Thursday, 17 May 2012

Goodbye and thanks to BBC Introducing in Scotland

When an announcement was made by the BBC that they were making significant changes to their Radio 1 Introducing shows, there was predictable outcry and dismay from musicians and fans of independent and DIY music in Scotland. A pro-active and constructive challenge to this decision was led by the excellent Scottish blogger The Popcop and Paul Downie from DIY promoter/label Pelmet Nights.

Hopes were raised thanks to a valiant effort from music fans; over 7,000 signatures on an online petition, there was a motion in Scottish Parliament and the delivery of the petition to the House of Commons by Jason Popcop and Paul.

Sadly, the stamp of change has been sanctioned by the BBC. There will now be one single Introducing show for the UK rather than the 4 current platforms for bands/musicians and artists in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

All of the acts I work/have worked with (Futuristic Retro Champions, Miaoux Miaoux, Nevada Base, Sonny Marvello and Vigo Thieves) have received support and airplay from BBC Introducing, it definitely helps in a number of ways.

  1. Status/Recognition/Kudos Getting a quote from Ally McCrae or his predecessor Vic Galloway and then sticking BBC Radio 1 Introducing afterwards definitely helps your website or press release to look good. It will also likely attract more fans to the band.
  2. Confidence - Every single time one of the acts mentioned above received confirmation they were getting played on Radio 1 caused a great deal of excitement. It is Radio 1, even if it is the middle of the night. The exceitement, exposure and words of ecnouragement from Ally or Vic resulted in an increase in confidence. Every band/artists needs that to move forward,
  3. Promotion/Contacts The right people do listen to these shows promoters, press, record companies (big, small and teeny tiny)- you are likely to get gig offers or something after airplay.
  4. PRS money Getting airplay on BBC Radio 1, even in the middle of the night/early morning, means PRS money. A nice reward for the hours writing, practising and recording. Even better if you get a live session.
Every band/artist has dreams. Hell, for some of the acts that have been played on BBC Introducing that is them making it’….at least until after airplay, that magical 3 or 4 minutes on the nations largest radio channel can give them the confidence to see where they could get to next.

There are two sides to the tale though and the BBCs argument (posted below) for continuing with their plans is a strong one.

I guess what annoys me the most about this decision to axe the Scottish Introducing show is the simple fact that Scottish independent and DIY music and the whole unsigned scene is so important to such a large number of people. That may or may not reflect in the listening figures mentioned below, however the on air time of midnight onwards isnt exactly ideal for people who have work in the morning. I would hazard a guess that the majority of these listens/stats came from the online version, available for 7-days after the show has been aired.

The future - post BBC Radio 1 Introducing in Scotland
BBC Radio 1 Introducing was probably the definitive platform for new music in Scotland. It was recognition, kudos, a confidence is going.

We will have Vic Galloways BBC Scotland Show. Jim Gellatly has his In:Demand show that goes out across Scotland on a number of stations including Clyde 1 (to considerably more listeners than BBC introducing and at a more convenient time).

We have T-Break, GoNorth, King Tuts Summer Nights and New Years Revolution, Glasgow PodCART, Detour, MILK, Tenement TV, Radio Magnetic..Concepts, venues, promoters, internet radio, internet TV..

Could any of these go on to replace BBC Radio 1 Introducing in Scotland? They probably could if funded correctly so that they could do it full-time.

Collectively getting some of these people/groups together could easily create something quite special. They are already doing that in their own way.

Just a couple of months ago the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) award started, offering the winner the fantastic sum of £20,000 and excellent exposure. Each artist that made the list also received £1,000. Young entrepreneur Richy Muirhead has also worked wonders to generate some excitement and recognition for acts with his own Scottish Alternative Music Awards (the SAMAs).

However these excellent additions to the Scottish Music Scene are annual events. What is the for music fans who crave a weekly fix that can replace Introducing?
What can be done? - A pooling of resources?
There are some incredibly talented, energetic, passionate and obsessive music lovers out there doing all they can to promote new/unsigned/independent and DIY music in Scotland. I have met many of them through my management of bands and enjoyment of music and live gigs. I am constantly bowled over by their energy and passion. OK I know I have already mentioned energy and passion in this paragraph but they are two things that are incredibly important in making something work. I dont want to name names (although I kind of did in the section above), but there are enough people who could come together to create their own Introducing show fire it out weekly as a podcast; have sessions, maybe once a month record an online video/TV show.

My suggestion is to get these people together in a room, crack open some beers and, come up with ideas, debate, what do we want as a platform for new music in Scotland, what do we need, what do they 7,000+ people who bothered to sign the petition want and need?

A lot of these people work individually, or as a couple. I often wonder what could be done if they worked collectively. Even at times.

Of course perhaps their strength is that they get to do their own thing, highlight their own tastes, have fun doing it their way.

To end
Well it is sad news for the Scottish music scene. To get that Radio 1 airplay will become even harder. On the flipside, the new national show should be excellent and result in bands gaining even more confidence, exposure, opportunities and recognition I do hope that the people involved with Introducing in Scotland will get an opportunity to play a part in that.

This is what the BBC have had to say today in their final conclusions:

In addition we are approving the proposed replacement of the current late night opt-out
programmes on Radio 1 with a single programme that offers a UK-wide platform for

undiscovered, unsigned music and emerging talent from England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland.

In response to this particular change, we were presented with three separate petitions
protesting against the proposals. These campaigns, which were supported by established
musicians, noted that the current programmes provide the only opportunity on Radio 1 to

showcase up-and-coming bands and solo artists to both a nations and UK-wide audience.

They expressed concern that a single UK wide programme would lead to fewer live
sessions and outside broadcasts from musicians in the nations. In Scotland, the petition
had 7,105 signatories; with 6,359 in Northern Ireland and 556 in Wales.

We recognise the high level of response to these petitions and the level of feeling these
particular proposals have generated.

Although the restructure would mean losing the equivalent of four hours of airtime each
week, it is likely that each new music track will be broadcast to a much larger audience

than currently (across the whole UK), and we take some assurance from the Executives
commitment that the new programme is likely to have a higher proportion of first-play
new music each week (that is, relying less on music repeated from previous weeks), and
will seek to include artists from across the UK.

We are also taking into account that the current opt-out programmes reach relatively few
listeners each week: 57,000 in England, 9,000 in Scotland, 12,000 in Wales and 4,000 in

Northern Ireland. We accept that this is in part due to its late timeslot, but nevertheless
the low audience, together with the relatively high costs of producing three separate

programmes, means that the current offering represents poor value for money.

In agreeing to the proposed change we also believe that both Radio 1 and the BBC more
generally will continue to support new music and unsigned and emerging artists very

strongly, in particular through:

Radio 1s specialist music programming every weeknight from 7pm to 4am and for
twelve consecutive hours on Friday and Saturday nights

The BBC‟s wider platform for supporting new music, BBC Introducing, a
collaboration between Radio 1, 1Xtra, 6 Music, Asian Network, Radio 3, Local May 2012 17
Radio and Nations radio stations intended to showcase unsigned, self-signed and
other emerging musical talent from the UK. This platform will remain unchanged.

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