321 Artists Meets: Alex Rogers (BBC Radio 1)
This week on ‘321 Artists Meets’ I chatted with the wonderful Alex Rogers, a freelance radio producer, who has recently spent a lot of time producing at BBC Radio 1.
For some, getting your music onto the major radio stations can seem like a dream destination for your music, but sometimes it can feel like a long journey to get there. There are different options thrown in your direction as to how you can achieve this, some more affordable and accessible than others, but what’s the right way to go about it?
One of the most common avenues that is recommended to an emerging artist to get their music heard by radio producers is to hire or employ a radio plugger who has good relationships with the producers.
I think radio pluggers can be integral to an artist’s journey but they’re only one part of the bigger picture. There are a couple of them who I really trust but when I’m thinking of who to flag to a presenter or colleague, I look beyond who’s bringing the artist to me and think about whether their sound fit the show, if their story piques my interest, and what their fanbase is like. For an emerging artist releasing off your own back, you won't have the resources and track record of hitting the same numbers as a major label artist but you can still nurture a fascinating sound and dedicated audience of fanatics. If you're at the beginning of your musical journey, the right plugger who is passionate about the genre you're making can make a world of difference but others can be expensive and there's no guarantee you'll get your music in front of the right radio producer. I would recommend thinking about what you'd like to get out of employing a radio plugger as it's not the only way to reach music outlets!
Whilst working at BBC Radio 1, Alex had a close relationship with the team at BBC Introducing, arguably one of the important and effective tools for an emerging artist. BBC Introducing is a free platform for emerging artists to upload their music to and their music is then listened to the regional teams, who then may pass it onto the major stations.
BBC Music Introducing is certainly very important; we have Huw Stephens' show and each week one track gets picked from a local show to be played each day across Radio 1. So many artists we play and who perform at Big Weekend started out by putting their music on the Introducing Uploader; there's Slaves, Florence and the Machine, George Ezra and loads more... If they're from the UK they've probably been played somewhere on BBC Introducing. I (like a lot of people in the music and radio industries) think it's a constant source of great new music in a time where the traditional outlets of discovery are in a state of flux.
Radio is not only a useful tool for emerging artists, it is also a great building block for those wanting a career in music, and can lead to a number of different opportunities. There are many roles involved within a radio station, and the journey to these roles can vary.
My first step in radio was signing up to my university's student radio in Freshers' Week and getting a show. From there, I interviewed loads of my favourite bands, helped put on gig nights and made loads of good friends. My foot in the door at Radio 1 was answering the phones on The Surgery with Gemma Cairney each week, while building up experience at various other stations, and from there I became a Team Assistant on Matt Edmondson and Alice Levine's shows. If you're interested in a career in radio I would suggest finding your nearest student or community station and get stuck in. You can show your passion and peak the attention of a national station with a podcast, blog or social media channel too!