A regrettable feature of this decline in interest has been the closure in the past two years of three record shops heavily dependent on Irish music sales: The Living Tradition in Cork, Mulligans in Galway and Sinnotts in Waterford. These closures may in large part be blamed on the switch from CDs to downloads, but they must surely also have been connected to the declining interest in Irish music.
The December 2001 issue of Irish Music Magazine had 110 pages: this year the December issue has a total of 54 pages. Significantly it doesn’t carry even one full-page add from any of the Irish music record companies.The magazine has become heavily dependent on Irish music festivals which, ominously, are in turn dependent on corporate sponsorship and public funding.
Venues also reflect the trend. The Glor centre in Ennis, Government-funded as a dedicated Irish cultural centre, no longer relies solely on Irish music acts and Galway’s Roisin Dubh, festival time apart, is no longer an Irish music venue.
The only silver lining is that Irish music artists are free of record company dominance and can sell their music via downloads from websites over which they can have complete control. However, they may have less outlets to promote their wares unless festivals can find alternative funding.
Meanwhile, true musicians will continue to enjoy their weekly sessions in pubs and clubs from the Crosses of Inagh to Tokyo and San Francisco. The music lives on.