BBC Introducing has been a wonderful gateway for new artists to gain an audience and eventually make their way to the pined-for Glastonbury festival. Also referred to as BBC Music Introducing, this radio platform is an offshoot of BBC to support “unsigned, undiscovered, and under-the-radar” talent.
It’s an extremely useful tool for artists, considering all one has to do is use the BBC Introducing uploader to get their music up. Any tracks that artists post on the platform then get sent to the various shows under BBC Introducing. It can be a mixed bag, with different shows and presenters deciding which songs they’ll pick up. From there, chosen songs get played on the radio.
This platform has been such a fundamental step on the journey to Glastonbury for tons of iconic artists who were once aspiring unknowns. The likes of Ed Sheeran, George Ezra, and Florence + the Machine came from this very programming, which is why there has been a massive uproar over the announcement that BBC Introducing is downscaling in 2023. Although new artists will still get their shine on various stations with the platform, there will be a new slate and fewer stations.
Of course, new artists can still expect support and potential in BBC Introducing as uploads and the stages will still be up and running. The easiest story to recall is Sheeran’s Glastonbury debut on the BBC Introducing stage, but this has been the story for countless artists that took the chance. With that, there’s still reason to check out the platform and stage as a means to kick it at one of the biggest music fest locations in the world.
The Growth of Indie
While indie may have once been synonymous with underground, it now simply means that an artist is free of label constrictions and delves into subgenres that subvert the mainstream. Music listeners have a plethora of platforms to discover new artists, and they are more free to explore their tastes across different genres. The algorithm suggests new artists that fit certain flavours while creating new sounds. In turn, the audience delights in having more options than what’s popular.
The prominence of indie has been quite a journey in the last decade, with cult followings and social media ensuring that even being “indie” doesn’t strictly mean that you have no audience. It’s beyond mere perception, too. Independently released music has grown year over year since 2018. More than a fourth of all artist album sales in the UK even belong to independent labels. In terms of streaming, we see the likes of The Wombats or KSI hitting seven figures in numbers.
With a platform like BBC Introducing, artists can take control from the start and build their own narrative. With indie being so welcomed and its freer expression to be expected, artists like neo-soul rapper J-Will get to talk about meaningful messages that would usually be avoided by major studios.
Internet Fame and Beyond
Genres, backgrounds, and all that don’t become so limiting any more thanks to the internet. Sharability and relatability are where it’s at these days, and BBC Introducing plays a large role in that. The internet has made music production and releases so much more accessible for artists today, so gaining an audience and making your way to Glastonbury isn’t quite as distant a dream as it once was.
It’s not limited to one “sellable” brand anymore. Soundcloud rappers were all the rage in the early 2010s, and this eventually trickled over into the cursive singers that have become so divisively popular on TikTok. There are wedding bands for hire all over the UK that have made a name for themselves simply by uploading their work online and cultivating an audience.
With BBC Introducing and the world wide web, being niche has become more of a boon than a risk. Look at Nia Lexo and her very curated album, THE SENSHI, which was inspired by Sailor Moon. There are so many avenues for opportunity that lead to Glastonbury.
And of course, there’s the phenomenon of going viral. For instance, a video of former wedding singer Charlotte Awbery singing Shallow on the London tube went massive with millions of views. This would lead to performances on chat shows across the UK and US, well-streamed singles, and magazine covers.
Different platforms and niche references
It all comes down to opportunity, and we’ve reached a point where there is room for representation at last. Lucy Spraggan is openly queer, effortlessly musical, and unabashedly indie, which makes it all the more amazing that she has been at Glastonbury more than once. As times change and music evolves, BBC Introducing remains the stalwart beacon for emerging artists with something to say.