This year I had the opportunity to observe an independent artist's ability to find gigs in Ireland. Over the years I had heard that touring in Ireland was impossible to do and that the journey of the new and upcoming artists was very bleak indeed.
Before the summer i had an Australian Musician Mick Daley contact me and he was looking for help with his planned 3 month tour of Ireland. At that time i had just started back with improving my website after a long absence and hadn't really any information for him. All i could offer was a bed if he was stuck during his travels and maybe one or two contacts. To be honest, I was concerned that he would be disappointed with the lack of gigs and the possibility of him having to go home earlier than planned. As we all know Ireland is extremely expensive and the thought of having to find accommodation over the coming three months was an almost impossible task.
Mick arrived up to me on the train in Sligo and we both went to work immediately as we walked around the town calling into pubs and looking for a few gigs. In fairness the majority of management & staff were very nice and interested in Mick's upcoming tour of Ireland but the dreaded Covid did have an effect on their business and music was one of the areas that were very much compromised as a result. We carried on regardless, went for a coffee and then left for bundoran where i live. We went out for a few pints that night and attempted the same as we did in sligo and tried to get at least one gig there. We were unsuccessful in a few pubs that night and decided to do the rest later on another occasion.
What surprised me about Mick was he was extremely organised and had already secured 14 gigs before he even arrived in Ireland. I was impressed and also knew that once he was here, he would have a very good chance of getting many more to add to his tour.
I suppose the main reason i am writing this is the question i had for quite some time on can any musician create a tour in Ireland? with new music and the answer is a resounding yes. It is also important to take into account the need to have a set that includes plenty of cover songs mixed in with original tracks so the venue owner and customers are entertained with known music and open to hearing the original tracks during the performance. I would suggest music that relates / sounds like your own so the whole gig blends in perfectly. In Mick's case, he is a folk singer that has stories to them and he had some Irish folk tunes to blend in. As a previous venue manager and owner, this is exactly what i would expect so i could justify to my customers why i have given a particular artist a gig at my premises. Artists must consider that the venue Manager / Owner is in the middle of all this and is trying to please both sides so make sure when you are approaching a Pub or Venue that you inform them of your current cover material also. This will be the difference in getting the gigs you need to sustain a short or long tour.
Mick Daley has been in Ireland for over a month now and I can verify that he has secured many more additional gigs. We also managed to get one for him in Bundoran where i live. The Kicking Donkey was recently taken over and the owners are very open to new and upcoming music which is great. I went to see him perform and they loved him there and have asked him for another gig before he returns to Australia. He also had the pleasure of playing in a venue i once managed , the Quays Galway.
There are gigs out there guys. You just have to get out there by email and go in physically. If an artist can come over here from Australia for three months and get dozens of gigs all over Ireland then an Irish Artist can also. The secret here is your own willingness to just go out and create your own tour by emailing every possible Venue and also going in and speaking to the person in charge. The worst answer you can get is no sorry. You will never know who is giving these gigging opportunities unless you get out there and do it for yourselves.
Finally, do not listen to any negativity about gigging here in Ireland. Everyone has their own personal experiences / opinions / perceptions of course but you need to form your own conclusions from what you have experienced after you have genuinely got out there with boots on the ground. Mick doesn't have a home to go to in Ireland where he can escape too if all goes wrong. He has set himself a challenge for three months and failure is not an option. I think this attitude is what is needed if an artist wants to succeed in this industry. Firstly you need the talent, the songs that resonate and the attitude to succeed. All that is left after that is the desire to get out there and talk to people who can assist you with your own epic Journey.