Where the UK Music Biz Needs to Look Next in 2017

Aside from the asides, there’s a good feeling knowing the noise we make is actually some pretty sweet music. But after the kick-off celebratory headlines roll back about the good ol’ UK Music biz and we’ve got past the buzz about the boom in vinyl sales (wonder why almost 5% of total albums makes the news?). It’s the more sobering takes from Music Business Worldwide that have really put a reality check on those BPI stats identifying that, “the UK music business desperately needs a fresh star to make a major impact on its pop charts this year.”

It’s time to face those damn depressing UK pop charts once and for all. If ‘the average age of artists behind the UK’s Top 10 albums last year was 44″ when will those fresh stars get to edge in? Putting it a little more bluntly we’re talking about more than just a middle age crisis in the UK charts, we are literally plodding along the middle of the road – literally. When the biggest British debut album artist of 2016 is a bloke called Bradley Walsh (dude who?), its gone a little past depressing. Yep a 56 year old British gameshow host is exactly who made the years biggest breakthrough!

In 2017, we need to start looking for more than the saviours like Sheeran to salvage our current state of play. The UK singles chart hasn’t given us much to talk about either for some time now and MBW highlight another real concern.

“More worrying for the British music business is the near-complete dominance of the streaming charts by non-UK artists”

Across the channel it’s clear things are shifting in the US charts as well, with their conundrum revolving around how to knock off the chart dominance of the Canadian hitters. But, we can’t just quit talking numbers and put away those calculators, so pull up ya sleeves because it’s going to be more than a bit of effort to get homegrown talent into the big leagues. More and more UK artists shutting down those festival stages is proof the game is changing but what will it take for the shift to happen at radio?

Is it any surprise that the most coveted radio station to break new artists – BBC Radio 1 – which at one time saw itself as the catalyst for new music, had Coldplay as it’s 2nd most played artists between Jan-Oct 2016. Maybe BBC Radio 1’s audience dropping to their lowest level for more than a decade and losing a million listeners over the past year might be related? Apparently trying to bring the average age of their listenership down from the average age of 30 isn’t really a strategy that’s actually working who you’ve got Coldplay playing around the clock, you think? So get out those calculators again and then ask if it’s any coincidence that 2016’s No.2 best selling album happened to be Coldplay’s ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ – actually released in 2015.

So what’s the game plan to get new British artists to Gold status in 2017?

Whether the heat is coming off of a street buzz or whether it’s simply sheer instinct, when it comes to new artists, its more important than ever for us to be talking loud and clear about the ones we feel have what it takes to chart the course. It’s a copout to say blogs don’t have influence about new music, in fact we already know what we say, says a lot about new artists. It’s through new artists that we can shape the state of the future industry we’re in. No matter who tells you ‘everyone’s a tastemaker’ – the combined efforts of platforms where DJs, writers, photographers, videographers add another level to the story – count more and more. Profiling new artist stories till those artists become everyones story is the reason why we all ultimately count.

Drawing 2016 to a close and looking at the various mainstream ‘2017 Ones to Watch’ lists gives us the drive to keep pushing forward. We profiled many new artists throughout 2016 and talked about who we thought was ‘Next Up’ – Dave, Anderson .Paak, Nadia Rose, Ray BLK and Jorja Smith, either gave Nation of Billions their first interviews, made their debut appearances at Semtex’s Arrival Live series or simply garnered review after review. And as their stories have grown, we’ve charted their evolution track by track. Ultimately whether longlists/shortlists like the ‘Sound of 2017’ will cut through enough to make these the most played artists in 2017 on a station like Radio 1, remains to be seen – but this is definitely where we need to put the muscle behind the music.

In 2017, we’ll keep keeping on and stay looking future forward for the next breed of up and comers on the verge to break out both here and across the channel. Throughout January we’ll be featuring exclusive stories from the new ones we’ll be looking to chart across 2017 and do our part to push them into the polls at the end of the year.

This is the part that we love the most, this is where we get to share why we love this thing called music. When it comes to an artists individual journey, it might take a month, a year or a decades worth of grinding, but eventually there’s that point when some of those artists just can’t be overlooked. Ultimately it comes down to the last leg of any race and it’s the ones with the staying power that can ride through the finish line – that power comes with putting in work in pursuit of their passion, performance and a damn good game plan.