Universal chief urges commercial radio to take more risks

By | Published on Wednesday 14 November 2012

Universal Music

The boss of Universal Music in the UK has urged commercial radio stations to take more risks with their playlisting. It’s a plea that commercial radio chiefs are presumably used to hearing a lot from music industry execs, though having David Joseph say it during a flagship event at this year’s Radio Festival might have more impact. Well, possibly.

According to The Guardian, Joseph told the radio industry gathering: “The BBC does an amazing job introducing new artists. On commercial radio it often feels we have to create a hit first before commercial radio wants to play it. I do believe there is an audience out there who wants to hear the hits first, not 10 weeks later. I would love to see commercial radio take more risks”.

Noting that commercial stations had not backed some of the British record industry’s biggest new signings this year – Universal signees Lana Del Ray and Ben Howard were the 107th and 272nd most played artists on UK radio – Joseph also pondered: “I have a question: is there a responsibility that UK radio has towards supporting new emerging UK talent?”

As previously reported, in his John Peel Lecture, also delivered at the Radio Festival this week, Billy Bragg noted the importance of local radio in bringing artists to a wider audience early in their careers – concentrating particularly on Jake Bugg – and urged radio stations to do more to promote new talent on a local basis.

Elsewhere, and speaking about his own industry, the Universal chief admitted that the record industry was still in challenging times, with just nine new acts truly breaking through so far this year (if you define ‘breaking through’ in the slightly old school record label way of selling 100,000 albums), compared to 27 in 2007. Though he was upbeat about the immediate future, predicting growth in the recorded music sector in 2014, that English-speaking bands would travel the world “like never before”, and that the guitar band revival was now probably imminent.