Irish Music Month – a major initiative to promote Irish artists and bands – kicks off today and will run throughout October.
When we came up with the idea for Irish Music Month, I felt deep down that it was a good idea.
My own polls when speaking to DMs and broadcasters suggested that a different mood had set in on Irish radio stations – that there was more openness.
In the past, it was feared that playing more Irish music would involve an unreasonable level of risk. The point is, the guys at the helm at any station have to be thinking: will this work commercially? They run a business. They have wages to pay and bills to pay. And the way radio has evolved, they’ve always been measured – sometimes very harshly – on a rolling three-month basis.
On-air staff have often said they live in fear of JNLR numbers. What they call a “bad book” can weigh on you like the sword of Damocles. Two in a row and your future is in serious question.
It is not because of any nastiness on the part of the owners or DMs. They also live in fear of a bad book. They really only have one source of income, and that is advertising and promotions. A drop in listeners is likely to lead to a drop in revenue. Facebook, Google, and other huge tech conglomerates are taking a lot of advertising dollars out of the market. Losing money is easier than ever.
None of this has changed. But something else has changed. Local and regional stations have shown they are here for the long haul. They are now more confident about their place in Irish society. They have proven their ability to speak to the local audience in a unique and compelling way. And suddenly, they are more open.
I spoke to John Purcell of KCLR, who is the chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, and pitched the idea. He was immediately positive. John spread the word to the rest of the IBI stations and he was greeted with genuine enthusiasm. It has since been a joy to work with everyone involved, including Nessa McGann, who has been specially invited by the IBI to coordinate things at their end.
The office of President Michael D. Higgins was also immediately positive. Irish Music Month aligns with an important part of the President’s mission. They agreed to issue a statement of support.
Like our new special issue of Hot press confirms, Irish Music Month has been widely and warmly received. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has reviewed our application under the Sound & Vision program and has decided to strongly support it. Within the music industry, he was also received with great enthusiasm. IMRO and RAAP responded positively, introduced it to their respective boards, and came back with a thumbs-up. MCD also did its best, in a way that was vital. Rubyworks has agreed to join in the fun created by our A New Local Hero campaign.
You need commercial support to make something like Irish Music Month. When we spoke to XL Retail Group, they saw the solution, given their continued commitment to Irish culture – including sponsorship of TG4 soap, Ros na Run – and the status of XL stores as local independent.
We could see it right away. They could too. We met and talked and word returned in the affirmative. And at every step since, the team has been brilliant.
I probably don’t need to say that there has been a tremendous amount of hard work. The team at Hot press also responded powerfully – hammering phones, handling design, and performing all of the many backroom functions that are integral to what is a huge company.
The artists have expressed their support widely, with numerous recordings of special messages to be released throughout the month, including The Script, Kodaline, U2, Una Healy, Mary Black, The Coronas, Soulé, James Vincent McMorrow, Villagers – and many more. others. A really encouraging feeling has crystallized that when people come together they can achieve great things. We are, of course, just at the start of Irish Music Month. But it promises to be a fantastic celebration of Irish musical genius and Irish musicians.
And we can look forward to the end of it all to announce A New Local Hero – a very special artist or band, who will receive an unprecedented level of support from the 25 independent radio stations that are on board. But it is for the future. For now, prepare for takeoff.
Thanks to everyone who contributed. See you on the other side!
The new number of Hot press is an Irish Music Month flip-cover special – starring The Script and Jack Lukeman. Pick up your copy in store now, or order online below: