Speech given to the Music Radio Conference
checked against delivery
were talking about the passion we all feel for music. And that is what
is at the heart of what I want to talk to you about today.
some six years ago that Jim Moir spoke at this conference and outlined
the need for the music industry to support the development of Radio
point we hadn't gone through the process of evolution that is now so
well charted – we were at the very start of the process, taking
the first small steps on a much longer journey.
you, the record industry listened, reacted and worked with us to provide
a platform for new work. It was destined to become a close and productive
relationship where our message was understood.
And I am
delighted to have been asked to speak to you today at a time when the
radio and music industries are at a real crossroads, where the impact
of ownership rules and regulation are the subject of much speculation
in the radio world, and where technology is posing new questions for
both the music and radio industries.
viability of the singles market is the subject of ongoing debate and
argument, and where America looms large both in terms of the need for
success in that great market by British artists and where American media
organisations stand poised to intervene in domestic commercial radio.
So it is
a perfect moment to take stock and to attempt to forge even closer relationships
between music radio and the music industry.
context it is fitting that last night the inaugural Radio Academy Hall
of Fame took place in this very building. An event which paid tribute
to some of the real radio greats – some of the people who have
taken risks, who have looked to the future and broken the rules, presenters
who have excited passion.
included names who have a resonance with me both in my career and in
my personal listening – names such as Alan Freeman, Noel Edmunds,
Kenny Everett and Jack Jackson.
it is our responsibility in the radio industry to ensure that new radio
icons are developed for the future – it is up to us to encourage
risks and to face the future with confidence and daring.
of those presenters did was to play with the listeners' expectations
– to surprise and delight them with radio which moved the story
on. And I believe that is what we try to do in Radio 2 with programmes
you'll agree that those programmes stretched the audience, and were
examples of great radio.
And I can
discern trends in commercial radio where more and more presenters are
playing with formats. Presenters such as Pete and Geoff on Virgin, Ricky
Gervais and Stephen Merchant on XFM, and Stephen Fry on Classic FM are
all good news for the image and reputation of radio as a whole.
commercial radio proposition is crucial to the buoyancy of the overall
of those presenters ever did was to underestimate the audience. And
yet, the accepted wisdom is that the audience likes consistency –
and doesn't like variety. That if your schedule provides junctions that
juxtapose different styles of presentation, or music, then you are providing
the listener with a reason to tune away.
is different – we see it as an opportunity to keep the audience
tuned in for long periods of time – the average listener to Radio
2 listens for around 13 hours a week. They like the variety. They like
the challenge. But most importantly, just as we all have a broad range
of musical tastes with CD collections that reflect that, so we accept
that the audience also has eclectic tastes.
at the Radio 2 presenters' party I was sat between David Jacobs and
Mark Lamarr – where else would you get that eclecticism –
but more importantly that range of expertise. And what binds those ends
of the spectrum? – it's a love of music radio and a love of music.
producers and presenters who understand music, who have lived music
and who understand the listener. And I think one of our strengths is
that we aren't proscriptive. Presenters and producers who work for Radio
2 do so largely because of the creative freedom.
we could play it safe and use track testing and impose strict rules
and formats. But I would rather ensure that the right people are in
the job and allow them to take risks – to go with their instincts
and musical passions.
you get exciting and diverse music – you get great programmes.
And of course we sometimes get it wrong but the mistakes are balanced
by the excitement of hearing new artists for the first time –
people like Vanessa Carlton, Grand Drive, Kate Rusby, Mull Historical
Society and Norah Jones.
is as a desire to reflect passion which surrounds music that has led
to a major new initiative on Radio 2. I can announce today that this
Easter we will launch a new initiative – Sold On Song.
This initiative will permeate all of our programmes, and will have a
major online presence.
behind Sold On Song is that the art of songwriting is something which
underpins a great deal of Radio 2's output. This major new initiative
will give the listeners' the opportunity to understand how songs are
written – what motivates the great songwriters – how do
you get into songwriting – how do you write for a particular singer?
have both off and on air masterclasses with some of the great songwriters.
It will provide back up material to some of the music documentaries
on Radio 2. And what you will experience is something like this:
to have such an insight into the workings of the mind of one of the
world's great songwriters. And through Sold on Song we intend to give
aspiring songwriters information on how to approach the music industry;
we will give music lovers a guide to songwriting. To help the McCartneys
of the future to find their way.
I hope you are as excited as we are by this. Songwriting and the strength
of songs is at the heart of the greatest music – whether it be
Bacharach and David, Bruce Springsteen or Noel Gallagher. Radio 2 will
provide an encyclopaedia of songwriting.
make this a real asset we need you in the music industry to help us
achieve access to the great songwriters and take this musical journey
we in the radio industry can only reflect the music which is being supplied
and supported by the music industry. And that is why A&R within
the record industry is so crucial to us all – the short termism
employed by some areas of the industry has to take some share of responsibility
for the future success of music in this country.
Is no hit
single - no long term commitment, the answer? The vicious circle of
depressed budgets leading to a lack of daring, and thence the inclination
to always go for the short term gain is one which is hard to break –
but break it we all must.
that end Radio 2 has addressed the balance of singles output against
albums. I can announce today that we are further moving the balance
of singles within the playlist to provide greater patronage for albums.
Over time, they will appear throughout the playlist which allows us
to provide greater support of artists such as Turin Brakes, The Vessels,
David Gray, Paul Weller and Mark Knopfler.
we made this change in our priorities? In reality it isn't a new development
– Radio 2 has always reflected albums within its programme output.
Historically, this has largely been generated by the enthusiasms of
individual producers or presenters, but we have now taken the decision
to reflect this in the playlist in a sustained way.
the music industry has been supportive of the development of Radio 2.
Generally, people in the record industry now get what we are trying
- Music Industry
the support of the likes of Tony, Robbie MacIntosh and Nick Phillips
I still think the relationship could develop even further. From where
I sit it still looks to me as though the music industry is focussed
on single sales and how to promote singles into stations in order to
achieve a high placing in the singles chart.
the radio marketplace is a complex one where you have multiple opportunities
to promote both new and established artists. Where you can access listeners
through local, regional or national platforms. Through analogue or digital
media. Where you can focus on broader or more targeted playlists ranging
from Radio 1 and Radio 2, through to Jazz FM, 1Xtra, XFM and Classic
the proposed new developments in Access radio are approved then potentially
you have a platform for local acts on community services.
which makes the absolute focus on singles less relevant in the contemporary
marketplace. I don't think that gets the best out of us in the radio
industry. I believe that a more imaginative use of Radio 2 alone, by
developing a portfolio of output opportunities (Live and Exclusive,
sessions, interviews, documentaries, features – as well as playlisting)
would benefit artists.
about albums – we should be working together to provide a platform
for artist development, to ensure longevity, to build stars.
us in this room have a responsibility to energise the music of this
country – to ensure that it continues to be exciting. Without
great music, and crucially great artists, it is impossible to provide
brilliant music radio and it is impossible to develop a record industry
which can leave its mark on the international music scene.
a result of the need to build on the talent available and to develop
quality in depth that Radio 2 will continue to support and diversify
its live music output.
announce today that our live music commitment will be extended. We will
in future develop a live music strand within the Ken Bruce Show, which
will bring live performance to an audience of over six million listeners;
we will develop Richard Allinson's Saturday afternoon programme to reflect
newer artists – the potential icons of the future and just this
Saturday he will be carrying a set by Athlete; and Janice Long will
support sessions in her night-time show which provide a platform for
the more reflective, acoustic areas of Radio 2.
course, our marquee brand, Live and Exclusive continues to support artists
like Sting, David Bowie, Elton John, James Taylor – the great
the initiatives I have spoken about today, the greater support of albums
in mainstream output, the increase in live music, and the new Sold on
Song initiative – all of the statements I have made are about
our desire to reflect the greatness which is within British Music.
to take risks – and we want to work even more closely with you.
part of that process of providing a focus for that ongoing debate later,
in the summer, we will be clearing the schedule for a whole evening
and devoting the night to a debate on the music business.
to look at the British music scene – to discuss the problems of
piracy and to investigate ways forward – to bring a realism to
the singles debate - to involve artists, listeners and the key music
industry players and commentators.
to use the occasion to dispel damaging impressions – to give an
external voice to the internal debate. To move the story forward.
It is important
that music lovers understand what the issues are that face artists,
record companies, radio stations, publishers.
of the ongoing development is the future path of radio. What will happen
if Americans move into the British radio marketplace?
rages over whether ClearChannel (or any other international media organisation)
will move into, or extend their imprint on, the UK radio market –
and if they do, then what will the effect be.
happens to commercial radio, Radio 2 will remain focussed on its public
service commitment and continue to pursue excellence, range and diversity.
We will deliver programmes to people – and not people to products.
here to stretch the boundaries – and to develop new formats and
support new music.
will a new regulatory framework affect radio? Whatever else happens
under the new Ofcom, I hope that there is a lightness of touch which
allows radio in the UK to develop and stretch the audience. To challenge
the status quo – to test the boundaries of humour, to entice and
support daring radio which could lead to a greater expansion in exciting
offending the audience for the sake of being offensive should not be
condoned, but daring should be rewarded by support. Only through that
level of support can you develop the Kenny Everetts of the past and
the Jonathan Ross's of today. To be over proscriptive about content
would, in my opinion, lead to a stagnation of radio in the United Kingdom.
future is where digital stations such as 1Xtra and 6 Music will come
into their own. Digital radio, and 6 Music in particular, is in a similar
situation to that faced by Radio 2 those 6 years ago – they need
the support of the music industry to ensure they can give their listeners
the high quality contributors and music they crave. And rather like
the leap of faith you took with Radio 2, it is important that you trust
is a great station. 6 Music has a truly diverse and high quality range
of presenters – from Phill Jupitus, Bruce Dickinson and Tom Robinson,
to Liz Kershaw and Andrew Collins.
I am delighted
that, in its first year, it has been nominated for the Sony Digital
Station of the Year and that Gideon Coe has been nominated for best
daily music programme.
hear the record industry crying out for more platforms for exposure
– listen to digital radio. Listen to 6 Music and embrace it. It
is a radio station which carries around 18 hours of live music a week;
61% of its live music is made up of British acts with 83% being newly
signed acts. It is a vibrant radio station.
has a small but growing listener base. It has an audience of true music
lovers. They are disproportionately likely to buy albums – to
go to concerts.
audience will grow – it is growing already. Digital radio is the
future – you need to understand that and make sure you play your
part in ensuring the future of another outlet for great music.
an art – not a science. It is rightly full of conflicting opinions,
it is full of attitude, it is full of excitement. And so is the radio
business. There is some great radio in the UK. Radio 2 will continue
to play its role in the marketplace – it will continue to evolve,
it will continue to take risks, it will continue to support great music
and to work hand in hand with the music industry.
exciting future, but we can only optimise the opportunities if we work