Apple Music poaches the BBC’s leading hip-hop radio DJ, Charlie Sloth

The BBC has announced that Charlie Sloth, the tastemaking presenter of hip-hop shows on both BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, is leaving its UK network.

That’s odd for a couple of reasons: firstly, it’s only been a year since Sloth was promoted by the Beeb to front a late-night show broadcast simultaneously on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra. This was seen as a major career break for Sloth, who has been with the BBC for a decade and fronts the globally-renowned MC freestyle segment Fire In The Booth.

Secondly, another leading tastemaker of 1Xtra, DJ Semtex, left the BBC after 15 years last month. (Semtex has increased his commitment to fronting Spotify podcast Who We Be Talks, while rumors are swirling that he’s about to announce a big gig on commercial radio in the UK.)

So why wouldn’t Charlie Sloth hang around to galvanize his position as BBC radio’s foremost authority on new hip-hop?

Because he got a better offer.

Various sources in the UK industry have told MBW that Sloth is headed to Apple Music – where he will host a new worldwide show on Beats 1, and will contribute to the creation and curation of playlists.

The Sloth-fronted Fire In the Booth is coming with him, we hear: Sloth owns the rights to the franchise, and currently licenses it back to the BBC. That arrangement will end with his departure – and FITB will find a new home on Apple Music.

Hosted on Sloth’s own YouTube channel, a recent FITB featuring Drake racked up millions of views.

Other FITB videos from the past five years featuring the likes of Nines, K Koke and Wretch 32 have attracted more than 10m views each. (We hear that FITB will remain on YouTube in addition to coming to Apple Music.)

The loss of a major music talent from the BBC to a commercial streaming rival is, by now, a familiar tale, of course.

In Q1 2015, BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe jumped ship to Apple Music in Los Angeles – taking four BBC producers with him. Lowe continues to be an influential figurehead at both Beats 1 and Apple Music.

By the end of 2015, the Head of Music at Radio 1, George Ergatoudis, had also departed – joining Spotify, where he eventually became Head of Music Culture, International Shows & Editorial / Content.

Earlier this year, Ergatoudis left Spotify to join Apple Music as its UK boss.

The talented exec who some expected to replace Ergatoudis at BBC Radio 1 – former music chief at 1Xtra, Austin Daboh – left for Spotify in summer 2016.

Daboh was recently promoted to Head of Shows & Editorial, UK at Spotify.

And in June this year, BBC 1Xtra Editor Ryan Newman jumped ship to Apple Music to become a significant player in the platform’s UK curation team.

Now, the BBC has also said goodbye to DJ Semtex and Charlie Sloth in the space of a month.

(For those losing count, Apple Music now employs the following ex-Radio 1/1Xtra tastemakers: Charlie Sloth, George Ergatoudis, Ryan Newman, Zane Lowe and multiple producers.)

Yesterday (October 3) the BBC publicly waved goodbye to Sloth – presenter of ‘The 8th‘ and ‘The Rap Show’ for its networks.

Ben Cooper, Controller BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and Asian Network, said: “Thank you to Charlie for being an important part of Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s history – for nearly 10 years his passion and energy for his music and his shows has been second to none.”

Charlie Sloth said: “Ten of the best years of my life, I want to say a huge thank you to everybody who has listened to me over the years and supported me in everything I have done, I love you, and the journey continues. I joined the BBC as a boy and I leave as a man.”

Sloth’s last show on ‘The 8th‘ will be Thursday, November 1 and his last show on ‘The Rap Show’ will be Saturday, November 3.Music Business Worldwide

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