Saturday, 20 November 2010

Pilot Project 2

Well, we did it.

The Pilot Project site is streaming. And it's the morning after - one of those post-launch days. 

I've felt this way before, mostly when getting radio stations on the air. It's that succession of increasingly long and frantic days, making sure that all the bits come together, with adrenalin taking over to a ridiculous extent. Anybody who has worked in radio will know what I am talking about. But this was, if anything, more diverse, using a wider ranges of skills and disciplines. No matter: the West Midlands Pilot Project is now streaming live. If you want the background and the context of the site, it's detailed on this blog on the post immediately below this one, or you could go to the About pages on the site itself and check out the brilliant team that I am privileged to work with. But, really, what I'd love anyone reading this blog page to do is... to crawl all over the site, and then feed back to us, via this blog if you like. In fact, please do do this: let's make this a very public discussion. 

We have plans to develop from this most promising of starts; I hope to be able to realise these plans. The bottom line always was, and is now, that this site, and. hopefully in time, sister sites across the country will cherish and celebrate the talent that now emerges online, and feed this into the British Library New Music Network, stored permanently, for posterity.

Yes, the site undoubtedly has the potential to expose and promote our magnificent local talent, and, yes, it is a sign of the times that websites like this are now able to take on more of a role in exposing and championing this talent. And I do mourn the fact that most local radio has abandoned any sense of responsibility for taking this role on. But now that it is live, the changes and developments will be gradual, as we evaluate how we're doing so far. Remember, this is still an experiment and a test bed. We've just gone from phase two to phase three.

What's next? Oh, fixes, tweaks, software adjustments, editorial revisions, and planning, analysis, reports....

What's now? Play with this site. Enjoy. Talk it up. Tweet it, Facebook it. If you're a musician on it, let us know if it makes any difference.

It's worth noting that in our first six hours of live streaming, 36 % of visitors came from OUTSIDE the West Midlands. 25% from the UK, 11% from North America. So, hey, there is a minor promotional effect already. But I stress that this site is not built to directly promote new talent: it is meant to both record it and - especially locally, with the help of my magnificent team of curators - to celebrate it. No reason why those aims can't go hand in hand, though.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Pilot Project

In 2010, we took a first step to curating a national archive of new independent music. There's a long way to ago...

On Thursday 18th November 2010, at 7pm, I was a happy man, if slightly apprehensive. That’s when the Pilot Project website went live. Before then it was an idea and a holding screen. Now, it’s something else altogether. Over a thirty month spell of planning, cajoling and nagging, The Pilot Project has gone from a rough concept to a really solid website, packed with good stuff.  It’s done so with considerable help from some truly great people, and a very welcome grant from Digital Content Development at the Arts Council. And it’s given me craft satisfaction, the likes of which I haven’t felt for ten years. Then it was a huge classical database, built from scratch for lovely RTE lyric fm. That was great fun and very worthwhile. 

This is too, and it could turn out to be even better.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Magyar Radio. State Radio under the cosh.

Working in Radio in Budapest. Pretty much like The Mailbox... or Donnybrook... or Oxenstiernsgatan.

Magyar Radio Headquarters
I wrote most of this on the way back from a radio consult gig in Hungary. I’ve done this sort of thing quite a lot over the past twenty years or so, working all over the UK and Europe. Maybe fifty different stations; sometimes it feels like a lot more.

There’s something special about the first walk to work, in a new city, heading to a new client. Budapest did not disappoint, with golden autumn sunshine, mist over the Danube, and people everywhere heading out for the workday.  The work is (almost) always a pleasure, invariably interesting, with endlessly different technical challenges, irrespective of the music programmed. And in case you’re wondering what all this has to with this blog, which is supposed to focus on radio and music in the West Midlands… well, actually, there’s quite a lot.