Is Steve Lamacq right about the music industry and media ignoring best of new British music

BBC 6music DJ and champion of new music, Steve Lamacq, celebrated 20 years on the radio station with a stinging attack on the music media and music industry – claiming that more needs to be done to promote homegrown new music, especially artists who live outside the capital.

“I think we’ve had a bit of a history in Britain of ignoring our own music at times,” he told The Independent. “It happened during grunge and again now. There is a weird fascination among some parts of the media with who’s cool on the American blogs, at the expense of things on our own doorstep. I think around places like Hull, Sheffield, York and further north, through Manchester and up to Scotland – I’m sure there are things going on, but the spotlight’s not being shone there.”

Steve pinpointed the feeling amongst many that have that there is a certain sector of music that is heavily favoured by the media with, what is termed by some, ‘journo rock’ – a sub genre of hip bands and blog bands favoured by the music media but roundly ignored by everyone else.

Steve, who has always been the champion of upcoming music and is the first port of call for many bands because he still remains enthusiastic to this day added, “You need the appetite to investigate what’s going on around the country,” he said. “I’m not a man to make predictions, but I would say – just in the same way Britpop was quite underground during 1993 – there’s probably loads going on that we’re not really seeing,”

Is he right?
Is the media to Londoncentric?
Are music writers only concerned with hipster bands?


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19 comments on “Is Steve Lamacq right about the music industry and media ignoring best of new British music”

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  1. This made me laugh a bit to be honest, as it is he who is ignoring thousands of bands too and i feel he is partly to blame for this so called hipster journo movement. We have a band on Canadia records called the Fireflys, who Louder than war have reviewed, mentioned and basically been aware of. we cant thank you enough for the support, but despite all the happennings surrounding the fireflys..has Steve mentioned the band? nope. he hasnt even replied to the many emails the label has sent him over the last 5 years of the bands lifetime. nope he continues to ignore the band, and many others like them. He has created the rock journo myth, and im afraid his comments are invalid and redundant. Seth (Canadia Records)

  2. i think he is on the money there. there are so many bands who have built up followings and sell out shows which receive no airplay. look at how long Frank Turner has had to wait for any consistent radio time, the man sold out Wembley Arena. i work for a music tv company which has 7 channels. since last year they did away with Q, which was a poor channel but at least british independent music had an outlet. to make it on to our remianing channels independent bands need to have a number 1 single on their hands otherwise its left to Cowell’s cronies, 90s boybands and the endless stream of misogynistic, soulless, rnb/hip-hop that is deemed cool because they throw money at lighting rigs and sexy women to dance around.

  3. Im inclined to agree with Seth. Although I cant claim to have had any personal dealings with Mr Lamacq I have always felt his programmes epitomise that whole journo-scum attitude of ‘im better than you so ill tell you what to like’.

  4. That’s hilarious coming from him. A band I was involved with – and which was showing signs of making it, including some pretty decent write-ups from Louder Than War – was playing at a London venue and he was invited. He turned up to the gig to see the band before us who he plugged to death on hbis show but sank without trace daly for them), but preferred to sit in the bar drinking cider when we were on. If he had to be elsewhere, fine, but the evidence points to Lamacq only being interested in a narrow genre of skinny indie kid music and bands that he has “discovered” himself. If another DJ has played them first, he’s not interested. He’s the Emperor with no clothes in my opinion.

  5. Charlie harpoon

    Of course he’s bloody right!

  6. Lamacq seems concerned that British music was ignored when grunge happened, but isn’t that because Nirvana in 1990 were a million times more exciting than, say, the House of Love or Carter the Unstoppable blah blah?? Thank God Everett True and John Robb etc championed Nirvana. If he feels people are ignoring bands in Hull, etc, and Manchester (probably, no), then what is he personally doing to address that? He talks as if he’s not complicit in this state of affairs but maybe he is? Come up to Manchester some time Steve, let’s go out…

  7. I would say he’s not right. If something is good enough, it will find it’s way forward. What I would say though is that most music journalists are self serving a-holes who are so desperate to find the new Beatles/Blur/Aphex Twin/What-fucking-ever that they have no real idea what to look for.

    Remember Blur? They were forgotten about after their first album, they played drunken shows while trying to find an identity. Popscene happened, no one gave a fuck. Journos now look back upon it as the birth of Britpop. Even when Modern Life Is Rubbish came out no one really gave a shit. Those fuckers went out there and worked their arses off to make sure people knew who they were and how great they were. It took the grunge-obsessed journos a while, but eventually they caught up.

    I guess these days bands don’t have quite that amount of time, but that doesn’t matter now. A band’s product is all over the internet, it’s on blogs, facebook, myspace, blah blah blah. I believe that if there’s something out there worth listening to it will be found.

    I know the validity of any band is subjective… But if there’s something worth listening to by THE MASSES IN INVERTED COMMAS then it will probably find it’s way.

  8. It does infuriate me that young bands like Rainford and B-Movie Britz playing good honest self written punk rock and indie /punk are ignored when they clearly have the talent and the work ethic BUT youngsters just don’t seem to support the UK punk bands, they prefer the US imports when every week in their local pubs these bands are playing quality music for free struggling to meet expenses. Support your local bands support young punk bands, without them this scene and rock and roll in the UK will die in favour of US bands and boy bands

  9. Lamacq says “we never listened to records that were…old” – would we think that a tastemaker in Fine Art was cool because he never looked at a Rembrandt or a Picasso and only “moved forward”? 

This is the exact reason why, with their iron grip on access to the music press and new music radio, Lamacq and his ‘indie elitist’ pals screwed the culture, quality and business of popular music throughout the 90s until it reached a point, around 2000, where it became, artistically, beyond saving.

    Their cavalier attitude was and remains juvenile, careless, irresponsible and both out of touch with and utterly dismissive of, popular music history and the taste of mass market Popular Music fans. 

The chasm this attitude created between the mass UK music market and these powerful, elitist London ‘tastemakers’, is directly responsible for granting the likes of Simon Cowell the opportunity to fill that chasm with transient vacuous pop.


When Lamacq considers the Pop Music charts over the past 20 years does he really think that they look and sound better than they did when a culture of ‘Quality Music Artists working within Mainstream Pop Music’ dominated the UK Music Business, as it had done since The Beatles in the 60s and throughout the 70s and 80s? 

A quick look at the charts from the 70s and 80’s shows them populated by Artists who both pushed musical boundaries and who also had genuine mass appeal; David Bowie being the prime example of this. However, in the post-Steve Lamacq world an Artist like David Bowie would never have recovered from being dismissed, out of hand, as MoR and “embarrassing” due to his early melody based Pop Music such as The Laughing Gnome, Space Oddity and Pretty Things. He would never have been allowed to get to ‘Low’ or ‘Heroes’.


Lamacq was 12 in 1977 and yet he claims to be “part of the Punk generation”. Like many of his peers Lamacq’s idea of Punk was delivered to him through the post-punk cartoon prism of the skewed, bitter and anti-populist anger of the hippies at Rough Trade, the arrogant cynics at the NME and the iconic miserablists at the John Peel Show. 

This tragically mistaken interpretation of what Punk was about, resulted in ‘alt’ and ‘indie’ rock being the malformed offspring of something that was originally very different and vastly more respectful of traditional Popular Music and the mass Pop Music market.

    If you set up The Smiths and Kurt Cobain as the ideal templates for what it means to be ‘quality’, ‘authentic’ and ‘4real’ the one thing you can be sure of is that those are exactly the elements you aren’t going to end up with. 

    It’s all very sad.

  10. @magnolia – what bands do you consider to be the true representation of punk? And what direction could it have gone that would have been an improvement on the post punk era which seemed an incredibly exciting time musically to me.

    My 14 yr old son is into video games like I was into music when I was his age – music doesn’t seem to mean much to his generation.

  11. That’s a laugh. Most of R6’s output consists of middle of the road diet Radio2 coffee table rubbish like Mumford & Sons, The Killers or Coldplay. So much for ‘edgy’, or an ‘alternative. What a bunch of total hypocrites. I had to laugh the other week when listening to his show he played that jingle about how R6 “Plays music you won’t hear anywhere else” before then playing aforementioned M&S!! Honestly, it’s almost unlistenable duringt the day, Mark Radcliffe and Laverene banging on about how Fleetwood fucking Mac were had me switch off a long time ago, showing their true colours there, old and past it. Comfy sweater time and sound like post modern Smashy & Nicey. As for Marc Riley telling us how GREAT!!! and AMAZING!!! shite like Everything Everything & Dutch Uncles are, please, we’ll be the judge of how good or bad they are. Those in charge treat us all like children, needing spoonfed, sticking to the same old schtik of ‘A-list Playlist’ with nothing too challenging, I thought that was the whole point of this station?? What do you say, Steve???

  12. For the people who say he isn’t interested in their bands – there are thousands of bands out there and most of them are crap, maybe your bands weren’t to his taste, bored him or pissed him off.

    The NME is nothing better than toilet paper and has been for a decade now. I think he’s on the money – even Jools Holland has become guilty of it.

  13. Steve Lamacq does little to find and help bands from places like Hull or our hometown of Blackpool for example so why is he getting on his high horse? Perhaps he had a bad day at the office. However, musicians should stop moaning regardless. If you want to make music then do it, it’s easy and it’s fun. If you want to become famous and revered then your music is probably soulless and empty and we’ve already got enough of that shit playing on the radio, on adverts and in McDonalds. There will always be someone cooler, better looking and younger (if Kurt Cobain had been ugly then Nirvana wouldn’t have been so popular) so get used to being ignored by the industry. If you’ve got money you can buy your way in. If you’re very lucky then someone with money will pay your way in. Hype isn’t cheap but making music is.

  14. Great blogs such as Louder Than War are one of the main ways that I discover new music, I heard of Little Night Terrors from Leicester through your site and think it’s crazy I don’t hear bands like that on mainstream radio

  15. Blackpool Kraul, well Pink Hearse for sure and I’m not in the music trade yet I was up there in November watching them with B-Movie Britz, two great young bands :-)



  17. densityofsound

    Steve Lamacq…. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    But yeah, he’s maybe right. A hypocrite can be right. I’m not sure we’d agree about who the great bands being ignored are though – and shouldn’t ‘the music press’ and ‘the radio stations’ be irrelevant now? Best DJ I can think of off the top of my head apart from the utterly peerless Steve Barker is Paul Ackroyd and he’s just a bloke in a room with some records most people have never heard of playing them on the internet.

  18. Let’s face it though, 90% of ‘unsigned bands’ are well, crap. Personally I think if your music’s good enough, you’ll attract someone’s attention eventually. Besides, do we really give a shite about what music journalists think nowadays? There’s almost too many up and coming bands because of the internet, cheaper equipment etc and so no matter how many times ‘X’ band send a demo CD to the BBC and so on, chances are they just won’t stand out even if they do get listened to.

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