Adam Winch-Furness

Adam Winch-Furness combines a busy schedule of working alongside Christian Carlisle for BBC Introducing Sheffield, providing artist management for upcoming band The Golden Age of TV and performing as a resident DJ for the longest running mid-week Alternative night in Leeds - Fuzzy Logic at The Wire Club.

A graduate of our Foundation Degree in Music Production and BA (Hons) in Music Production programme, Adam discusses his entry into the world of broadcasting, gives advice for bands wanting to get noticed through BBC Introducing and offers his perspective on recent developments in the wider industry.

What attracted you to studying in Leeds and a move away from Cambridge?

I originally didn’t plan to go to university. I stayed at home and started working in retail and my local pub to keep me going after A-levels. However, it didn’t take long to realise that I felt like I was missing out on a university experience and there were no jobs in the music industry in the local area.

Only through recommendation did I come to an Open Day at Leeds College of Music and the idea was sold to me very quickly. I liked the community, but most of all understood the history, energy and DIY approach in the Leeds music scene. 

How did you first become involved with BBC Yorkshire? Had you always aspired to work within the media sector?

In first year, I started hosting my own student radio show over at the Leeds University’s station with a theme of playing music solely from Leeds College of Music. I soon learnt that you could ACTUALLY get in a job in radio, and because nobody else at LCoM was doing the same thing it meant that I could really get my teeth stuck into it. 

It was only because of the work experience module on the Music Production course that I seized the opportunity to try and get some real work in the radio industry. A former lecturer knew a Producer at BBC Radio Leeds and managed to get me an introductory meeting. It took around 3 months of pestering emails following the initial chat, but eventually I was able to undertake 35 hours of work as a Broadcast Assistant. They then surprised me by saying I was trained up by the end of it, and asked if I would like to stay on and earn some money.

Long story short - during a few years of taking any freelance job at the BBC, I built up enough experience with lots of musical projects I was working on elsewhere to eventually land a job working at BBC Introducing in Sheffield where I produce the show. The BBC Introducing brand was a goal I set out to work for since almost day one of student radio. 

How do you seek to identify up and coming bands in the Sheffield area? Do many come through the BBC Introducing Uploader, or do you proactively seek out the latest music?

The BBC Introducing Uploader is essentially the best free radio plugging system in the UK. There are very few bands that don’t upload to us in our area, and we always keep an eye out for names on gig posters that appear regularly to see what they’re up to. Once we play them on the show, we have the power to forward their music to major radio shows in the country including Huw Stephens/Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1, Steve Lamacq/Tom Robinson on BBC Radio 6, DJ Monki/Jamz Supernova on BBC Radio 1Xtra and many more depending on the genre. 

We also play new BBC Introducing bands from across the country if they’re touring through the city to showcase a small variety of other national acts, and keep listeners in the loop as to who else is currently doing something special.

You studied Music Production at Leeds College of Music. What skills or lessons did you learn that are useful for your current role?

One module that stood out to me was Music Journalism. I know, sounds obvious for a career in radio right? However, it wasn’t the writing that helped me after I graduated. I remember my lecturer Dr. Alex Timewell being able to make me think about certain processes in a new light. I can now analyse a project (or in my case a radio show) and ask the questions that others aren’t thinking of when it comes to decision making. 

All in all, LCoM provided a real community vibe that is important when looking at any music scene. The fact I was able to network with a large range of musicians and producers was an important stepping stone when looking to work within much larger musical scenes.

In the past, you’ve stepped in for Christian Carlisle and presented the BBC Introducing in Sheffield show. How did you prepare for this show?

These have been crazy moments for me. My role with Christian is there to very much to develop my skills and he understands what it takes to give opportunities in radio where needed. 

I hadn’t actually done any presenting for about 18 months after student radio as I’d taken time off to focus on production. So to come back on an official BBC show was very special. Even though I perfectly knew how to work a studio desk, I think I was more worried about running that than what I was going to say on air!

What do you see as the future for local radio and BBC Introducing? How important is BBC Introducing in supporting local, unsigned and grassroots artists?

BBC Introducing has consistently grown as a brand since the start, and after reaching its 10th anniversary at the end of last year it has consistently proven how important it is as a platform for new music. 

There’s no other brand that provides as many opportunities or starting points for artists careers, with teams across the country that are extremely passionate about exposing new talent. The public and the show’s listeners understand this too as part of local scenes. In the past, myself and another Team Assistant have put on free BBC Introducing Events in West Yorkshire at the Brudenell Social Club to showcase current talent in the area. These resulted in over 700 people coming in and out of the doors with it only being a 400 cap venue which provides a statement for people’s trust in the brand providing the best in new music on a grassroots level.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to promote their music and get it played on live radio or noticed amongst industry experts?

We are always on the lookout for a new artist to shine through. For me, it’s about having the complete package - good songs, good image, a good level of production and that certain uniqueness that you can’t compare to anyone else. It can be an extremely good song that comes through to us, but if I end up thinking this sounds like it came from Florence + The Machine’s back catalogue then it’s already putting the artist in a difficult position to stand out. Never be afraid to be yourself as you have much more of a chance of getting noticed for your creativity than trying to be like someone else.

Do you think it’s easier for unsigned artists to have a successful career currently?

I think it depends on what you believe in as a successful career. It’s much easier to share your music with social media, and there’s still plenty of local opportunities to play gigs in cities. However, major record labels are now not interested in signing up bands that have potential. They want to see a ready and finished product that can do it all.

You’ve managed upcoming band The Golden Age of TV – how do you balance band management with the other aspects of your career?

It’s tricky at points because I keep my work in radio and management completely separate. I only use the knowledge I have that got me my job at BBC Introducing to help others understand what they need to do to stand out, but always learning new tricks from others. My methods of management mainly come from suggesting what NOT to do, rather than stating what they should be doing as it takes away from an artist’s creative output. At the time of writing this, I’m a freelancer in the working environment which allows me to work on other projects around the clock. It also enables me to act as a tour manager and come to the band’s gigs, and act as a representative in meetings around the country. 

What’s coming up next for you in terms of projects?

I have various bits that I’m not allowed to talk about yet, but as the radio industry constantly changes all the time, new opportunities pop up. I’ll be doing some more producing and presenting in some form, with the final details yet to be ironed out.

Outside of radio and management, I’m also a DJ based in Leeds working at a variety of venues and clubs. There’s always fun things that come through that such as playing at Live at Leeds or Leeds Festival so we’ll see this what this summer holds for me!

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Click here to listen to BBC Music Introducing in Sheffield.

Learn more about our BA (Hons) Music (Production) – here.

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Perfect opportunity from the @ASurteesTrust for students and @LCoMAlumni whose work is rooted in, or influenced by,… https://t.co/ZnOnmDxM6Z
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