For almost three years now, Street Ceol TV has been throwing light on the unknowns of the Irish music scene, providing striving musicians with a platform to reach out and claim a larger audience.
Armed with a limited amount of audio-visual equipment, a YouTube page, and various social network accounts, the Street Ceol TV team – made up of young Dubliners Louie Leung, Gary Doyle, Adam Behan (all Lucan natives) and David McMahon (from Swords) – have assembled an impressive library of original content by filming artists performing their own songs exclusively live for the project.
It's a format you'll find at all levels of pop music (BBC Radio's Live Lounge, for example), but Street Ceol TV has been unique in providing music fans with coverage from the ground level of Ireland’s local music scene in a way they insist is "reliable, informative, unbiased, and entertaining".
Now the group is leveling up its efforts with the launch of new website StreetCeolTV.com, which will provide a new home for its entire collection of videos, exclusive photography, and dedicated pages on each artist it has featured, with links to their music and social media accounts.
"We’re trying to get recognised as a source where people can come and find great music," says Doyle. "That sense of online community, that people trust us, is really important."
Street Ceol TV was initially founded by Leung, who when not juggling his college and work life found time to shoot a number of exclusive live videos on very basic audio and video equipment. With very little editing, the clips were posted straight online.
"It was just his own self-interest; he never envisioned it really turning into anything," says Doyle. "It was just something to do in his spare time. He set up a Facebook page and a YouTube page and he just started recording local musicians with a handheld camera."
With limited time, equipment and experience, Leung invited childhood friends Doyle and Behan to join the project to help take it to the next level. Doyle was studying media management at the time, while Behan was duel jobbing as a sound engineer and social media executive for a leading telecoms company.
"So we had good experience to bring to the project," asserts Doyle. "Luckily, Adam had audio recording equipment. Louie then invested in a better camera. We just started targeting musicians and set up sessions and, of course, the quality immediately improved because (we were) using far better equipment.
"We worked really hard on getting a solid social media strategy together. And then it was plugging away for about a year and that’s kind of where we are now."
As their back catalogue grew larger, the team began receiving more and more requests from artists who were interested in being featured in the series. Deciding who to film comes down to a group decision, though the team is driven by an ethos of featuring as wide a variety of musical genres as possible and only shooting those who are working hard to get their work out there.
Once they’re connected with an artist, a location is chosen in which to film. A lot of the time the artist’s own living room provides the backdrop, with some extra bells and whistles added to ensure it’s as aesthetically pleasing for the camera as possible. Beyond that, it’s a stripped-down set-up, meaning the artist has little room to hide. It’s just them and the camera.
Moving forward, Street Ceol TV is thinking big. The new site launches tomorrow and will include the first content posted to its Word on the Street blog, where the team is planning to feature regular gig reviews, album reviews, and other Irish music scene-related content. Beyond that, Doyle would love to see them eventually step outside the digital realm.
"If we can, we’d love to start incorporating live events and gigs, and showcasing talent that we’ve worked with," he says. "The idea of that is to start meeting people that we only know through Facebook and Twitter, and really to try to generate a sense of offline community, too."