6 Content Marketing Lessons From BBC Radio 1

Last weekend, Radio 1 held their now annual free music event, ‘One Big Weekend’. Held in Derry, Londonderry the event attached over 40,000 people and was held over three days, headlined by well known acts such as Biffy Clyro, Calvin Harris and Rita Ora. With 10.3 million daily listeners, Radio 1 is the UK’s third most listened to radio station  (Radio 2 is no 1 and Radio 4 no 2) and has a target age demographic of 15-29, although in 2008 the average listener was 33 years old. Recently, the BBC Trust ordered Radio 1 to appeal to more under 30’s which, give their target demographic of 15-29,  is a kind of no-brainer…

So how does this relate to great content. Well new music was the reason people used to relate to Radio 1, whereas now – new content is the new music.

Days Gone By…

Station controller Ben Cooper has realised that the ‘kids’ don’t listen to radios as much as they used to. When I was a teenybopper, much of our teen culture was influenced by music and its manifestation though popular media outlets.  So the girls would giggle at heart throb pictures of Backstreet Boys or 911 in Smash Hits, I would record Top of the Pops on VHS and then spend the majority of the following week replaying my grainy version of Hanson, I mean Aqua, I mean S Club I mean er, some cool band. Or I would be glued to the Top 40 chart show on a Sunday evening, finger hovering over the ‘record’ button of my radio cassette player, in anticipation of Babylon Zoo ‘Spaceman’ coming on.

If I wanted music, I had to ride my bike down to Woolies and buy whichever tape or later, CD, I wanted. And I had to save my money from washing dishes at the greasy spoon to do this. I didn’t have an iPhone with the ability to instantly download a Beyonce song for 79p. I couldn’t load up my browser and enjoy streaming a new band on Soundcloud or Bandcamp for free, sharing the link with friends if I thought it was any good. If you’d have mentioned Spotify I would have checked my face the mirror looking for evidence of pimples. The only music I listened to on a computer was the theme tune to Sonic or Alex Kid in Miracle World (good tunes). There was no ubiquitous, omnipresent supply of music at my beck and call. So as I say, if wanted to listen to a song I liked I had to jump on my bike and go buy it. Or wait until it played on the radio…

Radio 1 was where I heard songs for the first time.  It was where I felt a part of a community of other people that were also hearing songs for the first time. It was a hub of newness and excitement. My Walkman knew of no other FM frequency than 98.2. Walking to the bus, hidden in one ear during geography, on the bus back, in the kitchen when I returned home, on in the car when I got delivered to a friends house.

Future of Radio For Teens

Why Radio 1?

So if Soundcloud, Hype Machine, Bandcamp and Spotify, are the new places to listen to and discover music why listen to Radio 1? If Pitchfork and other blogs are going set the scene and tell me who I should be listening to, why listen to Radio 1? If i’m 15, then the internet and my phone are my connections to the world of new. Radio 1 may be on as background noise (probably because out-of-demographic dad put it on) but it’s the link to a band that my friend just reblogged on Tumblr that i’m concentrating on.

THIS is why Radio 1 is looking to content to place it back in the concentration zone of young people. One Big Weekend is an explosion of content. A plethora. A…er well a lot.

Localised Content

Each year the event is held in a different location within the UK. Last year it was Hackney in line with the London Olympics and this year it was in Derry, Londonderry. This helps Radio 1 to feel relevant to the youngsters in each region by featuring their city and the places they know in the multitude of photo and video content generated.

Exclusive Content

This is Radio 1’s event, put on by them for their listeners. With hundreds of bands and artists playing this gives Radio 1 opportunity to create a nice pile of content that they own and will be exclusively played on the station and via the Radio 1 website. I might be able to download my favourite Connor Maynard song from iTunes these days, but now Radio 1 has a 4 minute video online of Connor doing a mashup of a song with Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’. OMG I love Connor Maynard! So I now love Radio 1 a little bit more as they’re created this special moment for me and captured it on video!

Radio 1's One Big Weekend

Brand Partnerships / Affiliates

Ok so it doesn’t sound so cool when you call a musician a brand but this is in effect a scaled up version of a brand partnership. Affiliate marketing if you will. Radio 1 pay big bucks to Biffy Clyro, Vampire Weekend, Little Mix etc to have them play. Each of these bands then tells their huge fan bases how they’re so excited to be playing Radio 1’s Big Weekend… then shares links to the Radio 1 website of their performances. That’s a lot of traffic referrals. Little Mix alone have 1.5 million Facebook fans and over 3 million Twitter followers.

Content to Feed Multiple Platforms

The BBC is a many armed, content hungry monster. It has possibly the largest output and subsequest consumption of content in the world via TV, Radio and online. One Big Weekend fed all three of these platforms with all performances being recorded and shared on BBC Three, red button, the Radio 1 website, smartphones and of course various BBC Radio 1 shows.

Interactive / Social

Much of the content can be shared via social channels at the click of a button. More than that though, everything created is implicitly share-worthy,  given that the content features some of the best loved current music stars in the UK! The content has been shared via their Twitter, Facebook , Tumblr, Google+ and YouTube.

r1obw Google


The drip feeding of content began weeks before the event itself with announcements about the artists who would be performing, live shows from previous ‘Big Weekend’ locations, interviews with performers and ticket giveaways/competitions. After the event there were more interviews with artists, calls with listeners who attended and it seemed like every other song played this week was a live performance from the event.

More of The Same…

So I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more of these content generating events from brands. Virgin do it with V Festival and then there’s the iTunes festival, the O2 Wireless Festival and probably many more besides.

Next up for the BBC, their ‘First truly digital Glastonbury coverage’… can’t wait.



Flick on Radio1 and its not long before you hear something along the lines of ‘I was at Sainsburys the other day…’ and then a producer interjects with ‘other supermarkets are available.

There has been furore over the BBC’s stance on not televising an appeal for Gaza. This they say is due to impartiality issues.

Now the Mashup learns that the BBC has launched a travel portal linking to Lonely Planet and will feature 3 ‘editorially selected’ news items.

The BBC.com travel module will appear on the BBC home page for users outside the UK from today and will provide access to the destination pages from the Lonely Planet website and a picture gallery for inspiration on places to travel.”

This is a great coup for Lonely Planet as it will be linked to from one of the most well known brands in the world.

This move by BBC online may be an indication of their future plans to monetise (cash in on) their readership. That said, this is a bold move by such a highly regarded corporation and it is not only innovative but shows that they can embrace the specialities of niche companies (Lonley Planet).

The winner in this partneship can only really be Lonely Planet.

Mashup out.
social media blog

New Radio 1 Homepage

The BBC (or at least the Radio1 section) is jumping forwards in leaps and bounds when it comes to digital and online content.

I found the Radio1 site quite engaging and intuitive BEFORE they changed it and now….well it’s even better. It looks good and is perfectly stylised with their target audience in mind (16-30).

Now I could dissect the site for hours but that’s not what this blog concerns. What we care about is social media isn’t it…Which brings me to the best part of the new site. This is what Radio one have coined ‘Visualising Radio’. What they intend to do is reflect back user interaction through dynamic visuals on the website. This is to be done through placing a filter in incoming SMS text which then feeds in to the visualisation.

For example, the Chris Moyle’s show has Chris Moyles, Dave, Dominic, Carrie, Aled and Rachel. There is a feature whereby each member of the team can choose a song to put on. Listeners can then text in their response as to whether they like or dislike the song. Radio1 then scan and filter the incoming text messages and display this information in a chart (see below).

This is great. It’s innovative and it looks good. Bravo to Radio1 and I’m glad my license fee is being spent on something other than paying the ‘stars’ of Strictly Come Dancing or whatever!

Read more on Ben Chapman of Radio 1’s blog

Or read NMA’s news story

social media blog

Paddys Revenge Irish Jig

When You Tube goes viral.

What counts as viral though? Radio1 seems to have an obsession with making funny songs get to the top of the charts or You Tube vids getting loads of plays. It’s only viral if it spreads by virtual word of mouth isn’t it?

Or maybe it is viral. If it wasn’t good then I wouldn’t have heard about it to pass it on to the minions. Anyway, its funny the first 100 times Vernon Kay mentions it on Radio1 but then the humour wears thin and the whole thing begins to appear less and less ‘ad hoc’ and more and more set up.

Look for yourselves