20,000 artists upload new music to BBC Introducing
Many years ago, I played in bands and went through the standard (but wonderful) adventure: recording demos, sending them to record companies, music papers and of course the late John Peel at Radio 1 and hoping for a response that in my case never came. Probably the worst moment of my younger life was hearing the 'great news' that a bass player friend who'd recently left our band (equipment differences more likely than musical) had bagged a Maida Vale session for John Peel. While the rest of us languished in a Bristol basement, he travelled to Radio 1's London studio to record three tracks for the great man.
Meeting and working for John Peel some years later - first as his Maida Vale 'Tape Op.' and then later on as Radio 1 leader - you couldn't help but have your breath taken away by the sheer volume of new music incoming to John and his production team; Peel Acres had a barn full of it.
Across the last decade or so, music recording technology has revolutionised the ease with which decent quality tracks can be made (from Garageband to Pro Tools). If John had a barn full of new music, the combination of tech and broadband has turned the output of young UK musicians into an industrial sized-harvest.
So this week is something of a landmark for one of the smaller but significant projects I oversee - BBC Introducing - as we announce that 20,000 artists have submitted their music to the Introducing site. So far we've received more than 45,000 tracks. The Introducing uploader lets new bands send their music directly to the BBC, where producers and presenters decide which acts to play on-air and can recommend these artists for a slot on the BBC Introducing stage at music festivals.
This is the 21st century version of the C90 in the Jiffy bag and gives a systematic way for their material to be heard by BBC producers and played across BBC Radio, TV and Online. Through this method and also through the BBC's wide sharing of new music across networks and local radio, emerging artists give themselves a chance to follow in the footsteps of acts like Florence and the Machine or Chipmunk onto the Introducing Stage or into a studio at Maida Vale to record a session.
One of the coolest features is that the site automatically keeps you informed about your demo's progress - when we've got it, if it's been listened to, where it's been played. But of course one thing hasn't changed and won't ever change - the heart-stopping moment of flat-out joy - hearing that you have been picked to play Glastonbury on a BBC stage and recorded for broadcast later - I can only imagine!
Andy Parfitt is Controller of Radio 1, Popular Music, 1Xtra, Asian Network and Switch
- Press release about the Uploader milestone
- The BBC Introducing web site and blog, where Huw Stephens, Tom Robinson and producer Richard Banks post regularly about new acts, labels and events.
- Tom Robinson is hosting 'Introducing Week' on 6Music from 26 April. Steve Lamacq, Andrew Collins, Lauren Laverne and Marc Riley will all have live sessions and interviews with new artists, unearthed via the BBC Introducing network.
- The picture shows What Makes You Beautiful performing on the Introducing stage at Reading 2009.