixture of new and 2nd hand vinyl in a variety of genres. Whilst there I spoke to Enda and posed the same questions. Enda was too shy to appear on camera but was happy for me to film the interior of the shop whilst we talked

My final video interview was with Dennis Cassidy, an employee of Rage Records, a shop that sells second-hand vinyl and computer games. We spoke in the shops excellent vinyl basement, where all genres of music were represented and where I could easily have spent quite a lot of money. The interview with Dennis was particularly interesting. Not only was he able to give me an insight into the workings of a Dublin Record shop, but he is also a drummer in a band that tours the country and a drum tutor at a local college.

My final visit of the day, which I didn’t record on video, was perhaps the best. I went to First Music Contact and spoke with Angela Dorgan. The small First Music Contact team work considerable magic with a very limited Arts-funded budget and I was incredibly impressed with what they have put together. Essentially their activities can be viewed as a process through which bands pass, which they have organised into a pyramid structure. Working from the bottom upwards, the FMC pyramid is organised as follows:

First Music Contact: Offers advice and assistance to bands and artists, and also management and record companies, via online tip sheets, regional clinics, one-to-one consultancy, and a series of podcasts, and all free of charge. Bands who interface with First Music Contact in this manner are invited to create a profile on the next level in the pyramid, Breaking Tunes.

Breaking Tunes: Is an online portal that allows Irish bands to upload music and information in order to create a dymanic EPK. The portal is free to the public, online and via a Smartphone app, who can then stream music, view upcoming live shows and send messages to the band. Music Industry workers, such as labels, management companies and so on, have a different level of access (after first being vetted by First Music Contact) that allows them to contact bands with opportunities. There are currently 7000 Irish bands on the portal, with over 5000 having been active (by adding new music, gig dates, etc) in the last month.

Hard Working Class Heroes: An annual, 3-day showcase event in Dublin where bands from Breaking Tunes are invited to submit music in order to be considered for a slot. Music Industry workers active on the Breaking Tunes portal are invited to attend and run A&R and Industry panels. From 2013 onwards the showcase will also be open to Tech Startups as well as bands.

Music From Ireland: The HWCH event has already led to several bands securing deals with record labels and publishers, but the support from First Music Contact does not end there. Music From Ireland attempts to build a brand around Irish bands at International music festivals. From 2013, Tech Start-ups will also be supported in a similar fashion at events such as SXSWi

FMC Tour: Currently in development, this latest level in the FMC pyramid will provide assistance to bands benefitting from the work of Music In Ireland as they plan, book and then tour in overseas territories.

If my flying visit to Dublin revealed anything it is that there is so much more to explore there in terms of vocational music training, music heritage and digital culture. I’d love to spend a couple of days there really getting to grips with what is going on.

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