An Opportunity To Change The Conversation…

A wise man once said... “if you don’t like what’s being said, then change the conversation”.

(Ok so it was the fictional character Donald Draper from Mad Men who said that, but it's still true).

If we're honest, the narrative around Belfast and Northern Ireland - locally and globally - is stuck in the past.

When I lived in NYC, and people found out where I was from you don't need too many guesses to imagine what the conversations went like. (I'll give you a clue, it usually involved bombs, politics, division and for people who were really switched on - The Titanic).

This Really Grinds My Gears. Does It Grind yours?

Belfast has so much going on and is bursting with some of the most incredible people on the planet... But how often do you see this in the news? How often are there books, movies or documentaries made about this? How often do we even celebrate it ourselves?

I get it; we're kinda shy folks who don't like singing our own praises and are loaded up with the signature ‘Norn Irish sarcasm’ (guaranteed to take someone down a few pegs or two, 100% of the time.)

The local media is in on it too. They’ve got this obsession with juicy clickbait and churn out tabloid-styled content with about as much affection as a conveyor belt.

But like all fast-food, it's not healthy. It's not healthy for our city, and it's not healthy for our culture.

I grew up believing Northern Ireland was a "crap place to live" with "nothing to do it in". So I did what most young people did. I left. I sailed off* to Manhattan to chase my dreams for 3 years in a city that "had a lot going on".

(*This is all true except for the boat. I took a plane just like everybody else.)

Focusing on what divides us may sell papers… but where does it leave us as a city?

We Have A City Worth Celebrating.

Belfast has a dark past, but its future is bright. We have the potential to be a beacon of hope in a divided world, but we're too quick to hide our light away and snub others for shining too bright.

We say we’re afraid of “getting too big for our boots,” but deep down, I think we’re terrified of stepping out from the tribe and learning to embrace success.

Untold Stories, Untapped Potential

The grass isn't greener on the other side… Trust me I’ve checked, and Belfast is the place to be right now.

But for some strange reason, people get this.

Wanna know why?

Because our greatest stories are going left untold.

(Or trapped in 250-word press release. No disrespect PR people, you have a busy job, I get it).

It’s Time To Fire The Middle-Man

Raw, honest conversations can change lives. They have the ability to empower us to take our business to the next level, discover how to pursue our passions and reveal how to slay the dragons in our personal lives.

I started Best Of Belfast to publish unfiltered conversations that allow listeners to go straight the source of the story and create a platform for the world to learn about (and from) Northern Ireland’s most inspirational folk.

So far we’ve produced over 30 long-form, intimate interviews with people who live here and love here.

Best Of Belfast: A Podcast Celebrating Northern Ireland

St. George’s Market traders, cancer survivors, barmen, chefs, entrepreneurs and everyone else in between. The podcast captures the diverse population of Norn Iron and this unique moment in our city’s history - a period I'm convinced will be described by the historians of the future as the 'Golden Age Of Belfast'.

Listening to podcasts is a sacred space in our calendars. They're a way to unwind after a hard days work, learn something while doing the dishes, add value to our commutes and provide the opportunity to pull up a chair and listen in on really interesting conversations.

But like most things in life, they’re dominated by American accents and the world is missing out on our sweet sweet dulcet tones flying through the airwaves.

It’s time to change that.

The Future Of The Show Made For Belfast, By Belfast

All this sounds very romantic and inspirational, but the reality is that the show has got to the point where it needs to start generating money. It’s become much bigger than just me and now is the time to really go for it.

Financial support will enable Best Of Belfast to become a weekly show, publishing 50+ interviews a year instead of a mere 12! This means we can share even more Northern Irish stories to the world and drive more interest, investment and people to this incredible place.

So there are two options:
1. Sell ads on the show
2. Try this crazy new way of funding media.

Against the advice of some 'smart business people' I've decided to take the plunge and go for number 2.

(Plus it means you don’t have to listen to ads about sofas, website creation tools and insurance).

Best Of Belfast Producer's Club.

Here's the idea. It's a little wacky but stick with me.

There's this thing called Patreon. It's a huge platform that artists and creators use all over the planet to fund their creative ventures.

Here's how it works:

People pledge a certain amount of money to a project every single month in exchange for top-secret, super-exclusive stuff. If enough people get on board, it provides a consistent monthly salary that enables creators to get back to the work they really wanna be doing: making more stuff.

Think of it like Kickstarting/Crowdfunding a salary: lots people giving a little (and a few giving a lot) makes a real, sizable impact.

Going down this road keeps the show free for everyone and gives people with the means/passion to support the show insider-access and the opportunity to shape the future of the project.

It also would allow us to gather a vibrant, passionate community of people who love Northern Ireland in one place.

(In my head, this community has the potential to bring about massive change to our wee country through collaboration.)

So, in a sentence: Best Of Belfast Patreon Producer’s Club is a place for champions of the podcast to get together and push forward all the great stuff that's going on in N.I.

Let’s Talk About Money.

It’s time to talk turkey as my friend Owen says. Here’s how the money will be used:

  1. Invested in the show, to make it better and grow it.

  2. Invested in the Producers Club via content, events and perk fulfilment.

  3. Invested in future projects and collaborations.

  4. Used to cover our operating costs and time put into running the show.

  5. Donated to Young Enterprise Northern Ireland (a minimum of 10%).

Become A Producer Today + Make A Difference

So folks, that’s it. There’s my heart and soul spilt out on the page and an opportunity for you to help support the new age of local media, invest in the future of the show, and showcase Belfast to the world.

(Don’t forget the access to the sweet perks, exclusive content and producer-only swag!)

Hopefully that all makes sense and you get what we’re trying to do here. 

If you’re interested in becoming a producer today, please click here.

Thank you for your time and thanks so much for all your support. I'm so excited to see where the next year takes us.

- Matthew