There's a new boss at BBC Radio 1. But the music biz will be pleased to hear that the station's commitment to new music is unchanged – and, in fact, will be enhanced.
New head of station, Aled Haydn Jones, gave his first major interview in this week’s issue of Music Week. And, after a tough year for breaking acts – there was only one 2020 debut by a UK artist in the year’s Top 100 sellers at the end of Q3, KSI’s Dissimulation – Jones made a point of telling the biz it can rely on Radio 1’s support for its new music.
“I’d like to think that everyone who listens to Radio 1 loves music because we’re a music station first,” said Haydn Jones. “And even the daytime bits that have the mass, mass audience have 50% new music, ie songs that have been released in the last six weeks. It’s phenomenal for the UK’s biggest youth station to have so much new music.”
One of the first moves Haydn Jones made after taking over from long-serving controller Ben Cooper – now staging his own commercial radio revolution at Bauer Radio – was to move specialist shows an hour earlier to help maximise the audience for new music.
“I didn’t want specialist shows, which is quite an industry term, to be late night,” he said. “I want it to be the DNA of what we do. When you’ve been at Radio 1 as long as I have, there are examples of the journey made by new artists and tracks that have come through specialist, presented to daytime, gone onto the playlist and then done really well. We just want to put a spotlight on that journey from specialist, because that’s what the industry wants us to be doing.”
We need to stick our necks out and put our names behind artists that we believe in
Aled Haydn Jones, BBC Radio 1
Haydn Jones acknowledged that the unprecedented chaos caused by Covid-19 meant that few artists had made major breakthroughs in 2020. But he said he was confident things would return to normal next year.
“Live music venues not being open has made it harder for the industry,” he said. “In 2021, Radio 1 in particular and all of BBC Pop is definitely going to be supporting the industry and helping them get there.
“The job for Radio 1 has never changed,” he added. “There’s always been a balance in the playlist that Chris Price manages between reflecting what audiences want and also ensuring we are part of the development of new artists and their journeys. We need to stick our necks out and put our names behind artists that we believe in. It happens all the time on Radio 1, ever since John Peel it was always the case.”
Haydn Jones said recent Radio 1 research showed that one show, Benji B’s future beats show, played 1,300 new artists in a single year.
“You forget that’s just one show on Radio 1,” he said. “What we want to do is be able to surface some of the names and put the badge of honour of Radio 1 behind them, to give them a leg up in the industry and help them with that journey to playlist and mainstream.”
And, for the music industry, that can’t come soon enough…
* To read the full, exclusive interview with Aled Haydn Jones, see the new issue of Music Week, available now, or click here. To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, sign up to our digital edition here.