An Equal Chance For All?

Cattle And Cane

This week we had a detailed and thought-provoking comment on our latest Fresh Faves by a reader who gave his name only as John – complaining about the fact that Cattle & Cane had been allowed onto last weekend’s Listening Post:

If the reasoning behind the listening post and the fresh favourites is to help up and coming un-established artists get their music heard by the public in order to gauge their feedback and opinion so they can then go on to improve their craft, is it really fair that an established band such as Cattle & Cane who have management, booking agents and a record label behind them are allowed to enter and subsequently be picked above the very artists the listening post was set up to help ?

As you point out they have already enjoyed major success, to use your words – ‘they’ve played T In The Park, recorded a live session on Radio 2 with Dermot O’Leary and have their music featured in grey matter-sapping TV shows Made In Chelsea & The Only Way In Essex.’

With that in mind do they really need to gauge peoples reaction to their music via the listening post at this stage in their careers ? surely they have quite a good idea of how their music is perceived by the public when they have already done all the above? they have a full team behind them and have just released a debut album, is it right they should be going up against bands that are just starting out and have likely recorded the music in their bedroom with no help from anyone ? does a band such as Cattle & Cane really need anymore of a leg up then they have already received ? specifically at the expense of other bands who haven’t been fortunate enough to enjoy such exposure as yet ?

Hello John
That’s a fair point, well made, and thanks for making it. Many of us, me included, hadn’t realised just how far Cattle & Cane have come since 2009 until our very own fount of knowledge Christopher McBride wrote his reviews this week. Ed Sheeran might not agree with your definition of “major success” but I totally take your point.

As you say the whole point of Fresh On The Net is to provide a level playing field where unknown artists get an equal chance of getting heard, based entirely on what comes out of the speakers.

So your comment raises an extremely difficult question: at what point do we throw people off that playing field?

I do agree it’s regrettable that artists who needed the exposure a lot more than Cattle & Cane missed out this week just because so many people preferred “Birdsong”. But to be fair it was the song that people liked and voted for, not the number of reality TV shows the band’s music has been featured on.

So really, it’s either a level playing field or it’s not.

Last week the track everyone loved was by a violin student at the Tamilnadu Music & Fine Arts University in South East India. This week it’s a band who’ve won an audience through seven years of hard work, persistence – and a knack for writing tunes people love on first listen.

Personally I don’t happen to like “Birdsong” and won’t be playing it on my BBC Introducing Mixtape. But I wouldn’t dream of banning it from our Listening Post just because the band played T in the Park in 2010 or Dermot O’Leary gave them a session three years ago.

Every week we get submissions from “established bands who have management, booking agents and a record label behind them” and they don’t get anywhere near our Listening Post. Not because they’ve got music industry backing, but because their music is dull as f*ck.

Every one of the artists who submitted music to us last week were listened to by no less than 16 of our moderators, including me. Where else in the music industry does that happen? They all got a fair hearing, and they did get “the feedback and opinion they need to improve their craft”…

Does our songwriting knock spots off the likes of Cattle And Cane ?
Not yet. Keep going.

Tom Robinson

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...


  1. Well said Tom! My favourite part was the ‘dull as f*ck* line.

  2. Cam

    Yeah it is an interesting point and I think Tom you covered it well. I think I have submitted 6 or 7 tracks here over the past 4 years have been very grateful to get an idea of how the tunes have been coming out. But I think the whole idea is to see how your music goes down on strangers, you can read that on the site. So as a listener, I have no idea who people are, I don’t know what they look like or where they have played and I don’t care. The music is varied and always interesting. And I like the fact my music is judged purely on the music by people just listening to music. It is pure, it is simple and I love it both ways both as a listener and as someone who occasionally submits a tune to see how I am getting along. It is hype free here and boy that is refreshing. Keep up the good work!

  3. Surely one of the benefits of the listening post concept is that it is relatively ‘success-blind’? And frankly, if one is in some measure successful, inclusion either adds kudos or represents a need for some sort of objective recognition of an artist’s achievements (however limited they might ultimately be); in any event, this particular band might be an established act, but they’re no Pearl Jam ?

  4. SimonR

    I enjoy participating in the listening post as I love listening to new music and make every effort to pick my 5 faves. It’s always difficult to narrow it down to five but feel I’m making my contributions to new or old bands trying to break through. There is always diversity in people’s listening tastes so the final faves don’t necessarily include mine but that’s ok.
    I appreciate the work that Tom and his fellow moderators do to narrow it down to 25 and I would rather they spent the time moderating the song writing and the music rather trying to work out who is in or out based on previous ‘history’!
    Keep up the great work….and keep your music coming in!

  5. Elijah

    A great piece and discussion.
    My band and I have benefited enormously from the Fresh On The Net community and its resources. In fact for an indie act there is no greater resource of information to steer you and guide you. We have submitted singles as we finished them over the last couple of years and found the feedback to be really useful and have been lucky enough to be ‘faves’ a few times. We now have a good fan base and have been lucky enough to have had more exposure on radio etc. none of this would have happened was it not for the Fresh On The net community. The feedback really made us focus and to be able to hear acts that are all making great music and varied music really made us raise our game not in a competitive way but in an inspiring way. We amour recording our second album so may be considered as not a new act but as an indie act each song is like a little baby bird that you want to release from the nest and this community is for us a massively important part of that. Any new single we release we always come here first to let it out because it’s important to us that the tune finds its feet or doesn’t because that’s all good feedback. Keep up the amazing work and thank you for listening

  6. As ever, a brilliantly concise and insightful read. From my perspective (and to echo the other comments), I don’t think there should be any limits on who can submit to Fresh Faves. I write and record everything on my own, do all my press, run all my social media and organise all my own gigs. I’m as independent as they come. Submitting one of my tracks and having such a major response from Tom came at a time when I was unsure of the point of it all; it enfranchised me in a way I didn’t think possible. For that it succeeded in it’s expected intention and I am forever thankful.

    However, this is just my experience and I don’t for a second think that Fresh Faves and the Introducing Mixtape should exist solely for this reason. When you write music; when I write music it is because I want it to be heard. There’s no point in doing it otherwise. Submitting to Fresh on the Net means it will be heard some with the opportunity of being heard by many. If it helps me build a fanbase then that is a bonus! But once I have one I don’t want to be excluded from showing my music to the community that helped build me. We all started in garages and bedrooms, we all have that root (unless you were plucked from Youtube a la Bieber). We will remember it standing on the Pyramid Stage. So if you see Freshnet as a community worth submitting to (which I very much do) then why shouldn’t you? If Coldplay decided to submit their new single then, although I wouldn’t vote for it, they’ve at least showed respect for the resource. Good for them!

  7. I like the level playing field aspect. To play devil’s advocate, if an established band submits and doesn’t made the grade then maybe it’s handy for them to figure whether they need to refocus. Personally, I was over the moon to be featured on the same compilation as La Shark, a band I have been a fan of for a few years. Made me feel that maybe I was doing something right!

  8. I think the listening post is a fabulous concept and delivers not only a level playing field but a brilliant opportunity to benchmark your music.

    The fact that lots of lovely people (The Moderators) take the time to listen to your music exposes you to a group of tastemakers that would be nigh on impossible to reach otherwise.

    I would also like to say that if a band/Artist has worked hard and achieved some success then fair play, however doing a session for Radio 2 three years ago doesn’t help with the transient nature of listening habits and the need to maintain momentum. Does success even a year ago make you current or the need for feedback go away?

    If you make the music your heart tells you then you’re already doing the right thing. When music becomes a competition then it loses its magic. It’s a tough business but forums like FOTN make it a little easier.

    Keep up the good work x

  9. I love the listening post, it give us an opportunity to get our music heard outside of the depths of soundcloud. Everyone is always at different levels and progressions in music, it would be boring if everyone was on the same playing field, and being surrounded by tracks of so many different levels gives you something to be inspired by or work towards. Write music because you love it, don’t get bogged down in the industry politics of it! Cheers for including Antidote on last weeks listening post!
    Big love – Leah (KETO) x

  10. Tom

    Sample the complete inbox from which our moderators will be choosing 25 tracks for this weekend’s Listening Post, here

  11. Matt

    “As you point out they have already enjoyed major success, to use your words – ‘they’ve played T In The Park, recorded a live session on Radio 2 with Dermot O’Leary and have their music featured in grey matter-sapping TV shows Made In Chelsea & The Only Way In Essex.”

    This is a ludicrious definition of major success. Having worked in music for years, I have many friends who’ve been in small, independent bands who’ve done all of the above and more, yet still need help getting local and national exposure.

  12. As long as it is new music it seems to me that it doesn’t matter who submits it, it still has to be moderated putting everyone, no matter who they are, on a level playing field.

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