Bethan Elfyn (United Kingdom)
Bethan Elfyn has been a radio presenter for 17 years at the BBC - based in Wales but hosting shows on BBC Radio One, and BBC 6 Music and has spent the last 5 years on BBC Radio Wales, a 3 hour international new music show which plays a mix of alternative hits and new breaking bands from Wales and beyond. Bethan also runs the new BBC Wales and Arts Council of Wales collaboration Horizons; a project which supports new music through radio, festival and international opportunities. Horizons supports 12 bands for 12 months, and they are selected through an open application, and selected via a panel. They are filmed and recorded across the year, and promoted through TV, radio, print and social media campaigns.
What would be your advice for emerging musicians who want to make it abroad?
Music is a very competitive world, and I would say the main difference with success or failure is having a good team of people with you – more about this in a moment. There’s two routes to playing abroad – you can do it DIY, where bands and artists make connections through a local scene, and just play anywhere and everywhere – and slowly build up a following through word of mouth. The best route these days is through managers, booking agents, and record labels. These contacts will have the resources already in place to get you radio play and influencial appearances at festivals, and choose the right social media campaign for you.
The UK and the US has a lot of cool independent record labels who will certainly be attracted to music from European countries but getting picked up is very difficult and you have to have something a little bit different about you – the golden ticket might be youth/ creativity/ musical originality. If you are working with a label in the Czech Republic this is also a good idea, to get these labels to pair up with split single releases with other independent labels around the world. Sadly, it is very difficult to get airplay if you don’t sing in English, and the avenues for new/ cutting edge music are also fairly limited but there are some excellent places to start. Look at Amazingradio.com, the evening, specialist shows on BBC Radio One and BBC 6 Music and again late shows on XFM.
Have you ever won any competition? And are you a competitive person?
I won a painting competition when I was younger – which was a bit of a shock, but certainly boosts your confidence in a particular field.
Have you ever played in a band, solo or as a DJ?
Yes, I loved being in bands when in University and I still love singing folk music but not professionally, also I played around the world with the all girl DJ group The Vinyl Vendettas. We played festivals all over the place for about 10 years until recently. One of my favourite moments ever was at a Festival called ATP curated by Nick Cave, and it was up in a ski village in the mountains outside Melbourne, Australia. Me and a friend were the last to DJ, and we played Northern Soul in the village square, the place was going quite nuts, and the setting was spectacular – views of mountain ranges all around us!