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'We Hit A Brick Wall With Radio'
When epic rockers CODES signed to EMI, it was widely expected they would sweep all before them. But the young Dubliners found Irish daytime radio impossible to crack. Their manager explains how a bright young group with global prospects were hamstrung by what he sees as the conservative culture of the Irish music business.
Peter Murphy, 22 Nov 2010
So what kind of feedback were they getting from radio programmers?
“The common one that Irish radio is fantastic at putting out is, ‘It doesn’t fit with our format’, which is the most open-ended answer that you can possibly come up with. And when you ask them to explain what exactly that format is, effectively it’s a collaboration of people who sit around a table and they decide what goes onto a playlist. It’s a form of lottery, which is fair enough – but it doesn’t make it any easier when you’re not part of that lottery.
“One thing I’d love to go on the record as saying is: I have absolute admiration for Phantom and Today FM and the way they’ve conducted themselves in the Irish music industry. My problem with radio in general has been RTÉ and to a certain degree FM104. I find RTÉ’s approach archaic and that’s the number one reason they continue to haemorrhage listeners. I’ve exchanged e-mails with (head of 2fm) John McMahon, who I believe is an extremely nice guy, and none of this is personal. This is a business. Overall I found daytime radio in 2fm to be an absolute nightmare, nonsensical."
The isolation of Irish artists isn’t solely down to 2fm.
“That parliamentary debate which was chaired by Tom Kitt,” Karl adds, “where nine million was reportedly paid out in royalties in 2008 and less than 750,000 of it went to Irish artists – that speaks volumes.”
It suggests, in effect, that less than 10% of the music being played on Irish radio is Irish.
“I came into the music industry in 2004,” Karl says, “and the concept of downloading was there, but it hadn’t caught onto the same extent that it has now. So I’ve had difficulties accepting the fact that I grew up with such quality radio, and the bands around at the time were quality, and they were played on radio. And then all of a sudden I equate radio with what I call Bebo FM, listening to Gaga five times an hour, or if I switch to another station, she’s there again, or it’s the obvious ones who are there.