United Kingdon, London
Celebrating the alternative spirit of music and culture
BBC Radio 6 Music, otherwise simply known as 6 Music, is a digital radio station that’s run by the BBC. The station mostly plays alternative music, and it was the first national radio station for music to be launched by the BBC in 32 years. Since its launch in 2002, the station has grown in popularity and it has a dedicated stream of listeners. In fact, in 2018, the station was the most listened-to digital radio station as it boasted an average weekly audience of 2.53 million people.
In this article, we will tell you all you need to know about 6 Music, from the history of the station down to what the 6 Music Festival is.
So, what actually is 6 Music? Well, it’s a digital-only radio station that plays alternative and indie music for its listeners. Their slogan is that 6 Music is all about “Celebrating the alternative spirit of music and culture.” Although they specialise in this type of music, the team behind 6 Music themselves admit that “There’s not a lot that we won’t play.”
You can listen to 6 Music through your DAB Digital Radio, and you’ll find it listed as 6 Music or BBC Radio 6 Music. On Freeview it’s listed as Channel 707, on Sky TV it’s under Channel 0120 and on Freesat look for Channel 707. If you want to catch up with what you have missed you can always check out 6 Music’s website, and you can also listen live here too. They keep their programmes for 30 days so you can always go back and check out their earlier programmes.
BBC 6 music can also be listened to via a podcast, all you need to do is download it and then listen to it on an MP3 player. Tablets and gaming consoles can also be used to listen to 6 Music, so you have a variety of listening options at your disposal! You can also explore the BBC sounds website, where you can listen to the radio live or check out some of their fascinating podcasts and articles.
Let’s take a look at the history behind BBC 6 Music. It was back in 2000 that the idea for the station was put forward, and it was originally to be named Network Y. However it wasn’t until Monday the 11th of March 2002 that the station would officially launch. The show was presented by Phill Jupitus, and other presenters included Andrew Collins, Craig Charles, Clare McDonnell, Liz Kershaw and more. The first ever record played on the station was Burn Baby Burn by Ash.
The station came under fire for changing the daytime schedules during late 2007 and in early 2008, with Lesley Douglas (the controller of the radio station at the time) defending the change to encourage more female listeners. In 2011 6 Music began relocating from London to studios in Manchester, also moving its staff and presenters so they could continue making the show.
BBC radio 6 music is known for playing iconic music, as well as playing more alternative and indie music for its listeners. It’s well known for offering a unique range of music, ensuring it plays classic tracks from the last 40 years as part of its eclectic offering. Every month the station plays roughly 1,200 songs, and 6 Music boasts a database of roughly 4,000 songs that producers are constantly adding to. They also play new releases, and five or six new songs are added to their collection every week.
The 6 Music schedule is updated weekly and the collection of songs picked each week demonstrates the wide range of music played on the 6 music playlist. 6 Music also has an album of the day, which is an album they give an extra bit of spotlight. 6 Music also plays classic sessions from the BBC archive and they also play 6 music live.
The station works well alongside the BBC’s other radio stations. BBC Radio 1 is known for playing popular pop music that has found itself in the charts, while switching to hip-hop and electronica music throughout the night.
BBC Radio 2 focuses on classics and also some newer music, playing anything from Elton John to Ariana Grande. Having different stations specialising in different genres of music allows listeners to not only listen to their favourite genres, but to also branch out and widen their horizons by listening to a different BBC radio station.
Interested in getting your music played on 6 Music? Then you’ll need to send your CD to Jeff Smith, the head of music at the station. He meets with his team on a weekly basis to discuss the playlist and if he likes your music it will be considered. You can also send your music directly to a producer or presenter.
Both options will need to be sent to this address: 6 Music, BBC Wogan House, 99 Great Portland Street, London W1W 7NY. If you don’t like snail mail then you can always send your music online via email to the individual producers and presenters. 6 Music have said that they receive far too many submissions to be able to provide feedback, but don’t let that put you off sending your music to them!
There’s something called BBC Music Introducing where unsigned artists/bands can upload their music. Your music will find its way to the radio station local to you as well as a national show of your choice. Tom Robinson hosts a weekly segment called The BBC Introducing Mixtape which features the best new songs that have been uploaded.
This is a great way of getting your music heard by a large audience, and can lead to you gathering a bigger fan base! If a producer or presenter likes what they hear they will play your song at the weekly meeting, where hopefully the committee agrees that it is appropriate for the station.
The BBC launched the 6 Music festival in January 2014, in order to “share the alternative spirit of the network,” and allow artists to demonstrate their talents. The festival not only has night gigs, but also gigs during the day and different talks and screenings. The location of the festival changes year on year, with the first one being held in Manchester in February 2014, headlined by Damon Albarn. Tickets for the 6 Music festival sold out in just under six minutes, which demonstrated just how popular the station had become.
In 2015 the festival was played in Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead, and it garnered a huge amount of praise and admiration. A great many artists performed there, such as Hot Chip, Royal Blood, The Charlatans and more! This festival was a great success, and received triumphant reviews from the press and festival goers. The 2016 festival was held in Bristol, and featured performances from Bloc Party and Foals.
The 2017 6 Music festival was based in Glasgow, and featured performances from major artists and bands. Performances were given by Sparks, Future Islands, The Shins and Belle and Sebastian.
The 6 festival didn’t take place the next year, but it came back again in 2019 and was based in Liverpool. Performances came from John Grant, IDLES, Anna Calvi and The Good, The Bad & The Queen. The 2020 festival was based in Camden, with Róisín Murphy headlining the Saturday night gig.
So there we have it – everything that you need to know about BBC 6 music! It’s a great digital station to listen to, particularly if you value a range of musical genres, including alternative music. You don’t even have to listen to the station live, as you can catch up on a number of different devices.
If you want to get your music featured on the station then just send in your CD or songs via email and wait patiently for their verdict. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t make it on the first few occasions, just persevere and keep making music – your hard work is sure to pay off one day!
And don’t forget to save up some cash for the next 6 music festival, as it’s definitely an experience you alternative music lovers are sure to enjoy! So what are you waiting for? Listen to 6 Music today!