New music conference aiming to put Cork on the map

Music Cork is providing a platform for bands to showcase in front of some of the biggest names in the business

New music conference aiming to put Cork on the map

Music Cork Launch: L to R Jim Lawless, Willie Ryan, Cork artist Stephanie Rainey, Shane Dunne and Alexis Vokos

The international music industry is landing in Cork next week for a brand-new event organisers hope will one day rival the world’s biggest music conferences.

Modelled along the lines of South by Southwest (SXSW) in Texas and The Great Escape in the UK, Music Cork is providing a platform for Irish bands to showcase their music in front of some of the biggest names in the business.

Organisers say the event will allow Irish musicians, promoters and managers to network with top international industry executives and provide a melting pot to “share ideas and take stock of the Irish industry - see where we are right now, where it can go and how we can all help each other.”

The three day event has attracted the likes of Darcus Beese - the president of Island Records who many will remember as the man who signed Amy Winehouse - and Rob Stevenson of Republic Records in New York – who looks after Drake, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.

Emerging talent

Conference co-founder Willie Ryan told Newstalk the event is more intimate and industry focused than other music conferences on offer in Ireland. 

He said the Irish industry is currently “very strong” - adding that many of the visiting speakers only signed up because they are excited to come and see the emerging talent first-hand.

“In the last three or four years there are a lot of Irish acts getting signed to international major labels,” he said. “The live scene is really strong and if you look this summer at the headliners at some of the outdoor gigs and festivals – that side of the industry is going from strength to strength.

“A lot of Irish talent has been signed and is being developed over the last two or three years which wasn’t happening all that regularly even two or three years ago.”

The main conference is happening in the Clayton Hotel with twenty emerging and established Irish acts playing across three venues in the city.

Mr Ryan said Cork was deliberately chosen to host the event because it offers a different take on Ireland for executives accustomed to flying visits to Dublin.

The city also offers a different level of intimacy - with all the showcase venues within a short walk of the hotel. 

The acts on show include ‘Alex & Echoes’ - a duo from Tallaght that will be playing their first gig at the event - Cork band ‘Talos’ - who have just released their first album - and ‘The Coronas’ who have already achieved a measure of international fame.

Meeting the international industry

Mr Ryan said the three days are built around networking and making it easy for bands and managers to mingle with the A & R (talent scouting) executives flying in for the event.

“There will be plenty of opportunity for delegates to mingle with the industry attendees and that is how we sold it to the visiting speakers – they are going to get close contact with the Irish industry and emerging talent.

“Obviously on the Thursday we have seminars and panels where the speakers will be outlining their vision for the industry - but in the evenings, at the pub crawls or at the concerts, it will be a little bit more informal.

“We are actively encouraging young managers and bands to go up, hand their CD over and have a chat – that is how business gets done.”

The speaker list includes the agents responsible for bands like Muse, Coldplay, Biffy Clyro and Snow Patrol - as well as publishers, managers and executives tuned in to the money side of the business.

Making it pay

Artists starting out will be especially interested in the ‘Flow Money, Flow problems’ panel which is looking at how musicians can ensure they are getting paid for their work.

“It is hard to get paid starting out as a young act,” said Mr Ryan. “This is going to open up that debate and look at Youtube, streaming, radio payments and gigs.”

“There is a big debate internationally at the moment about YouTube not paying very much towards their creatives as compared to Spotify so we’ll be looking at all of that.”  

Music Cork gets underway in the evening on Wednesday 10th – with panel discussions and concerts taking place all through the day on Thursday.

You can listen back to Darcus Beese's appearance on Newstalk's Moncrieff here: