Radio Requests

Some radio shows take more preparation time than others. My BBC Introducing programmes on 6 Music consist of two shows in the dead of night every weekend – but it’s currently taking me 6 days a weeks to prepare and record them.

Most of the music we play is suggested by listeners or – quite often – the artists themselves, via the Recommend Music form on our BBC web page. We typically get 700-800 recommendations a month and every single one of them gets heard and considered for the show. It’s a lot of work, but obviously by far the most important part of the job.

Professional pluggers and record companies can normally use their contacts at  stations like 6 Music to make sure their new releases get heard and considered for airplay ahead of everyone else. So that’s why we ask everyone to use the Recommend Music form rather than sending us CDs or  promotional emails. It sort of levels the playing field. Record companies use the form too – we don’t actually care whether an artist or unsigned – but we do care about giving everyone an equal chance. If we like it and the music can be heard online in full, then we’ll play it. End of story.

But PLEASE… do us a favour and only suggest it once. Getting loads of friends and fans to write in and recommend you doesn’t make your music sound any different – it just makes extra work for us. For instance try reading through this lot:

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From: (left blank)
Sent: Mon 01/09/2008 22:49
To: Introducing
Subject: Music Recommendation Form, Matt Fitch
From: (left blank)
MATT FITCH
http://www.myspace.com/iammattfitch
Fave 1: Cry By The River
Fave 2: Song in D for B
Seen him loads on the London open Mic circuit. Last time I saw him I walked in after his set had started and he remembered me and dedicated Cry By the River to me.
Associated: No
Permission:
————————————————————
From: (addressgiven)@hotmail.com
Sent: Tue 02/09/2008 19:50
To: Introducing
Subject: Music Recommendation Form, Matt Fitch
From: Anthony Louis in London
MATT FITCH
http://www.myspace.com/iammattfitch
Fave 1: Cry by the River
Fave 2: How can I cry
I saw Matt Fitch at a gig in the Cobden Club and he Cry by the River stuck in my mind – it was an acoustic performance only. Then stumbbled acorss him again at another live performance and got his myspace – Cry by the river with bas and drums, it’s just a really good song and not too long.
Associated: No
Permission:
————————————————————
From: (left blank)
Sent: Wed 03/09/2008 19:26
To: Introducing
Subject: Music Recommendation Form, Matt Fitch
From: (left blank)
MATT FITCH
http://www.myspace.com/iammattfitch
Fave 1: Cry By The River
Fave 2: As the Last Light goes out
His songs are heart felt, honest and sincere. A breath of fresh air in a market saturated with retro pop.
Associated: No
Permission:
————————————————————
From: (addressgiven)@hotmail.com
Sent: Wed 03/09/2008 21:12
To: Introducing
Subject: Music Recommendation Form, Matt Fitch
From: James Powell in enfield, london
MATT FITCH
http://www.myspace.com/iammattfitch
Fave 1: cry by the river
Fave 2:
i know the man through a friend, really good live, great songs and all round top guy.
Associated: No
Permission:
————————————————————
From: (addressgiven)@email.smith.edu
Sent: Thu 04/09/2008 12:45
To: Introducing
Subject: Music Recommendation Form, Matt Fitch
From: Sawako Shirota in Japan
MATT FITCH
http://www.myspace.com/iammattfitch
Fave 1: Cry by the river
Fave 2: As the last light goes out
Matt fitch is a london based artist with an amazing soothing voice. Cry by the river has that familiar comforting melody that takes you back to great memories.
Associated: No
Permission:
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Now actually go to myspace.com/iammattfitch – the customisation on his profile is a bit of a pain in the arse, and looks like a dog’s dinner in Firefox 2 on a Mac. But once you can get the music player to finally load, check out the song everyone mentions in these recommendations: “Cry By The River”.

It’s perfectly pleasant and tuneful, and it’s competently written and performed. It starts with the obligatory fingerpicky acoustic guitar intro, and slowly builds up with drums, bass and then electric guitar coming in. The song lasts four and a half minutes at a slow walking pace, though luckily the drummer has great feel – kicking up grooves that prevent the whole thing from descending into a leaden plod. There’s nothing wrong with Matt’s voice or musicianship, and he clearly knows how to string a tune together, but to be honest his best work is still ahead of him. Every decent writer passes through a phase of learning how to make ordinary-sounding songs, on the way to writing extraordinary songs. Songs that make you go “fuck me – what was THAT????” and jump out of the speakers.

Like some of the other tracks recommended last week:

COJACK – Get me another drink
myspace.com/cojackmusicuk

DAN WHITEHOUSE – Somewhere I Dont Want To Go
myspace.com/mrdanwhitehouse

ELEMENTAL – 0800 SICKIE remix
myspace.com/mcelemental

BIKINI TEST FAILURE – Are We Having a Good Time Yet?
myspace.com/bikinitestfailure

Whether or not you agree with my musical taste – and these are random songs I’ve plucked from our inbox in the last 24 hours – they’re all performances by highly focussed artists who know how to grab an audience by the jugular, whether or not you like their style of music. I think Matt has real potential as an artist – and there’s a good chance that a year from now he’ll be turning out killer material that eclipses the kind of stuff that’s currently on his MySpace. Does the fact that we had to wade through five separate recommendations make us any more likely to play “Cry By The River” on the show this week? Of course it bloody doesn’t.

So if you have some great full-length tunes online you want to tell us about, we’d love to hear ’em. But don’t send CDs, emails or MySpace messages about them – just point us at your two favourite songs on our Recommend Music Page and we’ll definitely consider them for the show.

And – please do us a favour – only do it once.

Tom Robinson

London-based broadcaster & songwriter, born 1950. His best known songs are 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby; he has also co-written songs with Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Dan Hartman and Manu Katché. Read More…

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