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A redesign for life: Welcome to your new look Music Week

“Like Doctor Who, you’ve got to regenerate.” Not my words Lynn, but the words of Ben Cooper elsewhere in the new edition of Music Week. He was talking about how BBC Radio 1 has survived for 50 years, but ...

Carry on camping: Why the festival experience must retain its sense of community

The great British festival weekend has long been an important rite of passage for our nation’s youth. In my day, the camping side of things – pitching your tent next to someone who, after three days, would either end up a lifelong friend or someone you would gladly see fall into the ‘long drop’ toilets – was as exciting, sometimes more so, than the bands.  The times, however, are a-changing, as no one sings around a campfire anymore. This week’s Music Week festival season debrief suggests the old school camping model is under threat from newer, fancier, more metropolitan events where everyone can go home after a hard day in the field. Fair enough. Time is an increasingly precious commodity. The expense of a festival weekend can rival that of a foreign holiday, except with less chance of coming home with a tan. But you can’t help but worry that making the outdoor gig experience easier and more disposable may ultimately have an impact on the thing that really matters: the music. Anyone who’s endured a wet Glastonbury will know the healing power of the perfect set at the perfect time, and how entire audiences can bond with artists for life as they overcome adversity together. But, while the increasing drive towards shorter, more accessible events – not to mention the rise of golden circles and glamping areas – may ultimately help festival bottom lines, it threatens to rob the festival experience of its most important component: that feeling of community. After all, if we’re not all in it together at a festival, then we might as well all stay at home.

Burn after Reading: Why rock needs streaming hits to thrive

Festival season may extend well into September these days but, for some of us, Reading (or Leeds, if you’re in the north) will always be the summer’s last hurrah; a chance to reflect on the preceding months and assess exactly where music is right now. This year, the sun shone ferociously, shining a harsh light on one of those musical sea changes you only really see at Reading. Ironically, for what has always been the greatest rock festival on earth, the Reading zeitgeist shifted, perhaps decisively, away from the genre that’s long been its heartbeat. Rock still represented the majority of acts on the bill. But, with a few notable exceptions, it was dance, grime, urban and rap acts that pulled the biggest crowds and attracted the biggest buzz, certainly amongst the younger end of the demographic (which appears to be basically everyone these days). Rock remains king of the albums chart – Queens Of The Stone Age (pictured), who played one of the many secret shows at Reading & Leeds, made mincemeat of the opposition to debut at No.1 last week – and still soundtracks big movies and sells tickets like nobody’s business. But you have to wonder if the genre’s inability (or perhaps unwillingness) to deliver hit singles is cutting it off from refreshing its fanbase. Earlier in the year, Music Week exposed what you can either see as rock’s streaming problem or streaming’s rock problem. But either way, when only Liam Gallagher seems to have the clout to deliver a Top 30 rock single and Reading, the genre’s once-impregnable citadel, shows signs of moving on, the warning signs are there. Rock will never die, but if it wants to truly live, some hits might help.

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