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The Hot Press Music Show 2012 showcased a wealth of Acts and exhibitions, but it was the panel discussions that emphasised the challenges for 'up and coming' musicians.

The Artists CharterArtists, DJ’s, producers, promoters, radio programme directors and barristers took part in a number of lively discussions addressing some of the obstacles faced by budding musicians. The forum was used to launch the Artists Charter by barrister Gavin Bonnar, who drafted the charter based on Article 23 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights which states that everyone is entitled to 'just and favourable renumeration' for their work. He was joined by Bressie, Barry Devlin and Steve Wall to discuss the issue of digital piracy and the artist’s right to be paid for their work. Speaking passionately from the Artist's point of view, Bressie painted a somewhat bleak but realistic view of the effects digital piracy has. He set the story straight as to why he left the Blizzards stating that "his bandmates had started families and simply couldn’t support themselves financially through music”.

There was similar pessimism underlying the radio panel with Sinead Troy (IASCA), Mal Tuohy (The Riptide Movement), Nessa McGann (Spin Southwest Controller), Michelle Doherty (Phantom FM DJ), Mark Cunning (iRadio Head of Music) and Ian Wilson (2fm Producer). Wilson was frank in his remarks with regard to Irish bands looking for airplay saying “there is simply too much music to search through. Radio stations are not listening to everything and anyone that says they are, is lying”. He believes radio stations “need to divorce themselves from the record labels as they are becoming increasingly irrelevant... yet they still dominate radioplay”. 

Faced with an industry where the public no longer want to pay for music, panelists gave their titbits of advice to artists. Cunning suggests “when approaching radio stations don’t use the word demo” as it gives the impression of being a rough draft, say ‘single or LP’ instead. McGann said from a regional radio perspective “if bands can get out and play gigs locally, it makes such a huge difference when you have people texting in to play your songs”.

Artist’s are also hindered from getting radio airplay due to the nature of tightly controlled playlists. The system works on the basis that commercial records are ranked A, B and C and given respective airtime priority. This leaves little space for promoting Irish musicians on daytime radio slots as Mal Tuohy from The Riptide Movement points out.

Meanwhile the IASCA hope to get more Irish artists airtime through their Play Irish campaign. The project was launched on the John Richards show on Galway Bay FM last October and due to its success will now be applied to Beat FM. The station still chooses the music they wish to play but it has to be Irish and during primetime slots. “One artist will be promoted throughout the week with the aim of getting consistent Irish airplay”. 

Whether these initiatives will have any major impact for the struggling musician remains to be seen. However you can show your support and track progress by visiting these websites Artists’ Charter and Play Irish.

DM

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