BBC Introducing is on the rocks. Since 2007 they have been supporting unsigned music artists, nurturing them and offering exposure (to the UK and beyond) that would have been near impossible without a significant budget and industry contacts. It’s absence would deal a massive blow to the grassroots music scene, and make the industry even more inaccessible to burgeoning talent. Not to mention how they’ve been instrumental at highlighting Scottish talent, seen recently with the introduction of Scottish Act of The Year Award last year (won by the incredible Bemz).
Here is an open letter written by live music groups (including Music Venue Trust) to the Chair of the BBC Board, Richard Sharp, urging that action be taken to protect BBC Introducing.
Our work includes consideration of the impact of third party agency decisions on the health, resilience and sustainability of the grassroots music ecosystem. We are writing to you today to express our grave concerns about the current uncertainty surrounding the future of BBC Introducing, the network of programming across the country which throws a spotlight on local and regional artists, venues, communities and music.
BBC Music Introducing is a fundamental cog in the machine of the grassroots sector. Its network of radio shows across the UK support new and developing music at grassroots level, through local shows on stations across England and the Channel Islands and flagship programmes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
These 32 shows support local artists with local airplay, interviews and sessions and are deeply engaged with local grassroots music venues. They are presented and produced by people with a deep knowledge of local and regional music. They provide local gigs, festival stages and outside broadcasts alongside promotion and awareness raising.
This work is not done by any other broadcaster; it is unique. Its reach extends to every corner of the country and it is especially important in left behind communities, where access to music and music opportunities is already incredibly challenging.
BBC Introducing is a prime example of what the BBC does best that no other broadcaster can do. BBC Introducing programming directly addresses the core aims of the BBC, acting in the public interest, serving all audiences and delivering impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.
Despite this, we understand that the entire network of presenters and producers has been placed on notice of potential redundancies, and that the programmes they create may be under threat as a result of wider cuts to the BBC’s network of local radio stations.
We want to impress on you very strongly that this would be a fundamental blow to the health of the entire grassroots sector. New and emerging artists already face significant obstacles to breaking into the music industry, challenges that are amplified for those artists and musicians living outside of the major cities.
BBC Introducing has been essential in providing access routes into the industry, with local and regional opportunities available right across the country. Whatever reorganisation might be required to meet the demands of the future stability and viability of the BBC, it should not be the case that BBC Introducing is the unintended victim of those changes.
Please can we have your urgent assurance that you and the BBC Board understand the vital role of BBC Introducing. We would like to hear how you plan to protect it for the future, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you how it can be developed, enhanced and improved to achieve even more for the communities it serves.
We look forward to hearing from you
Mark Davyd, Music Venue Trust
Dave Keighley, Production Services Association
Nathan Clark, Association of Independent Promoters
Silvia Montello, Association of Independent Music
David Martin, Featured Artists Coalition
Jon Collins, LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment
Annabella Coldrick, Music Manager Forum
Kevin Appleby, British Association of Concert Halls
Paul Fenn, Entertainment Agents Association
John Rostron, Association of Independent Festivals
Phil Bowdery, The Concerts Promoter Association
Jonathan Brown, The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers
Jonathan Drury, National Arenas Association