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Archive for January, 2017

Music Generation Phase 2, Open National Call for Applications

Music Generation is now calling for applications from Music Education Partnerships that wish to apply for participation in its next phase (2017 – 2021).

Music Generation will host two general information sessions about the next phase of the programme on the following dates:

Tuesday 24 January 2017
, 12 noon – 2pm
National Concert Hall, Dublin

Thursday 26 January 2017, 12 noon – 2pm
Athlone Springs Hotel, Athlone

Application forms, guidelines and further information about the application process for Phase 2 of Music Generation are now available online at

The closing date for completed applications is Wednesday 31st May 2017.

Music Generation is Ireland’s national music education programme co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills and Local Music Education Partnerships.

Irish Singer Songwriter Tops The Billboard Charts with Debut Single!

Dublin born singer songwriter Keith Cullen is starting 2017 on a high as his debut single “Say Something” is making waves on the Billboard Charts in the USA. A dream of many, Keith is making his mark stateside and currently sitting at number 25 on the Billboard Charts. “When I set out to make music, releasing an album was a dream. So, when I saw “Say Something” climb the Billboard Dance charts, it was truly beyond my wildest dreams.”

“Say Something” is Keith’s first single from his upcoming debut album “Dear Future Me”. The catchy track is featured on the soundtrack for High Strung, a Sony Pictures released film directed by Michael Damien.

Dear Future Me is a collection of catchy alt-pop tracks with inspired lyrics that showcase Keith’s vocal range. When asked to describe his music, Keith calls it Honest Pop. “There is a lot of noise in our world today.” he says. “There is such a need for someone who says something genuine. My lyrics are about authentic stories – people don’t always get to the point of being honest with each other, much less themselves.”

Keith has signed with former CEO of Virgin Records, Warner Bros and EMI, Phil Quartararo. Having recently performed alongside fellow Irishman Hozier and a performance on BBC Live has proven 2016 has been Keith’s year.

When asked to speak about Keith’s talents, Jackie Hayden from Hotpress says “Keith has an unerring instinct for quality pop. He sings songs as if he’s lived in them, always injecting just the right level of passion and never overdoing it. It’s a skill others in the pop field could learn from.”

Keith currently splits his time between Dublin and Venice, California, where he is currently recording with multi-Grammy Award winning producer, Robert Cutarella who has worked with music legends from Eric Clapton to Sting. Keith is certainly set for big things in 2017.

When asked about his career and success of Say Something, Keith says, “Waking up everyday doing something you love is a dream come true, I get to do music everyday now but having that validated with a chart position has just been the most surreal and amazing experience.”

Say Something is currently available to buy and download, Keith’s debut album, Dear Future Me, is set for release in early 2017.

Keith is available for interview ahead of the release of his debut album and the success from his first single.

Follow Keith

Joe Chester returns with a fantastic new album | ‘The Easter Vigil’

Renowned Irish singer, songwriter, and producer, Joe Chester, releases his 5th studio album, The Easter Vigil, on February 24th 2017. The album is preceded by the lead track, Juliette Walking In The Rain, which is currently with radio stations.

As well as releasing 4 widely acclaimed albums, Joe has written, played, and produced for numerous acts, including Hozier, Gemma Hayes, The Coronas, Mundy, and Ryan Sheridan, to name but a few.

‘The Easter Vigil’ will be released on the, newly formed, Bohemia Records, who will also re-release Joe’s albums The Tiny Places Left Behind, She Darks Me, and Hope against Hope.

What started as rough mixes, after a lengthy period of reflection and writing, very quickly became the foundation of the album. Within a few days – less than a week in fact – piano, guitar and vocals, all relatively raw and unfiltered, made the cut. Joe asked friends and long time collaborators to lend their talent to the project. Cellist Vyvienne Long and violin by Steve Wickham add a subtle flavour foregoing superfluous embellishment.

Joe explains some of the themes of the songs: “The album begins with Spy Wednesday, continues through Holy Thursday (Like A Rose Tattoo), through to The Easter Vigil itself and finishes on Easter Sunday (Not A Christian Anymore). It’s about the rewinding of a man’s faith. The loss of belief, almost a perverse enlightenment told through the story of the passion.

Juliette Walking In The Rain is about the night myself and my wife saw the legendary French actress Juliette Binoche walking across a deserted square in Dublin. Just a very poetic moment – magic realism.

The Valley of Tears is an area of clifftop on Inis Mor in the Aran Islands. When the islanders were forced to emigrate they would travel by currach to the mainland where they would then board the ship for America. This ship would then shelter in the Gregory Sound awaiting favourable weather for the voyage. The ship would lie close enough to this particular clifftop that you could almost reach out and touch your loved ones who were leaving the island, never to return. It was these scenes of heartbreak that gave it the name, Gleann ne nDeor, The Valley of Tears.”

Output Belfast Returns for 2017

Top names from the global music industry are being lined up to speak at the third iteration of Ireland’s largest music conference, ‘Output Belfast’, which takes place for the third year in a row at The MAC, The Oh Yeah Centre and other venues in Belfast on Thursday 16 February 2017.

Organised by Belfast City Council in partnership with Generator NI, the conference will include panel discussions, music sessions, workshops and speed networking events as well as keynote speeches from award-winning musicians and managers of globally recognised talent.

The conference is expected to be attended by around 500 local artists, businesses and students, and will address the challenges and opportunities that the music industry presents, highlighting the key role that music and performance plays within Northern Ireland’s buoyant creative industries sector.

Selected highlights released from the daytime event include:

Benji Roberts, founder of Pledge Music, on Blockchain’s potential to change the music industry;
Crispin Hunt, Chair of BASCA and co-writer with Ellie Goulding, Florence and the Machine and Jake Bugg, on co-writing hit repertoire;
Ferry Gouw, graphic designer for Major Lazer, on working between music and design;
Daniel P Carter (BBC Radio 1 Rock Show) and more on where the rock and metal industry is heading;
Country 2.0 event featuring Lynne McDowell (CMA Member and Head of Comms PPL), Milly Olykan (The O2), Stuart Banford (Downtown Country) , Bobbi Boyce (CMA) and Iain Snoddgrass (Former VP Marketing UMG)
Members of Adidas and Jagermeister’s music teams on working with music and brands;
Spotify present Spotify Session for artists and managers;
CMU Insights presents ‘Top Five Things Music PRs Do Wrong’;
CMU Insights presents ‘Top Five Streaming Developments In 2017’;
Sound-design in video games featuring Playstation sound-designers;
Notting Hill Music 2 hour masterclass on co-writing;
Marc Sylvan, composer for The Million Pound Drop, Total Wipeout, Tipping Point and Fifteen To One, on composing for television;
Speed-networking session for music funding opportunities, including Pledge Music, Transmit Start-ups, PRS Foundation, Help Musicians and Arts Council NI;
Meet the royalty collection agencies networking event, featuring PRS, IMRO, PPL and MCPS as well as the MU and BASCA
AVA Festival presents The Future of Festivals featuring Lee Denny (Leefest) and Jim Mawdsley (Association of Independent Festivals);
Sentric Sync Masterclass;
BPI present the Music Export Growth Scheme

In the evening there will once again be a raft of free showcasing, featuring the most exciting new Northern Ireland artists, taking place across Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. Confirmed hosts include Nialler 9, Smalltown America Studios, The Thin Air, Chordblossom, The Greedy Pig, Homebeat, State, Voodoo, Help Musicians, Quiet Arch, PRS, IMRO, Sentric, The Nerve Centre, The Oh Yeah Centre, Primitive Sound and many more.

To sign up for priority updates and more information on Output Belfast 2017, visit the website here.

Dublin singer-songwriter Craig Gallagher kick’s off 2017 with his first million Spotify streams

Dubliner Craig Gallagher started his career singing in the pubs of Temple Bar alongside his childhood best friend Gavin James. They both played as a duo and Craig has continued to support Gavin on all his tours across Ireland and Europe including the Sold Out show at the Marquee in Cork.

The response to Craig on these tours has been incredible and he recently released a four track EP that went No. 1 on iTunes in Ireland on release and he has reached over 1 million streams on Spotify. Now Craig is selling out his own tours across Ireland and Europe including Whelans in Dublin and the legendary Paradiso in Amsterdam to name but a few!

Craig has also been selected to perform on Other Voices last year and ended 2016 opening for Gavin James at the 3Arena. This is followed by a headline tour of Ireland in early 2017.

His single “Without You” is now playlisted on FM104, Q102 Cork’s 96FM Limerick’s Live 95FM, LMFM and is single of the week on Ocean FM.


NÓS Irish Language Music Awards Return For 2nd Year

‘Gradaim Cheoil NÓS 2017’ to take place at The Sugar Club, Dublin, on Friday 20 January | Sponsored by IMRO

Following their successful launch last year, Gradaim Cheoil NÓS / The NÓS Music Awards are back again to celebrate Ireland’s burgeoning Irish language music scene.

The first and only awards for contemporary acts ‘as Gaeilge’, over 60 entries were received across 7 categories for this year’s awards which will be presented at an exciting event in Dublin’s Sugar Club on Friday 20 January.

Last year’s winners included world music legends Kíla, lively folk-pop band Seo Linn and Donegal’s majestic singer-songwriter Eve Belle, who picked up the best song prize for her wonderful ‘Solas’.

As well as the awards ceremony performers such as Aeons, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Spats Colombo, Dysania and JJ Ó Dochartaigh will take to the stage at this year’s event.

“There has been a notable growth in Irish language bands – from pop and rock acts to rappers and singer-songwriters – over the last number of years and NÓS wanted to recognise this welcome development,” said Tomaí Ó Conghaile, editor of culture magazine NÓS who organise the awards.

“In many ways contemporary music in Irish language is an underground scene but it’s growing every year. The NÓS awards aim to celebrate what Irish language bands and performers have achieved over the past 12 months and also hope to encourage other musicians to compose and perform in Ireland’s indigenous tongue.”

The full shortlist for Gradaim Cheoil NÓS 2017 can be viewed here:

The awards ceremony on Friday 20 January kicks off at 7pm and tickets (€18) are available here:

Top prize of €1,000 for the Pan Celtic National Song Contest 2017

Just a few weeks left to get entries in for the 2017 Pan Celtic National Song Contest! The top cash prize of €1,000 will be awarded to the winning composer as well as the opportunity to represent Ireland at the International Song Contest next April.

Entries are invited in any genre from traditional to pop, rap to rock – the only stipulation being that both music and lyrics be newly composed and in Irish.

Sponsored by IMRO and supported by Gael Linn, this is the sixth year for the contest to take place in Carlow and the competition draws entries of the highest quality. Last year’s winning composer and performer, Eve Belle from Donegal, went on to have a hugely successful year including an endorsement from Coldplay and invitations to perform at the Electric Picnic and other festivals.

Closing date for receipt of entries for the 2017 competition is Friday, 20th of January at 5pm. 

Entries will be shortlisted and the finalists will go head to head at the live final on Saturday 25th of February in the Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow when a panel of judges will choose the winning song to go forward to represent Ireland at the Pan Celtic International Song Contest 2017 in Carlow in April competing against entries from Wales, Scotland, Brittany, Cornwall and the Isle of Man.

Full rules and application forms are on or contact 085 1340047,  087 2857048.

Streaming surge & vinyl revival fuel continuing rise in UK music consumption in 2016

  • Music consumption up 1.5% to 123 million albums (AES).
  • 45 billion audio streams served in 2016 – an increase of more than two-thirds (68%) on last year.
  • December 2016 witnesses first-ever 1 billion audio streams week milestone.
  • Vinyl sales led by David Bowie rise 53% to top 3.2 million unit mark – the most LPs sold since 1991.
  • UK acts account for 7 of the year’s top-10 best-selling artist albums.
  • Adele’s 25 is again year’s best-selling artist album; 12th year in a row best-seller has come from UK.
  • Michael Ball/Alfie Boe Together is 2016’s best-selling new artist release, with Now 95 No.1 overall.
  • Other UK acts show strongly incl. Coldplay, Little Mix, The 1975, Rick Astley, Calvin Harris, Jess Glynne and The Rolling Stones. Skepta’s success suggests grime is becoming a commercial force.
  • Drake’s One Dance is year’s biggest single – accumulating over 141 million audio streams – while Clean Bandit’s Christmas No.1 Rockabye enjoys longest chart-topping run for a UK act since 2007.

Official figures released yesterday by UK labels’ association the BPI, based on Official Charts Company data, show that the continuing surge in audio streaming and accelerating demand for vinyl LPs helped achieve another successful year for British music.

Using the music industry’s standard Album Equivalent Sales (AES) metric to calculate the overall volume of music consumption, a total of 123 million albums or their equivalent were either streamed, purchased on physical format, or downloaded by UK music consumers in 2016.  This represents a 1.5 per cent rise on 2015, which, it should be noted, was a ‘53 week’ chart year benefitting from an extra week’s trading.  Like-for-like growth in unit volume would, in fact, have been higher at 4 per cent.  The total volume of music consumed in 2016 corresponds to an estimated retail value expected to be worth approximately £1 billion.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards said: “Growth in UK music consumption in 2016 was fuelled by the explosive rise in audio streaming, which has increased 500 per cent since 2013, and relative resilience from physical formats. Led by sales of David Bowie, demand for vinyl jumped to levels not seen since the start of the Nineties, and fans also bought and collected music on CD that they are discovering and enjoying through streaming services in ever larger numbers.

“We believe this performance is indicative of the promise of a new era for music, where recorded music’s investments in a digital future fuel compelling benefits for fans, artists and the entire music ecosystem.”

Volume of audio streaming surges and hits milestone of 1 billion streams in a week

Demand in 2016 was fuelled by a staggering 45 billion audio streams served through digital services including Spotify, Apple, Deezer and Tidal – a 68 per cent rise on 2015 and an increase of 500 per cent if you go back to 2013. Such a volume works out at well over 1,500 audio streams for each of the UK’s 27 million households.  Remarkably this figure excludes the huge number of streams on video platforms such as YouTube, which are not reflected in Official Charts data – otherwise this total would be greater.

Underlining the growing ascendancy of streams as the format of choice for many fans, December 2016 witnessed the key milestone of 1 billion audio streams taking place for the first time in a single week. To set this growth in context, weekly streams totalled less than 200 million at the start of 2014.  As a result of this dramatic increase, audio streaming now accounts for well over a third (36.4 per cent) of all UK music consumption.

Vinyl goes through 3 million unit mark and hits heights not seen since the start of the Nineties

Though still niche in terms of its size within the overall recorded music market, vinyl enjoyed another stellar year, with over 3.2 million LPs sold – a 53 per cent rise on last year and the highest annual total in a quarter of a century since 1991, when Simply Red’s Stars topped the annual best-seller charts.  This represents the ninth consecutive year that demand for vinyl – boosted by events such as Record Store Day, expanded retail floor-space, and with a new audience among younger fans – has shown growth.  A far cry from the low-point of 2007, when just over 200,000 LPs were purchased.  The depth of the vinyl revival is illustrated by the fact that over 30 titles sold more than 10,000 copies in 2016, compared to just 10 in 2015. Vinyl LPs now account for nearly 5 per cent of the albums market.

The biggest-selling vinyl artist was David Bowie, with 5 albums posthumously featuring in the top-30 best-sellers, including his Mercury Prize shortlisted Blackstar, which was 2016’s most popular vinyl recording ahead of Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, selling more than double the number of copies of 2015’s best seller on vinyl – Adele’s 25.

Enduring ‘multi-channel’ appeal of physical formats

The demand for vinyl illustrates the enduring appeal of music on physical formats, particularly in a multi-channel world where some consumers like to discover and enjoy new music and established repertoire through streaming, but are also tempted to buy, own and collect the recordings they love on LP and on CD.

Sales of CDs declined by over a tenth in 2016 (-11.7 per cent).  However, the format remains relatively resilient with many consumers who continue to be drawn to its collectible appeal or regard it as a desirable gift item, particularly when presented in deluxe box-set packaging.  Combined with vinyl LP, CD and physical formats still account for just over 41 per cent of UK music consumption in volume terms.

Vanessa Higgins, CEO Regent Street and Gold Bar Records, and an independent label member of BPI Council , said: “Fans are listening to music in so many ways now – we’ve definitely entered a multi-channel era. Millennials, who’ve grown up digital, are increasingly choosing to experience both current and heritage artists on vinyl also. Meanwhile older baby-boomers are embracing streaming alongside their record collections. And, impressively, in between all that, there is still more than enough space for the CD, which remains popular both with upcoming artists, who need an attractive physical product, and consumers, who still like to gift, collect and own the recordings they love.”

Downloads yield to streaming as their share of digital decreases

Downloaded albums and singles continued their downward trend as streaming takes over as the main digital platform, and they now account for just over a fifth (22.6 per cent) of music consumption volume in the UK.

Adele and Coldplay lead UK domination of artist charts, but Michael Ball & Alfie Boe, Little Mix, Jess Glynne, Calvin Harris, Rick Astley, Robbie Williams, The Rolling Stones & The 1975 also enjoy strong years

Although there were no new album releases from a number of artists who have been more or less ‘ever-present’ in recent best-seller lists, most notably the likes of Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Paloma Faith, there were plenty of blockbuster successes that boosted the market.

British acts that struck a particular chord included Michael Ball and Alfie Boe, whose duets album Together was the year’s best-selling new release artist album and the Official Christmas No.1 album. Little Mix and Olly Murs enjoyed Platinum9 certified albums that also sold well on CD, while The 1975 topped both the UK and US charts. BRITs Icon Robbie Williams, The Rolling Stones, and a well-received comeback LP from Rick Astley also featured in the top-20.

Global best-selling new releases from Drake – who was also the year’s most streamed artist – Beyoncé, Michael Bublé and Sia also helped to propel the market in 2016, while a further boost came from the continuing success of titles released in 2015, not least Adele’s 25, which was the UK’s best-selling artist album for the second year running, and has now sold a total of 3.2 million copies in the UK.  Adele’s success in claiming the top spot means that it is now 12 years in a row that the year’s best-selling artist album has come from a British act.

Justin Bieber’s high profile tour helped to drive continuing demand for Purpose – the UK’s most streamed album of 2016 – while Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams became a UK million-seller. Jess Glynne’s I Cry When I Laugh is also well on its way to achieving million-selling status at home, and James Bay’s Chaos and the Calm is additionally now well past 2x Platinum status.

Rock was well represented on the Official Albums chart, with Biffy Clyro, Green Day and Blink 182 enjoying No.1s, as did Radiohead, Catfish & The Bottlemen and one of the breakout acts of the year, Blossoms.

Sadly the music world lost a number of its most iconic figures in 2016, most notably including David Bowie, Prince, Sir George Martin, Leonard Cohen and, just recently, George Michael. The resulting public response prompted an increase in demand for their work, though, being a new release, there is little doubt Bowie’s Blackstar would have sold in large volumes in any event.

The success of Skepta’s Mercury Prize-winning Konnichiwa, which has been certified Gold by the BPI having sold well over 100,000 copies since its release in May 2016, demonstrates that grime is now fast becoming a commercial force to rank alongside the cultural impact it has enjoyed over the past decade. A trend that is further illustrated by the certified awards status earned by the singles Shut Up and Know Me From released by Stormzy, whose debut album is one of the most anticipated for 2017.

Other music genres are also breaking through commercially, including British country music. This was amply demonstrated by the success of twin sister duo Ward Thomas, which became the first ever UK country act to score a UK No.1 album with Cartwheels, while another UK country act, The Shires, saw their album My Universe become the fastest-selling country album by a UK artist when reaching No.3 in the Official Charts.

Now 95 is 2016’s best-selling album title overall, as Now compilations enjoy 3 albums in the year’s top-5

The year’s best-selling album overall, however, was Now That’s What I Call Music 95, which is now well on its way to achieving 3x Platinum status, while both Now 93 and Now 94 also made 2016’s top-5 as 2x Platinum certified titles.

Drake’s One Dance dominates singles charts, with Britain’s Calvin Harris also in year’s top 5 & Clean Bandit enjoying longest No.1 run by a UK act in 9 years

North American artists – most notably Drake, whose One Dance ft. Wizkid & Kyla was No.1 for a remarkable 15 weeks and accumulated over 141 million audio streams – dominated the singles best-seller lists for the first part of the year.  Britain’s Calvin Harris’s This is What You Came For ft. Rihanna claimed a place in the year’s top-5 most streamed tracks overall, while late 2016 saw a run of UK No.1 successes. James Arthur, Little Mix and Clean Bandit all topped the Official Singles Chart in the final quarter of 2016, with the latter’s Rockabye claiming the Official Christmas No.1 on its way to achieving the longest consecutive stay at No.1 (eight weeks and counting) for a UK artist since Leona Lewis with Bleeding Love in 2007.

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