Kitt beats drum for Irish music as a way of lifting our spirits

IRISH music should be used to lift people out of the economic gloom and “engender a sense of wellbeing” around the country, according to chairman of the Oireachtas Arts Committee, Tom Kitt.

The committee heard that radio stations are favouring the likes of Lady GaGa, Rihanna and other big international acts over Irish artists, meaning many musicians here have to leave the country to “make it” in the industry.

According to figures provided to the committee, 93% of royalties paid here go outside the state, while a total of just €40,000 in royalties was paid last year to traditional or folk musicians. The average wage for a musician, according to the latest figures, is just €10,000 a year.

Fianna Fáil deputy Kitt told how his own son — the famous singer-songwriter David Kitt — is a “struggling artist” and he said more people need to turn to Irish music.

“In the past, music has helped us all to get through bleaker times. I remember being a student myself listening to music and it lifted us all out of more darker period in our lives,” said Mr Kitt.

“We should look to music and we should look to the arts and the film industry to try and lift us through this economic recession. Apart from the sense of well being that would engender, there would be opportunities for individual artists.”

EU competition rules mean the Irish Broadcasting Authority (IBA) is prevented from setting a quota for the percentage of Irish music to be played by stations here, IBA chief executive Michael O’Keeffe told the committee.

This has meant that musicians have been “pushed out to the fringes of a prosperous nation”, according to musician Danny McCarty, who said radio stations, including RTÉ 1 and 2FM, should be far more supportive.

“Airplay is the cornerstone of a musician’s survival. Without airplay, a musician cannot get exposure, without exposure there is no marketing support for CD sales,” he said.

Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) chief executive Victor Finn said the Government is investing strongly in the “smart economy” but must not turn its back on its creative talent.


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