Michael Murphy (Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Republic of Ireland)


How do Irish acts get heard within an increasingly concentrated global music industry? How do small countries formulate strategies to get their local acts noticed and promoted?

This paper examines the functioning of the Irish music industry. In addition, it draws attention to the key activity that occurs outside the boundaries of the standard definitions of the music industry. It foregrounds the contribution to Ireland’s music culture by the DIY (do-it-yourself) community and other not-for-profit actors including women.

The activities of these groups and individuals have been underacknowledged in standard music industry accounts. By reinserting these activities into the Irish music industry narrative, it can be shown that both industry innovation and the incubation of individual acts frequently happens away from the operation of the major music industry firms.

This approach introduces nuances into the pole-to-periphery model for global popular culture. It also offers potential pathways for artists and entrepreneurs in smaller countries who are determined for their culture to compete globally.

This research is based on an archival historical analysis of the Irish music industry, as well as interviews with participants in both the professional music industry and the DIY community. Amongst those interviewed were individuals from record companies, publishing firms, concert promoters, journalists, fanzine editors, radio and television staff as well as musicians from a variety of genres.

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