Manchester headliner Wretch 32
1Xtra Live is a stand-out event in the 1Xtra Calendar. A free event for more than 12,000 young music fans, in four cities. It's an opportunity for the station to get out on the road and showcase what 1Xtra is all about. It's also a chance for us to get out and meet our existing audience and enable them to interact with the station they love, this is a great way of bringing the network to the audience.
In the past 1Xtra Live has been single distinctive shows and since 2008 we've taken it to Coventry, Sheffield & London. This year the decision was taken to expand this into a tour, allowing 1Xtra to really highlight the breadth of 1Xtra, showcasing Xtra RnB, Xtra Hip Hop, Xtra Drum and Bass and Xtra Dub Step and bringing unique content both to audience at the live shows and for those listening or watching at home.
The tour kicked off in Manchester and headliner Wretch 32 blew our amazing 1Xtra crowd away. We're moved to Birmingham with dubstep duo, Nero, then to Bristol with Chase and Status and culminating with a finale in London's Brixton Academy with Kelly Rowland and Jessie J.
In addition to the main show, each day Tim Westwood is broadcasting his 4pm-7pm 1xtra show live from a student union in each city. We're also showing our commitment to discovering new UK talent with our "Time to Shine" section at each event. In each city a local act gets 4 minutes on stage on front of the crowd and those listening or watching from home in a potentially career-changing moment.
Obviously doing four shows in four different cities back to back with one team brings its own challenges in terms of production, as each venue has its own capabilities and restrictions. A key consideration in the planning of the tour has been the look and feel of each live show as we wanted some form of continuity to tie the four events together. This has been achieved by working closely with the visualisation team and the marketing team through key lighting, video elements and set pieces.
A huge challenge has been to try to deliver the slick and glossy look that we have developed in previous years at bigger venues, and transfer this into smaller venues so that the event feels like more than just a live music gig. We really want to make it stand out. We've been working really closely with the artists and their creative teams to enhance their performances with pyro effects, dancers and some really exciting collaborations with special guests.
What's been great with this project is the cumulative group approach across the 1Xtra family, in the extensive planning and pulling together of this tour. 1Xtra now reaches just under a million people, and each year we do this event, the awareness of the station just keeps on growing - I really hope we continue that tradition this year. And who knows....maybe through us getting out and meeting more young music fans and introducing them to the station, we'll soon be reaching over a million listeners...
Rob Spring is executive producer, Live Events BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra