Monday, November 09, 2009

Amazing Radio complains about BBC 'nicking concept'

One of the things the BBC has always been good at is supporting new music. John Peel and David Jensen, yes, and the Evening Session, yes, but also across local stations with programmes like On The Wire, Turn It Up and Raw Talent.

It comes as something of a surprise to see Amazing Radio, the DAB new acts network, seems to think that playing unsigned music is (a) an idea it came up with and (b) an idea the BBC have pinched from them:

Paul Campbell, the chief executive of parent company Amazing Media Group, has written to the BBC Trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, complaining that the corporation's rival service, based around the BBC Introducing website, is an unnecessary copycat of a product already provided by the market that has been massively expanded and now threatens to kill his business plans.

"It is an outrage that the BBC should use public funding to copy our concept and, by default, seek to put us out of business. This is to all intents and purposes a direct copy of our privately funded concept," said Campbell, a former BBC executive, in the letter to Lyons.

Hang about - "it is an outrage" in an angry, half-arsed letter? Is Paul Campbell ripping off Mr Cul-De-Sac from the BBC's Mark Steel Solution? Are we going to get a press release later today that goes "why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why... haven't finished it, but it's coming along nicely, don't you think?"

Seriously, though: The hyperbrand of BBC new music talent stuff under Introducing (something I'm not fond of as it wiped a lot of the quirkiness from nations and regions music programming) was born in June 2007. Amazing went on air in, erm, June 2009. What time-travelling wizardry does Campbell think the BBC owns?

Besides, it's not like "only playing music from new artists" is a concept that's so novel you could protect it. And there are so many new artists swishing about with bright eyes and GarageBand produced demos, surely everyone can wet their beaks?

The real problem, you'd have to suggest, is that the audience for pure-play new-acts-only radio stations is quite small. I was accused of being neophile the other week, but my iTunes play count doesn't have everything stuck on one. You need to mix the new with the familiar if you want to build a wide, regular audience.

Campbell seems worried that the best acts would have their heads turned and only go on the BBC (as if a band at the whoring-after-fans stage would ever be after an exclusive relationship.

This seems to sum up how little Campbell actually cares about the bands:
Campbell claimed that the flow through of acts from BBC Introducing has on occasion gone as far as appearances on Jools Holland's BBC2 show.

A scheme that allows bands not being supported by major labels to appear in front of the largest music TV audience? How devious these BBC people are! This must be stopped right away.


drumpaul said...

Hi Simon,

Thanks for the comment.

What the BBC is copying is the concept of using national radio to play online-sourced unsigned music. And they're creating one 'unified brand' across the entire BBC to do it. This has never happened before. It gives some bands publicity, but nothing else; and it makes it so much harder for private companies, trying to help bands grow.

We're delighted when artists appear on Later with Jools (which is why we blogged and tweeted about it at the time). But we're not delighted when the might of the entire BBC is brought to bear on a emerging new music industry, seemingly with no thought to the impact its actions might have on everyone else, or to how the bands they broadcast will develop a career afterwards.

I wouldn't want the BBC to stop playing new music; but I would like it to do this in such a way that ALSO allows private companies to help musicians for the long term. Currently, they're making it harder.

Paul Campbell
Amazing founder

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Paul - playing "online-sourced unsigned music" isn't a new concept (and weren't Channel 4 Radio doing this back before they were cancelled?) and I'm not sure that there's really much difference between uploading your demo and sending it in a tape in a jiffy bag to Peelie. The BBC has always got things from new bands using the latest technology.

I love what you're doing - I've some misgivings about if it'll work, but I hope I'm proved wrong - but I don't think moaning about the BBC reflects well on you. You came to a market where the BBC was already doing this sort of thing, and it's right that our national broadcaster should be using its resources to promote all artists. I don't see your beef, to be honest.

rufus said...

"copying is the concept of using national radio to play online-sourced unsigned music."

I suppose XFM Uploaded copied 'your' concept as well?

"seemingly with no thought to the impact its actions might have on everyone else, or to how the bands they broadcast will develop a career afterwards."

As far as I can see, Paul, the BBC Introducing site goes to great lengths to support and educate bands - there's a whole section of advice videos (and text from the old One Music stuff i think). What does Amazing do in this area to "help bands grow" as you say?

"We're delighted when artists appear on Later with Jools (which is why we blogged and tweeted about it at the time)."

Interesting that you refer to " artists" as if they belong exclusively to you and your service. Unsigned bands are notorious tarts, they'll upload tracks to every outlet available to them in the hope that something cuts through. They have no loyalty to yours or any other service (OK, maybe MySpace). As far as they're concerned, the more outlets for their music, the better, so by attacking Introducing you run the risk of making yourself extremely unpopular with bands struggling to get noticed.

drumpaul said...

Thanks for your very constructive criticism, Simon. Fair points I thought, and they've influenced this blog posting -


drumpaul said...

Rufus - they're not unique to us, we deliberately avoid all that 'Exclusive' crap record companies do. But we do love their stuff, which is why we call them amazing artists. It's about pride and excitment, not ownership. But thanks for the criticisms, we are listening, as I hope the blog posting I linked to above will show.

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