Post-pandemic music world is different 

I'm looking forward to what we have in store for 2023, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
Post-pandemic music world is different 

Rihanna’s comeback is sure to continue apace in 2023. But there will be many more new acts develop as the world exits Covid.

Today I’ll continue to look back on 2022 and also look forward to what we have in store for 2023.
2022 was the year where the restrictions pretty much went away. It’s hard to believe that this time last year events and parties were still limited, but we finally got some degree of normality back early in the year. Covid was and still is among us, but it finally gave the industry a little bit of certainty regarding planning ahead.

There is no doubt that behaviour has changed during the pandemic. Things were different before and people’s habits changed. The bar and club scene and gigs and festivals came back, but industry insiders will tell you that it’s trickier than ever to predict how things will fare, and as the economy struggles, I’d imagine 2023 will be the same.

In 2022, the face of Cork changed once more and if you walked down the street after being away for a couple of years you’ll notice the amount of new cafes and bars, but you’ll also notice that many places you visited before lay empty or derelict. This is a shame really, and hopefully things will get better.

Overall, the cultural offerings remain varied, though there is still a need for more late night venues. Most venues are obviously tied to the drinks side of things, so for younger people, options continue to be limited, and it would be great to see more public spaces and other options becoming available for that age group.

The cost of living and housing situation means that young people are struggling to find a place even to rent, so getting space to practice for a band is obviously going to be even more limited. It’s not all negative though, and there’s lots of people trying to get things moving.

One such group are the Electronic music council, who are helping develop the house and techno scene, by cross-promoting events and helping people get gigs and get in touch with venues. We continue to have record shops here, run by passionate music people, and we have a community spirit which is often evident at various events. Sadly, many of us have met more at funerals than gigs this year, and we recently said goodbye to Peter the Kid and Dr Fiasco, who were both important contributors to the music scene here. While we reflected on their impact, we remembered the days gone by, but as we look forward, it will be interesting to see how things develop.

The licencing situation is one area where there is optimism for the future, though most of us remain guarded about the potential outcomes. While it is more likely to benefit the next generation, I think it’s imperative for anyone passionate about the music scene to support the opportunity for at least some venues to open later. To be honest I’m tired of repeating myself on this but finally it looks like things are changing. Give us the night and others deserve great respect.

People still have a passion for DJing and gigs and clubs and festivals. Things are a lot more event driven now so they will pick and choose what they go to more carefully. There are still weekly parties but the days of developing a club night yourself week-in-week-out have been largely left behind, bar some notable exceptions. The hype around bigger events (Independent Park, Live at the Marquee) means it’s sometimes harder for those venues programming shows here weekly, but it’s important to support grassroots shows as well as bigger ones. It’s great that the big promoters see Cork as a viable option though, it’s expensive and annoying always having to travel to Dublin and elsewhere!

In 2023, I hope we can get more music out there. There are a lot of artists on the cusp of some great things but I think we need to drive it on overall. There’s more studios now and a bigger infrastructure, though lack of practice and performance spaces still limits things somewhat.

Making original music as a career remains a tough path, but it would be great to see our most talented artists have a chance at least. I think it’s important that more money and energy is invested in developing youth work too.

On a wider scale, I’m looking forward to playing this new music and making some myself. I think 2023 will be Rihanna’s year, but I’m sure there will be many more brilliant new artists coming out too!

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