From The Sunday Times
January 4, 2009
Radio finally going ga-ga for Irish acts
There has been a marked rise in the amount of air-time Irish musical acts are getting on the radio - and that is translating into increased sales
For years, Irish music acts have been singing the same refrain: we can’t get our records played on the radio. But 2008 proved to be the year the tables finally started turning for home-grown artists.
The second most played track on radio stations in the republic last year was The Man Who Can’t Be Moved by The Script, an Irish trio who have also conquered the British charts. It was aired more than 10,000 times, only marginally fewer than Duffy’s mega-hit Mercy. Coldplay’s track Viva La Vida was the third most played.
The Script also notched up No 30 on the airplay chart of the year with their first single We Cry, and No 55 with Breakeven, their latest release. Snow Patrol, meanwhile, were at No 36 and No 81 with Take Back the City and Chasing Cars respectively.
They were among 13 Irish songs in the Top 100 chart of the most-played tunes on radio, produced by Nielsen Music Control after monitoring the output of 34 stations.
While this may still seem a small proportion compared with the dominance of the airwaves by international stars, it represents a tripling of what was being played a year ago.
Feidhlim Byrne, of Nielsen, said: “I can see a huge increase in the number of Irish acts getting played and getting into the prime-time. [In the past] we would be lucky if we had five in the top 100 airplay chart every week. Now we are getting 15, maybe 20.
“The music is probably getting better, but a big part of it is down to the likes of Hot Press and the acts themselves pushing the media to give them a chance, so a lot of stations have started to give them a break. Tony Fenton, Ian Dempsey and Rick O'Shea on the bigger shows are fitting more Irish into their shows and getting behind certain bands, helping to drive them into the charts.
“Then other stations jump on them. Some of these artists are now getting airplay around the country, which they found it difficult to do before.”
Byrne cited Duke Special, Fred, the Coronas, the Blizzards and Ham Sandwich as among the artists getting a lot of air-time last year. “While we consistently have international songs getting maybe 700 plays a week, there are Irish songs good enough to get the same but which may only get 300 or if they’re lucky 400,” he said.
“The Script would be the exception. Duke Special, Fred, the Coronas, the Blizzards had radio-friendly songs but still wouldn’t get 700 plays.” As recently as the end of 2007, the Irish music industry was holding panel discussions with contributors including Westlife manager Louis Walsh as part of a campaign to get more Irish music played on the radio.
Home-grown artists were disappearing from the Irish Top 40 album chart and being replaced by international stars whose share of record sales had soared since the end of the 1990s.
Irish artists accounted for 27% of the local music market at the end of the Nineties, but that had fallen to 21% by 2007. Record labels blamed a lack of support from radio stations as the main reason.
Dermot Doran, manager of Republic of Loose, whose The Steady Song was the second most played Irish song last year and 24th overall, said: “It’s definitely improved on years ago, when it was impossible. This is the third album and from the second album on they’ve been getting good airplay.
“In the past, unless you were getting played in America and England, the powers-that-be in radio here didn’t think you were worthy of airplay.
“It probably is easier for Irish artists to get played on the radio because of the success in the past few years of home-grown acts such as Paddy Casey, who can sell 150,000 records in Ireland but mightn’t have as high a profile in the UK.”
Record sales last year seemed to reflect the boost. According to ChartTrack, which compiles the chart for the Irish Recorded Music Association, The Galway Girl by Sharon Shannon and Mundy was the biggest-selling single in 2008. Of the top 40 albums sold last year, 11 were by Irish artists including The Script’s debut record at No 2.
04 gennaio 2009
La radio fa bene alla musica irlandese
Nessuno è profeta in patria, neppure quando la patria in questione è una musicalissima Irlanda e i profetti sono i gruppi musicali locali. Oggi un articolo del Sunday Times irlandese racconta che solo nel 2008 è stata registrata una inversione di tendenza nella curva discendente della popolarità delle band musicali locali, che nel 2007 avevano ottenuto un misero 21% della quota complessiva di dischi venduti in Irlanda. A fine anni novanta riuscivano a sfiorare quota 30%. Secondo le etichette discografiche la prima colpevole di questo scarso riscontro è la radio: le emittenti irlandesi sono sempre state accusate di eccessiva esterofilia. E una minore visibilità si traduceva ovviamente in un più esiguo impatto commerciale. In passato, sostengono gli editori musicali, una band irlandese veniva presa in considerazione solo quando riusciva a scalare le classifica di popolarità in Regno Unito e Stati Uniti. Solo recentemente, l'arrivo di gruppi molto interessanti sembra aver fatto cambiare idea ai responsabili delle stazioni. Il Sunday Times in effetti presenta uno spaccato interessante di questa nuova scena musicale popolata da complessi come The Script o da cantanti da nomi ultra Irish come Paddy Casey. Tutti molto interessanti, per quel poco che posso capire io.