Is the Irish music industry suffering from a lack of management?

How do you become a music manger? And do we have enough in the country to match the artistic pool of talent? The Off Topic podcast gets down to business

It’s tough for a musician in this small country of ours, and it seems to be getting tougher. Cursed with a large talent pool, but too few industry-savvy people to get it out there, Irish musicians face an uphill battle from the outset.

On this week's Off Topic podcast, host Laurence Mackin rounded up some of the best and brightest in the industry to get a better idea of how the business side of Irish music works, and where it lags behind the bigger markets.

Faction Records boss Ken Allen is quick to put things in stark perspective. A 10-year veteran of the recorded side of music, he says that every year since he started, that side of music has contracted. Bands and artists only have to look across the water to Britain for the promise of opportunity, as the size of the music industry dwarfs anything on offer here. To put that in simple figures, a gold records in Ireland equates to 7,000 sales whereas in Britain it equates to 100,000. He started running a label but now also manages acts with James Vincent McMorrow, Pleasure Beach and Jape on his roster.

Dublin-based talent agent Eleanor McGuinness feels that she can flourish here despite the comparatively small scale of things. As she points out, the ultra-competitive “London machine” can be suffocating, with huge pressure on labels and management to unearth the hot new act.

Gone are the days of the A&R man stumbling across the new U2 at a random venue around town. As times have changed, so to have methods of tracking down and signing new talent. .“All the major labels have teams of people scouring the internet, trying to find new stuff that could potentially connect,” says Ken Allen.

This point was picked up on by music journalist Niall Byrne, who has seen artists getting label attention on the back of "two YouTube cover videos with a few hundred views", musicians take note. McGuinness says that "some agencies actually employ scouts full-time. They go out to shows, see what a band is like, then report back because agents just don't have the time to do it."

Keeping a positive attitude is vitally important for any aspiring musician hoping to make a living, but not having the support of a major label as musician Rhob Cunningham points out, "leaves you on the fringe, unless you are already a part of that structure". Radio play can also prove elusive; with no label influence, getting tracks on to those all-important playlists is extremely difficult.