- 10 Sep 21
We chat with The Sound House owner Ian Keogh about his innovative 'Songs Of The Summer' series, which sits somewhere between live and live stream...
During the pandemic-induced live music drought, Dublin venue The Sound House knew they had to come up with a winning idea in order to help themselves and artists get through. With funding from the Live Performance Support Scheme, owner Ian Keogh devised 'Sounds Of The Summer', a dual live performance and live stream event series that gives more artists the opportunity to perform in a professional setting, while being broadcasted to a global audience.
"We were one of the venues that was part of the pilot scheme last year in November and December," Ian says. "It supported artists and technicians who have been more or less completely forgotten about, and who have had their principle form of income entirely switched off."
After a successful first run, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media brought the Support Scheme back, with a slightly bigger budget. "The value for money they got out of the initial trial budget was so phenomenal," says Ian. "And it was dispensed between a lot of independent venues as well as the national venues that would usually be in receipt of government aid."
During lockdown, Ian got in touch with a few other small, independently operated venues in Dublin and expanded a collective throughout the country. "Similar to the story of EPIC Working Group, we formed the Live Venue Collective, which was headed up my Una Molloy of Turning Pirate. So it was with that collective we went to the government with a singular voice, asking them not to forget us."
'Sounds Of The Summer' showcases Ireland’s hottest acts, in addition to giving new acts the opportunity to make their debut. With Wild Youth, instant hitmaker Robert Grace, Shiv, Fya Fox, rapper Celaviedmai, and more on the lineup, it showcased the raw talent Dublin has had to offer, reiterating that artists and venues are still around, ready and willing to play, despite the pandemic.
"We have a 40 seater restaurant we converted into a rooftop beer garden during lockdown – which has proven massively important for us, because it has turned into a magical little terrace," Ian says.
"Since restrictions eased, artists can now play to a live audience for the first time in a year and a half. Some of the bands were substantially bigger, so they chose not to have a live audience. For them, we also developed a feature on our website, which is a live-streaming platform that allows us to host the live performances, but also connect any performer to an audience that can stream and pay for their products."
"It's all done live by our in-house video technician," Ian continues. "We couldn't always have people in the room, but we still wanted to get the music happening, and wanted to get people employed and try to get some revenue in as well."
That said, it's difficult for artists to perform playing to a fixed camera and an empty room. "The way we got around it was to build a chat function into the website, which allows artists to see a live chat in a screen next to the stage monitor," says Ian.
"They're getting instant feedback from the people at home, who are sending messages to the band or looking for a shoutout over the mic. The band are able to see it in real time.
"It reminds the guys on stage that, despite the fact that there's nobody standing in front of them and they're playing to a camera, there is actually a person on the other end consuming the art."
'Songs Of The Summer' certainly has made the best of a bad situation. "Once we started doing the outdoor shows, a huge amount of people pivoted toward being able to do performances in front of people," Ian says. "Even though it's only 30 people."
You can take a look at The Sound House's upcoming live streamed events at their website.