This is a guest post by Andrew Dyce, a lecturer in music and music business at Perth College UHI. Andrew is also an artist manager and co-founder of Glasgow based label, Saraseto Records. He liveblogged the Future of Music in the Digital World Conference held in Dublin in June 2013 and captured it all in this Storify.
The Future of Music in the Digital World conference, hosted by the Contemporary Music Centre, explored the opportunities and concerns that the digital music industries have proposed.
Keynote speaker Julie Feeney, articulated her own approach to engaging her audiences through social media, whilst encouraging artists to choose and utilise their own tools carefully. Andrew Dubber, expanded on his concept of ‘Experimental Pragmatism’, asserting that artists should feel free to customise and only use tools that meet their needs.
Perhaps the most frequent concern raised during the conference, was the complicated and often non-existent income streams available to artists, labels and publishers. Artists expressed concerns regarding revenue and the popularity of streaming. Once heralded as the future of the music industry, streaming platforms have yet to generate meaningful income for artists and there is little evidence to suggest that will change anytime soon. There is some evidence of growth in Scandinavian markets, although, for the moment at least, these signs of growth are isolated (IFPI, 2013). Although the expectations the recording industry has of streaming to return significant revenue appear optimistic at best and, at worst, misplaced.
As Frank Oteri acknowledged, new technologies have brought with them significant new opportunities for the music industry. Perhaps the most important opportunity is for the music industry itself; a genuine chance to abandon outdated and often restrictive business models in favour of an open, participative approach which encourages collaboration to face new challenges collectively.
Special thanks to Paul Long and Jez Collins at BCU for their hospitality and banter.
This post was written by Annabel Monkhouse, a Music Industries undergraduate student at BCU who assisted us on our visit to Dublin in June 2013
In June I was sent to Dublin to research music heritage and the music scene in Ireland’s cultural capital. What I found wasn’t entirely what I was expecting.
When I think of Irish music, the first thing that comes to mind is jolly, upbeat, flute heavy music, played by groups of old Irish men in smokey pubs. Although that does exist and is still a large element of Dublin’s music culture (whether or not it has ‘sold out’ to tourism is another argument), it is not just about the traditional scene.
Like any cultural city, Dublin has a thriving live music scene which I was keen to discover more about. The first place we visited on our trip was Tower Records. Initially people were unwilling to chat, until we met Shane. He plays in a few bands around Dublin so knows the scene well and had fairly strong opinions on music and what was going on, just as you’d expect from someone working in the largest record shop in the city.
We ended up speaking to Shane for a good half an hour about his thoughts on music heritage in Dublin and how he felt the live music scene had changed and evolved over the past few years. Initially we asked about the more traditional Irish music and whether young people ever bought any. However, although they stocked it, Tower Records didn’t sell much. They were more of standard independent record shop, so we moved onto the current music scene.
After U2 and Thin Lizzy, I, and possibly many other people would struggle to name any other successful bands from Dublin. We spoke to Shane about this and he mentioned the live music venues in the city and their recent change in hands. He told us about the venues changing the way they run, and now instead of paying a band to play, the band has to pay the venue. According to Shane, this is putting the local bands off playing the city and instead they are heading to towns such as Limerick. He felt this could be discouraging to local musicians.
After searching for the hidden record shops and trying to track down people we had been told knew ‘everything’ about music we found the more traditional Irish music shops. Sadly a couple of these were fairly empty when we visited, however the owners assured us many people who were either keen to learn more about their heritage, or fans of the traditional music often came into the store. One traditional Irish music store, Celtic Note, on Nassau Street had the feel of an HMV for example, because of its chart section, posters on the wall and the organised racks lining the shop walls. I found this interesting because it wasn’t going out of it’s way to push the fact that they sold ‘traditional Irish music’; it was just a normal record store and people were buying the records, proving that there is still an audience who are interested in this particular aspect of the Dublin and Irish music scene.
We then headed over to an independent record shop set up in a cafe, running alongside a vintage clothing shop. Elastic Witch is run by Gibb Cassidy, who also DJ’s around Dublin. He also spoke to us about the music scene in Dublin but completely disagreed with what Shane had said. Gibb felt that the live scene was still going strong and that many artists were trying new and interesting things in terms of their music. Gibb told us that he tries to encourage bands from Dublin, and will always stock their records in his shop. When we mentioned the traditional side, and keeping the heritage alive, Gibb started reeling off names of artists who use the older, more traditional instruments when making their music. For example an artist called Daithi O’Dronai who plays an electric fiddle and uses recordings of traditional irish instruments and songs, looping them to make more modern sounding music. I found this very interesting because although sampling old songs is incredibly common in popular music now, it’s rare to hear a track that actually samples traditional music. Here is a video of Daithi O’Dronai. The sound quality is poor but it nevertheless demonstrates what he does
I think this is the most exciting element of traditional music. How it is being interpreted, remade and re modeled to appeal to a completely new audience. The tradition is being kept alive in a much more interesting way than old men playing in pubs to tourists.
The Dublin I saw in my brief time there seemed to be fairly tourist focused, especially around Temple Bar. To me it felt like the more traditional scene was surviving on tourism. The gigs during the day in the local pubs were filled with Americans and the odd English man, and when we asked about instruments in a music shop, we were informed their main clientele were American. However, this is based on my very brief, personal experience.
Music is clearly an important aspect to Dublin’s cultural heart, clearly demonstrated by the wall of fame, the statue of Phil Lynott, the numerous record stores and streets lined with buskers.
Here are the video interviews we conducted with those we met.
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.
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.
We’ll be meeting with the project partners in Dublin from 19th-20th June during a busy period for the Contemporary Music Centre, the Irish partners on the project. Here’s a post from the CMC blog on one of those activities which is the launch of a new promotional CD.
The first release in CMC’s new promotional CD series new music::new Ireland will be launched at 4.30pm on 20 June at the National Concert Hall by RTÉ lyric fm presenter Bernard Clarke, following CMC’s Future of Music in the Digital World 2conference.
The series, new music::new Ireland, aims to showcase some of the current work of Irish composers. Like CMC’s previous CD series,Contemporary Music from Ireland,new music::new Ireland inherits the range and generational representation of the earlier series, taking the listener on a journey into the vibrant world of new Irish music.
Funded by Culture Ireland, the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the release presents 11 works selected by an artistic panel from over 45 submissions in a smart new design and layout. Featured composers include Linda Buckley, Seán Clancy, Roger Doyle, Stephen Gardner, Dave Flynn, Daniel Jacobson, Deirdre McKay, Karen Power, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly, Eric Sweeney, and Ian Wilson.
The launch will feature a live performance by traditional Irish flautist Harry Bradley of an extract from one of the featured works on the CD, Dave Flynn’s The Forest of Ornaments.
Following the launch, the CD will be distributed nationally and internationally to radio stations, festivals, concert promoters, performers and universities amongst other places. A digital-only mini series, featuring works by four other composers drawn from the submissions, will also be released in the Autumn.