The Unsigned Irish Music Scene – How Are Small Bands Surviving?
March 1, 2018 (No Comments) by Alannah Kenny

Have you ever wondered how unsigned Irish artists can prosper in our current music industry against some big national and international labels? Well having encountered many a signed and unsigned Irish artist, we at The Sharpe have wondered the same. Therefore we decided to do some digging to find out the secret recipe… if one exists! Maybe you are an unsigned artist or know someone who is enduring these struggles.

8-unsigned-irish-bands-that-are-turning-heads-right-now

For those who want to break into the music scene independently, this is certainly do-able and it is actually becoming more of an occurrence thanks to a few helpful tools. Last October we checked out the thriving local music scene and took a close look at 8 incredible Unsigned Irish Bands that are making waves at the moment. Today, we have come up with some of our best tips for unsigned artists to survive and establish themselves in the world of music at home and abroad.

1) Build a Social Media/Online Presence

Most unsigned Irish artists nowadays use social media platforms as a way of promoting their music and reaching as wide an audience as possible. It’s a huge advantage and a great way of communicating with fans. The most successful and dedicated artists will always update their pages regularly with upcoming news and events.

Facebook and Twitter are the most popular platforms for artists to use when communicating with fans. However we are seeing way more platforms enter the fray in recent years with real-time footage of gigs coming from the likes of Snapchat and Instagram stories.

arrow-in-the-sky

For a few examples of successful unsigned artists utilising social media well with their music, check out the cracking Cillian King and Mullingar Folk-Rockers Arrow in the Sky.

Most artists also build out responsive websites and link it to their other accounts for a more formal introduction. Staying relevant is crucial so even if there’s a drought period with not much news to share, the clever artists will fill it by sharing photographs or hosting competitions or unique offerings such as free ticket giveaways to shake things up.

cillian-king-music

The guys over at Musibiz have also put together a brilliant guide on, Setting up a Digital Marketing funnel in the Music Industry, definitely worth a look!

2) Become a Member of a Music Network/Community

Just as you have the blogging community who help to support each other and share tips, unsigned artists also have the option of joining similar communities catered to them. By becoming members of an Irish independent community or music network, this can offer much needed guidance and support to newcomers who will come into contact with other artists in the exact same position.

musibiz

Musibiz.com and unsigned.com are examples of free online-communities which provide independent artists with a platform and the potential of more exposure. This allows artists in similar positions to connect with each other in Ireland or around the world. You can check out these independent communities at www.unsigned.com and www.musibiz.com.

3)  Support Bigger Artists

Becoming a support act to a larger artist provides a significant amount of exposure for an unsigned artist and is a massive opportunity. The artists get to sample what life on tour would be like and receiving a shout out from a bigger artist can increase their value and earn them new and curious followers. Making contacts is commonly how support acts are sought after and the best way for artists to achieve this is by following the tips mentioned above.

Unfortunately, being a support act is not as glamorous as it sounds and it may even dissuade the most eager of musicians. It’s a test of mental and physical endurance and most importantly, it’s a lot of hard slogging and living out of a suitcase. However, being in the presence of a bigger name can be hugely inspiring and motivational.

ryan-oshaughnessy

In most cases, those who are dedicated have seen it stand to them. Our very own Gavin James was the support act for Ed Sheeran in 2014 and is now a blossoming household name in his own right, having toured Ireland and the States solo. Britain’s Got Talent finalist Ryan O’Shaughnessy also supported Cheryl Cole when she came to Ireland and is currently representing our fair isle in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. So the moral is, if you work hard, being a support act is a great opportunity to get your foot in the industry’s door!

4) Tour, Tour, Tour!

Any upcoming musician can post as many songs on Facebook as they like but they are unlikely to survive the industry unless they compete directly and put themselves out there with some live gigs. Whether it’s busking in Grafton Street or performing in the local pub, musicians have to start somewhere and getting out and about is the way to do it. Sometimes in the beginning, artists might need to perform for free to show their capabilities. From there they build until they are conducting fully fledged tours and travelling around is necessary for reaching a bigger audience.

5-gigs-you-need-to-see-in-kilkenny-this-year

For those who do get to tour, there are some key rules to follow in order to build a good reputation. Some of these rules are common sense such as behaving and being pleasant to work with. Nobody likes spoilt Rock-stars, especially those whose biggest gig has been in the local pub. Most importantly, one needs to be prepared and surround themselves with a supportive team throughout the gruelling number of weeks or months involved. If you are performing as a part-time musician for now, work your touring schedule to suit your availability until you are ready to take the plunge.

5) Fundraise & Fundraise Some More!

The most common element that sends unsigned artists into ruination is a lack of funds to keep the dream going. This is why being part of a community is so important; the music industry is so harsh nowadays that it’s hard to go it alone. You need to be humble and you need to be able to ask for help when you need it. One method that upcoming artists often use to get off the ground is to apply to a special scheme.

music-network

The Music Capital Scheme is dedicated to bands and musicians newly starting out in Ireland. It is supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and The Gaeltacht and managed by Music Network. It provides much needed funding for the purchase of instruments for both amateur and professional musicians in the hope that their music will contribute to the Irish industry.

Applications for this year’s scheme are now closed but budding young musicians may like to keep an eye out next year and they may be awarded a grant to help them out. Kickstarter.com and Fundit.ie provide similar schemes that allow artists to advertise themselves and appeal to the public for funding on certain projects.

6.) Crowdfunding

Another popular and recommended method that independent artists use to get some cash is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a practice where artists ask a large number of people, typically over the internet, to help them fund a particular project. It helps unsigned artists get to the next stage of breaking the industry; funding their EP’s and albums. Keeping it local, an innovative Crowdfunding campaign has just been kicked off by Athenry Rockers, The Deans.

the-deans-roisin-dubh

The Deans have been making music for a number of years and are now calling on the support of their loyal followers to help them make bigger and better music. So no pressure for any followers who are reading! Here’s a look at a recently constructed messages to the fans via their Facebook page at the beginning of February.

Exhaust Every Avenue

So when it comes to surviving as an independent artist, you will need to exhaust every possible avenue. Because in this hardened industry, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

If there are any small bands or budding artists out there who simply don’t have a clue where to start, try to follow some of these steps and see where it takes you. When finally you make your début, we at The Sharpe will be right behind you so best of luck!

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The Unsigned Irish Music Scene – How Are Small Bands Surviving?
March 1, 2018 (No Comments) by Alannah Kenny

Have you ever wondered how unsigned Irish artists can prosper in our current music industry against some big national and international labels? Well having encountered many a signed and unsigned Irish artist, we at The Sharpe have wondered the same. Therefore we decided to do some digging to find out the secret recipe… if one exists! Maybe you are an unsigned artist or know someone who is enduring these struggles.

8-unsigned-irish-bands-that-are-turning-heads-right-now

For those who want to break into the music scene independently, this is certainly do-able and it is actually becoming more of an occurrence thanks to a few helpful tools. Last October we checked out the thriving local music scene and took a close look at 8 incredible Unsigned Irish Bands that are making waves at the moment. Today, we have come up with some of our best tips for unsigned artists to survive and establish themselves in the world of music at home and abroad.

1) Build a Social Media/Online Presence

Most unsigned Irish artists nowadays use social media platforms as a way of promoting their music and reaching as wide an audience as possible. It’s a huge advantage and a great way of communicating with fans. The most successful and dedicated artists will always update their pages regularly with upcoming news and events.

Facebook and Twitter are the most popular platforms for artists to use when communicating with fans. However we are seeing way more platforms enter the fray in recent years with real-time footage of gigs coming from the likes of Snapchat and Instagram stories.

arrow-in-the-sky

For a few examples of successful unsigned artists utilising social media well with their music, check out the cracking Cillian King and Mullingar Folk-Rockers Arrow in the Sky.

Most artists also build out responsive websites and link it to their other accounts for a more formal introduction. Staying relevant is crucial so even if there’s a drought period with not much news to share, the clever artists will fill it by sharing photographs or hosting competitions or unique offerings such as free ticket giveaways to shake things up.

cillian-king-music

The guys over at Musibiz have also put together a brilliant guide on, Setting up a Digital Marketing funnel in the Music Industry, definitely worth a look!

2) Become a Member of a Music Network/Community

Just as you have the blogging community who help to support each other and share tips, unsigned artists also have the option of joining similar communities catered to them. By becoming members of an Irish independent community or music network, this can offer much needed guidance and support to newcomers who will come into contact with other artists in the exact same position.

musibiz

Musibiz.com and unsigned.com are examples of free online-communities which provide independent artists with a platform and the potential of more exposure. This allows artists in similar positions to connect with each other in Ireland or around the world. You can check out these independent communities at www.unsigned.com and www.musibiz.com.

3)  Support Bigger Artists

Becoming a support act to a larger artist provides a significant amount of exposure for an unsigned artist and is a massive opportunity. The artists get to sample what life on tour would be like and receiving a shout out from a bigger artist can increase their value and earn them new and curious followers. Making contacts is commonly how support acts are sought after and the best way for artists to achieve this is by following the tips mentioned above.

Unfortunately, being a support act is not as glamorous as it sounds and it may even dissuade the most eager of musicians. It’s a test of mental and physical endurance and most importantly, it’s a lot of hard slogging and living out of a suitcase. However, being in the presence of a bigger name can be hugely inspiring and motivational.

ryan-oshaughnessy

In most cases, those who are dedicated have seen it stand to them. Our very own Gavin James was the support act for Ed Sheeran in 2014 and is now a blossoming household name in his own right, having toured Ireland and the States solo. Britain’s Got Talent finalist Ryan O’Shaughnessy also supported Cheryl Cole when she came to Ireland and is currently representing our fair isle in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. So the moral is, if you work hard, being a support act is a great opportunity to get your foot in the industry’s door!

4) Tour, Tour, Tour!

Any upcoming musician can post as many songs on Facebook as they like but they are unlikely to survive the industry unless they compete directly and put themselves out there with some live gigs. Whether it’s busking in Grafton Street or performing in the local pub, musicians have to start somewhere and getting out and about is the way to do it. Sometimes in the beginning, artists might need to perform for free to show their capabilities. From there they build until they are conducting fully fledged tours and travelling around is necessary for reaching a bigger audience.

5-gigs-you-need-to-see-in-kilkenny-this-year

For those who do get to tour, there are some key rules to follow in order to build a good reputation. Some of these rules are common sense such as behaving and being pleasant to work with. Nobody likes spoilt Rock-stars, especially those whose biggest gig has been in the local pub. Most importantly, one needs to be prepared and surround themselves with a supportive team throughout the gruelling number of weeks or months involved. If you are performing as a part-time musician for now, work your touring schedule to suit your availability until you are ready to take the plunge.

5) Fundraise & Fundraise Some More!

The most common element that sends unsigned artists into ruination is a lack of funds to keep the dream going. This is why being part of a community is so important; the music industry is so harsh nowadays that it’s hard to go it alone. You need to be humble and you need to be able to ask for help when you need it. One method that upcoming artists often use to get off the ground is to apply to a special scheme.

music-network

The Music Capital Scheme is dedicated to bands and musicians newly starting out in Ireland. It is supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and The Gaeltacht and managed by Music Network. It provides much needed funding for the purchase of instruments for both amateur and professional musicians in the hope that their music will contribute to the Irish industry.

Applications for this year’s scheme are now closed but budding young musicians may like to keep an eye out next year and they may be awarded a grant to help them out. Kickstarter.com and Fundit.ie provide similar schemes that allow artists to advertise themselves and appeal to the public for funding on certain projects.

6.) Crowdfunding

Another popular and recommended method that independent artists use to get some cash is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a practice where artists ask a large number of people, typically over the internet, to help them fund a particular project. It helps unsigned artists get to the next stage of breaking the industry; funding their EP’s and albums. Keeping it local, an innovative Crowdfunding campaign has just been kicked off by Athenry Rockers, The Deans.

the-deans-roisin-dubh

The Deans have been making music for a number of years and are now calling on the support of their loyal followers to help them make bigger and better music. So no pressure for any followers who are reading! Here’s a look at a recently constructed messages to the fans via their Facebook page at the beginning of February.

Exhaust Every Avenue

So when it comes to surviving as an independent artist, you will need to exhaust every possible avenue. Because in this hardened industry, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

If there are any small bands or budding artists out there who simply don’t have a clue where to start, try to follow some of these steps and see where it takes you. When finally you make your début, we at The Sharpe will be right behind you so best of luck!



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