With Hozier, HamsandwicH, Paul Brady, Le Galaxie and Kodaline all doing well, we are witnessing a small boom in Irish music. So how can we ensure that it lifts an even greater number of Ireland’s finest into the charts?
It is a trend that has been creeping up on us! While, as already reported on [link]hotpress.com[/link] today, Blur have shot dramatically straight to the top of the pile here with The Magic Whip, the current charts are notable for the fact that, for the second week running, five Irish albums are entrenched in the Irish top 10.
Among these are last week’s No.1, HamsandwicH’s superb offering Stories From The Surface, as well as new entries, Paul Brady’s Vicar Street Sessions and Le Galaxie’s Le Club. The list is completed by two of Ireland’s most recent international successes, Hozier and Kodaline.
I remember looking at the charts early last year and there were just six Irish artists in the top 100. It was an astonishingly low representation. At the same time, there were 17 Spanish albums in the Top 20 there. And in Germany, there were 16 German albums in their top 20. Sweden had eleven out of 20. So Ireland – despite the extraordinary musical culture we have here and despite the huge successes Irish artists have achieved internationally – was at the bottom of the charts for local representation.
In an editorial in the Hot Press Yearbook 2015, I pointed to a shortage of radio play for Irish artists as a key factor in heightening this bizarre imbalance.
Thankfully, the situation has changed considerably since that editorial was written. A lot of people in radio who spoke to me at the time agreed that there should be more support for Irish music and I have the impression – though it is just that – that there is a higher level of awareness now of the need to get Irish music onto playlists. Obviously, it has a bit to do with the records that are being released. It would be very, very strange if Irish radio stations were not able to find something to play from the new HamsandwicH album, to take just one example.
Clearly, it helps too that Universal Music in Ireland have adopted such a positive, proactive role in signing and supporting Irish artists. It’s great to see that commitment being rewarded with Le Galaxie hitting the top 10 in their debut week, with what is not exactly a mainstream noise. But it is crucial for the industry here, and especially for musicians – many of whom are finding it very difficult to earn a living – not to let this momentum drop.
There is a tendency for radio play here to be concentrated on a relatively small number of Irish artists at any given time. What we really need to develop, as we have argued consistently in Hot Press, is a culture where very good Irish music is consistently given a real chance irrespective of genre. We need to create our own hits.
Is Mundy’s new album, which was at No.8 in the charts last week, getting the radio play that it deserves from radio stations all over Ireland? Will we hear Paul Brady and Villagers on more than a few stations? Are the likes of Gavin Glass, Fiach Moriarty, The Mighty Stef and Fight Like Apes getting any recognition outside of the evening rock or folk shows? And will the new Roisin Murphy, Ash and SOAK records be listened to attentively and accorded the kind of importance that is given to international artists operating in their respective musical zones?
Things are certainly a lot healthier than this time last year, but we still have a way to go.
Watch this space...
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