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Music industry groups pen open letter to save BBC introducing

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A group of live music industry representatives, including Music Venue Trust, have penned an open letter to Richard Sharp, Chair of the BBC Board, asking for “urgent assurance” for the protection of BBC Introducing.

It come as cuts to local BBC radio stations threaten to put much of BBC Introducing – which spotlights up-and-coming musical talent in local areas – at risk of reductions and cancellations to the service, as reported by NME.

The letter is signed by the likes of Mark Davyd of Music Venue Trust, Dave Keighley of Production Services Association, Nathan Clark of the Association of Independent Promoters, Silvia Montello of the Association of Independent Music, among others.

Posted on Twitter, it reads: “We are writing to you as a group of organisations that represent key stakeholders in the live music industry.

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“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,” in continues.

“We want to impress on you very strongly that this would be a fundamental blow to the health of the entire grassroots sector. BBC Introducing has been essential in providing access routes into the industry, with local and regional opportunities available right across the country.

“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.”

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Matt Griffiths, the CEO of charity Youth Music, which aims to provide greater access to music for young people, told Mixmag that the loss of BBC Introducing would make it harder for to enter the music industry.

He said: “It’s incredibly disheartening to hear about significant proposed changes to the BBC Introducing programming across local radio stations.

“Like Youth Music, BBC Introducing helps equalise access to the music industries across the UK. It’s a crucial part of the British grassroots music infrastructure. By removing this vital platform, they are removing the opportunity for diverse young voices to be heard, many of whom develop their talent further by applying for the Youth Music NextGen Fund. To lose this at such scale would set the industry back a long way.

“We are pleased to see 2022 Youth Music Awards ‘Rising Star’ winners, English Teacher taking a stand against the news and we implore the BBC to rethink their plans. Let’s instead continue to make music more accessible with a concerted regional approach to nurturing young talent.”

In an interview with popjustice for its newsletter, 6 Music DJ Tom Robinson explained that BBC Introducing is a key platform for musicians

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“Artists can now make master-quality recordings on a blooming iPad, upload it to their local show, and if it’s great, they’ll play it,” Robinson said. “It puts creators directly in touch with consumers – just like TikTok.

“But the big advantage of BBC Introducing over TikTok is that the audience you build is local,” he continued. “Airplay on your local show helps you get local gigs – and people along to them.”

Last Friday (January 13), Emily Pilbeam, the presenter for West Yorkshire’s BBC Introducing show revealed that her show could be under threat. She wrote on Twitter: “there are some proposed changed to @bbcintroducing which means my west yorkshire show could be no more.”

The countrywide BBC Introducing service consists for 32 shows on radio stations across England and the Channel Islands, (via freshonthenet), which coincide with programmes in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as well as national BBC station networks BBC1, 6 Music, 1Xtra and Asian Network.

Last year (November 2022), Nia Archives was the first electronic music artist to be named BBC Music Introducing’s Artist of the Year.

Isaac Muk is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter

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Written by: Tim Hopkins

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