Reading the news headlines in the past week or so has not exactly been what one would call a big ol’ bag of laughs. It’s probably just me, but very rarely does the impending threat of nuclear destruction cheer me ...
[Chester Bennington portrait: Paul Harries]
It has been a sobering time to be a music fan these past few months. The loss of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, following so closely on from that of Soundgarden icon Chris Cornell, and in the same tragic circumstances, has placed the burning issue of mental health firmly at the heart of the conversation right now.
And rightly so. In lieu of any detailed answers as to why they are gone, the industry has instead been forced to ask a lot of hard questions.
Compared to years past, progess has been made. In many ways the discussion surrounding mental health has never been more visible: music titles like NME and Kerrang! have focussed heavily on the subject, likewise Isle Of Wight’s Fairweather Festival partnered up with mental health services and charities such as Mind to raise awareness. The music industry can – and should – play an important role in changing perceptions of issues surrounding mental health. Indeed, the ripple-effect of musicians sharing their own struggles – though there should absolutely be no shame for those choosing to face them in private – can go a long way to breaking down archaic stigmas.
Yet if one thing is clear in 2017 it is that there is still a long, long way to go. What Bennington and Cornell’s passings isolate is that we – as an industry, as friends, co-workers and, most importantly, as people – not only need to pay closer attention, but keep on paying closer attention. Things can change quickly.
Bennington and Cornell both spoke often, eloquently, candidly – and sometimes even jokingly – about the demons they were confronting. It is a reminder that to shed light on dark thoughts is, often, only the beginning. George Garner, Deputy Editor
The news of a new music TV show arriving on BBC1 this autumn has been warmly received by the biz, and no wonder. At a time when achieving crossover has never been harder, any new primetime TV platform is like finding a free bar in the middle of the desert.
But it’s important that the BBC holds its nerve on what the show is there to do. They’ve made a clever move getting Fulwell 73 – the team behind Carpool Karaoke – to produce the show, because they understand that music TV is about much more than just TV viewers these days.
James Corden’s Late Late Show is an impressive production and a ratings hit but, more than anything, it has sensational buzz. Carpool and various other strands have given LLS a life way beyond its live TV audience, and an importance that could never be measured by BARB or Nielsen.
The furore over BBC presenters’ pay reminds us that some people will never miss a chance to attack the corporation. With any new music show unlikely to rival Poldark in the ratings, there will no doubt be some of that to come. But how the new show connects won’t just be measured in overnights. Its success rate will also be seen in viral YouTube views and follow-up Spotify streams, in magazine articles and tweets about the artists who make landmark appearances or fall flat on their faces.
So the biz should do everything in its power to deliver the talent the new show needs to make it a regular fixture, rather than a six-week dalliance. But it should also cut the BBC enough slack to experiment and find a winning formula before anyone starts digging out those Top Of The Flops headlines.