Friday 30 May 2014

Some Very Last Thoughts On The Radio 1 Playlist Committee Debate

Apologies, but here's some more (final) stuff on BBC Radio 1 and the Guardian article about the playlist committee's use of data to help inform its choices. If you haven't read the article yet play catch up by clicking here.

Listed below are the 15 songs that form this week’s Radio 1 A list (they get 25 plays a week) decided by a committee of people who work for the station assisted by data derived from You Tube plays, Twitter followers and the like.

Following that is the Breaking More Waves imaginary playlist decided by just one person with no reference to popularity or statistics, the selections made on gut feeling and excitement for the music alone.

The common criteria is that the music chosen is relatively new or current pop music. Unlike Radio 1 we have made no attempt to cover all genres, we’ve just chosen the stuff we like - the BBC Trust would probably have kittens.

Which one is better? Would anyone in Radio 1’s target audience of 15-24 year olds really want to listen to the Breaking More Waves playlist? 

Maybe not. And there’s our point. Even a playlist chosen with passion and love may not be ‘right’. So whilst we agree with the Guardian that the process used to select what is playlisted is dispiriting and soulless, it doesn't mean that it's necessarily wrong or a bad thing in terms of the final music chosen. At the end of the day the BBC is a pop music station and it needs to give its audience music that will be popular with listeners. But as a public funded service it also has a wider remit set by the BBC Trust to fulfill and sometimes that remit clashes with the concept of playing music that people already know. Compromise is required. 

As long as the use of data is kept on a leash and doesn't become over dominating turning Radio 1 into just the same as a commercial station, things should be OK. 

Here's a couple more articles that are worth a read.

Song By Toad's BBC1 Radio 1 Playlist Fake Controversy piece (here) gives good food for thought and touches on the idea we've suggested above that Radio 1's different obligations leave it caught between a rock and a hard place. 

And whilst you're deciding if Radio 1's playlist or the Breaking More Waves playlist is better, and if the use of data is a good thing or not to determine playlists, here's the science behind it all with Mark Collier explaining why popularity is determined more by peer pressure than quality (here). A fascinating read for the boffins and geeks among you.

Radio 1 A Playlist

Bastille – Bad Blood
Bombay Bicycle Club – Feel
Clean Bandit – Extraordinary (feat Sharna Basss)
Fuse ODG – Dangerous Love (feat Sean Paul)
Kasabian – Eeez-Eh
Katy Perry - Birthday
Kilngande - Jubel
One Direction- You & I
Pharell Williams - Marilyn Monroe
Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down
Sam Smith – Stay With Me
Second City – I Wanna Feel
The 1975 – Robbers
Tiesto – Wasted
Twin Atlantic - Hear And Soul

Breaking More Waves A Playlist

Honeyblood – Killer Bangs
Host – Heartbeats In The House
Iggy Azalea & Charli XCX - Fancy
Ivy & Gold – Not Had Enough
Jungle – Time
Kassassin Street – The Royal Handkerchief Ballet
Lana Del Rey – West Coast
La Roux – Uptight Downtown
Mausi – My Friend Has A Swimming Pool
Meanwhile – Bigger City
Porter Robinson – Sad Machine (streaming below)
Raury – God’s Whisper
Seinabo Sey – Hard Time
Sophie Jamieson - Stain
Wolf Alice – Moaning Lisa Smile

Porter Robinson - Sad Machine

(A song with over 1 million plays on Soundcloud and just over 2 weeks old - we're surprised it's not on that Radio 1 playlist !)


Unknown said...

I could listen to my friend fas a swimming pool on repeat in it's own, love it! If quite like a playlist combining both?

Anonymous said...

The irony of your 'no-stats' playlit is there are several songs on it that have very high views / plays /listens. Doesn't that defeat the point?

Breaking More Waves Blog said...


No - because if it was all 'music that hasn't had much exposure' then it would still be over reliant on stats just in a different way.

This is just a bunch of songs I like - irrespective of play counts etc.