Temple Bar the centre of live music and big deals


EUROPE'S biggest live music event hits the streets of Dublin from today. The musical extravaganza brings over 2,000 senior music industry executives along with countless bands and some of the biggest names in the industry.

For the last growing Irish music business, whose annual output is valued at over £160 million, according to an IBEC report, the event is a major showcase.

Senior movers and shakers from the multi billion pound industry - music publishing worldwide is worth at least $3 billion (£1.8 billion) annually - will converge on Dublin for plenty of gig going, talent spotting and general schmoozing.

Until now, In The City was associated solely with Manchester, the home of Factory Records. However, the In The City team were very impressed with the infrastructure in Temple Bar. More than anything else it is the self contained nature of the area at the heart of the city - which appealed to them, she says.

Mr Paul Conroy, the head of Virgin UK, and Mr Seymour Stein, the man who discovered Madonna, will both be here as will Mr Tom Silverman the head of Tommy Boy the record label which boasts rap artist Coolio along with practically every A&R executive, or talent spotter in Britain. The event will bring short term benefits to the area. At least £2 million will be flowing into the coffers of the various hotels and pubs in Dublin's trendy Temple Bar.

Hotel rooms in the vicinity are now impossible to get all 633 are fully booked, according to Ms Una Carmody of Temple Bar Properties.

The In The City organisation will be spending around £300,000 on third party services. Equipment hire alone counts for a great deal of this with up to 350 acts performing across Dublin.

If the convention goes well, Temple Bar hopes to attract some other big name contemporary arts conventions to the area. "We're all just waiting to see how it goes," says Ms Carmody. "But we are trying to target a number of other major conventions which fit Temple Bar's profile as a centre for film, music and multi media."

The longer term benefits to the music industry could be substantial, both in terms of contracts signed and the international exposure.

The organisers, Mr Tony Wilson and Ms Yvette Livesey, of Factory Records, estimate that up to half of In The City's new acts can expect to walk away with a deal. The total amount signed over could be as much as £2 million to the 54 unsigned acts.

In particular, it's make or break time for the 15 unsigned Irish bands "showcasing" over the next few days. Even if they don't win the overall competition, the rewards can be enormous. Ms Yvette Livesey, of Factory Records, reckons between half and three quarters of the bands can expect to get either a publishing or a record deal. If they manage to secure a deal during the week, they can expect up to £20,000 more than would normally be available, with most deals ranging between £40,000 and £60,000.

Music today is big business for those who make it. The lifeblood of the Irish music business is exports in the form of the inflow of royalties. The music business has a higher share of many overseas markets than other export industries, although in many cases much of the benefit goes to overseas producers and distributors. The IBEC report - to which most of the major groups in the industry contributed - estimated that 10,000 people were employed in the sector. Output of £160 million a year could be boosted to £450 million over the next 10 years and job levels doubled, the report estimated.

Ireland is strong in terms of creative talent, the report said, but less strong in terms of publishers, record companies and promoters, although there is a vigorous independent record sector. The industry believes that a pro active Government support programme could boost the growth of the sector.

While welcoming the extension of BES relief to the music sector announced in this year's Budget, the IBEC music industry group said other measures such as the extension of artists' tax exemption to record producers and 10 per cent corporate tax for music publishing could further encourage the development of the sector.

A government task force, FORTE, was set up by the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Mr Higgins, late last year to examine the ways the industry can further contribute to the national economy. The task force's report is expected in the next few weeks and should contribute towards the industry's call for a strategic development plan for the sector.

This Sunday, the Irish film Centre will be hosting what promises to be a controversial session of the conference, entitled: "Government Subsidies are Crap". However the task force is expected to recommend that further Government support, including more tax breaks and a greater focus on developing the industry, could lead to more rapid growth. The task force is also expected to call for the establishment of an Irish Music board which would promote the industry and help to focus the development of the sector.

But for this weekend the industry's attention will be on Temple Bar and on who will be signing the big deals.