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Gambaccini attack on labels’ release strategy – unfair or legit?

Three year gaps between big name artist releases, is not a bad thing for the quality of music in the charts.

DJ and veteran broadcaster Paul Gambaccini recently attacked the strategy of record labels, that sees big name artists release new material every 3 years. He argues, this is having a negative effect on the quality of the charts and on radio, as only a third of superstar acts are active at any one time.

However, Gambaccini fails to notice, that if big name artists constantly put out music it would be great for them and their counterparts, but smaller bands would struggle even more to gain airplay and attention from the music press. Artists such as Rihanna and Calvin Harris always seem to be releasing new songs, but if other established artists released music this way, then it will surely create a stagnant industry with people not looking to discover new acts.

Most new music comes from the internet, whilst new bands are still found through the radio. Take Radio 1’s Introducing section for example, their stages at leading UK festivals and BBC Sound of, shines a light on little known acts that usually end up as big names themselves.

A dip in the standard of output would surely occur if artists released songs constantly as they can’t all be good. Artists take their time to produce records to produce their best and most innovative sound. After touring for 1 and a half to 2 years straight, spending a year writing/recording a follow up seems reasonable. They want to make something they are happy with and not just the same sounds and songs. Acts want to progress and challenge themselves, their listeners and push boundaries.  You don’t have to be Lady Gaga to try and question convention.

I think putting out a record every 3 years is a good thing and shouldn’t be changed as it works. That breathing space a big act takes while preparing their new album, not only excites fans, but is an opportunity for unsigned (and independent) artists the chance to be noticed. Bands such as London Grammar, Chvrches, The 1975 and Bastille would probably not have gained the popularity they have now, (or it would have taken longer), if their music was constantly shunned off playlists because One Direction have another new single out.

Look at the quality of music over the past few years, after being given time to grow and develop, artists are creating something they’re proud of; rather than pushing out new releases to fill radio playlists. Not always having a new song from Beyonce, Justin Timberlake or Rihanna is a good thing as radio stations then showcase smaller bands giving them airtime.

But, Gambaccini’s argument has some basis of truth; the standard’s of some radio stations is terrible, because they only play chart songs from commerical acts on a repetitive playlist – even if they havent released anything for a while. But there are stations such as Radio 1 and 2, 6 Music, XFM who deliver a variety, and not the same 10-20 artists on rotation. The music industry needs variety. Gambaccini’s statment wasnt an attack on the labels’ release strategy, but a talking piece, a debate on the future of music. Maybe its not the labels that need to change but the systematics of the numerous radio stations with repetitive playlists that has a negative effect, on the quality of the charts.

Written by Charlotte Pearson

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