Alex Cornish on 6Music

[Alex Cornish (shown right on the Tom Robinson show) is an Edinburgh singer songwriter and a good friend of mine.  He has helped us out with contracts for Toad things for free, for no more reason than generosity and, although he may not be that well known in the alt-folk spheres inhabited by most people here, he has actually achieved considerable success, including being playlisted on Radio2, all using entirely DIY methods and entirely off his own back.  He wrote this on his own site recently, and gave me permission to re-post it here as part of this week’s Sunday Supplement.]

I know everyone is writing about 6 Music being axed, but here is my viewpoint as an artist who works in a very DIY way and has first hand experience of sending out unsolicited CDs to producers at radio shows.

Once you have written and recorded the ‘masterpiece’, it’s time to decide who is likely to play it. This is all inapplicable if you have a wad of cash to pay a radio plugger, I didn’t, so I did it myself. Anyway, there’s no point sending out promo CDs to people who don’t play your sort of music and there’s no point sending it to the wrong address or the wrong producer. There’s also no point in sending it to the majority of commercial stations (XFM down south excepted). You need to spend a long time doing research on the old internet. After I had recorded Until the Traffic Stops first time around I spent said long time on the internet and the telephone (one of the great things about the BBC by the way is that if you telephone the switchboard they have to tell you who the production team for a show is, including the right box no. etc.). At that time, and this was before I had ever been played on the radio, I found that XFM Scotland might play it, so I sent a CD to Jim Gellatly for his new music show. I was also a massive fan of the Tom Robinson show on 6 Music, which at the time was on Monday – Thursday from 7pm to 9.30pm. There was also Vic Galloway’s Radio 1 Introducing show. So, out of all the radio stations, in general terms I had 6 Music, XFM and BBC Introducing on Radio 1. Now XFM Scotland has closed that leaves 6 Music and Radio 1 Introducing. If 6 Music closes it’s the introducing shows on Radio 1 as the only champions of new music, and to be honest they would rarely play my sort of music.

There are two reasons why 6 Music is so important to me:

– the first is that Tom Robinson and his producer picked out my little unsolicited package, which led to it being played, then a session, then someone at 6 Music handed it up to Radio 2 and a year later I got on the Radio 2 palylist. The same thing happened with Jim Gellatly, he picked it up and from there it led to other things. Without those massive leg ups I wouldn’t have had anywhere near the level of the exposure that I have had. There are obviously people at Radio 2 and Radio Scotland who have taken big chances in backing me, but I wouldn’t have got to them without those intial acts of support.

– the second is the new music I have discovered as a fan – I remember hearing ‘ The Ride’ by Joan as Policewoman on 6 Music and buying it right away. There are lots of occasions when that has happened.

So, as a musician where does that leave you? Well, there are obviously blogs and they are great, and I send stuff to blogs already, but as a reader or listener on a blog site you have to be active i.e. you have to actually read and listen to the material on a blog. With the radio, it is more passive – it is on in your home and when you hear something new, you stop, check out the tracklisting online and buy it from itunes or whatever. 6 Music closing is going to leave a massive hole for both those that love discovering and supporting new music and for those musicians trying to reach those potential new fans. I’ll never forget the first time ‘This One’s for You’ was played on the Tom Robinson show – first radio play. A huge thrill. It’s a fucking shame.

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