The first week of January is going to be a treat for fans of new music on BBC Radio 1. For the second year running we'll be handing over our daytime schedule to our crack team of night time specialist music DJs. Zane Lowe will take over Chris Moyles' show at breakfast time, Annie Mac will take over Fearne Cotton's mid morning show, Huw Stephens will be in for Greg James in the afternoon and Nick Grimshaw will take over Scott Mills' show from 4pm to 7pm.
Such a concentrated dose of new music will almost certainly scare away a significant proportion of our mainstream listeners, but it's a clear statement of intent: Radio 1 goes beyond the mainstream and plays the most exciting new music around. It's fundamental to our public service value and clearly marks us out as different to commercial radio.
But why is it important that we support a wide range of new music? In my opinion, the biggest challenge facing any artist or musician today is simply getting noticed. The internet has democratised music production and distribution and the barrier to entry is now so low that the web is flooded with millions of tracks and thousands of undiscovered artists. Simultaneously, there has been a global decline in the number of trusted guides or filters with sufficient audience to make any difference and without significant gatekeepers operating at mass-market scale, music makers will find it harder and harder to emerge beyond their niche.
BBC Radio 1 plays an absolutely vital role in helping the careers of the most exciting new artists by introducing them to almost 12 million listeners a week in the UK alone. Additionally, the station has global reach, with tastemakers in every territory closely following what we do. This helps to explain why the UK retains one of the most creative and healthy music markets in the world.
So what can you expect to hear during our specialist takeover? Well, Zane will be unveiling the top five new artists in the BBC's Sound Of 2012 with the winner coming in live on his show on Friday 6 January. He'll also be talking to special guests due to return with new projects in 2012, including Dizzee Rascal, Kele Okereke from Bloc Party, Brandon Flowers from The Killers and Keith and Liam from The Prodigy. Annie Mac will have Sbtrkt in the Live Lounge and there'll be plenty more surprises. But most important of all, our specialist DJs will be demonstrating their knowledge and expertise, playing some of the most exciting new artists set to emerge in 2012. If you want to hear what the future sounds like make sure you're tuned in.
The specialist music DJs will be taking over the daytime schedule from Monday 2 January - Friday 6 January. You can listen back at bbc.co.uk/radio1