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BBC Wants To Syndicate Unsigned Music To Online Services

The BBC wants to begin offering music from unsigned and emerging artists through third-party services like Spotify and Last.fm.

Its Introducing brand for discovering new music has received 22,000 tracks since February, when it launched a new facility allowing budding acts to upload their songs to a BBC database for the attention of DJs across some 35 radio stations. Now it wants also to start opening some of that material to a wider audience…

“It’s quite difficult for an unsigned artist to get themselves on Spotify,” BBC audio and music development producer Martyn Davies told a seminar at Cardiff’s Swn music festival on Friday.

“It would be very nice if, from our original ingestation, could we not push that out to a BBC-branded area of Spotify, take the listens back in to our system, figure out which bands have done particularly well?

“I’m hoping we’ll be able to get this out of the door by April, so the public starts to decide who should play on our festival stages by summer 2010.”

Davies named Spotify, MySpace, Soundcloud, Mixcloud and Last.fm as examples of possible destinations. The BBC is planning to approach potential partners in the next few weeks. “Whoever we partner with is going to be judged on an individual basis – target audience, our ability to measure the audience.” Such partnerships will “bring more value to the artists”, he added.

In theory, artists could benefit from royalty payments from those services. And, whilst some acts may be surprised to learn the work they uploaded to be heard by BBC DJs is being given wider distribution, Introducing’s existing terms and conditions grant the BBC “permission to use the material in any way it wants” worldwide and to “sub-license UGC to trusted third parties”. Copyright is retained by the artist, however.

Introducing launched in 2007 to unify BBC Radio programming supporting new and emerging music. The uploader was launched to manage the process by which most acts now send demos to DJs digitally rather than on CD or cassette. It ensures newly uploaded tracks are made available to local DJs in the first instance and includes features for cataloguing when presenters have both previewed the tracks from the database or played them out on air.

Artists discovered through Introducing have already been given slots on BBC summer festival stages. If the latest idea is executed, it will mean users of services like Spotify will also help determine which acts are considered most popular.

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