Dublin's O2 a contender for live music venue award


THE O2 in Dublin, Dolan’s Warehouse in Limerick and the Róisín Dubh in Galway are among the shortlisted contenders for the second annual Imro Live Music Venue of the Year Awards, to be held on December 1st.

It’s usually the artists on stage who are up for awards, but these awards put the spotlight on the venues themselves; the 6,000 members of the Irish Music Rights Organisation (Imro) will decide which Irish venue provides the highest standards and the best all-round experience for punters and performing artists.

Vicar Street in Dublin was the overall winner of last year’s awards; this year it faces a challenge from Dublin’s newest jewel in the live circuit, the O2. As well as the national award for best live music venue, winners will be chosen from various regions: Dublin, Leinster (excluding Dublin), Connaught, Munster and Ulster (covering Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan). Winners are chosen according to a number of criteria including ambience, staging, sound and lighting, programming, staff and promotion.

The awards are a reflection of the importance of venues in providing a platform for new and established artists, says Imro’s director of marketing and membership Keith Johnson. Live music has moved on from the days when venues were routinely nicknamed “toilets”.

“Publicans and venue owners know that punters demand more from the live experience. They have to invest in their facilities and provide a good service. They also have to treat their artists well, so that those artists will want to come back and perform again.”

As revenues from recorded music have decreased due to illegal downloading, venues have taken centre stage as artists rely more on live performance to generate income. Imro collects royalties from venues on their behalf.

The awards are also an acknowledgement that often-fraught relations between venue owners and the royalty collection agency have thawed.

“Venues realise the need to be licensed to play live music – it’s the raw material that keeps venues going, and every penny we collect goes straight to the artists.”