How Olly Gazal’s Ollys TV Became A Dominant Force In Irish Rap
There was once a time when ‘urban’ music in Ireland only existed online. Before Spotify playlists and the Official Charts championed rap-orientated music, the onus fell largely on platforms that had no clear route to commercialisation. Ollys TV, first and foremost, is a music company. From hosting anthems like “Street Calls” by Debobby and L36’s A5 “RiRi” and last but not least 243’s KY to his iconic “Foreign”, Olly Gazal’s Ollys TV has become an undeniable force in Irish rap music over the years. With over 30 videos, and now a print magazine, it’s fair to say that Ollys TV has played a monumental role in helping the scene grow to where it is today.
His YouTube channel—which launched in 2019—has provided the basis for much of Ollys TV’s success, producing eye-popping stats along the way. With almost one 1 million video views, 10 thousand plus subscribers and over 10 thousand followers on social media, Ollys TV’s numbers among Irish ‘urban’ media platforms are second to none.
We caught up with founder Olly Gazal to find out how he built one of the Ireland’s leading black music/media platforms.
As the drill scene expanded and Ollys TV became more established, choosing only the best and most promising talent has become fundamental to the approach. “Now, I do a lot of research to make sure that these artists grow. The scene has grown bigger than it was about 5 years ago, and there are new artists every day. I want to be a symbol of hope for building entertainers by connecting them to fans and promoters alike and also help them build names for themselves. Gazal also advised Irish artists to take advantage of digital streaming. He said, “The Internet has changed the music industry drastically, and things continue to evolve rapidly. This enables Irish artists to find their own audiences even without the backing of major record labels.”
Maintaining this high standard has been crucial for setting Ollys TV apart and contributing to the progression of the drill scene. Online channels like Ollys TV act both as a gateway into the music industry and an amplifier of the multicultural production of working-class youngsters in Ireland, giving many aspiring rappers and singers the necessary exposure to kickstart their careers. Not only does Ollys TV provide artists with promotions, but with connections to producers, graphic designers, and labels across the Irish music industry.
LIVEMINT: How did the idea for Ollys TV come about?
Olly Gazal: “I started it because it was really just a hobby, and I love to see talented people succeed.”, he says, “I did not see it becoming a music company because I started as a meme page, and with the growth, I decided to help talented people too”.
Ollys TV was hacked in December 2020. How did you deal with that?
It was very hard because I just hit 8 thousand followers on my Instagram and I was very upset about it. I was actually threatened by some people I knew that weren’t happy about my work and after a while I got it back alongside praying to God.
Grime, UK rap, Afroswing and drill music have all grown massively in recent years. What impact does the growth of those genres have on platforms like Ollys TV?
When we were doing it before, the scene was already kind of big. I actually came into the scene late due to me coming back from living in Nigeria for 3 years. There was a ceiling that every artist kept on hitting, but the game is so big now. Even the artists that we’re putting on, they’re reaching higher levels now, doing their own shows, tours etc.
How would you describe the impact of platforms like yours in taking some of the power away from traditional entertainment mediums like TV and radio?
It’s very powerful in my opinion and not even just mine because I’m pretty sure that a large amount of people would agree too. We have platforms like GRM, Link Up, PRESSPLAY, Mixtape & DTV from Eire doing big things supporting both the English and Irish scene. Then we got Worldstar from America taking over too. YouTube is definitely easier for many people to access.
The beautiful thing about it is that it’s just the culture differences and the authenticity of uniqueness from each platform and artists being to the table. This is why we are taking over and we will continue to take over but we can’t discredit the traditional means too because the play a vital role by supporting the modern league of entertainment now. It’s a win win from my point of view.
What do you envision the future holding for your brand, and this ever-evolving scene?
Olly Gazal: The scene is definitely going in the right direction; I just want everyone to keep on grafting. Let’s not get too lazy and just keep going, because we all want to be millionaires. I never really disclose what’s next with regards to Ollys TV’s next move or moves, but just know that we’re working hard.
Olly hopes his new compilation will stand to reflect the ongoing professionalism in the music industry and the positive impacts the sound is having, noting the immense effort and expertise that goes into generating the reams of online content responsible for the scene’s growth.