BBC Sound Of… 2016 list revealed – but how much does it really matter?

The BBC has unveiled the 15-artist longlist for its annual Sound Of… poll for 2016.

It includes a range of new artists from the UK and beyond, including Alessia Cara, Billie Marten, Blossoms, Frances, Izzy Bizu (pictured), J Hus, Rat Boy, WSTRN and Jack Garratt – who last week was named as the winner of another ‘next big thing’ tip list, the BRITs Critics Choice Award.

A top five from the below 15 names – which were compiled through votes cast by 144 music industry experts – will be announced in January on BBC Radio 1.

  • Alessia Cara
  • Billie Marten
  • Blossoms
  • Dua Lipa
  • Frances
  • Izzy Bizu
  • Jack Garratt
  • J Hus
  • Loyle Carner
  • Mabel
  • Mura Masa 
  • NAO
  • Rat Boy
  • Section Boyz

George Ergatoudis, Head of Music, BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, said: “This year’s list features another fascinating and diverse array of talented artists, many of whom will become part of the British public’s soundtrack over the coming year, just as previous winners Sam Smith, Adele, Ellie Goulding and Jessie J did before them.

“The BBC is in a unique position to be able to find and nurture exciting new talent; nowhere else has done more to support new and UK music over the last 50 years. We are proud to say that approximately two-thirds of the music on BBC Radio 1 in any given week is new music and all of the acts on this year’s long list have enjoyed early support from our presenters.

“I look forward to watching their success unfold further over the coming months.”

But just how influential is the BBC Sound Of… poll?

There’s certainly tangible benefits on offer for the ‘winners’, whom the Beeb commits to backing throughout the year.

Moreover, some record label execs get noticeably worked up about who makes the cut and who doesn’t.

Yet fresh MBW analysis today suggests that the BBC’s 100+ music industry expert poll don’t uncover big hitters quite as much as you might think.

Over the past six years, the Sound Of… longlist has thrown up 90 names tipped for stardom.

Interestingly, the names who have made the cut have failed to include a fair few artists that have gone on to global acclaim, including Bastille, Ed Sheeran, Jess Glynne, Emeli Sande, The 1975, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Jake Bugg, Hozier and Rudimental.

MBW has analysed how many of the artists who have been chosen for BBC Sound Of… longlists have ended up releasing a gold (100k+ sales) or platinum (300k+ sales) album in the UK subsequent to their inclusion.

It’s worth admitting that this criteria isn’t a perfect yardstick of these artists’ success. For starters, long-term A&R success shouldn’t necessarily mean a platinum-selling LP out of the blocks.

Secondly, such a metric is weighted against the more recent Sound Of… nominees, who have had less time to reach gold and platinum sales milestones – plus it doesn’t take into account international sales.

And lastly, some notable artists either haven’t released albums at all (Jamie N Commons, for example), or aren’t predominantly ‘album artists’ (Skrillex, for instance, doesn’t have a gold album in the UK, but you’d struggle to claim he has failed to reach success as a featured performer).

However, as an approximation of how many times the Sound Of… poll gets it ‘right’, this isn’t a bad testing ground – especially as it judges ‘career’ artists in the BBC’s home market.

MBW’s most surprising conclusion?

Update: As we stand today, just nine of the 90 longlist artists chosen over the past six years have gone on to platinum UK albums success. That’s 10%.

24 artists, or 27%, have gone on to release a gold-selling UK album.

In the past five years, with 75 cumulative longlisted acts, seven artists have gone on to platinum albums success – a hit rate of 9.3%.

2012’s Sound Of… longlist failed to throw up a single UK platinum-sellling album artist, while only Columbia’s Tom Odell has managed to reach the milestone from 2013’s crop.

Interesting to note that in 2009, seven years ago, four of the artists nominated went on to platinum album success (Florence & The Machine, La Roux, Lady GaGa, Mumford & Sons), with a further four hitting gold (Empire Of The Sun, Little Boots, The Temper Trap and White Lies) – a ‘hit rate’ of over 50%.

The Sound Of… judges haven’t shown quite so much foresight in the years that have followed…

BBC Sound Of… 2010

[Orange denotes platinum-seller, yellow denotes gold-seller.]

  • Daisy Dares You
  • Delphic
  • Devlin
  • The Drums
  • Everything Everything
  • Giggs
  • Gold Panda
  • Ellie Goulding (winner)
  • Hurts
  • Joy Orbison
  • Marina and the Diamonds
  • Owl City (Ocean Eyes – 2nd album)
  • Rox
  • Stornoway
  • Two Door Cinema Club

BBC Sound Of… 2011

  • Anna Calvi
  • Clare Maguire
  • Daley
  • Esben & The Witch
  • Jai Paul
  • James Blake
  • Jamie Woon
  • Jessie J (winner)
  • Mona
  • Nero
  • The Naked & Famous
  • The Vaccines
  • Warpaint
  • Wretch 32
  • Yuck

BBC Sound Of… 2012

  • A$AP Rocky
  • Azealia Banks
  • Dot Rotten
  • Dry The River
  • Flux Pavilion
  • Frank Ocean
  • Friends
  • Jamie N Commons
  • Lianne La Havas
  • Michael Kiwanuka (winner)
  • Niki & The Dove
  • Ren Harvieu
  • Skrillex
  • Spector
  • Stooshe

BBC Sound Of… 2013

  • AlunaGeorge
  • A*M*E
  • Angel Haze
  • Arlissa
  • Haim (winner)
  • King Krule
  • Kodaline
  • Laura Mvula
  • Little Green Cars
  • Palma Violets
  • Peace
  • Savages
  • The Weeknd
  • Tom Odell

BBC Sound Of… 2014

  • Banks
  • Chance The Rapper
  • Ella Eyre
  • George Ezra
  • FKA Twigs
  • Chloe Howl
  • Jungle
  • Kelela
  • MNEK
  • Nick Mulvey
  • Royal Blood
  • Sampha
  • Say Lou Lou
  • Luke Sital-Singh
  • Sam Smith (winner)

Sound Of… 2015

  • James Bay
  • George The Poet
  • Kwabs
  • Lapsley
  • Rae Morris
  • Novelist
  • Raury
  • Shamir
  • Shura
  • Slaves
  • Soak
  • Stormzy
  • Sunset Sons
  • Wolf Alice
  • Years & Years (winnner)

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