Did streaming kill the radio star?

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“Let me start off and make it clear, I’m not an artist. I was never an artist. However, I’ll say it over and over again, without the talent this whole music city doesn’t work. Seems obvious. However artists and artist development are rarely the most discussed elements at music conferences, board meetings, seminars, funding planning etc.

In Liverpool we have been blessed with wonderful musical talent over the decades — from The Beatles to Billy Fury to OMD to The Real Thing to The Zutons and so many more. To think that they all sprung out of the ground as these influential world beaters is at best a nice fairytale and at worse a damn lie. Whether structured or unstructured there’s been a high level of talent development that has gone on. Whether that be one or more combining factors including seminal venues, access to music equipment and tutelage, great showcase opportunities, great A&R intervention or the butterfly effect of small but significant factors such as Liverpool being a port city or the invention of the motorway. My point, it doesn’t just happen! Today, as the world gets smaller, the information sharing gets quicker and technology puts amazing power in everyones hands, I believe that sometimes this makes many believe the responsibility can be shifted. Or maybe it’s just daunting to work out a new system.

In the past, maybe it was simple. The band plays in a local venue. Buzz builds. A scout makes the trek to the venue and sees the band. Goes back to London and tells an A&R. The label sees the band and then invests in artist development once they sign the band. They hit the studio with a trusted producer. Great songs come about. The band hits the road — and plies their trade. Typical promo campaigns ensue. It connects. It flies. Developed artist and band. BOOM! Everyone wins.

But now…it’s the wild wild west. There’s a lot of ‘rule’ breaking. More paths to market. Artists don’t need labels. DIY. All that. Funding cuts. Labels shrinking. No money in streams. All that.

BUT…the value of the star artist is at an all time high. They continue to be the batteries that make this music thing work.

BUT…artist and talent development is still being neglected by those that benefit the most. Despite the fact that it is needed. In fact, it’s more critical now than ever before.

The past structure — which wasn’t as flat as not everyone could release without going through the mill has gone and now has been replaced by an flat ‘ALL in as soon as they can’ model. Even I could record a song or me chatting nonsense on my phone for 3 mins and then upload it to Ditto and get it on every streaming site in the world within 24 hours. And that is the noise which leads to over hundreds of thousands of tracks being released each week. And it’s that noise that means it’s critical that artists need developing, helping to rise to the top and being compensated fairly so they can get to that point. If not, they are just another sound within the cacophony.

Therefore we need to ensure we do whatever we can to develop talent. And not just managers. Not just certain funders. Not just labels. All of us.

So what are we doing?… I’ll let you know on my next blog.”

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Telling stories. Delivering events. Championing creativity. Inspiring audiences. Thinking forward. — Culture: the rocket fuel for regeneration.

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