Chris Bray's blog
Well it's official now, the BBC Director General Mark Thompson has decided to recommend that the best way to take the BBC forward into 2011 is to close it's best radio station, BBC 6 Music.
6 Music really does play some of the best music out there, not hamstrung by its mandate to appeal directly to the masses or some misguided requirement to be mainstream 6 Music actively promotes shows by such underrated musical luminaries as Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, Mercury Prize winning Elbow's Guy Garvey, Kenickie's Lauren Laverne, NYC's own Fun Lovin' Criminals Huey Morgan and one of my personal favourites Shaun W Keavney.
You might not like them all, but what do all of these presenters have in common? They're in radio for the right reason, they love music. All kinds of music. They don't play whatever's flavour of the month just to take the paycheck they play what they like because it's genuinely good music. There is no other BBC station offering the varied range of musical output that 6 Music offers.
This massively varied output means 6 Music will never be the most popular station in the BBC lineup, but the shining beauty is that almost anyone can find something they love about it! I haven't even mentioned Adam and Joe, Stuart Maconie or Craig Charles, let alone George Lamb or the 6 Mix.
Let's take two quotes from that strategic review document the first one from the trust themselves explaining the aims for the review process:
The Trust set the BBC management five lines of inquiry at the start of this review process that are built on the
analysis set out above.
1. How can the BBC best maintain quality and distinctiveness?
The second from Thompson's section of the report, explaining his recommendations for 6 Music:
The BBC Trust’s recent review of Radio 6 Music confirmed that it is popular amongst its fan base and its music offering is distinctive. However, although it has achieved good growth in recent years, it has low reach and awareness and delivers relatively few unique listeners to BBC radio. And whilst 6 Music does not have a target demographic audience, its average listener age of 37 means that it competes head-on for a commercially valuable audience. Boosting its reach so that it achieved appropriate value for money would significantly increase its market impact. Given the strength of its popular music radio offering from Radio 1 and 2 and the opportunity to increase the distinctiveness of Radio 2, the BBC has concluded that the most effective and efficient way to deliver popular music on radio is to focus investment on these core networks.
So let me get this right... Mark Thompson thinks that the best way the BBC can 'maintain quality and distinctiveness' is to take a high quality (given listener satisfaction is considered approximately equal to quality) and distinctive radio station and merge it into lower quality and less distinctive siblings. I leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusion on that but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the problem there!
The report criticises 6 Music stating its 'low reach and awareness and delivers relatively few unique listeners to BBC radio' How many unique listeners do they think that the digital only station, that gets almost no promotion on other stations/media, is going to bring to the massed ranks of FM listeners?
It also suggests that 6 Music 'competes head-on for a commercially valuable audience'. Yet 6 Music's distinctiveness is inherently un-friendly to advertisers, otherwise wouldn't there be a large and varied selection of commercial stations snapping at its heels? No, they chose to compete with the chart dross that Radio 1 produce instead, much more 'commercially valuable'! Once again, I'm not an advertising expert but when a station offers a wide variety of music the demographic is so varied that its commercial value is vastly reduced simply because advertises don't know who they're trying to advertise to!
Fundamentally is this decision about the BBC? No, as comedian @mrchrisaddison and Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian and musician Lily Allen point out oh so correctly it's Thompson bowing to the pressure from (known BBC opponents) Dacre, Murdoch & Cameron.
I for one think it's a huge mistake, Lily Allen has got it right "Closing BBC 6 Music is bad news for unsigned acts and new British music." and even DJ's on other competitive commercial radio stations think it's a monumentally bad idea!
They also say it's expensive for the amount of coverage 6 Music provides (which I heard works out to approximately 21p/listener/day), well if David McCandless diagram is right then 6 Music's £9 million pales into insignificance compared with the big, white, Elephant shaped BBC3 and BBC4 weighing in with £115m and £71m respectively. You could entirely fund 6 Music by making less than a 20% cut from BBC3. That's it, bin the endless 'Two Pints' repeats on BBC3 and the occasional Alan Yentob documentary on BBC4 and you could save enough money to fulfil that first requirement!
I implore my few readers to do just a few things, for the good of music, email the BBC trust (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org) and explain your opposition, go sign up at http://www.love6music.com, join the Facebook group and go fill in the strategy review at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consultations/departments/bbc/bbc-strategy-review/consultation/consult_view. James Hunt also lists a few "DO's and DONT's" that are well worth keeping in mind.
BBC trustee Michael Lyons has indicated that it's not a done deal and the review is open until 25th May, so if everyone gets together there may be room for a change to this ridiculous idea yet. We got Rage Against The Machine to number one against the X Factor, it's time for us to save music again.
For those with a lengthier memory, for me 6 Music embodies what the John Peel show was about for all those years and I think @way2hustle got it right : "John Peel is spinning in his grave. Quite possibly at the wrong speed."
I've quoted a few of his other videos here in the past and for what it's worth I think Dan Ball is pretty spot on again:
Whatever your opinion on X-Factor, Simon Cowell, Rage Against The Machine, Chart-rigging and being told what to do, you've gotta admit this is good...
Killing In The Name Of was a good tune when it was released back in 1992 (was it really 17 years ago, now I feel old!) and it's still a great tune, if it means making a stand against manufactured pop now, well, that might not be quite such an important cause as the racism it was originally protesting against, but it's good enough for me!
Fight the power!
Remember the guy who did 'Dear Lilly', a video letter to Lily Allen a few months ago, well he's back again.
This time it's Lord Mandelson's latest legal atrocity that comes under fire.
If you disagree with this downright dishonest and legally dubious bill head over to the Open Rights Group and see how you can make a difference.
Dear Lazyweb, I've just had that realization that I hoped I'd never have, I've got loads of plates spinning at the moment and I'm wondering if there's anything I can do to help balance them a bit!
I've been looking at various techniques of managing your workload effectively and David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) seems quite popular and there's a few guys at work using it to great effect, but I'm interested in a wider opinion.
If you've used GTD before how did you get on? Any plus points? Negative points?
Most importantly, does anyone have specific tool recommendations for supporting GTD? I'm pretty much handcuffed to my iPhone so I figure that's a pretty good organiser, but which tool?
Then again, maybe noone is even reading this and I've just wasted another ten minutes!
I had a disc pop through the door the other day, alright, so it was a couple of weeks ago, but I've been busy listening to it!
Having been a fan of his various mix-cd's in the past, the Quentin Tarrantino one my personal favourite, I was quite excited to receive the latest in the series 'Super Hearing'.
Well it doesn't disappoint. From the opening introduction over that John Williams 'Superman Main Theme' right through to Burial's Archangel and Glasvegas' Daddy's Gone it's a proper barnstormer! Reworkings of modern classics from the likes of A-ha, REM, The Chemical Brothers lead to something altogether a bit more oldschool from AC/DC, Elvis Presley, John Lennon and The Rolling Stones but it heads there via cutting edge mashups and dubs from the likes of Benga & Coki, Diplo, Kanye West, Kid Cuidi, MIA and Dizzee Rascal and even a tip of the hat to the late Michael Jackson it really has got something for everyone (check the tracklisting at discogs.com).
Twisting and turning from house to dubstep to hiphop to downbeat the movie theme is ever present (check the awesome movie-poster artwork!) but never cheesy or clichéd this mix blends and builds beats, rhythms and feeling to take the listener on a musical journey to a destination you feel like you know, but you're just not sure how you're going to get there!
If you like the Diplo meets Soulwax meets N*E*R*D and gets mashed up a bit with Toddla T and Benga on the way type sound, this is for you.
Bottom line: I think it's going to be pretty much resident on my iPod, the latest in a great series of mix-CD's, 10/10, keep 'em coming James ;)