Music is still one area where Britain leads the world. London is looked on with envy by musicians all over the world. It is one of the centres of the music industry and the place where bands break first. Jimi Hendrix first became a star in the UK, living and playing in London, despite being American. His management were one of the first to notice that the British music public are receptive to new talent in a way that is unique. If you look at the bands that have become global superstars that started in the UK, the list is endless. Bands such as the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and The Who were the first wave to take the world by storm. Since then, London has been a Rock and Roll megacity, punching far above its weight.
In the 1960’s Radio One was launched, giving a National platform to new music. One of the first DJ’s on air was John Peel, who turned his life into a crusade to launch new bands. T Rex were one of the first he championed. Whole genres such as Reggae, Punk and Hip Hop were virtually launched by John Peel. He was the only DJ on Radio One to devote his show to new music. For several generations of young people the John Peel Show was where you heard new music first. Peel didn’t care if the band was signed to a major. If they weren’t he’d have them in for a session at the BBC. The “Peel Sessions” were legendary. I doubt that London would have become the centre it is without Peel.
Ironically, around the time Peel died in 2004 we started to see the real effects of the shape of the music scene of the new century. In 2001, Simon Fuller and Simon Cowell created Pop Idol. At the time, this show seemed simply to be another part of the light entertainment scene. Will Young won the first series. What no one could predict was just how fundamentally this show would change the way we see fame and a career in music. As a rehearsal studio, who at the time had customers mostly in rock and indie bands, the show hardly registered. In 2003, Simon Cowell split and set up his own show The X Factor which really got the ball rolling. For our studios, this was a golden period. Amy Winehouse who was a long term customer became a global superstar. For us, her talent seemed to show that hard work and real talent trumped the instant success of the X Factor crowd, who didn’t write their own songs and didn’t want to spend the time grafting to learn the tricks of the trade. How wrong we were. Far from being a fad, the X Factor formula has mushroomed. All manner of shows have tweaked the formula and brought all manner of unlikely people to our attention.
It has also brought a massive change in the type of customers who use the studio. The rock and indie bands are still the mainstay, but we now have a huge number of artists who are using the studios to prepare for these shows. Recently Kingsland Road had had a successful run on the X Factor and have used the exposure to secure a record deal. They are a great bunch of guys and very hard working.
I was listening to some of the more “traditional” bands rehearsing today. There are some awesome talents using the studios. It got me thinking about the UK music scene and the late, great John Peel. Who is his peer today?
Who is giving young upcoming independent bands, unsigned bands and left field talents exposure on national radio and TV?
It is ironic that in an age where anyone can record music at home, make videos that can have a global audience, there isn’t anyone who is actually giving these talents the exposure to launch their talent on the world. There is so much stuff out there that how do you see the wood from the trees?
There are plenty of regional shows and niche shows that cater to specialist tastes, but how does a talent get exposed to a mass audience? Being a music studio, we need a healthy music scene to exist. This year we’ve seen more people than ever pass through the studios. We’ve seen some of the greatest young bands for years. We’ve heard some awesome music this year. The question is, who will bring this music beyond the confines of the studio? Who will break these bands in the mass markets.
So this is a heartfelt plea. If you know of any TV or radio shows, where young artists can get exposure, please leave a comment and share the news. Spread the word. If a DJ is playing good music, tell your friends, tweet it, Facebook it. It’s only by sharing information that we can make it happen.