A Labour Of Love
I launched myself onto the music scene in 2007 after working most of my Life in the Bar trade . I had booked 1000s of acts over that time and I became aware of a serious lack of opportunity within the industry .
The cover scene at that time was the way to go for Irish musicians and this disturbed me as I knew that Irish Artists were extremely creative and Musically talented .Most of the Artists who worked in the cover scene were independent artists initially but could no longer sustain their desire to produce and play their own original music .To survive and remain in the industry they loved , they were left with the only avenue and choose the cover scene.
I decided to investigate this lack of opportunity in Ireland but I knew I could not do this while working in the Bar and Venue sector . The hours were too long and I myself was in an industry that supported popular Demand and the cover scene.
I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with the cover scene as there is a huge demand for it but I felt that original Music had not being given a chance or any real support. I was looking for a fairer way for artists to be heard and their music in time becoming popular demand.
I spent that first year learning how to use a computer as I hadn’t a clue how to email or even turn on a computer. The phone was my only tool at this time. I remember being extremely passionate about what I wanted to do and began by emailing practically every Venue in Ireland. I had no idea about email marketing so each email was sent individually. It was a painstaking exercise but I managed to do this. The problem was I remember getting just one reply from over a 100 emails sent . I can’t tell you how disappointed I was. I wanted Venues to consider having more original music and suggested a meeting to discuss. I soon realized that Venues were closed off completely to this idea. The blood flow of the industry was closed for business. No wonder Artists were having such a difficult time being heard .
Next was the Radio stations. I emailed all of them to consider coming up with time dedicated to original music. Again I got very little response and realized that without this, how the hell would an artist ever be heard and become popular demand. The two major parts of this industry were closed off and seemingly had being for Gods knows how long .
I emailed labels , Managers and distributors and the same thing ? No one was prepared to reply to my emails and talk to me about this ridiculous so called industry . It was very obvious to me that there wasn’t any music industry in Ireland . It was either that or everyone I had contacted were pig ignorant or just didn’t care about the industry. It was totally frustrating for me .
With this obvious lack of information, I decided that I was banging my head off a brick wall and considered giving up. I remember being very frustrated around this time . No venues wanted original music , No radio stations wanted to play it and no one in the business wanted to talk about it ? What the hell was going on ? I had to go on with this . I just had to find the root to this rot that had affected so many talented artists .
I launched my very first website in 2008 . MySpace was the big player in those days and it was useless for artists I thought.. A bit like reverb or Soundcloud. Lots of music but no one seemed to be getting anywhere. Lots of virtual success but nothing really in the physical sense of achievement.
I named my first website ” LiveMicsWorld “. It was a social network for artists with myself ( an actual person ) encouraging and passing on advice when I got some . I wanted it to be a place where people would actually talk to one another and together we would actually do something with the help of the website . It was a lovely idea and I did manage to get lots of Artists. I decided to create my own little industry and try and tackle some of the main problems. The first Idea was to find a venue and create a place where original artists could come and be heard. It wasn’t going to be easy as people were just not going to see original live music. I would have to create an event around this. An event that would attract people to it and also artists to play there. An event that would attract media and possibly radio in time. An event that would give the artists a little prestige to further their own campaign. An event that would solve some of the issues that I had experienced while investigating this broken industry .
“Michael Kiernan is a detail oriented innovator with creative vision and the tools that generate success” John Hartmann 2011
It was around that time that I began to search for management courses to upgrade my knowledge in the music Industry. I found a very interesting music website Holdigm in the US. The site was owned by John Hartmann , A music Manager and agent for over 50 years. He had personally experienced the decline of Music sales in America and had built the website to help solve some of the issues caused by the digital era. The Holdigm was essentially an umbrella organisation that allowed the original artist to remain independent but have all the necessary services and contacts under the same organisation. He was a big believer in Music excellence and the power to network with other artists and professionals. His plan was genius and very fair for everyone. I developed a close relationship with John and his advice was immeasurable to me at that time.
I told him what I was trying to do here in Ireland and he seemed to love the idea and that it was similar to what he was trying to do in the US. He went as far to ask me if I would be interested in being his representative in Ireland as he was launching in other countries .I was very happy to accept as being connected to such a man would be very helpful to all artists here in Ireland .I encourage you to go into the website as there are bits of gold within it . He also gave me a book he had written and gave me permission to share his book with Irish artists. If you would like a copy then you can have it Here
I told John about the event I was thinking off and he said that this was a very good idea to go ahead with it. I decided to go ahead with this in 2013 and named it ” LiveMicsWorld International Artist ” . It was a fairly big title but I didn’t want it to become a battle of the bands kinda thing. I wanted it to be an award process instead of a competition. Competitions go nowhere in my opinion and are just a money making racket. In hindsight I wasn’t ready for such an event for lots of reasons. The first was I hadn’t given myself enough time to promote this locally along with having an unrealistic expectation of the results. The acts that came were premier acts and the music was some of the best I have heard . There was an appetite for this type of thing in the music community and artists could see what I was trying to do. Unfortunately the general public couldn’t and the turnout was very small. The whole thing cost a small fortune and by the end of it I was completely broke. I had hoped to have enough left over to pay for a recording at grouse lodge to the winner but it became very clear that this had not worked. I announced this to all the competitors and everyone of them were more than fair with me about it. They all enjoyed the experience and thanked me for trying to help them. It was a very low day for me i remember but the artists knew that my heart was in the right place. Some of them are still my friends to this day and I am very grateful to be associated with such artists.
I continued with LiveMicsWorld and was determined to get it right the next time. The website got badly hacked in late 2013 and the whole site was destroyed. Years of work and blogs were gone along with artist profiles . It was around then that I took a break from music totally. I was exhausted with this industry and things seemed to be totally backwards and a waste of time.
I was rang one afternoon unexpectedly by a producer from thames TV. This is the station that hosts Xfactor and Britains got talent . The producers were anxious for talent and thought that I may be able to help. To be honest I wasn’t very interested as my attitude towards these competition was very poor. I consulted John in the US about this and he advised against it. I ended up ignoring his advice and thought that my association with this crowd would in some way help a few artists here. After all ” Niall Horan ” from my hometown was doing well and he seemed to be happy enough. I knew this would be very unpopular with the original artists but they would see that I had made the right decision in the end .
The truth is I got badly used by these people and the artists I sent onto them were not treated much better. I had all sorts of suspicious characters facebooking me and ringing me about how much I knew louis walsh and simon cowell. Mostly promoters looking for opportunities. I had one ring me up making small talk and making suggestions about having competitions here and the winner going forward to the producers. This guy took it upon himself to go up to Dublin, without my knowledge, when auditions were on and asking to speak to the head producer , who was my contact. He introduced himself as my friend and told her that me and him were going to work together and supply them with lots of talent over the years. After the meeting he rang me again and told me what he had done and what we were going to do. Terrified that this chap was after ruining it for artists I had already sent , I emailed this same producer and told her that I had no idea who this guy was and not to talk to anyone only me. That I work alone with no hidden agendas and simply want to give people an opportunity. She was shocked that someone would do this and apologized for not checking with me first. I had others constantly harassing me during this time also and I eventually decided that enough was enough . I left after two years with my only claim to fame being Peat Loaf . He was a tribute meat loaf singer who got to the live shows and is still doing well I believe .
I was also a judge on the Irish leg for the World Karaoke Championships . I had no idea it existed till I was asked to be a judge . Seemingly its going on for years. The organiser had heard that I was scouting for thames TV and that I would be a good judge to have on the final. There was two other lovely ladies on the panel. Two of them professional singers and one still a good friend of mine to this day. The final was a mess and the judges were ignored in the end. A complete waste of time if i’m honest and politics within the organisation won the day. I had an issue with the male singer that was chosen. None of the Judges has chosen him and had chosen a singer that outclassed everyone on the night. They had a problem as he got drunk and they felt that he may get drunk on the world final. The man was there for over 8 hours with his family during the course of the day and there was a beer promotion. Buy one and get one free . Eh hello ??
I was asked to run this Irish leg of the competition a couple of years later but I never seemed to have the time to get involved. I think it’s a good idea and singers get to showcase themselves on a bigger scale. If there was more opportunities for the winners then maybe I might consider getting involved but it seems a cash prize is all that’s available at present .
In 2015 I decided to open my own music venue. I called it the MusiBar and the idea behind it was a venue for all original artists who wanted some help with being heard. I bought a PA and build a stage for them . I had another event in mind but this time I could control the venue and have the time to build an awareness around a venue that supported the original artist fully. This backfired on me for reasons I will never understand. I thought at the time it was no brainer and that it would be supported by artists far aad wide. It was there as a launch pad for any artist and I was there to help in anyway I could. It was a perfect setup and I had 100s of original bands playing there from all over Ireland. Having artists from outside the locality was a problem seemingly. My intention was to have these artists play and connect with the local artists and create a network . This was something I had learned for John in the US who had used this process throughout his career. I wanted the venue to be a hub for all things Music and in some way change the way music was done in Ireland. I did get some support for some local artists but the majority stayed away and never came into me. I tried to find out what was the problem and I was told that the reason they were not coming in was that I was bringing Acts from the outside and not employing them. My answer to that was it’s not easy employing local artists that don’t come in and introduce themselves ? Any locals that did come in were looked after and they played there. I put all this down to a group or Clique of negative individuals that seemed to have emerged along with this broken industry. This is another phomema that I had not considered and it shocked me. The very people i was attempting to help were themselves stunting their own growth and everyone around them. They had become critical of anything different and who could blame them. They had hit nothing but brick walls , unsavoury people , being used and unheard. I had being through the same and understood but business was suffering and there was nothing I could do.
I continued on as best I could and worked 7 days a week morning to night . Each night I would try and come up with new ways to make people understand what I was trying to do but money was tight and I had no marketing budget.
The only self marketing tool I had was ” The Simon Gigs ” . I introduced this in 2013 and launched it in the quays in galway. I knew the quays well as I had worked there in 2005 to 06. The Simon gigs served two purposes. To raise funds for the homeless as the homeless situation was getting out of control in Ireland .The second was to showcase original Music from every corner of Ireland. It was an opportunity for artists from anywhere in Ireland to help raise money for the homeless and in turn give them the opportunity to be heard. I had three such events in the MusiBar between 2015 to 16 and had over 70 artists performing . I am very proud of what I did and everything was done by me to stay there but I was on my own, trying to do all this . It became very obvious that I was becoming very ill with all this and I made the sad decision to pull the plug . Maybe if I had more people helping me then I would have reconsidered but I was empty and had to go. It was a very sad day when I left. I was happy to leave to rest but very sad that so many artists could have being helped by me and the venue if they only realised the opportunity that was right in front of their faces.
I spent the next year recovering as my body was very tired and I was completely broke again from all the money I had spent launching this new initiative. I got to see many parts of the business , most of which was not working and needed a jumpstart. I tried to do this but I realised that more people needed to be involved . You cant do all this alone. Its an extremely isolating place to be and you need good people around you. Otherwise you will quickly get worn out. I do see other people trying to do similar to me and like me they are isolated and become disillusioned with this business. They had seen what I have seen and it’s not a pretty picture but it has potential. That potential lies within a few individuals who have investigated this industry like I did. That potential lies in the Irish artists connecting with those people and other artists to create a new way of promoting Music in this country . It’s not going to be easy as this same broken industry is embedded into our heads as a lost cause. At present it is but it can change with only a few people working towards the same goal .
So what I have done since then ? Well I studied Digital marketing so I better understand what’s the best way for artists to proceed . I was certified last year. I also studied Life and spiritual coaching . Im sure you wondering what the hell has this to do with the music industry ? Well I needed this for myself and to help me overcome many issues I had and picked up along the way. It has helped me to become a better person and to understand others too . I can also help people with issues which is good. I was very good at managing businesses and events in the past etc but was useless in managing myself which is the most important. I will teach others how to do this in time. I was also certified as a qualified life coach last year. I would like to incorporate this into my music campaign in some way. It is a great way to stay focused and has allowed me to get rid of all the crap from the past. It has also helped me to see how much I have actually done in these past 11 years. I get emails out of the blue sometimes from artists thanking me for all I do and how it has changed their lives. I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel. That I Impacted someone’s life so positively. Changing someone’s life for the better was why I got involved in this business. To give hope , encouragement and offer help to those that need it There isn’t anything better for me than being in a position to do this.
I launched this Musibiz website a few years ago and it’s a medley of everything i’ve done and hope to do . It’s part of my life now and I wouldn’t give this up for the world. I no longer push things or force anything anymore. I simple go with the flow and allow new things to evolve naturally. The website is a resource of so many things and I am on the other end to whoever wants any information or help. 2019 will be an interesting year I think .I am continuing to learn as always and will be introducing some new ideas and approaches to this industry . Will they work ?? No idea !! Will they help ? Absolutely !! It’s all learning at the end of the day .
I will leave you with this . ” There is no such thing as failure only knowledge. Those who understand this will get back up and use what they have learned to eventually reach their desired goal “