RTÉ Choice Music Prize “Conversations”

As part of the RTÉ Choice Music Prize event, Conversations brings together artists and music industry professionals to discuss, examine and challenge what’s going on in the sector at the present time.

The aim of Conversations is to provide relevant and practical advice and insights to those within the domestic music and creative industries about a number of topical issues. It’s also a chance for participants to meet, exchange views and hear from their peers.

Venue: Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO), Copyright House, Pembroke Row, Baggot St Lower, Dublin 2

Date & Time: Thursday March 7th, 10am-3.30pm

Conversation with Martin Elbourne

Join us for a conversation with Martin Elbourne, one of the most experienced & decorated people within the UK Live Music Industry. He works as one of the main bookers for the Glastonbury Festival, and is also the Co Founder / Creative Director of The Great Escape Festival in Brighton which is regarded as the best festival for new artists in Europe.
In addition he is also Co-Founder Music Cities Convention, is music consultant to NH7 in India, ‘M for Montreal’ in Canada, and the DMZ Peace Train Festival in Korea.

I heard you on the radio: Irish radio’s role in breaking new acts

From Kodaline to Gavin James, radio is still key when it comes to breaking acts in Ireland thanks to an audience who still turn on and tune in every day. But is this likely to continue indefinitely? Should radio be taking more chances? Is radio’s attention economy margins getting squeezed by streaming? What will happen to radio when our cars are no longer FM-friendly?


Alan Swan (Director of Music 2fm)
Abbie McCarthy (BBC Introducing)
Sinead Troy (MD IASCA – Irish Association Of Songwriters Composers & Authors)

Panellist Bios:


Abbie McCarthy is the go-to-girl for the best new music recommendations. Abbie currently presents BBC Music Introducing in Kent, a radio show that is greatly respected amongst members of the industry and music fans alike for its top music curation. Abbie has discovered and championed a vast array of great acts and is very popular with listeners because of her warm, fun presentational style and infectious sense of humour.

Abbie has been recognised by the Radio Academy as one of the brightest young stars in radio, recently featuring in their esteemed 30 under 30 list. Abbie’s huge contribution to both the radio & music industry was then celebrated further when she was inducted into the Roll of Honour at Music Week’s Women In Music Awards 2018.

Abbie first took to the radio controls whilst she was studying at Warwick University, presenting and producing three shows every single week. Her hard work and tremendous talent was rewarded at the 2012 Student Radio Awards where she won the accolade of Best Newcomer.

You’ll now hear Abbie regularly covering shows on BBC Radio 1, most recently depping for Huw Stephens in the evenings, Phil Taggart on The Specialist Chart and Matt Edmondson at the weekends. She is also the presenter of the very popular music podcast, Live Lounge Uncovered, which brings listeners behind the scenes of Radio 1’s home of live music.

Abbie has reported from a variety of festivals, bringing all the highlights and excitement to the audience at home. She is a brilliant and entertaining compere, having hosted stages at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Glastonbury and Trafalgar square.

Abbie can also be heard from time to time covering the British Council’s weekly new music show The Selector, which is broadcast across 40 countries to a listenership of around 4 million people.

Abbie is the mastermind behind Good Karma Club, a club night championing the hottest new bands around. Previous alumni include The Amazons, Pale Waves and Tom Grennan. The inaugural Good Karma Club tour was in April 2018 with 7 sold out dates around the UK.

You can also catch Abbie on your TV screens, via 4Music & The Box Network, hosting Boxfresh, a show that shines a spotlight on the biggest new artists on the planet.

Abbie is one of the best and most heralded tastemakers in the UK and is a true force to be reckoned with!


IASCA has identified some of the unique Irish complications between our music and radio industries and is consistently bringing the them together, providing solutions to combat these. Their PLAYIRISH initiative partners radio shows and new Irish releases for daytime airplay; they licensed and launched YANGAROO MUSIC IRELAND, a digital delivery service from music to music, which levels the playing field for our independent artists with major label artists, and improves how radio access new Irish music; and their next solution includes a new all Irish music pilot radio project – all with the purpose of highlighting and elevating Irish music both domestically and internationally.

Are guitar bands about to take over again?

They may not have quite done away with your Ed Sheerans and Ariana Grandes, but the return of the guitar band is very much on trend. While we’ve always seen cylical ebbs and flows, it will be hugely interesting to see how they fare in the current era of heavily formated commercial radio and streaming playlists. Our panel will look at the guitar band ecosystem, the role played by live venues in this resurgence, the ways to promote a guitar band in 2019 and where they think the new guns will be five years from now


James O’ Donohoe (Artist Manager Red Light Management UK)
Carl Brogan (Manager, The Academic)
Kate Brennan Harding (Radio Producer & Club DJ)
James Byrne (Manager, Pillow Queens)

Panellist Bios:


James is an artist manager at Red Light Management in London, Red Light is the biggest independent music management company in the world with offices in London, New York, LA and more, it is also an umbrella company for ATO records, Chess Club Records and numerous other ventures like Bonaroo Festival and SXSW to name a few. James has worked in various managerial roles across bands such as multi platinum artists Bastille and Kaiser Chiefs while building a roster of new artists most notably including Choice prize nominee Kojaque. Having previously been a promoter in Dublin, James moved to London in 2015 to work in artist management and found a home at Red Light where he has been working since.


Kate is passionate about new music and champions Irish music wherever possible across many genres. She has worked in music for the past 6 years, from music management to radio production. She says; ‘Guitar music has never gone away, but it’s like the tide, and is returning into focus as people are hungry for something edgier than the over produced sanitised releases that have flooded the mainstream market’.


Since getting his start at the age of 15, James has been involved in the Irish music scene for almost 20 years. He has been a member of many critically acclaimed bands and currently drums with award winning Irish songwriter SOAK.
James was a DJ and producer on Dublin radio stations Phantom and TXFM for over 10 years, and has promoted club nights and events throughout the city.
Aside from performing and broadcasting, he also runs the Any Other City music and management company, and currently works with Pillow Queens, Girl Band and Maria Kelly.

Mental Health & Music

Support and welfare of musicians and artists has never been as important as it is today. All involved are hugely aware of the vulnerability of working in the arts and the fact that musicians are four times as likely to suffer from anxiety and mental health issues than that of the general population. But awareness is just the beginning and our panellists will examine some very specific areas which need to be addressed


Joe Hastings – Head of  Health & Welfare (Help Musicians UK)
Louize Carroll (Occupational Psychologist / Bass Player The Blizzards)
Aoife Ruth (Musician / Psychotherapist / Mental Health Researcher

Panellist Bios:


Joe heads up the team in Health & Welfare, providing life-changing frontline support services to musicians in need across genres and career stages. He oversees all health and welfare activities for the charity and is responsible for the development of new support services. He was instrumental in facilitating the delivery of the Musicians Hearing Health Scheme, which to date has had a record intake of 9,000 musicians accessing state-of-the-art hearing advice and protection. Joe has been integral to the team in creating and delivering the around the clock listening ear service Music Minds Matter, which launched in December 2017.

Joe is passionate about developing a range of innovative support services focussed on the needs of those working in the industry throughout their careers.

An accomplished musician, when not at HMUK Joe composes music for films.


Louize is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with a special focus on working with adults who are in creative industries. A registered member of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) and the British Psychological Society (BPS), and with over 10 years of experience of working as a mental health professional, Louize focuses on providing therapeutic and coaching support for people experiencing work-related stress and anxiety, work-life balance and relationship issues, performance anxiety, and those who simply feel ‘stuck’ in their current career or life situation.

Louize is the bass player in The Blizzards and actively works as a film and TV composer. In addition to her professional psychological approach, she has a keen understanding and informed personal understanding in terms of the challenges that face individuals who are working to carve out a creative career, or who are struggling within industries that demand creativity, self-motivation, passion and inherent exposure to public judgement.


Aoife Ruth (BA HDipPsych MSc) is a psychotherapist, educator and researcher with a special interest in musicians’ mental health and the psychology of musicianship. Her original research has explored factors affecting musicians’ wellbeing and how best to work with them to support positive mental health. As a psychotherapist and a teacher of professional development in BIMM, Aoife works with musicians on a range of topics including unlocking creativity, managing performance anxiety, healthy approaches to the profession, key occupational skills and overcoming personal obstacles to thrive as musicians.

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