Sharing Music: Rewind & Fast Forward

I really wanted the featured image for this post to be one of the hundreds of mixtapes I made for friends throughout the eighties and nineties. But of course those tapes are all in their bins collections now, not mine, so what you see above is an hour-and-a-half of “Top Rockin’ Choons” from my friend Ted in (I think) the early nineties, when I was feeling starved of new UK music at university in Germany.

Live Fast Die Young: Misadventures in Rock & Roll AmericaSharing music has been a part of my life for so long I can’t really remember not doing it. Aside from being the glue that holds together all of my most important relationships, it has been central to every job I have ever taken, from record label marketing and distribution roles to radio programming and editorial for streaming services, as well as to the formation of my own music strategy consultancy New Slang. It was even the inspiration for a book I wrote a few years back.

So when Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Ben Cooper offered me the greatest music discovery job on the planet two weeks ago, as creative and editorial lead for the world’s most influential playlists, I considered the prospect of sharing new music with 12.5m listeners for — ooh, about no seconds at all — before biting his hand off. I start there as Head of Music in a few weeks.

It does mean I’ll be winding down New Slang for a while, possibly for good. Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege of helping shape music strategy for some of the world’s most iconic radio, TV and streaming brands; this post is a thank you to them, and to everyone who has read and shared my writing. I’m hoping to keep up the music tech commentary here and elsewhere, but I’ll probably go quiet for a while as I get my feet under the table at Radio 1.

Radio 1 Staff Photo, 2002
Radio 1 Staff Photo, 2002

This career move is a slight rewind in that I programmed Radio 1 for six years in the early noughties and made many friends there. But it’s mostly a fast-forward in that I take up the Head of Music post as radio — that most shapeshifting of all media — transforms itself beyond recognition in the streaming age. To play a part in shaping the digital future of the world’s most innovative radio stations — and get to share some amazing new music along the way — is both a personal and professional highpoint.