Musicians criticise Government on downloads

Mon, Oct 4, 2010, 01:00

THE GOVERNMENT'S policy on illegal downloading and protecting the rights of Irish musicians has been strongly criticised by music promoter Louis Walsh and folk musician Paul Brady.

They spelt out their concerns to Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan, who was present as a member of a panel discussion on public policy and communications as part of the Music Show in the RDS on Saturday.

The discussion centred on the important part the arts and culture would play in helping Ireland's economic woes.

Mr Ryan highlighted the "huge employment potential from expanding our music industry" but said that all the opportunities presented by successful Irish musicians have not been fully "grabbed".

Irish folk musician Paul Brady did not accept the Government's policy on banning illegal file-sharing and dismissed the premise that the arts and culture would help to "get us out of our present difficulties".

X-Factorjudge and pop music manager Louis Walsh said Irish acts of all genres were facing problems emerging in the industry because he believed Irish radio stations were reluctant to give airtime to new Irish acts. Mr Walsh said he could not understand why there wasn't more Irish music on national radio stations.

Earlier on Saturday, Warner Music Europe's Irish-born chief executive John Reid spoke at a seminar on the crisis in the music industry and discussed the financial problems within the music industry. He said profitability in the Irish music industry had decreased by about 50 per cent in the last five years and it was now "a business under threat".

"We need to be paid and at the moment the whole value chain is at risk," he said. "Irish business is in decline and it will take another year or two to bottom out but it will be a better business at the end of this."

Mr Reid said rapidly changing business models were a result of easy access and free availability of music through the internet.

He debated the present state of the industry with representatives from various sides of the business including musician Jerry Fish, band manager Richard O'Donovan and digital music distributor Stephen King.

Jerry Fish of Mudbug Club fame said the digital revolution has brought new aspects to the industry, but musicians remain the lifeblood of the industry and their "passion still drives music".

U2 producer Steve Lillywhite, who was interviewed in The Irish Timesin advance of the Music Show, said he never used the word "failure" to describe U2's most recent album No Line on the Horizon. He said the North African ambience that the band had attempted to bring to the album had not been realised, but it did not mean that the album was a failure.