Bonus Post: should we require 20% Irish music on Irish radio?

A few short weeks ago, you might remember us covering a story where Dave Fanning and Louis Walsh called for more Irish music to be played on Irish radio. That exact same week, 98FM canceled their long running Irish music show. This move was heavily criticised by some in the Irish Music industry, with some feeling the radio industry pays little more than lip service to Irish Artists..

The calls for change have only gotten louder since then, as over 100 people have now signed a petition calling for stations to play more Irish music. More on that in a moment.

not everyone is 100% on board with this call however. A number of months back, a poll on the Radio Land Instagram found that 60% of people said they didn’t think the BAI should enforce a 20% rule. While our sample size was admittedly tiny, it shows that there are people on that side as well.

So should we play 20% Irish music on licensed stations? In this post we’ll take a look at that and examine the view on both sides.

Let’s start with the Play More Irish campaign

Play More Irish Logo, with the hashtag PlayMoreIrish

Introducing Rory from Dublin. Rory is a 38 year old music fan, but he doesn’t work in the industry. Rory created the Play More Irish petition to try and get Irish stations to Play More Irish music on air.

This petition (to be sent to the minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media) has received over 100 signatures so far, and continues to gain more quickly. The petition page makes a number of points on why Irish Music should be played more.

  • Radio plays an important role in introducing listeners to new music and artists, Each licensed station should be required to devote a minimum 20% of its weekly music broadcasting to Irish artists
  • Both Canada & France have policies in place to ensure their homegrown talent is given their fair share of airplay. (more on that in a minute)
  • They also quote Dave and Louis, worth noting that Dave Fanning actually called for 25% while the petition Is only calling for a 20% minimum

So a general argument there is that it would benefit our artists, and if other countries can do it, why can’t we?

It’s an interesting point of view for sure. So, what are the rules like in other countries?

I’m going to focus on Canada specifically here as ireland and Canada would probably have more musically in common, considering the American influence. Also, these are rules for commercial stations, just know the public service broadcaster has stricter guidelines.

In Canada, a commercial station playing pop music is required to play 35% Canadian music. It’s also a requirement that 35% of the music played between 6AM and 6 PM is Canadian. This rule applies Monday to Friday.

For special interest stations, that number is 10%, with a higher percentage for certain sub categories of music. The 6am-6pm rule doesn’t apply, however, stations are required to ensure that Canadian tracks “are scheduled in a reasonable manner throughout the broadcast day”

So, the question is, should something similar be done here in Ireland? Well, let’s take a look at the other side.

The other side of the coin

We posted a story on Instagram asking for people to share their opinion. We specifically asked for people who disagreed with the 20% rule as we wanted to try provide as much balance as possible. we also gave people the option to remain Anonymous so they didn’t need to worry about upsetting employers, interestingly, everyone we spoke to requested anonymity.

So, how did that go? Well it was interesting. Most people who contacted us actually supported a quota, with some having quite strong words on the subject.

There’s no way you can cover someone who wants to deny Irish artists fair airplay in a way that comes off well. It’s a hilariously dated opinion. an Uplift petition isn’t going to change anyone’s minds. Music is the pesky thing inbetween ads for the commercial broadcasters. Radio is meant to document what’s happening, not tell people what to like

From a former podcast producer for a station in the south of the country

One presenter on a Dublin commercial station said that they felt that artists needed more support to make their music radio ready. We asked this podcaster if they agreed, but they argued that radio shouldn’t try to be so polished.

I think radio needs to drop a dated format and play all kinds of music, not just shiny pop. Stop talking down to your audience and play the raw hip-hop, the eight-minute post-rock track. People want authenticity, not polish

From podcaster in south of the country

It was hard to argue with this, it’s true that most stations in Ireland do have a very polished CHR sound.. But, this leads to an interesting question, what is Irish music anyway?

When people are requesting more Irish artists to be played are they actually looking for more formats of music to be played? Do people want more Irish artists, more variety, or possibly both? It’s hard to say. The presenter on the Dublin station made an interesting point in this regard.

Picture This, Gavin James and Hozier all sound Irish, but when you’ve got the likes of Moncrieff, Marty Guilfoyle, John Gibbons, Soule and even JC Stewart (from Northern Ireland I believe), you don’t think they’re Irish. They have a sound that they could be from anywhere, so it could leave some people thinking there’s not much Irish music being played on the radio

A presenter from a Dublin commercial station

This is an interesting point, is more Irish music being played then we realise?

I’ve just had a look and I’ve got four Irish songs in my first hour. I feel like that’s a decent amount, I’ll play probably 16-18 songs? Like it’s not an awful ratio

Presenter from Dublin

This is interesting as even if they’re were 20 songs in that hour (unlikely on a commercial station), that still hits the 20% requested in the Play More Irish petition. So are we just hitting the quota already without even noticing?

While I can’t back it up with statistics, I doubt it unfortunately. We did ask IMRO if they could provide a breakdown on percentages of Irish music played, but unfortunately we haven’t got a response as of publication.

Even though the presenter from Dublin thought that Irish artist‘s needed support to make their music radio ready, they also said that they felt the idea of a quota was fair enough. They also pointed out that there is a quota already in place for individual stations, even if it isn’t universal.

All this made it difficult to get a clear picture around why some people don’t think there should be a BAI enforced quota.I know these views are out there however so let’s play devils advocate for a minute. Here are some reasons people may be against it.

  • The general idea that a lot of Irish music isn’t radio ready. This goes hand in hand with the idea that radio should try maintain a more polished sound
  • The idea that the BAI shouldn’t be creating more rules. That stations should maintain more creative freedom when building their playlists.
  • The idea that playing Irish artist’s wouldn’t be viable, as it’s just not what the majority of people really want.

All those are valid arguments, it really just depends what your perspective is.

So should we play more Irish music then? And where do we go from here?

This really depends on your perspective. It’s obvious that radio airplay is important to artists, but it’s also obvious that music from many Irish artists doesn’t fit within the common CHR formats around the country.

It would seem however that it would be possible. Look at the artists mentioned earlier by our presenter from Dublin. Picture This, Gavin James, Hozier, Moncrieff, Marty Guilfoyle, John Gibbons, Soule, JC Stewart. You start adding names like Lea Heart or Stephanie Rainey to that list and it becomes easy to hit a 20% quota without sacrificing quality.

Even for more specialist stations like classic Hits, a 20% quota wouldn’t be hard to hit. But is this solving the problem?

If your argument is simply to play Irish artists, that’s something that should be very achievable. and from our experience doesn’t get any very vocal objections. But what I’ve noticed from some is that they simply want more variety in music selection, they want a break from the CHR/ shiny pop. That becomes a harder question to answer and is kind of beyond the scope of this post. it is interesting though for sure.

How likely is it that we’ll see a quota in the future?

The only person who can really answer that question is the minister responsible for all this stuff. That would be Catherine Martin TD.

We asked the minister if she thought there should be a quota for Irish music on Irish radio, and if so what that quota should be.

Following our query, we were given a statement from the department for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. The response is interesting to say the least.

There are a number of legal and other factors which must be taken into account when considering the feasibility of introducing airplay quotas. The potential benefit to music production in Ireland must be balanced with the rights of broadcasters, subject to their contractual or regulatory obligations, to determine the type of content they wish to broadcast and to ensure commercial revenue particularly in the context of the current media climate. Importantly, the introduction of airplay quotas would need to be consistent with EU law. A quota for music produced in a particular Member State would be considered to restrict free movement of services by placing music produced in other Member States at a disadvantage. Given the legal challenges arising, the Government is not currently considering airplay quotas based on production location.

Statement from the department in relation to airplay quota’s

I’m sure some people will look at this and roar the word France, but at least this answers our question.

For now at least, airplay quotas aren’t being considered. Whatever you think of the reason, that’s where we’re at. It may be a case that maybe this could be solved with a European quota, but that’s all just speculation at this point. For now it seems there’s no quota on its way in the immediate future.

In summary

Most people we spoke to are in favour of an airplay quota, but it’s not currently being considered by the department for a number of reasons.

So what’s the takeaway here? Well, just because there isn’t a quota on the horizon, doesn’t mean stations can’t step up and do it themselves. There’s some positive press to be gained by supporting Irish artists so it’s certainly worth considering for stations.

The more people want it, the more likely it becomes. Who knows what the future brings, but for now, that’s where we’re at.

Other comments

We did also get a few interesting comments that simply didn’t really fit anywhere above. We’ll share them here so you can make up your own mind, but keep in mind that it’s fairly one sided. As we explained, we didn’t really get any comments strongly against the quota despite asking for those views. So, here’s a selection of some of the comments we received.

We asked Rory from the Play More Irish Campaign what his response would be to those who argue that more quota’s limit stations a bit too much.

I would say that in this digital age where I can listen to radio stations all over the world, why would I choose an Irish radio station, unless they offer good native local content. It makes total sense to me that Irish stations should feature good Irish content. The exposure for the artists also helps to build a healthier music industry & music scene in this great little island. In relation to limiting stations a bit too much 20% is a lot lower than what’s being done in Canada & France in comparison, I don’t feel it would be too limiting, there would need to be exceptions to the rules for Special Interest shows, for example a radio show that only plays pre-1960’s Jazz might find good Irish content hard to come by, but by following the Canadian model it wouldn’t be too difficult to allow for this. If it works for them, It can work for us. Play More Irish is not about limiting or restricting stations, Its about asking them to look outside their own front door rather than over the water. We have the Talent, a 20% quota as a reminder of that won’t hurt the radio stations.

Rory from Play More Irish

And let’s close with another comment from our podcast producer. They basically summarised the issue with one comment. This seems to embody a lot of the feelings from the music industry, so will maybe give schedulers some food for thought.

98 had a good thing with Totally Irish and f***ed it. Today sacked Paul McLoone – why? The commercial sector is actively making itself irrelevant. Commercial also needs to take Irish music out of dead air time and into the playlists. But document what’s happening in the real world, not pushing more industry b******s

Podcaster from south of the country

If you want to sign the play more Irish petition you can do that here

Thanks for reading and sharing your views

Huge thanks to everyone who read this post, and thanks in particular to those of you who shared your views.

We’d love to explore more of the industry’s views at some stage in the future, but that’s only possible when we have a large enough group willing to share their perspective. if you’d be interested in sharing your view going forward, give us a follow on Twitter and Instagram so you hear our call outs for opinions😃 you can also now like us on Facebook as well if that’s your thing. 📱

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Thanks again for reading, and remember to check back each Saturday for all the latest radio industry news📻.

Quote’s in this article are those of the individuals who made them, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Radio Land or it’s writers.

This Week In Radio 29/01/2022

Lots happens in the radio industry each week so here’s a summary of the week we just enjoyed.

Here’s What Happened

2FM have had a very busy week with the launch of 2FM Rising for 2022, and they announced part of a schedule change yesterday as well.

2FM logo

On Monday the station announced the artists who will be taking part in Rising this year. Each artist receives a €1,000 bursary and is also heavily promoted across the 2FM schedule with airplay of their music and exclusive interviews. It’s great to see Irish music getting the attention it deserves so best wishes to everyone involved and hopefully this opportunity is just the beginning.

2FM weren’t done yet however, they’ve only gone and switched up the schedule. The big news is that a new drive time show is on the way, but we don’t know much about that yet. Here’s all the changes that have been announced so far.

  • Jenny Greene is leaving drive time to host the Greene Room. The new show will air on Sundays to Thursdays at 10PM. Sundays show will be a chill out show, while the rest of the week will be dedicated to Irish music, including Indie and alternative music.
  • Laura Fox at the Weekend will air Saturdays and Sundays from 9AM. The show is going to have a focus on music, giveaways and celebrity stories. Laura has hosted podcasts for RTÉ in the past, including being the co host of RTE’s My First Ride.
  • Laura will also fill in on drive until the new show is ready to go.

A Peak time shake up on national radio is really exciting so I’m really looking forward to seeing how RTÉ play their cards here. there’s a big chance for 2FM to do something very interesting with this one.

Best wishes to those with new shows from us here at Radio Land, and be sure to check back often so you find out who gets Drive Time.

See the schedule changes here

Get the Rising list here

Dave Fanning and Louis Walsh have both spoken this week about radio stations playing more Irish music. Louis said it would help artists recover from the hit they took through Covid, while Dave spoke about how he feels the laws should be changed to force stations to support Irish music.

Interestingly, we asked this question on Instagram during Irish Music Month and I was kind of surprised by the answer. We asked, should stations be required to play 25% Irish music? Though the response was tiny, 60% did vote no.

I’d really like to do this poll with a large sample size at some stage. I’ve seen passionate arguments both ways on this in the industry., so I’d be really interested to see a full breakdown of information on it.

Read the story here

In a separate but very relevant story, 98FM have ditched their Irish music show with immediate effect. John Barker has hosted the show for over a decade, but the show has been going strong since 1989.

Following the announcement, the Irish music industry was understandably not too happy. Industry site GoldenPlec said that “News of the axing will no doubt heighten the feeling within the Irish music community that commercial radio pays little more than lip service to Irish artists”.

It’s almost ironic how big names call for Irish music to get played more, and then an Irish music show gets dropped. What a strange set of events.

Read the story here

Finally this week, a quick bonus story that didn’t deserve to be relegated to Quick Bits. Huge well done to everyone involved at Christmas FM who raised an amazing €331,515 for Barnardos in 2021. Keep up the great work all and see you on the radio again this Christmas🎄

Read the story here

Quick Bits

There was a big win in the kingdom as Radio Kerry gave away €12,600 on radio bingo

RTE are apparently struggling to get a sponsor for Ray D’arcy

Columb Fogarty, a former Near FM presenter, became the first rough sleeper to die in ireland this year

Radiocentre ireland are going to sponsor the media category at the Cannes Young Lions

And that’s the summary for this week. Come back to radio land next week for more radio news📻 and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for extra stories.

The Big Radio Land Review Of The Year

It’s nearly 2022. How did that happen so fast? It feels like 2021 went like a rocket but Believe it or not, a lot of radio stuff happened this year.

In this post we’ll take a look back at the biggest radio stories from each month of the year and reflect on what a crazy time it’s been for our little industry.

Review of the year graphic

Let’s begin with January, anyone fancy a bit of networking?

A new year and a new networked show, 96FM and Live95 began networking there evening show back in January. When reporting on the story at the time all we had was a job listing but Shane bucks quickly brought the networked show to reality,

Read that story here

It’s February, or should I say Februar, that’s February in German

It feels like forever ago but bauers deal to buy Communicorp was done in February this year. This is still an ongoing story as we will likely see more changes in 2022, but it all began back in February of this year.

Read that story here

The third month was March, you know by swapping around those letters you can make the word charm?

Classic hits and Nova announced in March that they would be swapping breakfast shows. Classic hits listeners universally didn’t approve of this and things went quiet for a while, but the swap took effect in April and has remained since.

Read the story here

In April it was decided that Dublin no longer talks

The 98FM show Dublin Talks was replaced with a music show this month. the shows presenter’s Adrian Kennedy and Jeremy Dixon have since moved on to new projects. We’ll still need to wait and see if Bauer make more of these decisions in 2022, but its certainly an interesting one to watch.

Read this story here

We also lost RTÉ on DAB this month. This put an end to legal DAB in Ireland.

You can find that story right here

Nobody was making money in may

Wireless group announced a loss of €7 million in may, with their accounts giving us a few interesting insights. All we can really do is hope that stuff stabilises financially in the next while as it’s a tough time for the industry.

2FM also prepared to launch their new breakfast show back in may, crazy to think it’s been on air for months already.

You can read both those stories here

We’re very very sorry, but it’s june

FM104 apologised in june after making fun of a child in their kids in the car segment. an important reminder to treat others like you’d like to be treated.

That story can be found here

It’s July, and nobodies watching the road!

AA Roadwatch ended traffic reports for radio in July. it’s a shame that such a valuable public service was discontinued as it seems now many more stations are just relying on listeners for traffic updates. Call or text when safe to do so I suppose.

Surely this is an area some insurance company or car manufacturer could help out with? It’s insane that some stations are now without traffic updates, what a world.

Read that story here

RTE gave us some staff pay info back in august

We got some really interesting numbers back in august about staff pay at RTÉ. It’ll be interesting to see if those wages hold in the years to come as budget cuts sadly seem inevitable.

Read that story here

Let’s be happy for one month at least

We had a nice happy radio story back in September, I’m not going to be able to do it justice here so I’ll just direct you to our post about it at the time.

Here’s a happy radio story

It was a month of awards and rebrands in October

We started October with another online IMRO Awards. Lots of stations and presenters got recognised so you can see all the details on that with the link below.

All your IMRO info is right here

October also saw the announcement that Choose Radio was to become Radiocentre. We have yet to see any big news from Radiocentre since rebranding so this is certainly worth keeping an eye on in the new year.

We learn all about Radiocentre here

It was made clear how tough it’s been for stations in November

In November, The Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media was told by John Purcell just how hard the pandemic has been on radio stations.

He said among other things that some stations were at times just a week away from shutting down. A scary thought considering how important radio is to people during the pandemic.

This really shows just how important funding from the likes of sound and vision can be in keeping stations on air.

You can read all about it and watch it here

Finally came December, the month of Christmas, but more importantly JNLR numbers

It took a while but they finally came. We got new JNLR numbers in December after a long pandemic induced break. it wasn’t a great time for RTÉ but in general most stations seemed happy.

I’ll personally be really interested to see how networked shows perform in 2022 as well as seeing if 2FM make any changes following their drop in listeners. So much to look forward to.

Get all your JNLR details here

What a year it’s been

Thank you so much for checking out Radio Land in 2021. Radio is always changing and we hope to continue informing you in the new year.

We would really appreciate if you gave us a follow on Twitter or a like on Facebook. This really helps us out a lot and helps you stay up to date with the radio industry.

We’ll be back with a regular post tomorrow so we hope you’ll join us then for another year in radio📻

IMRO Awards Recap with a sprinkling of non IMRO related radio news

One year ago today, on October 2nd 2020, Radio Land Launched to keep irelands radio industry up to date with all the industry news. It’s fitting then that today we recap one of the biggest events in the Irish radio calendar. Last night was the IMRO Radio Awards, and here’s what happened.

The big winners

  • Local station of the year went to WLR in Waterford. It’s the third year in a row they took home this award. Congratulations WLR
  • Spin 1038 in Dublin was the music station of the year award winner. Congratulations Spin
  • The full service station of the year this year is BBC Radio Ulster. Gwan the Beeb

Who else won stuff?

There was a total of 41 awards so who won what? The fine people at Radio Today compiled a handy list so you can take a look here.

Here’s some of the amazing work that was awarded last night

  • 98FM in Dublin won the award for best imaging. The stations current package was created by Wisebuddah and you can listen to it here.
  • RTE won best podcast with GunPlot. You can listen to that here on apple podcasts.
  • Best documentary also went to RTÉ. A Very Irish Coup tells the story of how some very clever Irish people outsmarted the bookies. You can listen to that fantastic show with the Doc On One app.

There was loads of fantastic content awarded last night so go and enjoy it. You won’t be disappointed.

Did other non IMRO stuff happen this week?

Other stuff happened this week too so here’s a quick summary of what went on.

And that’s the summary for this week. Come back to radio land next week for more radio news📻 and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for extra stories.

This Week In Radio 18/9/2021

Lots happens in the radio industry each week so here’s a summary of the week we just enjoyed.

Hears what happened

There’s a new station on the FM band today as freedom FM starts broadcasting. The station will broadcast to Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway for the next 30 days after being granted a temporary licence from the BAI. we spoke to station founder Sean power ahead of the stations launch so click the link to read the piece.

Read our interview with Sean here

East Coast FM’s Declan Meehan, RTÉ Lyric fm’s George Hamilton, C103’s Patricia Messinger and BBC Radio Ulster/Q Radio’s Stephen Clements RIP are all now members of the IMRO Hall of Fame. They were awarded plaques on Wednesday at an event that was streamed online.

IMRO radio awards logo

Watch the event here

Also this week RTÉ has some radio sponsorships to sell. Both Today with Claire Byrne on Radio 1 and seven day sport on 2FM are now available for sponsorship. The today show can be yours for the next year at a cost of €350,000, and 2FM sports is dirt cheap at just €150,000

Learn more here

Jingle Review

As mentioned last week, RTÉ radio 1 has new imaging for news and some other shows. That means one thing, it’s time for another Jingle Review.

I like the sound of the new sonic logo and the orchestra did a great job on it. What really will make or break this package though is how presenters use it long term. I’ve heard presenters talking over the sonic Logo a few times this week but that comes with getting use to it.

Considering the fact that Radio 1 hasn’t really had imaging like this before, it’s understandable it will take presenters time to get use to. When they do start to get it right consistently though it’s going to sound great. All in all a fantastic package.

Quick Bits

Irish music month is next month🎉

Seán Ó hÉanaigh has retired from RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.

And that’s the summary for this week. Come back to radio land next week for more radio news📻 and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for extra stories.