Some might say that there’s never been a better time to be a musician. Internet gives you access to billions of users, streaming platforms are easily to set up and curators are at the stretch of the palm. You can set up professional recording studio in your own bedroom as the equipment is getting better and cheaper and it is not hard to master its use. It seems, the rock and roll dream is just around the corner and ready for grabs.
Others might argue that the technological edge is the same for everybody and it is hard to break through thousands of other bands competing for attention. There are also external factors that need to be taken into consideration: lack of funding, closure of local pubs and venues, austerity, quickly changing musical trends, constant search for something new fueled by social media and Instagram influencers. DIY musical scene can also be divided and lack of unity affects the bands and gig goers altogether. You could say that for every ray of sunshine, there is a big rainy cloud covering it.
Yet the DIY scene is holding on despite the odds. Bands are recording, exciting music is somehow making it to the national radio stations and new opportunities are springing up here and there. Indieterria sat down to speak to Mark Piddington the man behind RawSound TV to speak about the new ideas to help emerging artists, production techniques and their plans to permanently change West Midlands musical scene.
You call yourselves an “old school MTV” style music show in the Internet era. Please introduce yourselves to readers of Indieterria.
Mark Piddington: Hi. I’m Mark Piddington. Producer and Presenter of RawSound TV. Part of the reason for the idea of RawSound TV was that I could see that there was a lack of decent live music “tv” shows. Especially for unsigned artists. A show in the style of “The Tube”, “The Word” and many other iconic TV shows from the past that I felt the older generation were missing and the younger generation were missing out on.
Raw Sound TV is live music show recorded at Glass Onion Studios in Birmingham every two weeks, broadcasting on your YouTube channel on the Sundays in-between. Your shows include interviews with unsigned and new artists doing live performances and featuring videos along with interviews with the bands and occasionally live gigs. You’ve had 4 seasons so far and are currently working on a new season which is due to broadcast on the April 14th. Can you tell us how the recording and filming process works?
Mark Piddington: We invite bands and artists to our studio which is fully equipped for recording and filming. After they arrive and meet the crew, we set them up for a sound check/ rehearsal, during which time the crew get audio levels for recording and camera angles worked out. After a short break it’s on to recording. The red light goes on and we film them performing three live tracks. After a short break we then conduct a short interview. We go through this process twice as we usually have two live bands featured per episode. After the bands have gone we do our ‘bits to camera’ which includes introduction to the show and individual intros to the bands. It can be a long night! Then, once all this is done, its on to editing the show for broadcast on the follow Sunday which usually takes well over 40 hours over the week.
How long does it takes for a band to appear on Raw Sound TV? How do you select the bands? What do you look for?
Mark Piddington: We encourage bands and artists to get in touch with us if they want to appear on the show. Selection is very difficult for us as there are so many fantastic bands and artists around at the moment. We know that a lot of them unfortunately won’t get to appear on the show as we are only able to feature two bands per show. We don’t let our own personal tastes influence who appears on the show. We try to look for quality in musicianship, song writing and what/ who we feel our viewers should be seeing and would appreciate.
Besides the music show, you also offer other services: recording live performances, making and editing videos and even access to a recording studio/rehearsal space. We know many artists look for those services – so please tell us about what you also offer and how bands go about this?
Mark Piddington: The recording studio is a separate entity to RawSound TV. I established Glass Onion Recording Studio in 2003 and have been recording bands there since. As well as recording, I also offer rehearsal space, studio dry hire and also music video production. If anyone wish to use any of the studio facilities/services, they can contact me via any of our social media platforms or at RawSoundTV.com.
Money matters are hard to talk about – but essential for both businesses and artists alike. Can you tell us about the fees and other charges that artists approaching you should consider?
Mark Piddington: Firstly, to clarify, we are not a business. RawSound TV do not charge anything for bands and artists to appear on the show. It is totally free. As the crew and I do not get paid and the studio given for free, we are currently trying to get the show funded in some way so we can continue to offer this opportunity to unsigned bands without them having to pay. Having been there myself I know that young musicians don’t generally have the funds to afford what some companies charge for ‘promotion’ and what they get for their money.
You’ve featured and worked with an exciting array of West Midlands acts: Alex Ohm, The Clause, The Cosmics, The Verse, Ivory Wave, Karkosa, Lady Sanity, MeMe Detroit, The Novus, Sugarthief, Violet, Lycio, La Dharma, The Goodwater and Candid – the list is endless. If an artist or band wants to get involved, how can they reach you?
Mark Piddington: We have worked with over eighty bands and artists in the twenty months since we started. Some of whom are most definitely destined for big things. If an artist wants to appear on this show they can contact us on our website at RawSoundTV.com and navigate to the ‘want to be on the show?’ section.
You have filmed performances in many different places in West Midlands: The O2 Institute, Castle and Falcon, Square One in Coventry and The Flapper to name just a few along with outdoor festivals such as Lunar and the Bewdley Music Festival. Is it harder to record in a small, intimate club or in a large arena?
Mark Piddington: They both have their difficulties. As opposed to the studio which is a controlled environment set up for filming and recording, live venues are not. Therefore, we always have obstacles to overcome when filming away from the studio. More often than not, sound recording and lighting problems are the usual suspects as we have little or no control or influence over these.
Raw Sound TV have recorded many, many bands and concerts over the last couple of years but we are sure some of the performances must have stood out from the others. Do you have any favourites?
Mark Piddington: That’s a very difficult question. If I’m honest the ones that have stood out for me are when the whole recording process and post production has gone smoothly or when the crew have had a particularly good session and the band have performed well and, more importantly, enjoyed themselves. It is great to see the bands’ reaction to the whole process from ‘our side’ of the process. Festivals are always good fun for the crew but the days are long and can be a logistical nightmare (especially when it rains)!
Imagine that you can film any artist in the world, where and why?
Mark Piddington: Ahh, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for something exciting we “might” be doing over the summer that will answer this question. So watch this space!
Is there anyone you’d like to invite to appear on the next series or future series?
Mark Piddington: There is no one in particular I have in mind. The plan is to keep on inviting the best new, unsigned bands and artists on to the show.
Last question – we are only in April, but what are your plans for the upcoming months. Anything exciting to tell us about any what you’ll be including in forthcoming shows?
Mark Piddington: Every show is exciting for us. Being able to give young artists this kind of platform and the excitement and enthusiasm they have for the show gives myself and the crew a massive buzz and makes the whole thing worthwhile. We also get a huge lift from the positive comments on social media from the bands who have now become friends and their fans alike.
You can follow RawSound TV on their socials:
Official website: http://rawsoundtv.com/
Please contact Mark if you’d like to be included in the next series of concerts. Also, if you have performed for RawSound TV in the past and you’d like to share your videos, please contact us and we will be more than happy to share your experiences.
We also have some incredible artists to showcase this month and we are thrilled to be sharing our new interviews with you soon.
Thank you for reading and see you soon!
Rita and Malicia