On Saturday 9 April 2011 the very last episode of Dave Pearce’s Dance Anthems will be removed from the BBC iPlayer marking the end of an era for dance music.
For the last 2 years the show has been broadcast on BBC 6 Music and prior to that on BBC Radio 1.
It formed part of the triple whammy of dance music shows on the BBC which used to start on a Friday night with Pete Tong’s Essential Selection, was continued by Judge Jules’ on Saturday and culminated in Dave Pearce’s Dance Anthems on Sunday night.
As well as these shows there were others on stations such as Kiss presented by Steve Smart and Big Al.
For hundreds of thousands of dance music fans these shows were undoubtedly the soundtrack to their weekend and an accompaniment to their work, study and leisure time during the week.
These radio programmes showcased past, present and future dance tracks to a devoted as well as casual audience.
The shows helped to drive music sales and supported clubs and festivals throughout the UK.
They also fed tracks into regular daytime playlists, complimented their sister shows on other networks, and drove passionate audience members to seek out smaller fledgling dance radio stations.
But gradually this situation began to change.
Time slots were changed, the amount of air time was reduced, the tracks featured were no longer included in regular playlists and dance music generally started to lose popularity.
Gradually – together with illegal downloading and tough economic times – this started to have a knock on effect across the entire music and entertainment industries.
Legal music sales decreased, people stopped going clubbing, radio networks reduced the amount of air time devoted to dance music, some of the smaller digital stations went internet only and others simply stopped broadcasting.
We’ve now reached the stage where dance music gets hardly any national UK radio airtime.
Yes, there are some shows playing dance music and one or two tracks on radio playlists but – I would argue – dance music is grossly under-represented.
And I mean the full range of dance music from remixes to commercial tracks, to hard house, to trance.
Home grown artists get hardly any national UK radio exposure.
Above & Beyond, for instance, have a huge national and international following and yet get barely any representation on UK national radio.
There are many other hugely talented UK artists who receive hardly any recognition but surely deserve support – Daz Bailey, Paul Morrell, Loverush UK, Mike Koglin, Don Jackson, Lost Witness – to name just a tiny few.
Then there are up-and-coming ‘bedroom’ producers, such as Chris Cockerill and Jamie Harrison, who need to be encouraged and developed.
International artists with huge worldwide followings rarely appear on UK national radio.
When was the last time the likes of Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Ferry Corsten, Bobina, Christopher Lawrence or Darude were featured in a UK based peak time national radio show?
So, I want to say a massive thank you to all the radio presenters, producers and stations who have won and (in some cases) lost the battle to represent dance music in the UK.
I also want to make a plea.
To all the budding djs, artists and records labels who are passionate about dance music in whatever form, don’t give up the fight. There is an audience out there who loves dance and wants to hear your music.
To all the scared radio presenters, producers, executives and radio stations: try to be brave and innovative, try to take a risk, try to be creative and don’t abandon dance music. You never know what huge rewards and dedicated listeners it might bring you.