Reality Check for the Irish Artist / Booking a Music Gig In Ireland

Understanding the Music Industry today / Reality Check part 2 is the second installment of Reality check for the Irish Artist and my own attempt to understand the Music Industry in Ireland today.


I recently wrote “Reality check for the Irish Artist” Just over a week ago and have decided to write the second part.

The first post were observations and experiences from working in Bars and Venues for over 30 years. I was delighted to get such positive feedback and thank you all very much for your Kind Words. It was meant to be a practical Guide for all artists in Ireland and indeed anywhere really. The same rules apply anywhere in the world.

My second post is on my observations and experiences since I first began my campaign to help the Irish Artist over ten years ago.

It has being a very difficult campaign with many lessons learned in those years. With very little knowledge about the processes behind the Music scene and no Computer experience, I had a very difficult task ahead.  I invested all my time and resources for those ten years and It became an obsession for me to open up the Music Industry in Ireland.  After creating competitions, Events, building websites, talking with some of the best in the business and meeting many 100s of artists from Ireland and abroad, I began to understand the business more and identified many things that the Irish artist can improve on to have a more successful Music Launch.

A little about those ten years

The Music Industry has been in transition for many years now and the Major Music companies have taken measures to secure their futures during this transition. These measures have had a very negative impact on Music throughout the entire world. Small and medium Labels and music-related businesses have ceased to exist leaving Millions of Artists without a voice.

The independent Artist have had a very difficult time during this transition with many careers seriously compromised by these changes. Although Artists today are fighting back with all the digital and social media tools at their disposal, there is still a serious lack of support systems in place to ensure their success. Many have attempted and are attempting to put these support systems in place today but with so many barriers in place, this is proving to be a very difficult task.

It is with these attempts and failures over the past 10 years that I have seen some clear solutions that are possible with the participation of the Independent Artist. I have learned that the independent Artist have serious problems with building a fan base and getting their Music out to the entire country. I have spoken about the email marketing concept but it doesn’t seem to be a viable option for Artists today. So why is this the case? Well, there are lots of reasons from time management, to money issues, to personal issues, to feeling isolated with all the disconnect within today’s music Industry.  It is very difficult to have enthusiasm with the state of our Music industry today.

Although the Independent artist craves independence and having a career, you can’t help feeling their isolation and struggle to connect with a broken Music Industry .. This isolation can be observed In the “Music click” culture we seem to have in Ireland. Although this can be a positive thing in some instances with an identity within the group, Its can also be very negative and prevents further development within the group and the opportunity for networking with others. This fad needs to be challenged if we are to create a real community throughout the Independent Sector ( in my opinion ).

So how do we begin to change this cycle that gives us more hope and encouragement In an industry that has left so many behind?

This is a cycle, I have been attempting to change for many years now. I was partly successful on many different occasions in the years I have focused on this Industry.

In the beginning, I built my own social Network for artists and reached out to those individuals to come together. At that time, I had very little knowledge of what was actually going on within the industry and how to come up with the right solutions. More time and investigation was needed in order to understand this very complex Business more.

Next, I began to physically help each artist with creating an online profile like a press pack within my own website.This gave me a further insight into the understanding of the Artist’s social media habits and motivations. This was a very interesting phase and I began to see a clearer picture of the trials the Artists were having from all around Ireland.

I then attempted to create a national competition for all artists and create a motivational factor to the normal annual promotional process that the Artist’s were engaged in. This was a very interesting campaign with many seriously good and established Acts submitting to it. This told me quite a lot about the Artist. There was a definite motivation for recognition from quality acts who were prepared to act on that opportunity. I also saw clearly that their social media was very busy around that time and that they were excited and wanted others to know about it. This had a very positive effect and drew much attention to what I was doing and the website.  Many Artists were expressing the need for change and were championing my attempts at challenging a very difficult Industry on their behalf.

Another idea I tried and tested out was bringing other artists together from different areas of Ireland for one common cause. Homelessness is a something I care deeply about and having an event to raise money was a passion of mine. I was delighted that Artists were motivated by the emotion of being in a position to help and also give themselves the opportunity to perform on a bigger stage at the same time.  I am always impressed and grateful each year with the support I receive from artists from all over Ireland for this cause.  The Simon Gigs gave me many insights and the opportunity to observe how each act communicated and engaged with one another. This confirmed my suspicions of the “click syndrome” that I have mentioned before. I observed that most ( not all ) had separated from one another and placed themselves in distance groups throughout the venue.

As I had acts from all over the country, I could not get over the disconnect and somewhat suspicion among the Artists. In my opinion, each act had the opportunity to connect with one another on so many levels and particularly with their local venues where each of them played. I can’t tell you how many acts have told me how hard it is to find gigs “Outside their own Area”? What better way to create your own circuit but to connect with artists from those areas?. One event, such as the one I organized ( and I had many) could solve that issue very fast and easily with a little more communication and a follow up after the show.  There are so many other opportunities that could be created by such events. I could go on all day about all of the missed opportunities.

Networking is a serious problem within the Independent Irish music Community. This bothers me a lot as the Irish are known for their Networking. This comes naturally to us as it’s part of our everyday life.  We instinctively want to make a connection by asking ” Do you know such a fella ” or ” Are you related to so and So “. It’s in our natural DNA. This is not used to its full potential and is very apparent in our Music community Today. We need to get plugged into who’s who and what’s going on all around you and around the entire country.

Lastly, I decided to take over my own Music Venue and boy did I learn some serious lessons. To put it mildly ” It was a living HELL”. This was mostly down to trying to survive financially and not being able to bring it to its full potential. It was much too early for me to attempt this as I was not fully clear about what I was attempting to do. Looking back, I was sending out many mixed messages about who I was and what the Venue was actually all about. My communication with artists and my overall project went into a sudden halt as I spent most of my time in survival mood.

I got to introduce some of the Ideas I had learned previously into the venue and named it MusiBar. It became very clear from the start that the local music community did not understand what I was doing there and what the purpose was.

After going to a late bar one night and after being Trading at the venue for a few months, I found myself in the company of a well known Band from the area. I hadn’t introduced myself and just relaxed outside in the smoking area after a hard day’s work. I only became very interested in the conversation when my Venue became a hot topic and it seemed to be the brunt of some many unfair Jokes. There were other artists there and around listening. I became aware that I was sitting in what I described earlier as ” The click ”  and they had no idea who I was. I listened to their rants for quite some time as I was an ” Outsider ” and just happened to accidentally find myself in their company and had not been asked to join in on the conversation.  When I finally had enough and had swallowed my pint rather quickly, I simply asked them. Had they met the Guy who owned the Venue? They all signaled that they had not.  I suggested to them, that in my experience, artists and the general public should first go down to the venue and see for themselves and maybe talk with the owner to find out what it was all about. One band member told me that he already knew what it was all about and that the owner was booking in Bands from outside the area and not considering the local artists.  My answer to that was that the owner had in fact booked many local Bands and that he had also introduced acts from outside the area so local acts could connect with them. I could see by the smug looks on all their faces that they weren’t buying this concept at all. Stupidly one of them said, what would I know about the ” MusiBar” as he signaled with the inverted Commas signal. It was then that I informed him and his “Click” that seemed to be amused with this stupid statement, that I was, in fact, the owner of the inverted Commas ” MusiBar “. As I stood up, I suggested to the now highly embarrassed Group that maybe they had wrongly Judged without knowing the true facts. I also suggested to them that maybe they should practice on Music excellence and some Manners before they approach me in the future.

So what was the moral of this story?

Well, the message that I was sending out was not a clear one from the beginning it seemed. I didn’t have a clear concise plan and I also knew that night that I would not be supported by many of the Independent local artists. They could not see the bigger picture and I did not have the resources long enough to sustain myself till my full intentions were known to them.

The other was again  ” The click ” culture that is in every part of our music Society. Again, I do understand the significance and the need for it in today’s Music community but as you can see, It is a very dangerous and destructive to all concerned. These Artists that I met, never set foot in my Venue in the 15 months I was there at the venue and I lost the support from the very people I was there to represent. In turn, they lost out in performing there and connecting with other artists from all over Ireland and international artists that had played there. Connections and opportunities were lost on so many levels and on both sides. Personally, I don’t regret putting these people in their place. Nothing annoys me more than a mouthpiece with a giant Ego talking Crap about something he has no idea about and influencing others with his misinformed and damaging statements. These people have no regard for anyone and seem to know everything about everyone without any proof and manipulate people with a mix of Charm, Drama, and gossip. Unfortunately, these individuals are rampant among the Music Community and I was glad to get a chance to challenge one of these individuals in Public and in front of his little gang who cannot think for themselves. I did manage to meet some very good artists locally and one who became a very good friend of mine had separated from such clicks for who he described as  ” handbags “.. I had to add this as I found this description both funny and a very accurate metaphor at so many levels.

Eventually, I had to close the Venue as it became unsustainable and its purpose lost to that area. It was a very sad day for me as I had built up a close friendship with some local artists and customers who knew what I was trying to do. I also started to see the beginning of a regular customer base who loved seeing so many different acts on a weekly basis. By that time it was too late and I had to go..

Perhaps I will attempt this again but not till I have something solid this time and a clear message to exactly where all this leads too. More homework needs to be done. The music Journey is an extremely complex one with so many areas to consider.

I’ve had time to reflect and can see a clearer picture now. Boy has this being a rollercoaster ride so far.

I am currently working on a new project with all the information I’ve gathered so far. I’m excited about it and can’t wait to see how the Artists will react to it. It may work or it may not. One thing is for sure all the same. More will be learned about this very difficult process.

That’s it, guys. I hope you liked the post. If you like, leave me a comment please and give a little feedback.

Many Thanks to all the Artists and people that have supported me throughout the many years.

I am truly grateful.

2 thoughts on “Understanding the Music Industry today / Reality Check part 2

  1. MaulPark

    Excellent post Michael. Really enjoyed this.Totally see where you’re coming from. I remember when we were playing as “Side One” in the 80’s we were involved in a Great little set up called The Mood Club.It was Brill having Bands play there just simply for the Love of it..A Small venue, upstairs in the old parliament inn, called, Tommy Dunnes Tavern. Man what a Fantastic Time..And yes totally agree with ya about the Arseholes who are so up themselves they wouldn’t know Music if it bit them on the Arse..We always steered clear of that ilk..Thanks a mil for doing what you’re doing,and I hope you get the Respect you Deserve…

    1. Michael Kiernan

      Im glad you enjoyed it . Yes I imagined my venue as a place , just as that place you described. I wanted all artists from everywhere to come and play. I even had a full house PA and Drums setup for any artist that wanted to get up on the stage I built for them. I had a few rooms upstairs for them to stay too and of course the few pints after the show. I miss talking to them and listening to the music and stories. There is a magic around the artist and music and i wanted to bottle that in a very unique way. Most local artists didn’t get that and didn’t get to see this. All artists from all Genres were welcome and at one time I had over 30 traditional artists playing together during the fleadh . It was truly spectacular . the music and the passion was a sight i will not forget.. Singers , Comedians , Bands , Songwriters from all corners of the Country graced that stage in those 15 months. I defied everyone who criticised me and berated me for having the balls to try something new and bring back the passion we once had . in the final weeks I filled the stage with as many acts as i could and also had a charity Gig for the homeless with dozens of Artist performing. I left it knowing that i did everything possible and very sad that the very people i was there to help did not support and cherish something very special. This is life today unfortunately and we must move on to fight another day. I will continue doing what i do as i love it and will take from it many lessons . I dont regret it one bit. I got to do something special for a short while. Some people never get that chance..

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