How To Use BBC Introducing to Boost Your Career

Posted: 23rd of October 2017 by Francesca Confortini

BBC Music Introducing's editor Dan Roberts advises us how new artists can make the most of the platform.

From George Ezra and Nao to Declan Mckenna and The Big Moon, BBC Music Introducing has been one of the key platforms for new acts standing out and getting themselves heard. 

How does it work? Well the platform calls for artists to add their music to its system via the BBC Introducing Uploader. Then dedicated regional teams sift through submissions, cherry picking the best and playing them on local BBC shows. If they'd deemed worthy enough, then they could even get propelled onto the national stage through BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, 6 Music, Radio 3, Asian Network and the World Service. 

It's a recipe that has proved itself time and time again with the likes of Blossoms, Slaves, Everything Everything and Jake Bugg all kicking off their journeys with the platform. It's also helped ICMP acts like Honey Lung and Matt Maltese get noticed and play key gigs at festivals like Leeds and Reading. As the service marks its tenth anniversary, we quizzed editor Dan Roberts on how new artists can best use the platform to help take their careers to the next level...  

What is BBC Music Introducing?

We support the best, unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar music from across the UK. So any bands or artists who want to upload can do so regardless of whether they have a manager or plugger in place.

They add some info in, artist name, title name of the track and their post code, then depending on where they are in the UK, that defines where it ends up in the system.

So there are regional teams working for you?

Yes it means if an act uploads in York, then the team in York will pick it up, listen to it, and, if it’s good enough, they’ll play it on their show. If it’s really good, they might forward to our national team. This means it might be played by Huw Stephens on Radio 1 or Jo Whiley on Radio 2, or 6 Music with Steve Lamacq. Those shows pick up the best in new music from across the UK.

We also have other opportunities over the year including stages at Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading, Latitude. We’ve been at Creamfields, we’re going to the Amsterdam Dance Event later this year. That’s how it can begin for new artists uploading their music.

For a new act, is their a good time for them to add their music?

It depends on each artist but timing has got to be right. You also need to be aware that we have over 190,000 artists uploaded with a total of 470,000 tracks in the uploader. So as much as we’d like to listen to everything, there isn’t that resource.

It means on many occasions we go by the first 30 seconds of a song. If that’s not quite right, whether it’s not been finished or the songwriting isn’t quite on point, then it may go nowhere. You can upload after that but  it's probably best to come to us when you feel your song is ready for radio play.

So when you should you upload? 

If you feel that a song has been worked on enough and ready for other other people to hear, then you should add it.

It’s great to upload music early but we’re not here for artist development. We’re here to take a song and play it on the radio, then from there everything falls into place. You need to think about it as a step that could lead to bigger and better things.'

Don’t upload your first ever song, because if we love it, we’ll be looking for more music. And if there’s nothing else there, then the momentum is lost. Artists need to have it in their mind that we can play it on the radio, it’s a finished product and there’s plenty of it so when we look for live festivals or sessions, you’ve got enough material to play a 25 minute set.

There’s more new music out there than ever - does this mean it's now tougher for new acts to succeed than before?  

There’s certainly a lot of music and a lot of the same kind of bands. So for us, it’s exciting to hear new and fresh sounding artists not the same chords or sounds reworked.

What makes us at BBC Music Introducing sit up is when we hear something new, something that pushes the boundaries. It doesn’t sound like everything else we’ve heard, does something new and pushes UK music on to the next step.'

We champion bands who are all a bit exciting, who are all doing something interesting and unique which pushes them above the rest.

BBC Music Introducing is ten years old this year - is there still enough new music coming out to get excited about?

I think so. Finding new music is my passion and there’s almost too much of it, that’s the problem. We’re getting to a stage where bands that are uploading music have deals, management in place, they’ve already started on that path so it’s hard for us to effectively only pick 20 bands a year to support. We love the journeys where we pick up a band when they’re 16, then stay with them when they get the deal and release that first album.

Which BBC Music Introducing artist has been on the most interesting journey over the last few years?

Declan McKenna is a great example of someone who uploaded, played a session where he genuinely looks about 12, then he signed to Colombia Records, then did really well with his LP. Declan played Big Weekend and a couple of other festivals. Other bands like The Big Moon, they uploaded three or four years ago and just the other month had a Mercury nomination.

We love these stories and the uploader tracks all this information for us. It says when we first played them, when they first played a festival with us and when they released. We asked George Ezra to search out his profile with us, and he had a little look and read his first ever bio. The contrast between where he is now and where he was when setting out is huge. The same for Wolf Alice.

We want to give as many opportunities to these bands as possible so if there are festivals and events we can put a stage at, then we should do it. We need to represent the increasing amounts of music added to our system. The biggest challenge is keeping up with how many tracks we’re being sent.

Have you one piece of advice for new bands wanting to enhance their careers?

Practice, practice. There’s nothing worse than a band who don't work live. It’s so important to music now. Writing a good record is fantastic but it’s not necessarily about album sales. Those who sustain their careers are the ones with the live show.

New acts always need to say yes to any opportunity they get thrown even if it’s a local radio session at 3 in the morning. Every little bit of promo or blog piece, everything helps them at this stage of the year.

You’ll end up doing interviews with the NME and bigger papers. Rather than playing to 2 or 3 people it’ll be 200 or 300 people. Never say no to those smaller opportunities – as everything counts to build up your profile. You need to make those mistakes to be the best you can be. And the only way you make less mistakes, is to do plenty of them. To be successful as a band or solo artist, you need to write a good record, record a good record, play live on stage, get on well with a crowd and manage yourself as a brand. It’s the whole package that nowadays artists have to do single handedly from the offset.

If you are keen, willing, and have a record that sounds great on the radio, then that's when we're most likely to support you. 

​If you'd like to join our student body and enhance your career through our masterclasses, then why not join us here at ICMP?

Our Admissions Team are on hand to help you, call them on 020 7328 0222 or email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk

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