RTE Eurovision Forum Ryan O Shaughnessy wiwibloggs

The country is still riding high after reaching the grand final for the first time in five years last May. But Irish broadcaster RTÉ is already looking forward to the 2019 contest, convening the second annual Eurovision Forum on Friday 03 August.

Billed as a “unique chance for interested people to hear from International experts”, the Forum’s lineup included Irish Head of Delegation Michael Kealy, Ireland’s 2018 singer Ryan O’Shaughnessy, academic Dr Karen Fricker and our very own William Lee Adams.

Meanwhile, the audience was made up of figures from the Irish music and entertainment industry, media and the Eurovision fandom. Our correspondents Renske and Padraig were amongst their number.

So, what did we learn?

1. Ireland is trying to win

Like at last year’s inaugural Forum, Michael Kealy insisted that the oft-repeated claim that RTÉ doesn’t want to win Eurovision is a “myth”. The national broadcaster is always trying to win — otherwise it wouldn’t enter.

However, he did acknowledge that victory at the contest would be an “existential threat” for any small broadcaster, including RTÉ. Nonetheless, the problem of organising the contest would be a challenge that could be dealt with. He highlighted RTP’s hosting this year as a successful example.

2. RTÉ wants to change the contest’s perception in Ireland

Attendees heard how Eurovision is an integral part of the global music industry. RTÉ wants and needs to change the perception that it is a competition for amateurs rather than serious artists.

Kealy believes that the music industry is slowly realising the opportunities presented by Eurovision. Taking 2018 winner Netta as an example, he zoned in on her record YouTube views and appearance on American TV.

However, artists still need to be won over.

3. The youth market is key

Eurovision is extremely popular with younger demographics. Typically, the contest attracts four times more young people compared to regular programming. As such, in the age of digital TV and online streaming, it is hugely important to a broadcaster like RTÉ. The youth market also needs to be remembered when selecting the act and song.

4. The selection process for 2019 has yet to be finalised

Based off feedback from the 2017 Forum, RTÉ revised its selection method for 2018. Most notably, the station utilised an increased number of panels when selecting the song. These panels contained a broader range of people than those used in the past. The process also began earlier in the season, while the broadcaster reserved the right to select an artist and/or song from outside the public submission process.

As the broadcaster has yet to formally confirm its participation, a selection process for 2019 has yet to be finalised. However, the powers that be were very happy with the 2018 method.

5. The goal is for Ireland to return to a televised national final

One of RTÉ’s key functions is to make TV programmes. Therefore, the long-term goal is to return to a selection process that includes a televised national final. And this will come about quicker if the calibre of interested artists continues to improve.

6. RTÉ is not in favour of a cultural boycott

Along with Iceland, Ireland has been the country with the loudest public rumblings regarding Israel hosting next year’s contest. Politicians from Sinn Féin and Eurovision personalities such as Carrie Crowley and Charlie McGettigan have all called for Ireland to boycott the 2019 contest.

Michael Kealy is not in favour of a cultural boycott, stating that it would be the antithesis of what Eurovision is all about.

However, in response, Hamlet Sweeney of Dublin’s The Nucleus songwriting Hub warned that RTÉ may struggle to find artists willing to compete in Israel. Sweeney and his team worked with Ryan O’Shaughnessy in Lisbon, and have already reached out to potential acts for next year. Many were willing to take part as songwriters but not as performers.

Kealy hopes this won’t make it difficult to find an Irish representative for 2019.

7. Ryan O’Shaughnessy won’t rule out a Eurovision comeback

While he’s unlikely to pull a Jedward and return to Eurovision for a second year running, Ireland’s 2018 singer refused to rule out a comeback in the future — “It all depends”. He’s particularly keen to be involved with the songwriting process.

8. Ryan’s new single will be called “Civil War”

Speaking to William after the conference, Ryan shared some details on his post-Eurovision plans. A new single — “Civil War” — is imminent, while the singer-songwriter will embark on a nationwide tour later in the year. As previously reported, he will also compete in Romania’s Golden Stag festival.

Watch the interview below.

9. Be authentic

Several people, both on the panel and in the crowd, stressed the importance of authenticity. Ireland has a strong singer-songwriter tradition, and the consensus was that this should be capitalised on when choosing an entry. Kealy himself is not a fan of soulless songs manufactured by crack teams of songwriters in Sweden and elsewhere.

10. Ireland’s only hope is to get more people like Ryan involved

As an established performer with experience performing on big stages and dealing with media, Ryan’s participation offered many advantages to RTÉ. But aside from practicalities, he was also able to deliver an authentic performance, helping him to stand out from the crowd.

What do you think? Is Ireland heading in the right direction for Eurovision 2019 success? Let us know in the comments below.

FOLLOW ALL OUR IRELAND EUROVISION 2019 NEWS.

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Juan Cena
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Juan Cena

Bummed that William and Padraig didn’t get to reenact the “Together” dance sequence from either the video or the ESC 2018 performance when they were in Ireland.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Its all well and good saying they want to bring back a NF when higher caliber songs are submitted, but at the same time, RTE has to let go of the stranglehold regarding their idea of what they want for Eurovision. A diverse pool of songs should be put forward but as we have seen in recent years RTE has a “vision” of what kind of entry they want and thats that :/

Stephen Muckle
Guest
Stephen Muckle

Personally I would like to see Ireland send someone with Indian, Chinese or African roots/origin to Eurovision. I think that with a big Indian diaspora across Europe it would do well especially with a song with Bollywood elements. Or if you want to go the African route you could always tap up Reggie and Bollie (Ghanaian reggae duo from X Factor 2015)

Elle
Guest
Elle

Random suggestion…. Reggie and Bollie were on the X Factor UK, nothing to do with Ireland.

There are far more eastern europeans settled in Ireland than Asian and African.

MusicIstheKey
Guest
MusicIstheKey

This year, the punk rock legend Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols / PIL) wanted to enter. I hope he get his chance in 2019. Such a name in ESC! Would be awesome. But do the Irish really “dare”?

Rishtard
Guest

hes such trash bye

Aufrechtgehn
Guest

Commenting on the photos, I see a bench and a street, but I’m missing a tree… 😉

EscAU
Guest
EscAU

una from the saturdays?

Marcelo
Guest
Marcelo

So, this kinda confirms that Ireland will participate in the 2019 contest in Israel. Definitely good news!

Also many of the things explained here really have lifted me up about Ireland’s current position in the contest. The fact that they are trying to bring back an Irish national final makes me excited. Kudos to them! All the good luck to RTÉ!

RICK
Guest

Ireland were always going to participate, dont pay attention to those ridiculous boycott articles.

CookyMonzta
Guest
CookyMonzta

They’re not going to boycott. I didn’t think they would ever go through with the idea to begin with. They just made it back to the Grand Final for the first time in 5 years, and they definitely want to build on that. Staying out of ESC 2019 would gravely upset the momentum they now have.

Roy Moreno
Guest
Roy Moreno

I’m hopeful, I really do think Ireland will do better now that they’ve broken the curse 🙂

CookyMonzta
Guest
CookyMonzta

Aye. Nobody thought they would make the Grand Final this year. But when I saw what they put on stage (and I NEVER watch the rehearsals before the actual contest performance), with a less-is-more approach they didn’t overthink or underthink, my first thought was “I…think…they…just…made…it.” No surprise the announcers made sure Ireland was the last country called in that semi.

EDWARD
Guest
EDWARD

Ireland were robbed in 2014 and 2015 but it’s good to see them continuing with Eurovision, Ryan this year was just what they needed to get them into the ESC again.

Rick Nazarian
Guest

Ryan’s backing singer Janet Grogan from x factor should represent Ireland in 2019 with a song co written by Ryan as well! She has an amazing voice.

Conor K
Guest
Conor K

Oh I had meant to go but couldn’t! A good friend of mine was there and he said it was a great conference and was delighted to meet you William! 🙂

William Lee Adams
Admin

That’s lovely to hear! Was your friend the nice chap who runs Eurovision Song Contest – Fans group on Facebook?

Conor K
Guest
Conor K

Indeed he is! I’m also an admin on that group so him and I work together a lot and you couldn’t meet a nicer lad 🙂 We love to see you post there’s btw William!

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

9th is definitely the most important.
I appreciate countries that do their thing instead of copying someone else’s formula. Good Luck, Ireland.

William Lee Adams
Admin

Agree. Ireland has a strong singer-songwriter tradition, and they should roll with it. Sometimes we think the ‘Swedish sound’ (which can be amazing) is the only way forward, but it’s not always the case.