Belfast Telegraph

Snow Patrol's Jonny Quinn: Music industry out of tune with social media

By John Mulgrew

Snow Patrol drummer and businessman Jonny Quinn has said the music industry suffered massive decline because "people ignored technology".

And the Bangor man called on young bands in Northern Ireland to embrace social media to get their voices heard.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph during a BT innovation event at Titanic Belfast, he said massive music stars such as Ed Sheeran had built up huge fan bases on Twitter, which acted as a catalyst to help their careers rocket.

The Snow Patrol star was helping launch the telecoms giant's new Cloud Voice phone system.

Mr Quinn set up Polar Patrol Publishing five years ago, using digital technology to help grow the careers of its artists.

He said that digital streaming services like Spotify were becoming much more important in helping forge a band's success.

"Ed Sheeran, they reckon he earned about £1.5m from Spotify. It's not huge, but it is getting there.

"Digitally, if they can monetise it properly then streaming is the way forward - certainly for the next five years."

And speaking about his band on the way up, he said it was "nine years of overnight success".

He said music executives had ignored big changes in the industry, and had ultimately paid the price for it.

"We learned a lot by making mistakes... we were awful at the beginning," he said.

"We saw first hand what's happened - in the years from 1999 to 2009 the income in the US was $14bn (£9bn).

"It reduced in 2009 to $7bn (£4.5bn). That change happened because people ignored technology.

"In 2003, I asked people, how did you hear about our music? Some would say, 'I copied it - but I'm going to buy the CD'. Three years later, the same thing and they said, we just file-share, we don't buy music, but we are here and we bought the t-shirt - there is no guilt at all."

He said his own band Snow Patrol were becoming increasing less reliant on CD sales. "Record sales of all (artists) have gone down, our expectations on selling a record have been halved since 2004.

"The same success rate for a number one album would probably be about half."

He said the music industry in Northern Ireland remained strong. "From a business perspective it is stronger than it used to be but it still has a way to go.

"It's difficult for musicians to earn a living," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.