‘…Playing Contemporary Irish Music on Your Radio…’


Last Bank Holiday Sunday night, I decided to tune into a local radio station after they posted on twitter that they would be playing contemporary Irish music. Worth a shot I thought, however,  after listening to the same station for about 20/25 minutes I had to switch off, here’s why.

The station in question first played Van Morrison’s ‘Real Real Gone’, a single from his 1990 album ‘Enlightenment’.  They played Brian Kennedy’s ‘Crazy Love’ from 1995. They also played The Adventures’ ‘Broken Land’ from 1998, which I will admit is a great song.  The only contemporary song they played was The Kanyu Tree’s ‘Radio’. Oh, Josh Ritter also made an appearance as an Irish artist before the presenter quickly defended his choice. 

As a lover of music, I believe that we must support our own artists. The term ‘signed’ or ‘unsigned’ isn’t relevant anymore, anyone can get on iTunes and have their music freely available.  I do believe that any artist, no matter how far into their career, should be able to stand up beside national or international artists. To make a living from music now, Irish artists need to be able to have a network outside of here.  The wealth of talent and the international appeal of Irish artists  such as James Vincent McMorrow or Adebisi Shank says it all.

There is a difference is though, saying that you are going to play Irish music rather than Contemporary Irish music. All due respect to Van Morrison and Brian Kennedy, they get radio play anyway, they are not exactly stuck for it. New artists need to be encouraged and be played on radio. This is a false sell for the radio station.

I guess, it’s all about what who the station’s audience is and what they consider contemporary.  For me, contemporary would mean what is happening on the scene now, the freshest, newest music our country has to offer.  It’s whatever is relevant and happening now. Van Morrison, Brian Kennedy or The Adventures don’t fit into or anywhere near this.

I’m not a big radio presenter, hell, I wish I was but what I heard on Sunday night irked me.   It was lazy presenting, really lazy. The presenter said he never heard of The Kanyu Tree before and hoped it wouldn’t be the last time he’d hear of them, a little bit of research and he would have known they just signed to Sony.  I do a little radio show on DCUfm and I know the amount of prep I put into choosing music and knowing my info.  It annoyed me that the presenter didn’t do this and it annoyed me that I didn’t have the chance to. (and by naming them may not have the chance to in the future, so I won’t).

In France during Primetime hours 40% of all music played on the radio must be in French. We don’t really have to worry about the language issue here but this is a bold statement to ensure French music doesn’t become smothered with  International music and superstars. There’s room for both to live together and is undoubtedly one of the reasons the music industry is so vibrant in France.

Local stations should play contemporary music and include those in their catchment area. Local kids want to hear the bands they go to see at gigs, if they are a bit younger than the going out age, they’ll remember where they first heard that band and chances are they’ll stick with their local station.

This false selling of ‘playing contemporary Irish music’ on this particular station has annoyed me. Dear Radio Boss, If you’re going to play Irish contemporary music, play it. If you’re going to play classic Irish music, say it. Don’t say one thing and do another. Decide what your Irish music policy is for your audience and stick to it. Don’t piss off your listeners.