If you’re reading this, congratulations for successfully navigating Blue Monday, ‘officially’ the most depressing day of the year. The third Monday in January was once again hyped up to be a truly terrible 24 hours, but for any new British musician contemplating taking on the world; the launch of BBC Radio 1’s Brit List means it has to go down as a pretty decent day. Even if there was rather a lot of rain.
At the tail end of a long and sometimes arduous festive period when a glut of new artist tips lists were as likely to give you indigestion as frozen sausage rolls and prosecco, Chris Price’s new initiative looks a very promising idea.
The Brit List is a ‘three-single playlist commitment’ for up to six emerging UK acts, with the aim of reaching the holy grail of Radio 1’s A-list by the third. The small print says artists can be signed or unsigned, with ‘new’ defined as not having released an album on or before February 3, the deadline for submissions.
Even more encouraging are Price’s quotes in this week’s issue of Music Week. “It’s no secret that the wider music industry, of which Radio 1 forms an important part, struggled to break any UK artists,” he said. “This is about Radio 1 taking a leading role in trying to fix that issue. We should continue to play a part in breaking UK artists at home and on the world stage.”
It would be churlish to say the advent of the Brit List has suddenly rubbed out the question marks surrounding the issue of breaking British talent, but isn’t it refreshing to hear the station’s head of music essentially say, ‘We want to play good new stuff on the radio’? Particularly after the axing of its In New Music We Trust playlist last year.
Radio 1 turns 50 this September, and the Brit List breathes life into the idea of a station with a heartbeat, representative of music culture in the country it serves. It conjures images of DJs sifting through sacks of post searching for demos good enough for equal pegging with Ed Sheeran, Rae Sremmurd or anything with Sean Paul on it.
After that, things get murkier. It’s impossible to speculate as to the effect inclusion on the Brit List will have on the chosen six and their chances of cracking the mainstream. And then there’s the more general debate over radio’s role in launching new acts…
But, at this point, why not be positive? Breaks matter to up and coming artists, whether it’s an hour for free at a rehearsal space or a leg up from the BBC. And that’s why this news is exciting – it provides a very real opportunity for any new act who feels like taking it.
Maybe Blue Monday wasn’t so bad after all.