Donal Coghlan's thoughts on the Independent Music Community
Ive known Donal Coghlan since 2013 and he has become a loyal friend ever since. I asked Donal to write a little blog about what he thought about the Independent Music Community today and also make some suggestions on how the industry could be improved from his point of view.
I started out as a singer of covers mostly in my teens. I gave up music altogether then for 40 odd years having had my fingers burnt several times already financially I decided enough was enough . Off I went towards office work and due diligence and all that stuff. During those forty odd years in office life I learnt a lot about business and logistics. During this time working I worked for other people many times and also started and ran two separate businesses. Eventually redundancy and life in general came to me being 58 years of age and no job and no idea what to do next. Not known for sitting on my laurels I went back to college and became a sound engineer. When I turned 59, I wrote my first song, this was a major step for me. It took me out of my comfort zone. I found out very early in this process that standing in front of a crowd playing your own music is much harder than singing covers. It bares the soul in ways I never imagined possible.
So now I am talking to you as a singer songwriter and also someone with extensive business experience. I decided I wanted to give singer songwriters a place they could perform their own material . I set about doing this in a café setting as experience has taught me that where drink is involved people don’t listen to music. It plays in the background so they can talk over it mostly.
I came across two problems which stick to me every day so far, they are many ill-mannered and totally selfish musicians who do not seem to know how to behave and network with other musicians. Secondly a public that is totally unaware and oblivious to what new music is. My thoughts around this are, they are not interested because they expect to be listening to Music known to them by cover Artists.
Let me expand on this subject, I started and ran two separate singer songwriter nights in Ireland. One was calling the Café Sessions located in a quaint little café in Clonmellon co. Westmeath. The second one was called the Kells Indie Sessions and was located in Kells Co Meath. Firstly, I want to speak about the general public's attitude to new music. It's non-existent. The example I would give is that when I mention I write songs that I am what’s called a singer songwriter they look bemused and say and then say something like is it country and western?
I mean in general the public only want to hear songs that they have heard before , and mostly like to sing along with the bits they know. Now the question I have for all of them is how do you think the songs they write became known, somebody had to write them and play them in little cafes and bars to get heard before. But this doesn’t seem to occur to them.
The second problem I encountered was the musicians themselves, some totally centred on themselves and their own performance with little or no regard for anything else happening around them. No regard or care for the person who made the night happen and all the work that had to happen to make this occur. Some not all I must state hadn’t even the manners to say thank you for the invitation which shocked me.
Also, I noticed a lot of them having a total disregard for the performer actually playing at the time which means they were centred on themselves alone. Singer songwriters must appreciate each other rather than compete with each other. Above all people should appreciate the problems facing another singer songwriter. They must support each other in every endeavour possible. The world does not revolve around each individual, they are important because they were creative and wrote songs, but so also did other singer songwriters.
So, to me the answers are obvious, each musician needs to learn to support other musicians firstly by
taking the time to listen when they play, secondly in any project they may need help in.
I would suggest in the first instance a group or society of singer songwriters, dedicated people who are prepared to help each other, after all in the old age adage if we group together, we are stronger. No Room for time wasters here me thinks.
So the more dedicated people we can gather the stronger we become .
Now for the major gripe singer songwriters have which is airplay on the national radio stations.
So basically, if we can’t get on the radio stations- let’s start our own.
In my view there is no point in complaining about lack of airplay if you aren’t prepared to do something about it.
So, let’s get this off the ground, instead of sitting around complaining, let’s see some action.
I think to summarize all of this is the need for a committed community of Musicians that can encourage, assist and share one another's work so the general public has a better chance of hearing new music. To complement this, the creation of a popular radio station for both the Artist and general public. I know this is possible but it's totally in the Artist's hands as it is them that will need to change things up and change the way new music is presented here in Ireland.Donal Coghlan - Singer Songwriter kells