It's worth remembering what life was like for musicians across the country before BBC Introducing came along. Most cities had a music scene that ebbed and flowed in terms size and quality. And it was a source of some frustration that, with a few exceptions (Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol and the like) the plethora of talent and potential in those cities went unnoticed by the great British record industry.

My programme pre-dates BBC Introducing by a good few years. For a long time it has had enthusiastic listeners and great support from the local stations on which it appears in Nottingham, Leicester, Derby and now BBC Radio Lincolnshire. Record companies, both majors and indies have been keen to get their artists featured on it. And, for that, I shall be forever grateful. But it was a one-way street. Record companies would sign bands from tried-and-tested localities, rarely looking to this area, before sending them out on tours to raise their profile. And, the East Midlands being blessed with excellent live venues and one of the few new music radio programmes in "the regions" served this purpose well.

Across the years we played more local music. And, as fanzines gave way to podcasts and blogs, new methods of reflecting those movements appeared. But  it was difficult for all but the very biggest to catch much attention outside of the county boundary. And, despite the arrival of the iPlayer, there was little incentive for A&R people to fire up their computer to tune in. Imagine the frustration of knowing that you're sitting on a stack of talent - across the musical genres - but have no means of referring this to your colleagues in national radio or to those people who have the wherewithal to invest in those musicians at a national level. And any attempt to do so resulted in little or no response.


Fast forward to 2007 and the launch of BBC Introducing. My programme was drawn together with, initially, a small number of others across the country. For the first time we were in proper communication with others who were experiencing the same issues in their own cities. It soon became clear that, here, was a vehicle to assist in raising awareness of the these "undiscovered" artists as well as to afford them the sort of opportunities for development which would have previously been unimaginable. 

Soon, national programmes would be playing "our" artists. Initially this would happen on specialist programmes. I'd be bundling CDs off to Huw Stephens or trying to force way-too-big files through the BBC email system. We soon realised the sort of frustrations that artists were surely experiencing in trying to get their music to us. In 2009 the Uploader was developed to streamline all this and provide an easy-to-use system for passing discoveries around the BBC. Now shows across the BBC national radio network bought into the vision. Daytime playlisting on Radio 1 and 1Xtra followed. At last - long last - there was a method for me to give my discoveries access to the sort of coverage which would guarantee them being heard by the (mostly London based) people who had the power to sign them up and the resources to invest in their future. I still recall the excitement of hearing Dog Is Dead (above) played on the Radio 1 Breakfast Show. Surely this would result in them being recognised and, equally importantly, in music enthusiasts wondering what else is to be found in this area. The effect that this had on the Nottingham music scene was noticeable and instant; an air of confidence and a level of aspiration never seen before. Leicester's Luke Bingham had the same treatment and the response in the city's RnB circles was the same. Deal-clinching slots at festivals followed for both - on BBC Introducing stages.

Luke Bingham

Similar exposure followed for more and more artists. January of 2013 was an incredible month. In those 31 days, in excess of 20 of "our" artists made their debut on national radio - across a multitude of shows on various stations.

But, we are about a lot more than exposure. Artist development is key to BBC Introducing. There is little point in pointing a spotlight onto an artist until they are ready to shine themselves. The artists from round here who have attended the BBC Introducing Masterclasses invariably talk about how inspiring they are. As well as giving useful practical advice, they provide a key motivational aspect. They also bring capable new musicians into contact with others from whom they can draw all manner of experiences. And it's quite possible to get noticed in a life-changing way too.

In 2010 a lad called Jake Bugg uploaded his music to us. It was breathtaking and we knew he has huge potential. We were desperate to get him to the Masterclass. So much so that two members of my team drove him down to Abbey Road. There he was spotted by Steve Lamacq and Zane Lowe (in front of whom he dropped his packed lunch!) as well as some influential record company types. The rest is history.

Of course, not all of the artists I play on a Saturday night (the slot now occupied by all BBC introducing shows in England) will go on to top the album chart or tour America with Noel Gallagher as Jake did. But all of this adds a new level of importance to what we do at a local level. As well as, hopefully, making a great listen in its own right, the grass roots role of the local show in finding tomorrow's talent is impossible to overstate. Not a day goes by without me getting a phone call or email from an A&R scout asking "who should I be listening to"? Now, they come here to see local gigs and tune in to my programme too! And of the local artists I've featured in session in the past six months more than half of them have been offered deals of some sort. 

How times have changed.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by TRANSLUNAR

    on 5 May 2013 16:29

    I like a lot of artists have BBC introducing to thank for showcasing my music in the East midlands having been played 7/8 times last year and for that i am thankful for the times I have been played but I cannot help but thinking that as in many situation's I have encountered since I started to make music again at the age of 38 that unless you are the new guitar strumming Bob Dylan type solo artist, student/indie band or next Deadmau5 that there does not seem to be a great deal of support once you have been played a few times unless you fit into these group/genres! Why, well I also think that BBC introducing is also much like the BEEB and the fickle side of the music industry mostly interested in discovering pop and indie music and fascinated with "Yoof" and possibly not necessarily interesting in artists who may be trying to write and develop music that does not fit into the expected groups/genres that are going to make the radio station look good amongst the record labels and I do think this is a bit sad as in my case there are lot's of electronic musicians/composers who regularly make interesting/engaging and creatively challenging music but then do not move very far from a creative perspective from the underground and anywhere else for the above mentioned reasons.

    Obviously this sounds slightly bitter but is not the case as I only personally ever started to make music for my own creative and personal reasons and never had any other aspiration's than getting as many people as possible to listen to my music and this for me has been illustrated in the success I have had on Soundcloud/Reverbnation/facebook etc etc and have been played by the public on one site over half a million times.

    So basically all I am trying to say is please try and encourage the further promotion or interest building in artists like me from even a purely artistic point of view or even so lovers of electronic music can get a listen as it seems all you want to do is discover singer/songwriter's for the young listening market and it would be nice to get a bit more support than the odd play every now and then. Of course it may just be because my music is not good enough, however the interest i get from many people tells me different so please try and support all musicians!!!

    thanks from TRANSLUNAR

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