Five female musicians to get excited about with foundation.fm co-founder Becky Richardson
The London-based radio promoter on the power of community, Spotify’s effect on the music we listen to, and her favorite emerging female artists.
When it comes to sexism in the music industry, Becky Richardson does not mince her words. “During the time I was in the major label system there were loads of occasions when I thought people didn’t take me seriously because I was a young female,” says the 29-year-old radio promoter.
Now, as one of three co-founders of the digital community radio station foundation.fm, not only is Richardson in a position to offer a better work environment for women than the one she encountered, but she can actively support and nurture new talent. “Ami Bennett, Frankie Wells, and myself have all been working in radio and music between five and ten years, and we had all come across scenarios where we felt like there was only one seat at the table for women. We wanted to change that,” explains Richardson on the decision to create the female-led platform.
When it came to putting together the schedule, the three founders didn’t need to go far beyond the station’s South London base. “We looked closely within our community and said, ‘Ok these are all the things that we love, this is what the London cultural scene represents,” explains Richardson. “We only had to ask a couple of people and then the word was out and the schedule was full within a few weeks of starting to discuss it.” The result is a diverse mix of DJs with divergent professional backgrounds. “We wanted to give an opportunity to lots of different people rather than just people who had lots of experience. We’ve got people who have done BBC shows, like Georgie Rogers, and then we’ve got people who have never made radio before.” It was also a crucial part of the programming to give space to members of the LGBTQI+ community, which led to shows like Queer Island Discs, a contemporary take on the long-running BBC Radio 4 program.
It is often reported that the popularity of streaming platforms is stripping radio of the influence it once held, but the medium’s reported decline, according to Richardson, has been greatly exaggerated. “Spotify hasn’t really done what people thought it would do… I think people underestimate the power of tastemakers and humans saying, ‘I really like this song and maybe you might like it too’ rather than an algorithm telling you what you like,’” she says. As a digital platform, foundation.fm has the opportunity to bridge the gap between traditional broadcasters and streaming services by offering different formats, such as “The Catch up,” a mix between radioshow, talkshow, and podcast. Their community focus also creates a more approachable and laid back atmosphere for musical guests and interviewees. “What excites me is the fact that I just think there is strength in community radio because there is so much power in artists being able to be completely themselves without the regulations.”
The reaction to the first year of the platform, which was launched at the end of 2018, reflects Richardson’s viewpoint. Along with press coverage from Grazia and British Vogue, foundation.fm has been invited to two festivals and has collaborated with brands such as Nike, Mulberry, and Converse. “I don’t think we expected it,” she gushes. “Our listenership and social numbers have grown completely organically without any spend, so for us to be where we’re at within a year is quite mad actually. That’s the beauty of community!”
Five female artists on Becky Richardson’s watch list
Lava La Rue
“Lava is amazing. I really like the way she merges different sounds together. She’s part of the NiNE8 collective, which is a group of really interesting, talented young people who are doing things really differently. She’s a poster girl for doing stuff on your own and not needing a label or lots of other people around you.”
Babeheaven are incredible. The lead singer Nancy Anderson literally has the voice of an angel. She’s also such a nice human being. She has no idea how talented she is, and is just a breath of fresh air to be around.
I just love everything about Weyes Blood. I love the music; I love how you just float through the album, and I feel like all of the visuals are so incredible. She’s an all-round fascinating artist.
Charlotte Day Wilson
Charlotte was one of the first artists that I took on when I set up my own business, and I just think she’s incredible. She plays saxophone, writes all her own music, and produces it all herself, and when you hear her play live you’re just super jealous that someone can be that talented.
Art School Girlfriend
Holly is similar to Charlotte Day Wilson in that she’s so in control of her own destiny. She’s got an early XX vibe, but then again, when you listen to her music you feel like you’ve never heard it before. She’s just another really intelligent, really creative artist who I am watching really closely.
Through her London-based radio promotions agency Ghost, Becky Richardson oversees national, specialist, and community radio campaigns for artists such as Dave, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, and Charlotte Day Wilson.
Foundation.fm is a female-led community radio station founded by Becky Richardson, Ami Bennett, and Frankie Wells. Their mission is “to showcase the hottest emerging talent in the underground music scene.”
Text: Chloe Stead