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Sunday 30 April 2017

Walsh 'sick to death of grovelling' for airplay

Pop guru Louis backs crusade for stations to play homegrown talent

Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

Pop impresario Louis Walsh believes the Irish music business is in crisis and says he is "sick to death of grovelling to wankers in Irish radio" trying to get airplay -- even for Westlife and Boyzone.

And he has endorsed a campaign by the Musicians Union of Ireland (MUI) for new laws -- replicating French and Canadian legislation -- which would force Irish radio stations to play a significant percentage of home-produced music.

"Even for me this week I've been trying to get airplay, ringing around for the Boyzone single, I Couldn't Love You Anyway, which is going to be a number one record. We can't get airplay and no-one seems to give a f*** around here. Even for Boyzone and Westlife, I still have to grovel."

And according to folk singer Danny Carthy of the MUI, the Irish folk and traditional sector is in deep trouble with some of Ireland's best known musicians unable to get gigs because they are never heard on radio.

"I was at Ronnie Drew's funeral and apart from the big names there were a lot of really talented people who came out to pay tribute, but many of them haven't had a gig in months," he said.

"According to Arts Council research, 50 per cent of artists earn an annual income of less than €10,000.

"An Irish Music Rights Organisation report (IMRO) for 2004 showed that in that year, all of the broadcasters in Ireland paid about €7.5m in royalties.

"Of this, €6.75m went to foreign publishers, composers and songwriters and just €750,000 for their Irish counterparts and only five per cent of that filtered down to the folk and trad sector -- about €40,000,'' Mr Carthy said.

He believes that because of the lack of support, an integral part of Ireland's culture will be lost.

"Without airplay we can't get record contracts and we can't get gigs. We are losing part of what we are," he says.

But according to Louis Walsh, even Irish pop and rock bands are being ignored by Irish radio. He says most are merely cheap copies of English or American stations.

"You have all these stations; 98fm, 104, Today FM, and they are all like foreign stations. And they should have to play 30 per cent of Irish music; be it it Van Morrison, U2, Christy Moore or whatever, like they do in France and Canada.

"Trying to get people in these stations and trying to get airplay is impossible. I was ringing 2FM and there was no-one out there.There is no-one in charge of any of these stations and it is a joke.

"Nobody in Ireland seems to care. We have all these radio stations for four million people and they are all playing the same records. They are all playing Justin Timberlake and all playing American and UK bands. No-one wants to play Irish bands or break new bands.

"Sometimes they play them at night time, very late at night, and that covers them, but we need daytime radio and that's why bands like The Blizzards, The Coronas and the Republic of Loose are struggling because they don't get enough airplay," the X Factor judge said.

He says it's ironic that his bands get far more airplay on UK radio than they get in Ireland .

"For Boyzone and Westlife and it's always been like that. For some reason the local DJs just don't want to play Irish records. How would they feel if we brought in English DJs to play Irish records here? They all seem to have given up on it."

The Radio Quota Law in France requires that all radio stations dedicate at least 40 per cent of their music broadcasts to French language repertoire, with 20 per cent of that dedicated to new talent and new releases.

As a result, investment in French music has increased and record sales achieved by French artists have risen dramatically.

"I am totally in favour of the French and Canadian models where the government has laid down that radio stations play a percentage of their own music. Since I started in this business I am fed up with grovelling to wankers in radio.''

"They don't want to play local bands. It's as if they don't want them to be successful. I am talking about all the young rock bands and the trad and folk areas as well. It's affecting the studios, it's affecting the whole live music scene," Walsh said.

"I don't even hear Jack L on the radio. He's a great, great talent. You have Mundy. You have thousands of singer/ songwriters, young bands.

"But I'm determined that this is going to be sorted out. I'll go to any minister to get this culture changed and it's not for me and my bands but for Irish music across all spheres.

"This hits record shops; it stops gigs. It hits everybody. We used to have a brilliant business around here but Irish radio is killing it stone dead," the pop manager said angrily.

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