John Peel, Paul Campbell - Peel Day: Amazing Radio

Bill Cummings 07/10/2010

World International John Peel Day 2010 takes place this Saturday the 9th of October.

GIITTV is involved in a a day of celebration of Peel's legacy and independent music that he championed. GIITTV is pleased to be involved in an event at Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes taking place accross 3 stages, it features 20 promoters , and 30 acts celebrating John Peel and raising money for Charity!

We've asked for the perspective of some online djs and shows on the work they do championing independent music and the legacy of John Peel, we're waiting for Dandelion radio's contribution in the meantime Paul Campbell, Amazing Radio founder answered some questions for us!

How does Amazing Radio champion independent bands and artists?

The only thing Amazing Radio ever does is champion independent artists. It's why we live and breathe.

We do it all day, every day, on national radio and online across the world. All the music we play comes from www.amazingtunes.com, where you can buy and download it. When you do, we give 70% of the revenue to the artists. We also promote them on The Amazing Chart, which airs on Amazing Radio every week and is about to appear online in Music Week every week too. Soon, we'll launch Amazing Records, which will take the logic one step further and release records (you know, those odd square plastic thingies) of independent artists too, in partnership with one of the best distributors in the world.

How is Amazing Radio different from XFM, BBC Introducing and others out there at the moment?

The main difference is our 100% focus on new music. You'll never hear a golden oldie, or a conventional signed artist, on Amazing Radio. It's new music 24 x 7. Other differences are that;

1. our playlist is chosen by you - it's based on activity at amazingtunes.com. We think you're the best judge of what you like, not us.

2. we have new voices as well as new tunes - a team of hot new presenters, most of them doing their first job in radio, many of them fresh out of university. You can feel their passion for new music burning up the radio.

It's all about giving talent a chance. We admire the way 6Music does that too (let's be honest, 6Music is our second favourite radio station); but we're more focused.

From your experience back in the days of John Peel, how has promoting and discovering new music changed?

Then, it was a cassette in an envelope. You sent it off and crossed your fingers.

Just getting to that point was a challenge; I've lost count of the number of damp and dingy studios I recorded in, usually at vast expense, resulting in a murky recording on some 4-track where the hiss was louder than my bass drum. (One album I did this way was described - very fairly, unfortunately - as 'sounding like it had been recorded through three inches of mud').

The contrast today, where the Mac I'm writing this on just happens to have a multitrack digital recording studio studio on it called Logic Pro, is astonishing. But there's still a disconnect between the incredible ability to capture creativity we have today, thanks to those digital tools, and the problem of getting anyone to hear it. BBC Introducing helps, a bit, and Tom Robinson is a genius (obviously). But it's harder to get gigs; pub landlords are scared of the barmy new public performance licensing rules; and the conventional A&R apparatus of the major labels has disintegrated as they retreat into the Long Tail and a million safe re-issues of past hits.

So there's a terrible irony: it's much easier to create content to a higher standard then ever before in history, but it's harder to get discovered. That's what we're here for.

Do you think it's easier to hear new music now or harder because there's so much of it out there in different forms (online, social networking etc)?

There's music everywhere. There's probably more music being listened to, in more places, by more people, than at any point in history. And there's more choice of music for those people to listen to. This is great in the sense that the internet allows people to find a global audience in a way that was inconceivable even ten years ago ..... in theory. The hard bit for a music lover is finding what you like. The hard bit for an artist (which is ever more difficult) is finding a way to cut through the crowd, to stand out, to make people find your music in amongst all the noise. There's too much data, not enough information. There's no doubt that viral marketing is making it massively easier for people to pop up suddenly and get found, which is great; and we have to remember that these technologies are pretty much all brand new. As they start to mature, there'll be better and better ways to focus and find things; but that's no use if your band has 16 followers on Twitter and every national newspaper is obsessed with X Factor.

We hope amazing helps to address these problems by providing a structured, multi-platform method for people to get found, or to find stuff they will like. We know for sure that listeners to Amazing Radio enjoy the sudden surprise discoveries they often make, as a result of the fact that we play all kinds of music intermixed for the vast majority of the day. A lot of the feedback we get is from people saying they stumbled across something they now love on our station, quite by chance. We also know people like the fact they can put the name of an established artist into the amazingtunes.com search engine and it will find fresh new music in some way linked to that artist - through influences, or because other users think it reminds them of it.

So it's difficult, but the opportunity for artists is global. It's easier to hear, harder to be heard. But we're working on it.

John Peel has become a legendary figure in music. Can you tell us how Mr. Peel affected the way you listen to music? Any Peel related stories to tell?

John Peel isn't so much a person now, he's more an ideal. It's incredible to think that there actually was someone fantastically broadminded, with great ears, on the radio every night - someone who was only interested in the music, not your marketing budget or the power of your pluggers.

That was inspirational when I listened to him under the bedclothes on a trannie as a kid, when we used to get together as students after the pub, and when I worked for the BBC as a young producer. It's been a great influence on the way we've developed amazing, although since there could only ever be one John Peel, we let the audience decide what's good, rather than pretending we're credible arbiters of taste ourselves. I think the notion of being open-minded, inclusive, and obsessively focused on the music - which is what we believe in - shows the extent to which he's influenced us. (And yes, I do hope the day will come where there's so much excitement about a song on amazingtunes.com that we play it on Amazing Radio non-stop, as Peel famously did with Teenage Kicks).

My favourite Peel story is nothing to do with music and just goes to show the importance of having a good Producer. It was told to me by the late lamented John Walters, his mythical producer before Amazing Radio's Trevor Dann became, er, his mythical Producer. It was in the sixties, and Peel was waxing lyrical at the end of his show, getting all poetic about how he was going to go off and lie on his back in a hayfield, 'looking at the clouds making cartwheels in the sky' or something similar.

He closed the mic and Walters got on the talkback 'Peely, will you stop talking bollocks, you pretentious twat?'.

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