Head of 6 Music, Paul Rodgers, has spoken exclusively to Music Week about what makes the annual 6 Music Festival, which kicks off in Glasgow today, such a unique event on the live music calendar.
Taking place in a different location every year, the 6 Music Festival is an ever-evolving event, adapting with each outing to reflect the musical history and heritage of its setting. This year, the festival arrives in Scotland, as it takes in a variety of venues across the city of Glasgow.
From March 24-26, a typically eclectic array of talent will be on show, with the likes of Depeche Mode, Sleaford Mods, Warpaint, Ride and many, many more set to appear over the course of the next three days.
We caught up with Rodgers to find out more about the 2017 edition of the festival and what sets it apart from the rest of the UK’s live event offering…
How do you distinguish the 6 Music Festival from any other live music event?
“I don’t think there’s a festival quite like it. You take a radio brand like 6 Music, which is broad and eclectic in its offer and has a really likeable tone, and you take it to a different place every year and explore the musical heritage of that place. That way, every year you create something different. Obviously all festivals have a different bill each year, but we have a formula, which is add 6 Music to a place and see what we get out of it. That’s unique.”
Why did you decide on Scotland for this year’s festival?
“Glasgow and Scotland as a whole has a wide musical history that is really deep, and we think really suits 6 Music, so it felt like an important place to go to. It’s got a brilliant arts scene, and the amount of venues in Glasgow is amazing. It’s a real ‘going out’ city. The venues are the right scale for the stuff we want to do there, plus we haven’t been to Scotland yet. And we get to do lots of work with BBC Scotland, that framework and partnership is very helpful in making this an all round success.”
Do you plan to expand the festival over the coming years, or have you arrived at the perfect format?
“We’ve got a good format. Depending on where we take it, different opportunities will emerge for us. I don’t think it’ll ever grow too big. And it depends how you define big. Big in terms of a stadium or big in terms of the number of smaller venues? I’m not against us having more people, that would be wonderful, but we don’t want to change the character of the festival. We always need to keep that at the forefront of our planning.”
Is maintaining that 6 Music signature more important than growing the event?
“Part of the identity of 6 Music is the curiosity that our presenters have about music. People like Cerys Matthews, Mary Anne-Hobbs, Steve Lamacq, Mark Radcliffe etc. There’s always a sense of exploration and curiosity wherever we take the 6 Music festival. That’s right at the heart of what makes it such a unique offer.”
Are bigger acts, such as Depeche Mode this year, starting to view the 6 Music Festival as a major event around which they can build or develop a campaign?
“The 6 Music Festival has become a unique and established part of the live music calendar, and the UK and international music industry can clearly see the benefit for certain acts of being associated with the world's only truly alternative-spirited pop music radio station."
Will there be any new features this year?
“It’s the first time we’ve been live on red button and it’s the first time TV coverage is accompanying the festival from BBC Scotland and BBC Four. These are big developments for us.”