These are hard times for the international music community. The impact of the coronavirus crisis is already slightly visible in the monthly artist chart: only a few newcomers, more feel-good music is on the up, and hardest hit Italy is losing temporarily its musical interest in the rest of Europe.
Many releases are postponed because of the closed music clubs and uncertainties about the summer festivals. With closed borders, there is no opportunity for promotion in other countries. But there is not only a crisis on the border crossing supply side, many radio stations also reflect the closed borders in their music policy. They stick to comfort food: well-known classics, up-tempo feel-good hits, less new material and to support the local music community they tend to play more local music. For example, Belgian station Studio Brussel started to play far more Belgian product under the hashtag #ikluisterbelgisch (‘I listen to Belgian music’).
Italy is the country which is hardest hit by the virus right now. I was wondering if Italian radio would play less European talent – and that seems to be true. A quick look in the weekly Music Moves Europe Talent airplay chart shows that Italian radio only supports one title out of the top 100 this week: French dance act Goldstone. A year ago and also two years ago Italy supported seven titles out of the top 100. For Spain, which is also in deep crisis, the picture is less clear. It now supports four titles, while it supported eight titles two years ago, and five one year ago.
Another alarming measure is where the border of 10% of the total chart points of the #1 in the weekly airplay chart lies. For the last three years, the record around #20 had ten per cent of the total chart points of the #1 – now it is at #10. That means that there are currently only ten instead of twenty bigger border crossing radio hits.
Meanwhile, March was a great month for mostly feel-good pop music. Risers include German pop singers Ilira at #38, Kim Petras at #45, French dance producers Goldstone at #50, Swedish pop singer Viktor Leksell at #57, Austrian pop singer Mathea at #58, Swedish dance-pop producers Jubël at #70 and British soul-pop chanteuse Arlo Parks at #78.
As expected, there are only a few newcomers on indie labels in the lower regions of the chart. First up at #82 is Number, an experimental pop band consisting of former members of the British instrumental jazz-pop band Red Snapper. Their single Red Flag (Sunday Best) gets a lot of airplay on Polish radio. At #84 we welcome Portuguese singer Pongo, a winner of the 2020 Music Moves Europe Talent Awards. She mixes electronic dance music with kuduro, energetic dance music from Angola. Her single UWA (Caroline) is popular on British radio. And at #86 there’s a new entry for Goldband, who combine funny Dutch lyrics with dance music. Their self-released Alles Kapot (‘Everything is broken’) is understood on Belgian radio too.
Finally, at #92 enters Italian singer-songwriter Julia Bardo. She was born in Brescia, the European epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. She moved to Manchester, where she was signed to the indie label Wichita. Poland and Sweden are the supporters for her indie-pop song I Wanna Feel Love.
Stay safe, stay healthy – on behalf of the whole charts team.
Music journalist and radio professional from The Netherlands