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My Top 10 Albums Of 2015

Hello! So yes, it has come to that time of year again where we all take a look back at the last year in music and go, ‘hmmm, what’s been the best stuff we’ve heard?’ NME have already done it, as have Pitchfork, Drowned In Sound, and basically every magazine-music-mogul you can think of. So now it’s my turn, enjoy.

And just for the record, much to the opposition of every other poor sap in the country, I’ve not turned into a bloody ‘Belieber’. I still don’t think that in any way, shape or form that he’s ‘cool’ or ‘mature’ now, his songs are still crap in my opinion. So you can think again if you think that I’m gonna include ‘Purpose’ in this list, ’cause I’m not. Right? Good.

 

10) Kendrick Lamar – ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’TPAB

Much higher on others’ lists, it’s just crept into my countdown.This is a wonderfully constructed work of art quite frankly, touching upon Lamar’s dealings with depression, fame, celebrity and everything that’s happened in his life since his breakthrough record was released in 2012, ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’. Had it not been so long, it would have been higher ranked for sure. My love for Kendrick grew even more this year when I saw him perform at Leeds Festival on the main stage in August. This was an electric, energetic and pulsating performance from one of the best rappers on the planet, making it my gig of the year.

 

9) Sleater-Kinney – ‘No Cities To Love’NCTL

I literally couldn’t tell you anything about this band, apart from the fact that I love this album. Doing it for the girls, this brilliantly tight record has a great passive-aggressive feel to it. The title track features the lyrical highlights in ‘it’s not the cities, it’s the weather we love’. It’s a bit satirical, it’s all a bit subliminal and it’s a bloody good listen.

 

8) Foals – ‘What Went Down’ WWD

What went down is this. Foals made this wicked album called ‘Holy Fire’ back in 2013, their best yet, toured a bit, headlined a few festivals for the first time and went back into the studio to create an even better piece of work. ‘What Went Down’ is a fiery, passionate record clearly made for the live environment. You’ve never seen more determination on anyone’s face than on frontman Yannis Philippakis’ face this year when the band performed the title track live on Jools Holland. You also haven’t heard a more epic track than ‘Knife In The Ocean’ this year. Album closer and stand out moment for me.

 

7) Jamie xx – ‘In Colour’ IC

Here’s a tale of a man who never stops doing things. You would think that after writing and touring two phenomenal albums with The xx, that Jamie from the band would go and take a break with the other two. Nope, he decided to write and produce his best record to date. ‘In Colour’ is a wonderfully dreamy experience with many awesome songs. ‘Gosh’ and ‘Girl’ hold deep suburban London references, with ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) offering his beats to virtual unknowns from across the Atlantic. A BBC Music Award nomination, a Mercury Music Prize nomination and a big Glastonbury DJ performance can’t be wrong, this is an absolute must-have.

 

6) Tame Impala – ‘Currents’

Currents

I honestly didn’t think this band could get any better after 2012’s ‘Lonerism’. The words; Parker, genius and Kevin come to mind when listening to this beauty. Not only is ‘Currents’ excellently produced and mixed by Parker himself, but the songwriting has upped considerably also. It’s essentially cool pop music, so accessible to the band’s already existing fanbase and to new audiences. ‘The Less I Know The Better’ features on a recent Apple advert, showing how massive this band actually are now, and potentially setting out the direction for the prospective future ahead.

 

5) Guy Garvey – ‘Courting The Squall’ CTS

This addition may come as a surprise to some, but for me, this is lyrically and innovatively the most sound album of the year. Taking a break from Elbow requirements, Guy Garvey has had complete free reign on this debut solo effort, and has lapped it all up to his advantage. Taking many twists and turns along the way, the album goes through a 6music blender at times, delivering some memorable moments. My personal highlight is the wonderfully bizarre ‘Belly Of The Whale’, in which Garvey sings, ‘I cannot speak its name but I would walk into its mouth and I would breakfast in the belly of the whale’.

 

4) Blur – ‘The Magic Whip’

TMW

Aaah, this was just great wasn’t it? Our old favourites from the M25 and beyond returned with their first album in twelve long years. Recorded in Hong Kong of all places, ‘The Magic Whip’ is made up of impromptu writing and recording sessions while the band had some free time on the Chinese coast, and then sent back over to England to be mixed and released in due course. When listening to this record it feels like Albarn, Coxon, James and Rowntree have all learnt something musically from the past twelve years and collaborated fantastically here. It’s such a mixed bag of playing techniques, emotions, lyrical ingenuity and flirtations with the past that you can’t help but be drawn in. Many say it’s the best Blur album since their self-titled effort of eighteen years ago, and I would have to agree completely.

 

3) Courtney Barnett – ‘Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’ SISATASIJS

Our second Australian entry in my end of year countdown comes from Miss Courtney Barnett and band. Debut record, ‘SISATASIJS’ follows in the shadow of successful cult double EP, ‘A Sea of Split Peas’ and expands upon Barnett’s already irreverent style of guitar-playing and vocal rambling. It’s a hugely comical listen in parts, featuring songs about roadkill, the first world problems of lane swimming and extortionate house prices in suburban areas of Melbourne. This all comes with inevitable specific references and it’s like taking a dive into Courtney’s wonderful little head. A real breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine in a dark and dreary year.

 

2) Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – ‘Blossom’ Blossom

It’s official, PUNK IS NOT DEAD! ‘The Rattlesnakes’ is the new project of many that frontman and visionary Frank Carter has thrown himself into. ‘Blossom’ is a quick-fire, sweaty, gruelling run-through gargantuan  guitar chords and an ear-bleeding rhythm section, not to mention throat-clenching and somewhat distorted vocals from Carter himself. Themes of horror, fear, death, anxiety, schizophrenia and political angst are explored, and it’s done in such an English, punk-worthy way. It’s perfect for the times, and in a way, the musical embodiment of Britain in 2015.

 

  1. Slaves – ‘Are You Satisfied?’ AYS

Here it is, my number one album of the year is ‘Are You Satisfied?’, from pretty much my favourite band of the year, Slaves. I couldn’t really help it, I’ve followed their progress online religiously all year and I’ve seen them three times, with one of those times being on a boat in Bristol on my 21st birthday in May. After that very same gig I met Isaac Holman from the band, just as the Kent duo were gearing up to release this 37-minute piece of brilliance. This again, is a very funny record, featuring songs about sea creatures, early alarms and grumpy so-and-so’s on the London underground. Underneath these sketch-like tracks, there are underlying messages however concerning a lack of happiness in the working environment and conservative politics in the UK. ‘You keep it, we don’t want it’ is bombed through on ‘The Hunter’, making it a firm live favourite. This record is hugely relatable and can be used as a massive release of energy after a stressful day. Am I satisfied? Yes, yes I am Slaves.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

A Much-Too-Late Look Back At Leeds Festival 2015

Alright, I realise it’s much, much too late for this, as it is almost mid-October, but I got a bit bored, so I thought I would FINALLY write my review of Leeds Festival 2015. Thanks for waiting.

This was the first Leeds Festival I’d attended after spending the whole weekends at 2010, ’11 and ’12. In those three years I went to University and left University, achieving a relatively good degree. I’d also crossed the Atlantic to spend the summer of ’14 in the US of A. It turns out when me and my boys returned to our beloved Leeds Festival, a LOT had changed!

Upon arrival, we eventually all agreed to camp in Orange Funfair, where I had camped for my previous three years of attendance. For those who don’t know, Orange Funfair used to play host to the famous ‘Tango’ ride. This ride was the absolute bain of our lives when staying there. It would continue well into the night until around 5am playing around 20 seconds of a song then suddenly switching to a recorded ‘T-T-T-TAAAANNNGGGGOOOOOOOO’, swiftly followed by some Star Wars interval music. This would happen on average 50 times an hour. As I’m sure you can all imagine, it did become a tad annoying. Well, this had gone for 2015, so no more Tango. Thank God you say? Maybe. Maybe not.

Going into the arena on the Thursday evening to watch a stellar RedFaces, Bohicas and Pulled Apart By Horses perform, the whole setup had been altered, mainly due presumably to the addition of the Radio 1 Dance stage and 1xtra stage a couple of years prior, (both awful, needless to say). This meant that the entrance had moved further into the village, leaving that less space and the NME/Radio 1 stage, playing host to headliners Deadmau5, Knife Party and Rebel Sound throughout the weekend, had to be downsized. It doesn’t need a critic to say that this was a dreadful move by organisers of the event, Festival Republic. Our plan to watch Catfish & The Bottlemen as a foursome on the Sunday evening before Metallica came quickly to a halt, with there being far too many people having the same idea, thus cramming the tent to its nooks and crannies. The band came on late due to security having to ask the audience to all move back. This quite frankly showed a massive lack of understanding by the festival organisers. It’s pretty damn clear to most people in the country that Catfish have absolutely blown up in the last twelve months after building a huge fanbase and selling thousands of copies of debut album, ‘The Balcony’. Maybe if FR read the NME next time they’ll know to put them on the main stage.

That’s it for the logistics of the event. Onto the actual music, which was, for the most part, phenomenal. Friday was probably the best day for me personally as it was very indie and alternative. Acts such as Lonely The Brave, Ghostpoet, The Skints, Spring King and The Maccabees got my weekend off to a fine start. From watching the terrific sounds of the Maccabees rattle through fan favourites and new cuts from strong fourth ‘Marks To Prove It’, we stayed at the main stage for Jamie T, a guy I’ve never been able to catch, mostly due to his lack of touring in the past and break from music before third effort ‘Carry On The Grudge’. It’s safe to say he and his band were great. The crowd capacity then grew for the next man, Mr Kendrick Lamar. Making a rare appearance at a UK festival, people knew this was a ‘now or never’ scenario. Coming on to a rampant ‘Money Trees’, Kendrick played for an hour or thereabouts. With the sun setting and beer flowing, it was simply perfection, everything a rap show should be. The crowd were great, all well up for it and actually knew the words. It was my performance of the weekend by the end, and I would go on record to say that it’s in my list of top 5 gigs ever! Friday’s music then ended with a slightly disappointing Libertines. Don’t get me wrong, the songs were well played and it was a classic Libs setlist. Annoyingly for me though, they pretty much played my favourite songs in the first half hour, (‘Horror Show, ‘Time For Heroes’, ‘Breck Rd.’) etc. About an hour in, it got a tad bland, with members of the crowd checking the time and making any excuse to get to the bar. Improving on the encore, the performance overall remained somewhat old-fashioned and turned out to unfortunately be one of the weakest performances of the weekend. Also, without sounding too horrible, Doherty is really ugly in person, I mean, bloody hell, the man is ugly.

Now, Saturday. After feeling extraordinarily worse for wear, I somehow managed to scramble myself into the arena for my first band of the day, The Districts on the NME/Radio 1 stage, (great comedown music I must say). The majority of the rest of the afternoon consisted of us having many ‘well-needed sit-downs’ in order to get our breaths back. The night before was heavy. The music was still top-draw though. It was great to see local Yorkshire boys, Drenge on the main stage, as well as the quite frankly sporadic Parquet Courts over on NME/Radio 1. The rest of the evening was spent at that very stage for Swim Deep, who drew in a real bouncing crowd, and Peace, who were fantastic. I’d already seen them once in Birmingham for the NME Awards Tour 2013 and they had seriously upped their live game during those two years. Frontman Harrison Koisser’s singing was massively on point also, with the band being one of the highlights of the weekend. I then waited anxiously in the tent for one of my most anticipated acts of the festival, Run The Jewels. Knowing that it’d be a rare occasion to see them, I made well sure of getting near the front and I can tell you, the illustrious rap duo did not disappoint. Despite not being able to understand what they were rapping about in a live surrounding, the bass and atmosphere compensated. It was simply an early party, and it was brilliant. We then looked forward to sub-headliners Limp Bizkit, who I was about to see for remarkably, the fourth time. Yes, the FOURTH time. And in all honesty, it wasn’t my favourite time I’ve seen them. Limp Bizkit fans are way too crazy these days, especially after a few jars. The moshpits became that raucous that at one point, my mate actually proceeded to push someone who was already bent over. This is a sin in a moshpit, but looking back, it was hilarious. He was a fat fuck, and a dickhead, so deserved it quite frankly. Other than these in-crowd goings-on, the band themselves played very well, constantly keeping us all excited and pumped up, playing great renditions of ‘Nookie’, ‘Hot Dog’ and many more. We were all then very fired up for the last act of the day, Knife Party.

I literally have no idea where to start with Knife Party. First of all, it was busy, very busy, very very busy. The term, ‘packed in like sardines’ could not have been more appropriate to use in this instance, it was silly. Therefore, it was hot, very hot. And lastly, everyone was completely off it, as I’ll further elaborate on soon. This was all before the DJs came on stage, bare in mind. Eventually, Rob Swire and co. pressed play and the place erupted. All four of us lost each other within two minutes and I had never heard so many chants of ‘YOU WHAT? YOU WHAT? LEEDS’ in one period of fifty minutes. Take it from me, this became bloody annoying. It was all fun enough though until something terribly frightful started to take place. Some irresponsible girl in her late teens, clearly on enough Class A’s to feed West Yorkshire, thought it would be a bright idea to climb up the scaffolding, central to the tent. The band kept playing for about ten minutes until she got higher, and higher, and higher. She must’ve got to about 40/50 feet before security thought; ‘actually, we should probably do something about this’. After being told to get down several times and refusing in her own stripper-like way, Knife Party had stopped playing and everyone in the crowd were furiously biting their nails, including me. At this point I was very close to leaving and going back to camp. I felt physically sick and didn’t think I could cope with the potential post-traumatic stress that would come after seeing someone fall from a scary height into a crowd full of innocent people, it just wasn’t for me. Thankfully, she did come down after about ten minutes, mainly due to many in the crowd booing. I mean, we hadn’t even heard ‘Bonfire’ or ‘Internet Friends’ yet! When we did, it was sick but I also felt extremely terrified at the same time – that strange feeling that comes when standing in the middle of a moshpit. Looking back on Knife Party however, we felt it was just a normal DJ set and nothing particularly special. It was also a tad redundant in a way, because I couldn’t actually see any of the band for the entirety of the set. I hate being short.

The last fun-filled day of music ,(Sunday), comes around and I feel like death again. This is OK though, I’m welcomed into the day by the strong new British indie-rock sounds of Nothing But Thieves. A proper band one might say, who are very grateful for the support and put on a good show. I then head over to the Main to see other anticipants of mine, Fidlar, fronted by Zac Carper. Award for best tee of the weekend goes to him for the sad but true, ‘wake up, jerk off, cry’. You know what they say, honesty is the best policy. The NME was calling again after their set as rumours were spread around that Foals were here, and they were going on stage at half past one. Well, they’re one of my favourite bands, so if this is true this is mega! We had a window so we rushed over to the opposite end of the arena and the tent was the busiest its been at that time of day for years. They were coming on. After not seeing them since 2010 at the very same stage at the very same festival, this put the icing on the cake for me. The band were on top form and all was well, I couldn’t help feel that the crowd were somewhat sedate however, something that strangely resurfaces later on. We stayed at the NME for Slaves and Spector, cleverly noticing in the meantime that frontman of Spector, Fred Macpherson, is these days an absolute spitting image of Amy Farrah Fowler, awkward yet lovable girlfriend of Sheldon Cooper in ‘The Big Bang Theory’. This was one of the shouts of the weekend by Huw, turning into one of the laughs of the weekend, top work. Alexisonfire and Royal Blood were our next viewings, bringing into action my thought of this Sunday sedateness that the crowds were for some reason supporting. Royal Blood for example, I honestly thought it was gonna be nuts, but it turned out to be pretty chill. However, maybe this was because both members (Mike and Ben) were gurning off their bonce, they’d started early. Despite this, they performed a new song entitled ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’ which was incredible. I hadn’t been that excited after hearing a new song for a LONG time, fab stuff. After seeing and kind of not seeing Catfish & The Bottlemen at the same time, I was very excited to have my weekend finished off by the mighty Metallica. Two and a bit hours of awesome metal is difficult to sum up here, but basically, it was thrilling. My favourite song ‘Sad But True’ was everything I ever wished it to be, it was just perfect, and I was with my fave people, and it was all just perfect. Although, I’m still adamant that the performance of the weekend goes to Kendrick Lamar. It was ridiculously good and showed a world-famous rapper on top of his game loving life to the max. Fantastic.

My ever so fun weekend came to a close the next morning when we were met by constant rain and a five-hour battle through traffic, hunger, tiredness and illness. Well, we were spoilt for the whole weekend after all. Maybe see you next year Leeds!

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

‘How has social media changed the way radio stations communicate with their listeners?’

How has social media changed the way radio stations communicate with their listeners?

 

‘What strikes everyone, broadcasters and listeners alike, as significant about radio is that it is a blind medium’ (Crisell, 1994, 3). This quote by Crisell, read in ‘Understanding Radio’ acknowledges the old perception that was once with radio. Pre-digital age, listeners were only able to consume radio mostly on FM transmitters and in cars. This naturally paves the way for a passive form of listening when the audience are prioritised with other activities as noted by McLeish; ‘the medium is less demanding in that it permits us to do other things at the same time – programmes become an accompaniment to something else’ (McLeish, 2005, 5).

Nowadays, there is more opportunity for a concentration in listening, thanks to interaction via new technology and most importantly, social media. This essay will explore and discuss the way social media has changed radio stations’ communications and relationship-building with their listeners. With the use of case studies in Rinse FM and BBC Radio 5 live and examples from other well-known networks, we will discover how these two very different stations manipulate social media in such a way that it creates more discourse with their audiences, as well as taking into account the target demographic of both stations. Popular platforms including Facebook and Twitter will be studied in context and we will analyse the advantages and disadvantages of using such outlets in the radio form.

Context and relevant examples

‘Social media adds another dimension, another value’ (Knight, Cook, 2013, 29). Social media has changed the way everyday listeners perceive and approach radio, as pointed out by the mentioned quote taken from ‘Social Media for Journalists: Principles & Practice’.  This greatly refers to the new digital age that the modern generation have welcomed with open arms. DAB digital radios, the launch of online usage on mobile phone technology and portable tablets make radio more accessible listening, especially when people are out and about. With this comes the all-new visual aspect of radio that, in the last couple of years, has been notable and has brought radio to the masses once more.

To draw on an example that further illustrates this point, BBC Radio 1 launched  their own Iplayer channel online in the last twelve months, separate from the rest of the Iplayer channels available that are there and allow consumers to watch the likes of BBC One and BBC Two live, as well as the other digital television channels. This is the first live-streamed channel for a radio station that is accessible to users and shows coverage of annual events such as the Radio 1 Teen Awards and BBC Radio 1xtra Live, as well as performances from the prestigious Radio 1 Live Lounge. Controller, Ben Cooper said on the subject in 2013 that he was ‘very excited about transforming Radio 1 from being just a radio station into being a full audio-visual channel’ (Cooper, 2013).

From looking at the website, ‘audio-visual’ is the correct concept to be describing it as. There are clear links to exclusive videos and interestingly-enough, a link back to the Radio 1 website itself. This not only enhances cross-promotion but also makes it easy for mobile-users especially (as they would be the main sources of ‘audio-visual’ content) to consume what they want when they are for example, on their way to work. ‘Fundamentally, the BBC has to shift its focus from putting traditional broadcasting first to putting mobile first. By 2022, the BBC should be mobile first in every country’ (Stringer, 2014). This quote by Howard Stringer, former CEO of Sony Corporation in America, shows what the expectation is from outsiders of the BBC, and what projects they are running now and have planned to run for the future shows that they might then be able to reach that expected target.

Radio 1’s slogan and tagline is ‘listen, watch, share’ (BBC Radio 1, 2015). If we study the ‘audio-visual’ concept that Cooper has backed, then it shows that ‘listen’ refers to the listening of Radio 1, ‘watch’ points out the website, the Youtube channel and the Iplayer channel of recent times, and ‘share’ is where the social media aspect of the brand comes into play. Nowadays, ‘sharing’ in social media context means to spread information around the virtual social media sphere. On Facebook, one option on any post is to ‘share’ the specified post and on Twitter, any user is able to ‘re-tweet’ any tweet from another user they may follow. For most people, it’s one click of a button and studies show that social media usage on mobiles is at a considerable amount. According to Social Media Examiner online, ‘Twitter users are 86% mobile’ and ‘Facebook is 68% mobile’ as of May 2014, (Social Media Examiner, 2014). Therefore, ‘putting mobile first’ for the BBC looks like a very doable project.

From research found however, the whole of the BBC are starting to act on the ‘listen, watch, share’ mentality. Radio 2’s Brett Spencer did a guest talk at the University of Gloucestershire in 2014. Being head of digital at Radio 2, 6music and Asian Network, it was only natural for him to speak on the subject of social media, to which he discussed relevant examples of recent projects and explained, ‘we’re using social and digital to try and get Radio 2 listeners to listen on different platforms’ (Spencer, 2014).

One of the ideas that Spencer refers to that has taken off more prominently in the last twelve months is ‘Sounds of the 80s’, presented by Radio 1 and Radio 2 DJ, Sara Cox. Describing it as ‘building a digital brand’ (Spencer, 2014), Spencer explains that it started being broadcast on radio for a period of time, and thanks to the success of it on Radio 2, it is now available on multiple platforms, including online and on television, where it has a key promotion trail before ‘Match of the Day’ is shown live every Saturday evening on BBC One. This trail offers the chance for viewers to switch over to the BBC red button in order to watch ‘Sounds of the 80s’. This shows that Radio 2 had laid out a plan which has been spread over a period of time and is in social media’s hands to exploit. As seen on the ‘Sounds of the 80s’ Twitter page, there is a recurring ‘hashtag’ (#soundsofthe80s), written at the end of every tweet as the show is going out live. The hashtag is there to represent a base for social media users to come back to when they are interacting with the show, hence building up a following and forming a sense of listenership. Senior lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire, Andrew Vincent wrote, ‘social media and broadcasting is now entwined. It is an important channel of communication between the radio station and its audience’ (Vincent, 2014). This quote sums up many recent examples of stations and their attempts at new forms of communication with their audience, including this one carried out by BBC Radio 2.

To review the research noted thus far and the examples discussed, radio stations to an extent, use social media through multi-platforming. It has changed the way they communicate with their listeners in some respects as it seems very favourable towards the modern generation that familiarise themselves with new technology, especially when considering the usage of mobile phones. This poses the question of whether or not social media alienates older listeners and whether all radio stations disregard listeners tuning in via traditional platforms.

Social media

To give an angle to the answers of these possible questions, it is worth understanding some inside knowledge on social media and exploring some theories relating to it. According to multiple sources, the definition of social media itself is, ‘social media is the collective of online communication channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration’ (What Is, 2014). If we study it, it’s clear to see that from the definition, social media is set up nicely for radio stations to use in the first instance. Community-based input can come from the station, interaction is between the station and its audience via social media and content-sharing and collaboration can be exploited heavily on both channels.

To analyse further, avid social media user and Student Union president at the University of Gloucestershire, Rickesh Patel spoke at a Venture Into Enterprise event at the University in Novemeber 2014. In his presentation he spoke about his ‘eight steps to a social media strategy’ (Patel, 2014). This was aimed at people who strive to be successful on various social media platforms by gaining followers and getting their content shared.

Step 1 was to firstly maintain a ‘buy-in and situational analysis’. This referred to the user securing their objectives for social media. For radio stations, this would predominantly be to gain more listeners and hence raise the listening figures. Step 2 was about the ‘community map’, understood in a virtual situation. In context, this is about radio stations doing their market research based on possible times of engagement and types of content engaged with. An example of a station doing this would be the student-run station at the University, Tone Radio, going out to different campuses and asking their demographic questions relevant to them. Questions included were ‘what TV are you watching right now’ and ‘what three bands are you listening too at the moment?’ Here, Tone got an idea of the types of listeners that they manage to maintain and also figured out what content the station should be promoting.

Interestingly enough, Tone disbanded themselves from social media in order to go out physically and put in the market research, taking a more traditional form of approaching PR and promotion. The process then naturally helped the research to turn into relevant content and thus be shared on social media platforms. For example, the audience informed Tone that they enjoy going out to gigs. Therefore, when the station was building up to their annual fundraiser in 2014, Glos-Tone-Beret, the management asked presenters to promote the event as much as they could on their individual shows, as well as sharing online links via Facebook and Twitter. Posters were also designed in order to give Glos-Tone-Beret a physical sense of presence. From this example, connection and a good working relationship describes how social media changes the way radio stations communicate with their listeners. By doing market research, listeners hear what they want to hear and thus the station can maintain their audience.

The next five steps in Patel’s ‘8 steps to a social media strategy’ focused on the ‘relationship build’, ‘social content’, ‘self-audit’, ‘protection’ and the means to ‘reduce risk’. For radio stations, these steps in particular refer heavily to the interpersonal connection a station or programme might have with its audience. This links to the theory of ‘co-presence’, which supports the shared experience of radio listening. Writers, Gartner and Ortag in 2011 published, ‘as a result of co-presence of people – both physical and virtual – the so-called co-presence communities are formed’ (Gartner, Ortag, 2011, 250). This quote can be supported by the example formerly given amongst research, where Tone Radio members went out and gathered market research in order to virtually create content. Gartner and Ortag talk here of how working relationships are formed and how communities can maintain these. In this context, ‘communities’ refers to the radio stations themselves.

The final step of the ‘8 steps to a social media strategy’ is to be able to ‘demonstrate ROI (Return on Investment)’. This is purely a financial factor for social media organisations, something that radio stations don’t need to worry about as much. To conclude, Patel was asked how often Twitter users should tweet on a regular basis. He replied with, ‘if you’re checking your phone once an hour, you should be tweeting once an hour, because people will see it’ (Patel, 2014). This in itself is a strategy of subtly keeping the listener interested, especially if maintained to a consistent level. From this thinking, it’s clear to understand that social media changes the way radio stations communicate with their listener with regards to the social media updates being part of their daily routine. This creates an interpersonal relationship, even if interaction is not involved.

What we have gathered from the research thus far, is that social media can be used as a means of spreading information. Via Twitter is arguably the quickest and easiest way of doing this. Describing the 500 million tweets posted every day as ‘goldmines for journalists’ (Schiller, 2014), former Head of News for Twitter, Vivian Schiller spoke at a social media conference in North America and theoretically broke the online phenomenon down into four over-arching processes, these being ‘detect’, ‘report’, ‘distribute’ and ‘engage’.  In context to radio, it’s worth exploring one of our case studies firstly and seeing whether they use Twitter in this format.

Case studies

‘Broadcasters constantly tweet to attract listeners to what’s on air in real time’ (Vincent, 2014). This quote by Andrew Vincent refers to presenters, producers and stations in general posting from Twitter but from looking at Rinse FM’s Twitter page, they tweet on average twice an hour to the public (their followers).  This is without taking replies into consideration. A tweet from 13th January 2015 states, ‘it’s #RoskaRinsePicks: a run down of 5 tracks he’s adding to his @Spotify playlist! @RoskaOfficial + @JamieGeorgeUK! Rinse.fm/player’ (Twitter, 2015). This tweet fully supports Schiller’s theory as ‘#RoskaRinsePicks’ ‘detects’, detecting the feature, the ‘run down of 5 tracks’ is the ‘report’, reporting on what the feature includes, linking followers to the player at the end of the tweet is the ‘distribute’ aspect and ‘engage’ happens when the tweet is published, attracting listeners to tune in and thus interacting via the initial tweet. Consequently, the post gained two re-tweets and one favourite making Vincent’s thinking; ‘social media is a great research tool for finding information’ (Vincent, 2014) a valid point, thanks to the spread of said information. Social media here changes the way radio stations communicate with their listeners as certain ‘hashtags’ on Twitter especially, can become familiar territory for programmes to use. This is a form of expectation driven by the listener who wants to see this specific hashtag trending online and therefore shares it themselves. This then has the potential to create a following, in which all users participating will communicate through this one hashtag, building up a sense of community.

‘It is now common journalistic practice for instant updates to be followed by short-form draft storytelling and then edited packages in a non-linear way’ (Knight, Cook, 2013, 35). This quote, as journalistic as it is written for public service broadcast stations such as BBC Radio 2 and 4, can still be made relevant for Rinse FM, a community station based in London. A video on the Rinse FM Facebook page follows the structure that Knight and Cook write about. It features the caption, ‘Mez, Novelist + more went in HARD this week on The Grime Show w/ Sir Spyro this week. Watch the full vid >> http://rinse.tv/thegrimeshow’ (Facebook, 2015). The video itself then shows a visual package of the artists spoken about in action, with two different clips, supporting the ‘non-linear’ style of social media content. Despite listeners and followers interacting with the post, it doesn’t look engaging enough for interaction. With regards to social media (Facebook in this instance) changing how Rinse FM communicate with their audience, the research shows that it depends on the social media platform how much conversation will be driven.

Rinse’s Facebook page acts as another link to their website (rinse.fm), as a lot of posts refer to the website where the consumer is available to listen to past shows and watch full videos, as displayed in the example above. The site looks visually appealing enough for the modern generation that it could pass for a social media platform itself, but this is the case because Rinse FM is a very social media-driven station. We know this because at the bottom of the home page of the website, there are links to the Rinse FM pages. These include Facebook and Twitter (as already discussed), Youtube, Instagram and Soundcloud. As everything as we understand thus far with Rinse is interlinked somewhat, it almost acts as a brand, and one that can be shared across different platforms.

Documentary producer, Charles Miller, made a statement that social media is ‘a conversation rather than an announcement. The right tone of voice will build brand loyalty and maximise sharing of the journalistic work you have done’ (Miller, 2014). Regarding what he says about tone of voice and how that links with Rinse, the station and its programming is aimed at a certain, niche demographic, mainly the younger generation. This therefore paves the way for potential use of slang, jargon and common abbreviations. For example, on 27th December 2014, Rinse started the build-up to their New Year’s Day event via Facebook and their Instagram page, ‘@rinsestagram’. Posts were uploaded of the live event taking place at Rinse FM’s nightclub, FWD, and showed pictures of the DJs performing. The text on one of the pictures shared on the Facebook page was ‘NYD – JAN.01 FAYE MIYAKE’ (Facebook, 2014), with no caption provided. You can see the abbreviations made in ‘NYD’ for ‘New Year’s Day’, and January has been shortened to ‘JAN’. This targets the demographic cleverly as consistency is kept when referring to brand loyalty. When a similar post was uploaded on the Instagram page however, more of a caption was written. A hashtag was offered as ‘#NewYearsDay’ and below this, there was a link to the website where people were available to purchase tickets for the event. This refers back to our analytical view that radio stations nowadays use Facebook as a benchmark for other sites to link themselves, and vice versa. However, the Rinse brand is still maintained throughout. This is without mentioning the fact that their Soundcloud account heavily coincides with their Youtube account.

We know this because the same song or EP (Extended Play) is shared on both platforms simultaneously, with both Youtube and Soundcloud being sites where you can stream music. For example, XXXY’s ’18 Hours’ EP was uploaded on behalf of both accounts on 17th December 2014, after Rinse FM were given permission to disclose the tracks. This displays brand consistency as well as cross-promotion from two globally-renowned platforms. In terms of this social media content communicating with listeners on this level, it changes matters as the streaming of music offers scope to the audience, where a station such as BBC Radio 5 live might not have the facilities to do so.

From the research that has been ascertained about Radio 5 live, it’s been noted that the station choose not to share content across as many various social media platforms as Rinse FM do. 5 live have a Facebook, Twitter and Youtube account, and use these for a purely journalistic purpose more than anything and this therefore adheres to the common idea of social media being a platform of ‘spreading information’. Again however, Facebook is used as the base of holding information, whereas 5 live’s Twitter page sparks conversations on a regular basis.

For example, a post on their Facebook page on 15th January 2015 has the caption, ‘Felicity Jones says it is “wonderful” to receive an Oscar nomination from The Academy for her role as Jane Hawking in the Theory of Everything’ (Facebook, 2015). An interesting point from this post is that ‘The Academy’ is highlighted, making it a link to that particular Facebook page. This shows that different pages and accounts on social media platforms do not choose to be competitive with each other, thus communicating with the listener that anyone can approach pages with the most followers or ‘likes’. This offers further scope for sporadic content, something Knight and Cook call the ‘five I’s of social-media storytelling’, which ‘embrace the non-linear nature of content creation’ (Knight, Cook, 2013, 47). The ‘five I’s’ are ‘infrastructure’, ‘inform’, ‘immerse’, ‘interest’ and ‘interact’. With regards to the Facebook post mentioned, the infrastructure is there, the post itself is informative and of interest. ‘Immerse’ and ‘interact’ arrive more on 5 live’s Twitter page, taking into account the news feed provided there.

For instance, a post shared on 15th January 2015 that refers to the Africa Cup of Nations in football asks, ‘we’re looking ahead to the tournament taking place in Equatorial Guinea. Who’s your favourite? #AFCON2015’ (Twitter, 2015). This immediately takes effect and draws listeners and Twitter users to interact with the station, thus then getting the listeners to immerse themselves into the developments of the tournament and of 5 live’s coverage of it. Social media here changes the way radio stations communicate with their listeners as it shows that asking open-ended questions can generate content, but can also feed into the live programming.

During an edition of ‘Your Call’, an extension of the breakfast show on the station, the topic for listeners to phone in and voice their opinions on was about world class footballers behaving out of order and getting the benefit of the doubt for it. This was entitled, ‘does the good outweigh the bad and the ugly?’ (BBC Radio 5 live, 2014). After receiving some negative comments on the subject, presenter Nicky Campbell stated that there was a ‘little bit of a backlash on Twitter and via text’ (Campbell, 2014). Despite not being able to validate certain opinions, Campbell recognised an upheaval and referred to it live on air, showing the power of social media, and what effect it has today on live radio.

Without maintaining an Instagram account and not tweeting or using Facebook in as much of a youthful manner as Rinse FM do, 5 live obligate to stick to what is thought of as traditional methods of communication in this day and age, so as not to disregard the demographic they attract. As the station give a lot of room to phone-ins, the presenter, in this case Nicky Campbell makes sure to address the phone and text numbers on a consistent basis by saying ‘call us on 0500 909 693’ and ‘text us on 85058’ (Campbell, 2014). This gives an alternative to using social media as a large percentage of the audience are 40+, one generation older than the digital generation. In this sense, it’s fair to say that social media hasn’t changed the way some radio stations approach and communicate with their listeners. However, presenters still say ‘you can tweet @bbc5live’ (BBC Radio 5 live, 2015) and refer to the Facebook page, so as to cover all grounds. This is reinforced as the station is obliged to stick to their agreed network profile of ‘the service should appeal to news and sports fans of all ages and from all ethnic backgrounds and areas across the UK’ (BBC, 2011).

Conclusion

In conclusion to the essay question, ‘how has social media changed the way radio stations communicate with their listeners’, it’s safe to say that from the research found and discussed, it depends on the station, with regards to how much social media changes the way they approach their audience and how they choose to interact. In a guest lecture at the City University in London, Michael Schudson, professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism said on the subject, ‘everything we thought we once knew about journalism needs to be rethought in the digital age’ (Schudson, 2014). The introduction of social media has made radio stations think about how they ought to get the most out of their listeners. For example, Radio 1 within their 2-year plan of targeting more young listeners have brought about their own Iplayer channel, this being a visual marketing strategy, influenced by social media and being compatible for mobile technology.

The use of hashtags on Twitter and beyond has made the spreading of information easier on a national and global scale, with users being able to view what is ‘trending’ online. This can be used for specific radio programmes also, such as ‘Sounds of the 80s’ on BBC Radio 2. The hashtag in this example is ‘#soundsofthe80s’. Our first case study, Rinse FM, have also grown into the use of hashtags and abbreviations when considering their target audience of 15-24 year olds. They are especially prominent on Instagram with over 16,000 followers. Coincidentally, the platform has a target market of 15-24 year olds, with 70% of the users being female (Social Media – Quick Guide, 2014). Therefore, it is no surprise that the breakfast show host should be female, and it is with Carly Wilford.

Analytically, both Rinse FM and BBC Radio 5 live use Facebook as an informational platform rather than a conversation base, offering links to other sites such as Twitter where listeners are able to communicate easier. In this respect, Robert McLeish stating that ‘radio is not a good medium by itself for establishing a genuine two-way contact’ (McLeish, 2005, 152) is a valid point as social media has become that medium for genuine contact. However, 5 live still use ‘Your Call’ every weekday as a platform for two-way contact between the presenter and listener. Therefore, as has been mentioned, the argument formed from the research found, is that it depends what the station is and what sort of content they are required to broadcast as a public service, community or commercial station, with regards to how social media changes the way they choose to communicate with their listeners.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

‘Montage Of Heck’ Review

Today was the day that I’ve been looking forward to for many months now, it was Montage of Heck day!

As a big Nirvana fan and a big Kurt Cobain fan in general, I had high expectations about the new documentary film directed by Brett Morgen, especially after seeing the 2-minute trailer online. It was safe to say that MoH did not disappoint in the slightest.

The first few minutes of the film concentrated on Nirvana’s performance at Reading Festival 1992, showing Kurt famously fall to the ground after singing the first couple of lines of hit US song at the time, ‘The Rose’. This shot of him lying on the Berkshire stage set the scene for the next couple of hours, there is no question about that.

MOH

Following a chronological structure of Cobain’s life, the film sees itself spanning in and out of Kurt’s drawings that have been brought to life, cartoon-make ups of himself recording on his tape recorder and never-before-seen footage of Cobain and wife, Courtney Love at their apartment during their heroine-fuelled period of romance, in which daughter Frances Bean Cobain was conceived.

These moments of art are treated with such care, the way you feel Kurt would have wanted them to be handled, even if some of the drawings are more than disturbing. I’m hoping I won’t have horrific nightmares tonight after seeing a foot come out of a pregnant woman’s stomach and viciously kick a man in head, and seeing a skeleton creating fire, but referred to in a way which suggests it is masturbating ferociously.

From saying all this though, this must have been what Kurt’s mind was like all the time. The stomach pains, the drugs and the rock n roll lifestyle does not help, but he was a troubled soul more than anything, and I believe that was the real message put across here to the general public.

There was the running theme throughout of Kurt despising humiliation and always striving for perfection with his art, constantly accompanied by the song choices depicting anger, such as ‘Breed’ and ‘Scentless Apprentice’. As well as this, the film often cuts to demonstrations of the writings in his famous journal, including diary-type expressions and song lyrics that are always being tweaked, and ultimately being perfected. Books have been published on these works before but showing them in the film that Kurt Cobain would have enjoyed if it weren’t for his passing is an even better reason.

I don’t want to give too much away, as it’s one of those films for the cult fans, and it doesn’t end how you’d expect it to!

I would give the film a strong 9 out of 10, purely for it being a truly special piece of cinema to view, and an incredibly devout insight into one of the worlds’ most talented musicians of the past life, and also, Brett Morgen favourited two of my tweets, so that’s an added bonus!

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The Pipeline

Here cometh the last home stretch of my University experience for the next gruelling two months of hard work, stress, thinning hair, weight gain and inevitable angst. In order to celebrate the end, I’ll be doing a few things to write home about.

Starting with this coming Sunday, I’m going to Bristol to watch one of the first showings of the Brett Morgan documentary film, ‘Kurt Cobain: A Montage Of Heck’. I’ll be going with my good friend Richard, also a big Nirvana fan, and I expect to see something that’s nothing shy of brilliant. I can’t tell you how many goosebumps I embarrassingly received from viewing the trailer, so I might cry. It’s possible.

I’ve also got my 21st coming up, which I guess is a pretty big event. I’m going to see one of my favourite new bands, Slaves, again, in Bristol at the Thekla club. Exciting.

Other events include me and the rest of the Tone Radio lot covering the local Cheltenham festivals, such as Wychwood and 2000 Trees. I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the bands there including Pulled Apart By Horses (big up the West Yorkshire crew) and Future Of The Left.

Summer is full of some other amazing national festivals, especially when you cross over to East Anglia and see that the remarkable Portishead are playing Latitude. The plan is get a day ticket, I don’t think I can miss this, it should be something quite special.

As well as Lats, Leeds Festival promises to be a cracker also, (if I have the money). Metallica, The Libertines, Tyler The Creator and Jamie T are my ‘ones to watch’ there.

Cheers all, I think I’ll post on Sunday my review of ‘Montage Of Heck’. So do look out for that.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Annie’s First Week In The New Job – Review

Evening!

9pm on Thursday marked the end of Annie Mac’s ‘first week in the new job’, as she kept referring to it throughout the week. This came about after a Mr Zane Lowe presented the 7-9pm slot on BBC Radio 1 for twelve consecutive years, and my God, what an awesome job she did.

Right from the very off on the Monday evening she was calm, cool, and overly collective. The perfect production coincided beautifully with her warm, Southern Irish voice and unlike Lowe, she let the show breathe.

Playing two tracks in a row at 5 past 7 every night is a brave move, but a smart one. When you hear this happen, you know you’re listening to a specialist music programme, as opposed to an embarrassing New Zealander rapping badly over a mediocre remix of a Big Sean record, which gets very boring, very quickly.

I also like the fact that the ‘Hottest Record in the World’ is played at 20 minutes past 7. This way, you’re not being teased about it for 25 minutes, and playing it twice allows the listener to really understand the track and come to terms with the fact that this particular track stands out more than any other played that night during the two-hour time frame.

annie

The little interviews are nice also. They’re not too long and they’re not too short. Mac really squeezes out everything she possibly can from her interviewee in order to make it more interesting. What the interviewee is talking about then makes sense when you hear the track and digest the lyrics. It’s very rounded, and very much concentrated on the artists in question. I think it was good that one of her first interviews on the new show was Hozier, as they are both Irish, and can angle their conversation on that to begin with. It might take a bit of time for her to get confident to nail the likes of Kanye West and Eminem, but she definitely has the skill set and know-how to pursue those big names.

The only feature of the show I would question is the session, or lack of it, from Maida Vale or R1 HQ itself. I think this needs to be included. It’s a vital part of promoting new music from already well established bands, as well as bringing in new bands to add to the archives, and giving them a slice of what its like in the professional industry. I’m sure it will be included at some stage but I don’t understand the hesitation, they should have just ran with it.

Most importantly, this is now a specialist music programme, as already mentioned above. No longer is it a self-indulgent broadcast, derived from quite a peculiar personality. I can predict getting down to the real nitty-gritty, and I believe music-lovers will be more than thankful. Keep up the good work, Annie.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Au Revoir, Zane

Hi everyone, sorry it’s been a while!

I would start by saying I’ve been exceptionally busy (which I have in truth), and that I haven’t had any time to write any posts, but quite frankly, the latter statement is a bit of a fib, so I’m just gonna move on.

As I’m sure you’re all aware, Zane Lowe has left BBC Radio 1, after presenting the 7-9pm weekday slot, (Mondays to Thursdays) after twelve years. He did his final show at the station on Thursday evening, playing the music that him and his team believe have defined the programme over the years.

As emotional as it sometimes was, with him pouring his heart out over his love for R1 and the music, with a key moment being Lowe pressing play on Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’, I’m glad it’s over.

In recent times, I’ve become quite fed up of the bad singing over the top of records, the dreadful Family Guy impressions and the self-indulgent nature he possesses. The other thing that really pisses me off about him these days is that he thinks he’s best mates with Kanye West, Jay-Z, and some of the best and biggest rappers in the world right now. Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news Zane, but that’s just not the case.

In light of the departure, I was having an interesting conversation with my tutor the other day, and we both agreed that his parting isn’t because of his age, it’s the fact that the audience can no longer relate to the man. For quite a number of years now, he has not been speaking FOR the people, he’s been speaking DOWN to them. It was the same with Moyles, and it will be the same with Grimshaw. Give Nick half a dozen more years and he’ll be axed.

However, in saying all this, I am thankful for what Zane has done for the station, and for music in general. I used the hashtag (#ThanksZane) on several occasions and tried to listen in live as much as he could, as I’m very fond of the kind of music he played. The man also introduced me to my favourite album in Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’, by playing it out in full, with it being his first ever ‘masterpiece’, back in 2007.

To end this somewhat bipolar post, I’m going to say that I am very much looking forward to Annie Mac taking over the slot. It will give a fresh outlook on arguably the most important time slot with regards to new music on modern radio, and I hope it will embark Radio 1 on a new, exciting era of outstanding alternative music.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2015 in Uncategorized