Belfast City Council is using the very latest technology to promote the city’s thriving music scene, by launching the world’s first iPhone app on the subject.
The app accompanies three other complementary initiatives – a new website, www.belfastmusic.org, an expanded Belfast Music exhibition at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in the Cathedral Quarter, and a weekly music bus tour of the city’s musical landscape – being launched this evening (Wednesday 16 June). They have been initiated by Belfast City Council, with the support of the Oh Yeah Music Centre, BBC Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
As more and more people use their mobile phones to find out information, the free ‘Belfast Music’ iPhone app allows local music fans and visitors alike to find out not only what’s happening on the scene at the moment but also to explore the city’s rich musical heritage.
The app features:
- An interactive music tour, narrated by BBC broadcaster Stuart Bailie, and featuring a soundtrack by the likes of David Holmes, Neil Hannon and the Ulster Orchestra, Rudi, The Undertones, Ash, Therapy? and many more;
- a Hall Of Fame, introducing the user to Belfast’s music legends;
- up to the minute gig listings and news, making sure music lovers don’t miss a beat by their favourite band; and
- a showcase section, introducing the best in contemporary Belfast music.
Officially launching the initiatives, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Pat Convery, commented:
“Belfast music receives high international praise and our latest generation of musicians are playing a crucial role in revitalising the city. Our city is now lit up throughout the year with a vibrant calendar of events. Every night of the week, venues in the city are busy with local bands, DJs, traditional musicians, orchestras, jazz players and songwriters.
“This is an art form that is defining the new mood of Belfast and these new initiatives aim to profile and promote Belfast’s reputation as the birthplace of exceptional music”.
The launch has been endorsed by the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Nelson McCausland MLA, who stated:
“Northern Ireland musicians and creative talent have long demonstrated their ability to compete and succeed on the world stage. This exciting development showcases this success but also demonstrates the increasing convergence between music and digital media and the new opportunities for innovative products and services”.
The development of the app has involved many of the leading lights in the local music media. One of the contributors, is the publisher of AU (Alternative Ulster) magazine, Jonny Tiernan, who commented:
“The ‘Belfast Music’ app is an innovative and unique way to introduce the rich heritage of the Northern Irish musical landscape to people. It is both fun and informative, and manages to reflect the extraordinary diversity of talent we have in this country. I’d recommend it to everyone as an experience to take part in.”
Music iPhone app creator, Gawain Morrison, of Filmtrip, concluded: “I’ve been in and around the music scene of Belfast for 15 years, and have always been impressed with the talent that we’ve produced, so I’m really proud that we were able to create the iPhone app to showcase where we’ve come from and where we’re going to. I think it shouts to the world how cool Belfast has become.”
A dedicated new website, www.belfastmusic.org, is also being launched at the same time as the app, about which David Lewis, director of Culture Northern Ireland, said:
“The Belfast music scene is alive and kicking, but sometimes it can be difficult keeping up with what’s going on. Audiences are increasingly switched on to the digital world. It’s now second nature for many people to find information on their computer or mobile phone. BelfastMusic.org is simply responding to that need.”
Alongside the app and website, an exhibition telling the story of the Belfast music scene has been greatly expanded. Originally opened in April 2009, the Belfast Music exhibition at the Oh Yeah centre has added more memorabilia and storyboards, adding the stories of the showbands, traditional music, rock and the modern dance culture to those of the blues and punk eras.
“It never fails to surprise me how much we have achieved,” says Stuart Bailie, CEO of Oh Yeah and curator of the exhibition.
“Collectively, we’ve sold well over 100 million records. Our music is loved all over the world and we’ve achieved these results in spite of many challenges. Music is our greatest natural resource.”
The Belfast Music app, www.belfastmusic.org and the Belfast Music exhibition have been part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland and administered by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), through the Tourism Innovation Fund.
Siobhan McCauley, NITB Director of Product Development, said:
“The Tourism Innovation Fund seeks out fresh, cutting edge ideas which will put Northern Ireland firmly on the visitor’s map. Music has a huge appeal to everyone and Northern Ireland has a very strong musical heritage that forms a key part of our unique culture. The new app and website, as well as the exhibition at the Oh Yeah centre will not only showcase our existing musical talent but will also ensure visitors have up to date information on local events and festivals.”
The popular Belfast Music Tour also has been relaunched for the summer. The tour takes in many of the landmarks associated with the Belfast music story, including the birthplaces of the likes of Ruby Murray, Van Morrison, Brian Kennedy, Gary Moore and Duke Special, as well as the places that inspired their songs and the venues which put the city on the international music map, from the Ulster Hall to the Limelight, the Maritime Hotel to Queen’s University.