After the Facebook-fueled campaign which successfully installed Rage Against the Machines 1992 hit Killing in the Name as the UKs Christmas No. 1, comes a new crusade, this time to put some independent quality into the UK singles chart. Storm the Charts is an initiative with the aim of helping unsigned musicians get into the UK Top 40. The organizers are currently whittling down almost 600 wannabes to a final list of 40 artistes, with the idea of getting as many of them as possible into the Top 40 on July 4th (“Independents Day”).
Storm the Charts is the brainchild of Wes White, formerly of Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition, and relies on the tried and tested social networking phenomenon to spread the word. Inspired by the Rage Campaign, White started it as a Facebook group and initially invited just his friends. Within a matter of days there were more people in the group than I have friends myself, so I knew I was on to something says White. I also contacted the Unsigned Guide early on with a press release, which brought a surge in applications, and it just seemed to snowball from there. We ended up with nearly 600 artists on the list that we then had to get back down to 40. It’s strange to think that at the beginning I was wondering if we’d actually have 40 bands apply!
Ultimately the Rage tune was about as seasonal as catching a tropical disease, and, after all, it was a track on a major label, which had already charted years ago. Arguably this is a bit like boycotting BP and going to Esso. White could see there was a need to do something for new and independent music and by picking 40 songs, there was a better chance that some would make it through. White is realistic enough to recognise not that many people will be able to afford, or want, to buy all 40 tracks for what is, after all, primarily meant as a bit of fun, but the advantage is that resources can be pooled. And if anyone can honestly say they don’t like any of the tracks when we get our final list up, I’ll just assume they don’t really like music adds White, whose motivations behind the project are not anti-pop music or talent shows, but rather stem from a fans appreciation of all kinds of new music, that people might otherwise never hear.
So how does this work? Go to the Storm the Charts site, and you’ll be presented with five random acts. You are invited to listen to all five and vote for your top song. The two acts with most votes each week go into the final 40. You can also check out the bands that have made the cut to date. These include three UK unsigned acts, Gabby Young & Other Animals, Morton Valence and Revere, who have all being highlighted by CoS in the past year.
As well as the public vote, there is a separate panel selection, with 20 songs coming from each process. The core listening panel is drawn from the Glastonbury Emerging Talent team, with guest panellists also invited to make selections from their shortlist. These include Tracy Morter (of the Rage for Christmas campaign), BBC Radios Huw Stephens and Emily Eavis of Glastonbury Festival. Meanwhile public voting continues until the last week of June – Consequence of Sound readers can take part by going to the Storm the Charts site and clicking the big yellow panel to listen to five random tracks and vote for one of them. Theres no limit to how often you can listen and vote, and they tell us it can become an obsession!
Each Sunday night the next four songs that have got through are announced until the full 40 is reached. The actual download week itself starts June 27th or the chart that appears on July 4th. The campaign supporters will be blitzed to encourage them to buy downloads of as many tracks in the 40 that they like or can afford. Will it work? To date, Storm the Charts has definitely worked in terms of getting a lot of people to hear music they wouldn’t otherwise. The final push will be make or break when it obviously becomes a numbers game. Whatever the result on the official chart, it is likely that Storm the Charts will leave a lasting impression on the UK music industry and a model for others to follow around the globe.
As of June 6th, the 32 artists who are going to storm the charts so far are:
A Band Called Quinn – AC & Terra Air Castles Ardentjohn The Banana Sessions Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo Olivia Broadfield Alex Dingley The Grave Architects Heavy Load Inconsiderate Parking Keston Cobblers Club Stephen Langstaff The Lovedays Mental Health Middleman Missing Andy Miyagi Morton Valence Pocket Satellite The Portland Authority Random Connection Quest – REVERE Rubika Runaround Kids – Shrag Steveless Toob Woodpigeon Gabby Young and Other Animals Yves Klein Blue – Zoey Van Goey