Welcome back to whatever this is… Here are a few thoughts from this week so far.
‘Mon The Town…
Every so often I wake to a notification to let me know one of my songs has been played on the morning show on Dundalk FM. Thanks to Paddy Mac for giving “The Sound of Your Voice” a spin on his show yesterday morning (May 19th). Paddy, Marissa, Michael and all the gang at Dundalk FM have been very supportive of my music career since it started in early 2014. And this got me thinking.
Radio blah blah…
The above heading is of course tongue in cheek but radio play isn’t something that’s easily achieved as an unsigned Irish music artist and believe me I spent from early 2014 to 2017 exploring all the angles and avenues I could on my own. Researching and acquiring contacts in Irish radio was, at times. similar to putting pieces of a jigsaw together using Twitter contacts, Facebook pages and email addresses from radio websites. Because of this it just isn’t something I’ve worked hard on in recent years – just a thankless task at times. Grappling for airtime amongst all the big guys in the industry and of course having an alternative sound can work against you at times. Plus, there is always that uncertainty about who, if anyone, has read your email with the download link to your new music that cost hundreds of euros to record and produce. So as an artist you might be left thinking your efforts are futile and all the hard work is in vain. The uncertainty can eat away at you.
But I will say, I have a small number of Radio Presenters / DJ’s around Ireland and abroad that are always happy to include my music from time to time and always reply to those “New Irish Music from Barry Jay Hughes…” emails. I call these my Radio Friends and I owe them a lot. I won’t name them here as I will inevitably leave someone out. But they are all very supportive and they know who they are.
In more recent years I’ve put my energy into focusing on my live performance, building my fan base, my brand and my presence online as I feel the next step for me if I were to get to the next level of radio play, would be to work under a label or management or some sort and I’ve never found that appealing as I’d feel like I’m giving some of the control away, not to mention some of the financial benefit. I’ll stick with the DIY approach for another while. It has served me well so far and I love a good challenge. I’m also heavily involved in the wedding industry providing music for Wedding Ceremonies and Afternoon Drinks Receptions so that takes up a lot of my time too and I love it. You can read lots more about that here. I’m proud of the fact that I am immersed in music and can make a comfortable living from it.
Do What You Love, Love What You do…
I spent a few spare euro in 2019 recording a 4 track EP “Just Be Honest With Yourself” with producer and sound engineer Martin O’Neill. Some of my best work is on that EP in my opinion. The title comes from a lyric from the song “Honest“. It took a year to bring to completion but the recording process is always an enjoyable one. The studio is definitely a place I feel comfortable in now having recorded in 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2019. This time, with the help of Martin, I brought my sound in a more modern direction, especially with “The Sound of Your Voice” and “Diving In“. I kept a trace of the folk element to my music as well as trying to think of what would be most accessible for the listener. It was the most fun I’ve had in studio and Martin was on the same page as me all the way.
Can You Hear The Sound of Nothing…?
Back to the radio play… I was delighted to hear Christy Dignam of Irish rock band Aslan recently put out a public calling on national TV asking Irish radio to include even more Irish music than they already do. And he’s 100% right. They should and they probably could if they really wanted to. I love, listen and play music from all around the world but obviously I’d love to hear more Irish music on our radio stations.
Taking The Opportunity…
Just to contradict myself… Now that I have been given all of this free time, albeit by default because of the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown, maybe I should take to the emails again and send out the 2019 EP “Just Be Honest With Yourself” to all my radio contacts. A database I’ve built up over the last 6 years. Wish me luck! If anything, maybe now is a good time to reach out to the radio heads as they might be seeing things a little clearer too.
Artists Helping Artists…
This is a phrase you’ll be seeing a lot more of on my social media platforms from now on. It’s something that doesn’t happen enough but I’ve always done my bit to help fellow musicians. It’s very easy to point people in the right direction. I felt I had no one to ask when I was starting out and I would hate for a new unsigned artist to be going through the same. It’s just artists helping other artists and it costs nothing.
And it’s something you can do too. YOU can help the artist too. How? I hear you ask! There are so many ways and these are just a few that come to mind.
Request your favourite Irish act on radio
Stream / Download / Share their music.
Got to a gig (yes, yes, after lockdown. I know!!!)
Buy a CD / T-shirt / Badge / Vinyl
Every share, comment, retweet counts – so don’t just scroll past it! Show them some love.
Play their music at a house party.
Learn one of their songs on your favourite instrument and maybe even post it online.
The next time you hear some Irish music on the radio – turn it up and be proud of the sound of Irish music and the amazing talent we have on this little island.
That’s today’s ramble and rant over. Hope you can take something from it.
Stay safe and well everyone.