Why is BBC Sounds Important?

An opinion piece on what I learned at the BBC Sounds Launch (Tate Modern 30.10.18)


An opinion piece on what I learned at the BBC Sounds Launch (Tate Modern 30.10.18)

In the last couple of days, BBC launched it’s brand new platform for all things radio, music and podcast and it’s called BBC Sounds. In my opinion it’s a fantastic scheme that is laying the foundations to empower and encourage a creative generation. 

In this day and age, it seems it’s getting harder and harder to aspire to function within the music industry professionally - especially as a woman. Schools are scrapping music modules, the prices of musical lessons are sky rocketing (it would cost you between £30-£50 a session for piano or singing classes in London), and the powers that be continue to dominate and monopolise the music industry (the “big three” record companies own 80% of the worlds music and nine males make up 1 fifth of singer-songwriter credits).

Furthermore, a scary state of global politics, the rise in the right,  threatens to further immobilise innovation, creativity and variety in terms of the creative arts and music. 

Sure we can argue that on the other hand:  technology is degrading in price thus becoming accessible for those that desire such music making tools. This has directly given rise to the generation of ‘bedroom producers’, the youtube stars, and the ‘everyone’s a photographer’ with an iPhone. But at what point are we reaping the rewards? When do we get our pay check? 

Short of moving to London, and mingling with the right people, actual success and finance from an otherwise glorified hobby is really only achieved still, by the lucky very few. 

Things are different now than when radio started…we are the generation of knowledge: we have Google. Unlike our elders who would huddle round a single TV set per family, listen to the radio and read the newspapers for updates in the worlds happening, we have global knowledge in our pockets and at our finger tips. Furthermore we have the choice of a whole world of updates, as apposed to the selected updates one might receive from nationalist news. We are the generation of quick fire searches and tune skipping: my mother says I have turrets for tunes when I DJ the car stereo…there’s so much available, we want to hear a little of a lot. 

That’s why BBC Sounds is important. It’s a shining beacon of hope to an otherwise disenfranchised generation. It’s a shiny new platform for hopeful podcasters to aspire too. A whole division of a global company dedicated to the preservation of all things audio. Preservation being the operative word. 

With information readily available instantly on our phones and in our pockets, it’s a necessary and obvious step to offer any and all desired listening to be instantly available too.

Radio is intergenerational, I share podcasts with my father and visa versa, and now the exciting aspect for me, with the new BBC Sounds is that they are re-exploring the riches of their podcast archives. That’s right. The archives are being re-released. 

That means that the old John Peel shows that introduced ‘Rankin Trevor’ to my father, can now be found and relived by me. It’s radio for everyone: wherever, whenever. BBC has recognised the sheer scale of passionate podcasters, and realised a space for it all to come together. As a gentleman by the name of James described at the BBCSounds launch…

“Radio helped make us who we are, it is our chosen soundtrack to our lives.” 

Listening is an immersive and creative experience and we want flexibility and too listen on our own terms. This new platform is not only thrilling in it’s rerelease of it’s radio and podcast archive, it’s got every contemporary corner of podcast platforms readily waiting to be listened too along side every radio channel. 

For podcast makers it’s a huge step into the light that a company as important and large as the BBC is taking steps to preserve the art form, ensure it’s continued and to avoid the death of radio. 

It’s a platform to support it’s extended a helping hand and encouraging creativity and innovation. Let alone the hours and hours of knowledge and entertainment, the herd of podcasters and documentary writers waiting to be heard. 

A whole world of podcasters can equip themselves safe in the knowledge BBC is making radio cool again - the doors of opportunity have been opened, and hopefully will encourage others to open theirs too.