Business

Saturday 19 August 2017

Samantha McCaughren: Ergo. . .

Eleanor McEvoy to take over the chair of the Irish Music Rights Organisation next month Picture: Frank McGrath
Eleanor McEvoy to take over the chair of the Irish Music Rights Organisation next month Picture: Frank McGrath

Singer/songwriter Eleanor McEvoy knows a thing or two about the music industry, having composed the song Only a Woman's Heart, title track of the hugely successful compilation album, A Woman's Heart. And she has a few things to get off her chest about how the business is changing.

I can reveal that McEvoy will take over as chair of the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) next month. And she tells me that illegal downloading is hitting a low note with the industry.

McEvoy, who will be working closely with IMRO chief executive Victor Finn, said: "First and foremost I am a jobbing musician and a working songwriter.

"However, I am incredibly passionate about copyright. I have seen how the income of songwriters has been decimated, and I mean decimated, over the last 15 years by the erosion of copyright.

"It's not something I usually talk about," she added. "In fact in interviews I usually say I'm not going to talk about it because I'm here to talk about the music."

However, she will strike a different note in her role as chair.

She stressed that IMRO does not represent bands or musicians. "We just represent the rights of composers, publishers and songwriters. It's the people who write, although it has a devastating impact on musicians as well."

McEvoy, who begins the UK leg of her current tour next month, said that writers are often the low-profile people who pen the big songs for well-known artists, and their income is being hit hardest.

She said that IMRO sees the issue being fought on two levels, one being new EU legislation.

But the bigger challenge will be changing people's perceptions.

"What you have to do is educate the public," said McEvoy. "People would find it utterly unacceptable to walk into a shop and steal a €10 bottle of wine.

"But they will have no qualms about illegally downloading a new CD. I have people come up to me in the queues after a gig asking me to sign burned CDs."

Needless to say, McEvoy demurred.

Oligarch Khodorkovsky open on Irish anti-Putin funds

True to his word, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oligarch who had €100m in assets unfrozen by an Irish court, has stepped down as leader of the Open Russia movement which opposes Vladimir Putin.

Last December a freezing order on almost €100m in Irish-based assets belonging to Khodorkovsky was lifted by court order. The assets had been frozen for five-and-a-half years while gardaí conducted an investigation into alleged money laundering. When the Circuit Court ruled in his favour, Khodorkovsky - who claimed his life would be in danger if he ever returns to Russia - said he would use some of the Irish-based funds to support the work of Open Russia, which he founded in 2014. He stepped down as leader last week, but will "remain involved in issues of ideology and training".

"Open Russia is not Khodorkovsky; it is all of us," said Khodorkovsky last week.

And much as we're sure his presence will be missed, millions in roubles should help to lighten the gloom of the group.

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Renegade's Waterford Distillery, which is led by Londoner Mark Reynier, is progressing plans to produce a very high quality whiskey. The company has raised a €14.4m facility from the Ulster Bank with a £5m investment from Britain’s Business Growth Fund.

Reynier and his business partners have form. His last business, Bruichladdich, based on an island off Scotland’s west coast, was sold to Remy Cointreau, the French cognac and brandy company, for £58m in 2012. Renegade was founded in 2014, and following the purchase of the former Guinness brewery in Waterford, it converted the premises into a state-of-the-art whiskey distillery.

The first whiskey ran in January 2016 and 1m litres are now maturing in the French and American oak barrels in new warehouses recently completed at Ballygarran. The team’s goal “is to create not just the most compelling Irish whiskey, but the world’s most profound single malt”. No shortage of ambition then.

Local businesses serve up objections to D4 food market

A food fight has broken out over plans to extend the number of days a food market can operate on the banks of the canal on Mespil Road in Dublin 4.

With summer approaching, such a market might seem like a welcome draw to the area. But local businesses have come out in force to object to the plan by Waterways Ireland.

Donnybrook Fair is just one local company up in arms about the plan, which was recently given the go-ahead by Dublin City Council. Its list of concerns include adverse ecological impacts on the canal, claims that it does not contribute to the vitality of the local area and that it impacts on permanent local businesses.

Another objector is Freshii, the fast growing healthy food chain, which outlines almost identical concerns to Donnybrook Fair. According to the submissions, the market's food offering "is mainly fast food" and "not considered as complementary" to the fancy food outlets already trading in the area. An appeal has been served up to An Bord Pleanala.

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Fintech entrepreneur Frank Murphy, the founder of Monex Financial Services, is giving something back to Killarney, Co Kerry, where the company is based.

The firm, which saw revenues exceed €100m for the first time last year, has launched a scholarship programme for Leaving Cert students from the town who are accepted at Cork University Business School (CUBS). The scholarship will give up to €3,000 a year per student and is open to three Killarney schools.

Murphy, a former boss of Fexco, gives University College Cork (UCC) top marks. “Over the last number of years I’ve had the pleasure of delivering lectures to the CUBS student body and engaging with the faculty in my role as adjunct professor,” he said.

“I’m very impressed not only with the education standard and syllabus in respect of current business trends but also the interest displayed for the students’ well-being.

“UCC is my alma mater, so perhaps I am possibly a little biased.”

Sunday Indo Business

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