Music, and the way we consume it, has drastically changed. The specialist radio has become as redundant as a plain t-shirt at a Lady Gaga concert. In the past the music industry (especially pluggers) have used BBC 6music, the station the BBC has announced will close, as the stepping towards the lucrative Radio1 Alist.
But with the abundance of free content, the old way of someone choosing for you may have to stop. Products like Spotify have empowered a new amateur bedroom DJ. Musobloggers are the new arbiter kings with bandwidth, its territory. Their lyrics reign – any song, any time, anywhere, any terms.
Even the Tories have immersed themselves in this new frontier, with the denigrating sound of Eric Pickles inspiring young people to ‘change by conserving’, in-between their daily dose of Killers and Arctic Monkeys.
The Tories have wanted to carve up the BBC for a long time and they may have a point: competing against the BBC is virtually suicide. Their budgets far surpass its nearest competitors; its mandate seems to be like a goldfish – not knowing when to stop, not caring. With its predicable revenue it has become the most powerful cultural institution in Britain – in an age where culture is supposed to be bottom up. 6music’s audience has hit a ceiling; in fact, out of all the BBCs radio audiences, they’re the most likely to want to control and discover music for themselves.
However, with advertisement plummeting, and business models (within music) dying faster than Gordon Brown can hit a wall, perhaps, we need to take stock and look at protecting what we’ve got before it’s too late. Niche quality content across the creative industries is under significant threat of getting the axe. Even without the BBC, companies will still have to squeeze every bit of profit out of the airwaves – inevitably streamlining to the most populist demographics.
The BBC does have a choice, and that means keeping 6music. One ultimatum could be to go on creating content under the 6music brand with podcasts cutting costs. All I know is for the BBC change is going to come. But let’s hope this goldfish doesn’t forget who it needs to represent. I for one don’t what to be hearing more of Mr Pickle’s ‘chum-foolery’.
Johnny LeVan-Gilroy is a freelance journalist