Confidence rising for return of live music

Longitude spark excitement with announcement of initial line-up for Marlay Park next July, says Stevie G in his weekly Downtown column
Confidence rising for return of live music

Tyler the Creator is scheduled to return to Longitude in Dublin next summer.

I’ve been pretty pessimistic writing here over the last six months about the possible comeback for live music, so it’s time for a bit of optimism today. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and in the last few weeks we’ve had some encouraging news about vaccines and some of the big music promoters are starting to get confident again.

Festival announcements have begun again too, and while I’m still dubious that we can turn it around by next summer, I’m also starting to feel that this thing will eventually be controlled sooner than expected, and we will be able to have big parties again.

It’s gonna take a while, but the clubs, gigs, parties, and festivals will all eventually return, though it’s likely there will be far less and things will certainly be different.

The vaccine news from the last few weeks has greatly boosted morale and confidence and the big hitters have been quick to react. Live Nations’ share price was quick to rise after the announcements, and when the biggest music promoters in the world have confidence it’s gonna have a knock-on effect for everyone.

Already Longitude have come out with a bullish first announcement and initial line-up for Marlay Park. This is very exciting news and the thought of seeing the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, A$AP Rocky, Dababy, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat and many many more as early as next July is pretty exciting really. Whether it actually happens is anyone's guess, but I doubt Longitude are announcing it for the fun of it, and they must be pretty confident they can pull it together. This is one of the country’s biggest festivals and the announcement is really good news.

The Government has provided many of our live venues with a cash injection boost too, and that is enabling some of them to broadcast and stream some live shows.

The likes of Cork Opera House, Cyprus Avenue, Crane Lane, The Kino, Coughlans, and more are busy putting these together at the moment, and crucially it’s helping provide many acts, promoters, sound and lighting engineers, and artists with some work.

I pre-recorded one such party in The Kino recently and it was good to be back doing what we all love doing most.

There’s also been some music grants going and many Irish artists are gonna be getting a cash injection that will help them record some new material in 2021. It’s brought a bit of controversy too and there’s been a bit of dialogue online debating the merits of various artists getting the awards, though I’m not gonna get into that here.

It is a shame more artists can’t be aided, but filling out funding applications seems to be an art form in itself these days, and I’m glad there is at least some funding available.

The Irish music industry is improving all the time but there’s still a long way for it to go; until it is taken seriously by the authorities when it comes to real long-term backing. This is definitely a step in the right direction though, and again, it will help the industry survive.

With studios being pretty busy and online shows continuing, at least there’s a bit of optimism returning, and as always for me I think the real hope lies in what will come down the line. The young people here are very talented, and as someone who works with young people doing music workshops, I’m very impressed with the new breed of kids.

There is a multitude of great young musicians, singers and rappers around now, and technological advances have made it much easier to get music recorded, mixed and mastered too. We have a wealth of great young producers and engineers and there’s an impressive DIY attitude among young people who are setting up labels and other creative outlets.

It’s been a very tough seven or eight months for the whole music industry. From the big companies to the small solo artists, it’s been very difficult and I know mental health has suffered for many in the industry. There is finally some light at the end of the tunnel though, and maybe we will be able to get a degree of normality back next year.

Things will never be the same as they were, but things weren’t even perfect back then, and maybe this time on hold will make more people appreciate the importance of music, gigs, parties, and artists.

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