Viewpoint: Blue Raincoat's Robin Millar on the importance of music biz apprenticeships

Ten years ago, under the stewardship of EMI CEO Eric Nicoli, myself and 11 fellow music execs formed a council to identify skills needed for the music industry. We canvassed far and wide and found, to our surprise, that the ...

Shout out to my EXPO: Four must-see panels at this year's MUSEXPO conference

1. SONIC UPRISING MUSEXPO’s Monday morning Global Keynote panel, The State Of The Sonic Union, has become a conference tradition, where heavyweight execs swap insights into the international music biz the way heavyweight boxers trade blows. Expect pithy soundbites agogo from the likes of Allison Kaye, GM of Scooter Braun’s SB Projects and Atlantic Records’ Craig Kallman. Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper and moderator/Music Week editor Mark Sutherland fly the flag for Britain. 2. HITMAKERS KEEP ON COMING MUSEXPO has a stellar line-up of A-list songwriters this year, including The Weeknd/One Direction pensmith Savan Kotecha on the Artist Development 3.0 panel and Diane Warren’s keynote speech. Plus key publishers including BMG boss Zach Katz and Concord’s Jake Wisely will be revealing how they work the hits. 3. CAN WE GET A REWIND? Few who attended Music Week’s MUSEXPO Europe event in 2016 will forget Craig David manager Colin Lester’s explosive panel appearance as he rowed with digital specialist Sammy Andrews. He’s back on stage in LA on the Global Managers’ Futurecast panel and, while there’s no Andrews this time, sadly, you can probably still expect a few fireworks. 4. SUPER SUPERVISION Alexandra Patsavas is the queen of music supervision, responsible for such sync show behemoths as The OC, Gossip Girl and Grey’s Anatomy. Death Cab For Cutie owe her big time, and she’ll be revealing all her supervision secrets in a keynote interview with Mark Sutherland.

MUSEXPO preview: Bob Shennan talks the past, present & future of BBC Radio

The most important radio stations in Los Angeles next week won’t be KROQ or Power 106. Instead, BBC Radio 1 and 2 will be taking over MUSEXPO at the W Hotel in Hollywood on April 29-May 2. BBC director of radio and music Bob Shennan will be at the conference, on stage in conversation with, er, some bloke called Mark Sutherland, while Radio 1 and Radio 2 will pick up the International Music Icon Of The Year award at the MUSEXPO International Music Industry Awards. Before Shennan jetted off to the sun, Music Week collared him to talk about the past, present and future of radio. The full interview will appear in the conference’s tribute magazine, but here’s a sneak preview…How does it feel to win MUSEXPO’s International Music Icon Of The Year award? “Everyone’s really flattered. Everyone on Radio 1 and 2 is proud to be part of those families and they work hard to get there. It’s a pinnacle of a music radio career in the UK and, when those things are recognised by your peers around the world at such a prestigious event, we’re all really chuffed, to use a good English expression that Americans probably won’t understand.” Radio 1 and 2 recently celebrated 50 years on air. Were you surprised by the outpouring of affection? “No, I wasn’t. I know how much they mean to our audiences. I was thrilled with the response that we got. Fifty years is a long time, and both Radio 1 and Radio 2 have managed to morph from one thing to another over those 50 years to keep fresh and relevant and alive really cleverly. And when you see the 50-year heritage of two radio stations like that in relief, as you do when you’re celebrating that kind of momentous number, you realise all the different twists and turns in their history. All the different people who’ve built them into the massively treasured brands they are for the British public. And that’s what they’ve been – treasured brands that have helped people appreciate, enjoy and understand the musical world around them. Great radio really matters to people, it has a connection and makes an imprint on their lives. It’s not just a superficial sound that you put on in the background, it really connects with an audience. Both Radio 1 and 2 have been part of the growing up of the British public for the last 50 years.” Why have the two stations survived so long? “They’re both very strong brands with a resonance beyond the UK. They stand for something within music. All of us who’ve been involved in them over those years have taken care to keep them moving and evolving. They’ve both had highs and less auspicious moments in their history, because nothing can stay in a moment of excellence for ever. But they’ve been brilliant at reinventing their purpose for the audience over a period of time and that’s the hallmark of both of them. For different generations, they’ve had resonance and impact and importance and continue to do so. A station like Radio 1 has had this fantastic story over 50 years. It was created by the BBC at a time when the BBC had no other legal rivals and a complete 100% monopoly on the radio market. Yet the BBC decided to get rid of all its existing brands and start four new ones. They did that because, in their complete wisdom and foresight, they realised they needed to position radio for the future. They needed Radio 1 because they needed radio to be meaningful for young people who wanted to listen to pop music. So they created this new suite of services. Radio 1 was created by the BBC in order to position itself to be relevant for the next 50 years to young audiences. It was a brilliant innovation by the BBC and yet, in a way, Radio 1 has never been more important to the BBC than it is today. Because, in a world of massive competition that’s been transformational for our media landscape, we’re all experiencing the impact of that transformation.   In the midst of that revolution, here’s Radio 1 that still commands phenomenal affection, considerable consumption and 10 million people who listen to it every single week. Which is an amazing story of longevity, resilience, reinvention, hard work and commitment to a mission to be meaningful to young people through music and leading tastes. Not pandering to them, but leading them. In a world where we can access music anywhere, on any connected device at any time, Radio 1’s role as a tastemaker is more important now than ever before. There’s so much choice, you really don’t know what you want. You need tastemakers to lead you through that. And Radio 2 does a similar job for a different generation that grew up through Radio 1, with an expectation of having their tastes developed and led. Between the two of them they can take an audience from cradle to grave.”Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer recently told Music Week that he credits BBC Radio for the fact that the bosses of all three major labels are British, because it gave them such a well-rounded musical education… “That’s a fantastic compliment from Rob Stringer. Of course I’d like to think he’s right! It’s because they’re very different to most formatted music radio. We are obliged to [give] that level of commitment, because we’re the BBC and we’re fortunate, because we get our licence fee from the public and we can invest in our content and output properly. That’s our great gift, so we have to use it to create something totally distinctive for the market.” How important has Radio 1 and 2’s conveyor belt of presenting talent been for the wider industry? “You only have to look at the roster on the 50th anniversary [Radio 1] Vintage station to see who has come through radio. We’re now in a world where the most popular entertainers are also on the radio. So they come from TV now to be part of the radio world, because they love it. Look at somebody like Graham Norton [Radio 2 DJ who also presents the UK’s No.1 TV chat show]. If you had a national radio station in America you’d want Jimmy Kimmel or one of those big talk show hosts to be on it, but you would probably struggle to get them. But Graham gives up every Saturday morning to be part of the Radio 2 family. Radio is still an incredible magnet for top talent.” Where would the biz be without Radio 1 and 2? “It would be very different, and my biggest challenge is to make sure that carries on being the case. We’re there to help, nurture, nourish and encourage the greatest talent in the creative industries. It’s in the BBC’s DNA to do that. We’re not doing anyone any favours, it’s what we’re for. We’re proud of the success of the UK music industry around the world, it’s a fantastic story and we’re proud of the part we’ve got to play in it. But we’re mindful that we can’t just expect it to carry on and our influence is challenged from lots and lots of different places. My biggest concern is that most of the biggest challenges are not in the UK. The UK music industry relies on a UK focused organisation like the BBC, and indeed commercial radio, to support UK artists and UK music so that we continue to flourish in the global music ecology – and that’s a challenge. Bigger artists doing amazingly well is nice but we’ve got a responsibility to nurture the grassroots and bring the new, big talent through as well. That’s one of my key priorities.” How do you make sure that happens when you’re competing against global streaming companies for listener hours, influence and even on-air talent? “Of course, they all want content as well as to be able to offer people a brilliant, user-friendly streaming service – which has been a good thing for all consumers. I wouldn’t deny that for a second. So we’ve got to be really clear-sighted about what we’re for and hold our nerve about how we deliver that to audiences. We have to make sure that we continually make those really important brands of Radio 2 and particularly Radio 1 stand out at a time like this. We’ve got to back them and we’ve got to find every means we possibly can to make sure those brand values continue to shine through, be effective and let us reach a lot of people with the broadest range of music you’ll find on any broadcast platform in the UK. We’ll carry on building the Radio 1 brand in whatever way we think is most relevant to the audience to keep an audience engaged and growing and loving what we do – and learning a radio habit that they’ll then take to Radio 2 in the future.”

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