- 27 Apr 06
The Irish music industry has spawned a number of official bodies and companies, who provide invaluable services especially relevant to artists going the independent route. But what do these operators actually do? Here, we present a handy run-down on the key bodies and expert companies out there waiting to serve you.
*IRMA is the acronym of the Irish Recorded Music Association – which is the association of Irish-based record companies. It includes all of the majors that are represented in Ireland, and is open to all new labels and companies. The association has been heavily involved in the campaign against music piracy. IRMA also compiles the official Irish charts and collates statistics on record sales.
As company secretary Clive Leacy told Hot Press: “New labels come to us to learn how the charts operate and how to obtain a barcode so that shop sales can be included in the chart figures. But for many acts, at this stage digital downloads are more important than physical sales, and some are only using downloads. As a result we’re putting together a digital chart based on Irish sales.” IRMA charge small labels a membership fee of ¤120. For further information call 01-2365152.
*To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Federation of Music Collectives, the organisation has changed its name to First Music Contact. The organisation’s CEO Angela Dorgan explained the background to the new identity. “Because of the range of services we offer to musicians,” she says, “we’re likely to be contacted by them very early on, sometimes as soon as they first pick up an instrument.” One of their most in-demand service is their instrument lending library, but First Music Contact maintain their connection with many bands, right through their international careers. One of Dorgan’s criticisms is that, with few exceptions such as Hot Press, the Irish media is not truly supportive of local talent. As she says, “The Irish media respond when Irish acts achieve international success, but less so when the talent is doing very well on the Irish market. We don’t really seem to appreciate how highly Irish music is perceived abroad. We were in Austin, Texas recently (for the South by South West rock festival) and the response to Irish music was extraordinary. But that’s rarely reflected in our media.” If you’re ready for your first contact with the music industry, call Angela at 01-8782244.
*Chart-Track has been involved in putting the charts together for IRMA since 1991, collating the sales figures of singles, albums and videos in Ireland. They also provide a range of research services for record companies and retailers. They collect data on sales from all the major record stores, as well as a wide range of independent shops on a daily basis. Every sale from the stores they monitor contributes to the Irish charts.
However, in order for Chart-Track to track sales of a record it is essential for it to be registered with them before release. For further information: Email: [email protected].
*Nielsen Music Control provide a crucial airplay monitoring service that gives subscribers a complete insight into what is happening on the airwaves here. As their general manager Feidhlim Byrne explained, “A lot of acts these days put out singles just to get airplay, so it’s really important that they get accurate information, to show whether they achieved that or not. We cover all radio stations in Ireland, all day every day, so if a record gets played, we can tell an act the time, the date, the name of the show and the audience that show attracts – so they get a very accurate idea as to the reach they got with the record.”
It’s equally important for artists and their record companies to know if a particular record didn’t get much play – or indeed if certain stations ignored it. The service also helps new artists to compare exposure on, say John Creedon or Larry Gogan with more specialist programmes attracting smaller audiences. An avid music fan himself, Feidhlim is happy to deal directly with acts themselves – and we can tell you, from the feedback of bands who’ve used the service, that it’s very reasonably priced and value for money. So any act serious about making an impact will find it virtually impossible to ignore Neilsen Music Control when they start hoping to garner airplay. Their service is totally confidential, and Feidhlim can offer keen rates for unsigned and non-established acts, so a call to him on 01-6050686 might save you in the long run.
*With the increasing sophistication of tracking radio plays and the proliferation of media generally, it’s more important than ever to mount an effective PR campaign. The bottom line is that before anyone can buy a record they need to know about it, and ideally to hear it – which is where a hotshot PR agency which specialises in music, like Entertainment Architects, comes in.
One of Ireland’s leading entertainment PR and event management companies, EA were founded in 2002 by Aileen Galvin (ex-Sony Music) and Emma Harney (ex-Universal). Last year the duo were joined by Bernie Divilly and they now represent many key Irish artists, including Mundy, The Walls, Horslips, The Frank and Walters and The 4 Of Us, plus emerging Irish acts like Duke Special, Hybrasil and Vesta Varro. EA are also handle PR for international artists such as Morrissey, The Charlatans, Ocean Colour Scene, Alabama 3 and Josh Rouse. More recently, EA worked on a number of TV projects, including a highly successful PR campaign for the RTE Other Voices series. Apart from covering all Irish media, north and south, EA handle such other duties as writing press releases and biogs for their client acts.
As Aileen Galvin explained. “We use our contacts and our knowledge of the media to present a record properly to them and to create opportunities for exposure. It’s important for artists to understand that their record is going to be in competition with dozens of others – and that there’s a limited amount of time and space available out there.” You can get lucky – but the law of probability says that you’re much more likely to if you have a team of pros, who know the ground rules and have the contacts, working on your behalf. Entertainment Architects only take on records they believe in – and have a reputation for integrity with both their clients and the media. You can talk to Aileen at 01-2606998.
*It is as simple as this – if you let your financial affairs get into a mess, it is harder than ever now to drag yourself out of it. The solution is not to let it happen in the first place. Sooner or later, artists need to call in accountants, preferably with music industry expertise such as Mazars (O.J.K.). The best advice you can get is to make it sooner. Mazar’s (O.J.K.) provide accountancy, taxation and book-keeping services, specialised tax advice and advice on contracts. As audit director Ian Jones explains, “We can organise a structure that suits a particular musician’s or band’s situation, advising whether they should be self-employed or part of a partnership – or indeed whether they should form a limited company. We specialise in matters peculiar to the entertainment industry, such as artist tax-exemption, and advice on with-holding tax in relation to Irish acts performing abroad.” If you are at all serious about your career, and are turning over a few bob, these are not matters to be taken lightly. For further info contact Ian at 01-4494400.
*The advice may be as old as the business itself, but it bears repeating: new artists need legal advice before they sign any contracts. Too often they don’t and live to regret it, as royalties that should be theirs end up in someone else’s pocket. If you want to avoid that fate, try talking to Arthur Cox’s Media and Entertainment Group who are among Ireland’s leading entertainment law practices. “We advise a wide range of music industry practitioners on all legal aspects of the music business,” Colin Kavanagh explains. “As well as providing copyright advice, we draft and negotiate management contracts, development and recording deals, publishing and licensing agreements, endorsements and merchandising arrangements.” The company has offices in Dublin, Belfast, London and New York so they’ve got the reach to work with acts as they scale the international heights. For further information contact Colin Kavanagh at 01 618 0548.
*In the rush for bands to set up their own website, many of them forget that a website needs to be kept up to date – otherwise it reflects badly on the operation. That’s where a company like onemorego.com fits in. According to Mark Wrafter, maintaining your website is as important as building it. To create a site, onemorego makes the following recommendations: (a) commence your design by using Adobe Photoshop; (b) if you’re creating a logo from scratch, use Adobe Illustrator for a cleaner output; (c) use Adobe Photoshop’s “Save For Web” feature to create file sizes suitable for web-usage; (d) use Macromedia Dreamweaver to create your site – the Dreamweaver application is the industry standard for updating content on a website. That advice notwithstanding, you might be best to contact the company directly and let the experts look after all your website needs. Call Mark from Onemorego.com on 086 8643372.
*While many publishing companies in Ireland tend to see themselves more as administration facilities as opposed to nurturers of new talent, Pete Blackbyrne at Jewel DC, who recently signed a co-publishing deal with Sony/ATV, believes that publishing companies should be more active in setting up showcases, inviting record companies to see the artists perform, pitching music to record companies and networking all outlets for music, so that the artist/ songwriters on their books as well as the publishing company itself, reach their maximum potential. “Through our efforts and the efforts of the companies linked to our network,” Pete says, “we have already secured record contracts, concert booking agency contracts and recordings for some of our artists/ songwriters. We also have two bands under contract, “Roy7” (formerly Jove) and Rulers of the Planet, and are on the look-out for more.” Which is confirmation that Jewel DC are in the business of working with genuinely promising rock’n’roll artists at the indie end of the spectrum. For further information check out the new Jewel DC website.