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Music Showcase - a new feature for our website

Andy Puleston | 15:53 UK time, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

We are pleased to announce the release of a brand new feature on our website. It's called the Music Showcase and it brings together all of the BBC's music clips from across Radio and TV and you can find it here: www.bbc.co.uk/music/showcase

BBC Music Showcase - 30th November 2010

It's very much a 'version one' website and there are going to be many enhancements in the coming months which are going to make it much better in terms of performance speed, favouriting functions, social/share and music recommendations. If you want the lowdown on the web sites' evolution and history along with the tech spec and key functions then check out the post from our Product Manager here.

I'm going to talk about the editorial premise behind Music Showcase and the content in it as well as give you some detail on the work-flow inside the BBC that brings a website (or 'product' if you're from the Valley) like this to life.

For a long time the BBC's content has not been fully optimized - at least from a music perspective. iPlayer and our radio network sites do a good job of serving up all the BBC's programmes on plate but for music radio and TV that model has always presented some limitations. Often broadcasts will contain live music performances - concerts, festival sets, sessions, recitals, DJ mixes and so on alongside interviews, documentaries and other artist related speech items. Until now these elements have remained 'locked' inside full programmes and only those with a black-belt in web surfing manage to find the things they are interested in or discover new and exciting artists and performers from all over the world.

The reason these great features have been hidden from view all this time is that the BBC has not had the systems and software to allow those digital producers working in music related TV and radio areas to lift and separate those pieces of audio and video out of the whole programmes and on to the web as media items in their own right... until now. iBroadcast is our software system that gives those producers of content the power to 'segment' programmes into artist or genre specific clips so that they can have a life of their own on the web.

iBroadcast is a bit like our own internal version of You Tube. Producers edit their clips, upload them in to the software, give them appropriate titles and descriptions, tag them with genres and Musicbrainz identifiers. What are they? If you want to get into the detail then you can have a look at the Music Beta site FAQs or have look at the Wikipedia entry. Suffice to say Musicbrainz is a metadata standard that spans the whole web and it allows us to tag our broadcast content with artist names in a very robust way.

Content producers are free to segment what ever they like from programmes as long as it isn't single commercial tracks. That we can't do for rights reasons and neither should we. There are plenty of services out there doing that very well indeed. Like I said before, the Music Showcase, and the team that run it, is interested in live music, DJ mixes, interviews and so on... all that great stuff the BBC makes that no other single service in the world has the remit to.

The great thing about the Showcase is that is gathers together all of this content - whatever the licensing window - and allows you to browse it in one cohesive space. You can search by genre, artist, time (Just Added, Last Chance and so on) or, and this is the most important part, by Collection.

Collections are containers for clips that are built around a theme and curated by knowledgeable BBC talent and by staff who share the same passion. Collections are the first step in a much bigger plan, one that hopes to make more use of the broadcasters and DJs the BBC employs. At the moment BBC Radio in particular plays a huge role in music 'taste making' in the UK. Whilst the web is often perceived as all powerful in the music space, our research has shown that hearing a song on the radio is still the biggest source of new music discovery and recommendation in the UK. In short, our credentials as 'taste maker' in the broadcast space are massive. On BBC digital platforms they are nowhere to be seen.

This, along with our content not being fully optimized for the web, is the other problem we are trying to solve with the Music Showcase product; how do we start to transfer the taste maker reputation we have in the broadcast arena in to the digital space?

Collections of content curated by passionate musical minds is the first step on this journey. The Showcase opens with collections from Jools Holland selecting the best of the available Later clips (look out for Kings of Leon and Arcade Fire), Radio 1's Huw Stephens picking his favourite acts from the BBC Introducing festivals stages in 2010. 6 Music's Gideon Coe has pulled out some classic interview moments from our library including Lady Gaga, Marvin Gaye, Dolly Parton and R.E.M and finally Radio 3's Suzy Klein has curated her favourite clips from this years' Proms season along side pieces from the station's New Generation Artists strand such as Benjamin Grosvenor and ATOS Trio. We are also looking forward to round ups from our colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the coming weeks.

The staff who have been working on the Showcase this year are also curating Collections. They are being labelled as Music Editors. Look out for a bespoke BBC Sessions collection featuring Kylie Minogue live on Radio 2, Take That in Radio 1's Live Lounge and some highlights from the 6 Music Live strand.

As digital producers across the BBC start to segment more and more of the output so the number of Collections will grow and you'll see a faster rate of change on the Showcase landing page. Also, the number of curators will start to expand too as the clips library starts to grow. What we have released this week is a first for the Audio & Music division of the BBC and is going to take a little time for it to gain traction.

It is also worth pointing out that due to the bugs in our fledgling technology you are going to see some non-music content appearing in the Showcase. This is also outlined in the FAQs section. It's a metadata inheritance issue. This means clips are inheriting the classifications of the programmes from which they originate whether producers de-tag them or not. We're working on it.

If you've taken the time to read this far, thanks! I'd be very interested to hear your feedback both on the website itself, the content you see and hear in it as well as your suggestions for improvements and new features that would make your tasks easier. I hope you enjoy the Showcase and that you discover something new that you love.

Andy Puleston is Interactive Editor, Music - BBC Audio & Music Interactive

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