Irish Music Losses

The Irish music community has suffered a few tough blows in the last week or so. No doubt most will already be aware of some, if not all, of these losses, but just in case- here's a sad reminder.

Road Records

After 11 years supporting the indie & underground, Road Records is to close up shop. A combination of downloading, bigger competitors, and recession has finally made continued operation of the legendary store impossible. Dublin will certainly be worse off without it.

State Magazine (Print format)

Unfortunately the good people at State had dreadful luck with timing the arrival of their music mag. Dastardly recession again played a part in this story, contributing to the recent demise of the mag's print format. While State will continue online, it will no longer be available in physical form, which is, again, a damned shame. I guess it had aimed to provide a quality alternative to Hotpress, and to my mind that goal was achieved impeccably.

The Indie Hour

The latest loss to the Irish Music scene comes with the news that Dublin City FM's The Indie Hour will no longer be broadcasting. Aoife Mc had used her show over the last four years or so as a hub for the emerging local scene, during which time everyone from Fight Like Apes to Super Extra Bonus Party to Adebisi Shank have made an appearance. The Indie Hour was a valued outlet for the Irish Underground, and deserves some credit for the excellent state we find the scene in today. Aoife Mc promises to appear on sporadic podcasts here & there (including over on Nialler's blog, where she hosts his regular podcast). In the meantime, archived podcasts of the show are available here.

These are all tough blows to our little music community, but as I said above- the Irish music scene has rarely been better. No doubt it will persevere and continue to grow. I also have no doubt that the personnel involved above will be contributing to it's growth in some way shape or form. So here's looking forward to new and continued ventures. Recession be damned!

Full goodbye statements from all parties in the readmore.

Road Records Statement:

First of all, thank you all for your kind words about our store and us personally, we really do appreciate it as Road has always been about a personal approach from day one.

I am very sad to say that we will in fact be closing down the store in the next 2 - 3 weeks as things have just become too difficult for us to proceed, we basically have no money left and as it is just a small shop run by Julie and myself we can longer afford to fund it. Belive me if we were at least breaking even each week then we would continue on in hope but as we are continually losing money, and have been for at least six months, we cannot carry on as any losses incurred will have to be personally paid for by us. We have put enough of our own money into the store in the last year just to keep it afloat but I am sad to say we really don’t have anything left at this stage, if we continue to trade we will just continue to lose money that we honestly do not have any more and thus we will end up paying off bank loans for the rest of our lives. I know a lot of people think if you have your own store that you have money behind you but believe me that is just a myth.

Its been an absolutely amazing eleven years for us and neither of us regret one single second of it, when we close I will not be looking back on wasted time in any way.

We have made some amazing friends through the shop and have had the pleasure of dealing with some truly fantastic bands [and their members].

Without blowing my own trumpet I do think Dublin will be a worse place without us as I think from day one we were always the most approachable store for Irish bands and their independent releases, it was one of the main reasons for setting up the store [some of you may remember the fact that I spent most of my youth plugging away in bands with nowhere to sell our music] and we have always tried to be as supportive to local music as possible, mainly because people in this country make music as good as if not better than anywhere else but have never had a proper outlet to sell it. We have always had a policy to make sure to play Irish music in the store so people in here can hear it and understand the quality and diversity of music being made in Ireland. If we heard something that excited us then we would always go out of our way to promote it as much as possible both in the store and on the site.

The reasons for the downturn are many and varied and if there was just one then we could try overcome that in some way but its no longer possible to pinpoint just one.

I will try list some of the reasons I see for the death of the small shop and I really do hope I am not right in thinking that many more will go the same way, I have always been optimistic that this city can sustain a couple of smaller indie shops but I no longer believe that to be true, again, I really hope I am wrong with this opinion but the way people go about buying their music these days does not instill me with too much confidence.

1. Regardless of what I have thought over the years downloading has effected our business, probably more so the illegal side of things, filesharhing and the likes. I speak as a shop on this one but god knows how much small bands suffer because of this aswell.

2. Below cost sellers online, everybody wants a bargain and its hard to take the moral highground on this one, but everytime a purchase is made to the likes of Play etc is a nail in the coffin to the indie store, these online sellers don’t care one hoot about indie bands and music, they just need to sell in bulk and as quickly as possible. They will never put any money or effort back into indigenous music, try asking them to sell 50 copies of a beautiful hand made cdr release.

3. The city centre just does not have the same volume of people walking around it anymore, its a simple fact, less people means less sales. We have noticed a massive downturn in the amount of people visiting the store in the last year.

4. Kids don’t buy music anymore. That sounds like a fairly broad statement to make, I know there are still some out there but we don’t see any young people in the shop anymore so as we lose older customers we don’t gain any new ones.

5. Obviously this country is going through a recession at the moment so it would be stupid of me to claim that this wasn’t having an effect on our business but having said that things were already beginning to change long before that.

6. The deal with selling independent local releases always had to be a two way exchange for us, we never made much money from local releases [and that was never the idea] but we always sought the support of bands. By that I mean if we were selling your music then we would always appreciate the bands making a purchase in the store in return, sadly that did not always happen, and before you jump at me for making this statement I do accept that plenty of you out there were very supportive of us but take if from me we did have quite a lot of bands coming in to us with their own release to sell whilst also carrying a hmv bag with a purchase they had just made, simply because it was cheaper there.

7. The cost of running a store in this city has increased dramatically in the past 4 / 5 years, rents have gone up so much, insurance increased, bank costs and so many other things that over the years it has become increasingly more difficult just to meet our costs on a week to week basis.

8. Whilst this one may not seem so obvious the cost of an average cd or record in the store is now less than it was 5 / 6 years ago and that is a good thing to the consumer but it has also seriously dented our chances of making a living in any way, it just means we have to sell more to cover our costs but as I mentioned with less customers coming through the door that has not been possible.

As you may gather from this piece we are both very very sad about the prospects of closing down our shop, this is our only way of making a living and now we are both back to square one with pretty much no money [and a brand new baby to support], I don’t know what either of us are going to do from now on but I’m sure we will survive.

I say this from my heart that I really hope the last few remaining indie stores will survive in the city and I hope you can take time out to visit them and make a purchase, otherwise these stores will not make it through these times either, and don’t leave it for a couple of weeks, do it today as they really do need your support and its only when they are all gone that you will then miss them.

Again, thank you all for your kind words and to anybody out there that has supported us in any way thank you also, we have had so much pleasure over the last eleven years doing what we do.

Dave and Julie

State Magazine Statement:

The announcement of a new issue of State is usually a cause for celebration. In this case, our tenth issue is tinged with a certain sadness. This month is a little different to what’s gone before as there will be no printed version of this issue. It has been a real year of ups and downs for the magazine. We’ve had a ball in the last twelve months but circumstances beyond our control have interfered. We always felt the magazine was something which was sorely missing from the dialogue around music in Ireland, which judged Irish artists on the same criteria as international artists and treated music as the important cultural art it has become to us all.

Though State, as a magazine is in a better shape creatively in 2009 than it ever was, there are certain palpable economic circumstances which mean that the costs involved in printing a magazine of such high-quality (in our opinion, as that is our currency) have become even more difficult to meet. We have always been an entity in transition, learning as we went, incorporating that knowledge into making a deserved better product for music fans. Sadly though, State felt the cold, icy hands of the recession in the last two months. Advertising has become an increasingly difficult prospect for any industry which relies on it and the standards which we had set for ourselves were no longer achievable.

Fret not. As you’re reading this on, you will be all too aware of the resource it can be. So our plans for the future involve us shifting our focus wholly to, which will now become the hub of all our activity with reviews, interviews, mp3s, news and everything else in the navigation above. As a parting gift from State Magazine and as a way to pass the baton to, we offer up to you our tenth issue as a digital issue so you can see for yourself what would have looked amazing on paper. State remains free to all… (who have broadband internet access) and we will STILL BE producing a monthly digital issue every month to complement the website.

The Indie Hour

Hello there. I think this may be my last post on this blog.

Sometime between debating whether to eat the brussel sprouts or not and having my seven millionth mince pie over Christmas, I decided that, what with the New Year and all, it was perhaps time to let go of The Indie Hour on Dublin City FM.

I’ve been putting on the show every Thursday night since June of 2004. In that time, I’ve had an absolute blast. I got to witness first hand the most recent growth of our own home-grown music scene. Although I’m sure it’s the same for anyone who is involved in music during a certain time frame, I felt that I witnessed a pretty exciting time in Irish music.

When I started the show, all those many moons ago (gather round children), we were at the tailend of our tolerance of singer-songwriters. Some of the better singer-songwriters (like Robotnik then known simply as Chris Morrin) found Korgs somewhere and started making bleepy noises to go along with the tales of heartbreak. I got a demo from a band called Super Extra Bonus Party who had a bleedin’ Brazilian MC and sent hilarious letters with their CDs. I had a really funny show with The Butterfly Explosion where EVERYTHING went wrong (I only realised when we were on air that I didn’t have any headphones, two of the mics weren’t working, and I played a track from their EP which was the one they had planned to play live in the studio. Big time cringe).

Jinx Lennon visited us on average once every year to talk about bubble electricians, Fight Like Apes came down after the release of their first EP and again before the release of their album, The Jimmy Cake came in for a chat (well, not ALL of them obviously) and RSAG blew me away both times he came on. Mumblin’ Deaf Ro provided us with what is still my favourite interview of the whole four years. Then there was the Adebisi Shank and BATS of this world, who were LOUD. And deadly. And The Vinny Club gave out to me live on air for not listening to all the demos that I got in the post.

Through the show I’ve met some great people and got to talk a whole load of shite in front of a microphone (after about the first year I kind of forgot that people were actually listening). I made the decision to call it a day really because I felt that personally I’d taken it as far as I could. It was starting to feel like a teeny weeny bit of a burden and I never, ever wanted it to be like that. It has been the most fantastic and fun and brilliant hobby and I wanted to stop when I still felt like that.

However, those of you who simply can not live without hearing my bizarre trans-atlantic dulcet tones (I grew up in Saudi Arabia, that is my explanation for my accent) fear not, as I plan to pop up on various podcasts here and there.

You can of course check out the monthly nialler9 podcasts, and I hope to be moving the indie hour format to a monthly podcast to be hosted on nialler9 as well. How does that sound?

Before I sign off here, although I will still be blogging in some form or other - I was toying with the idea of starting a food blog - I’d just like to thank a few people for their support of the indie hour, as a show and a blog:

Ian Oliver, Niall, unarocks, sinead gleeson, nay, the good people at CLUAS, Allen from The Ballroom of Romance, Barry ‘Stress 7 inch’ Lennon from The Richter Collective, Cillian, Declan and Richie at Kaboogie!, Damien Mulley, The Lovely Girls at Entertainment Architects, the lads over at EgoEccentric, Thrill Pier, Darragh and Loreana, Jim Carroll, The New(ish) Journalism and Rapture Ponies. There are lots more people but I’ll stop there.

One last big massive thank you to all the bands who made the effort to come down to the East Wall Studios and have a chat about their music. Without them, the show wouldn’t have been as good as I like to think that it was.

The archives from the shows from the last two years are up on the web, and I’d be really happy to think that people would like to peruse and listen to them for some time to come.

The last show I did with guests was before Christmas with the bloody amazing Heathers, who released my favourite Irish album of the last four and a half years last year with Here, Not There. Between Christmas, moving house, the recession, and going to the gym, I haven’t managed to put that up on the blog yet, so I’ll get that up on our podcast archive as soon as I find which unpacked cardboard box it is in. Word.

So, it’s not really goodbye…it’s see you later. *sniff!*

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January 19, 2009 at 5:09 PM aoifemc said...

Oh no, when you put it all together like that I feel a bit guilty for giving it up!
It's such a shame about Road and State. And being in the same week too. The scene will survive though, no worries! Just keep blogging about it all.
Thanks for your links throughout the year and see you at the next adebisi gig :)

January 19, 2009 at 8:15 PM Clockwork Rob said...

You'll be missed, Aoife- See ya at the shank!