Revealing post on Troubled Diva showing the respective most-played-artists on BBC Radio 1, Radio 2 and 6Music, as revealed by – ‘urban’ station 1Xtra’s stats are in the comments boxes, which focus on a telling observation Marcello C makes about the racial balance (or not) of the lists.

From a marketing point of view, two things spring out:

– The enormous crossover success of Duffy, top artist on ALL THREE stations in the main post, giving the lists an impression of homogeneity which is slightly misleading. If you take her out there’s not a lot of crossover between stations – the BBC are doing a decent job at keeping the brands separate (though see below). The 6Music stats are the most interesting – Duffy The Vampire Weekend Slayer, anyone? – which confirms my suspicion that Duffy’s hit on, and found a way to market, the inchoate girl-group-Motown-sixties love that’s been a part of the indie sensibility for aeons but gone generally underexploited.

– The BBC may be keeping its brands separate, but when you look at things from a diffusion perspective you start to worry. The idea of 1Xtra and 6Music is twofold – give “niche interest” music somewhere to flourish and sprawl, but also somewhere bands can build an audience before leaping to the Radio 1 playlist. If you look at the Radio 1 stats, four or five acts on there would have been 6Music staples at some point: there are no equivalent acts nurtured by 1Xtra in the top 10. This is actually more telling than just pointing out the lack of black acts on R1 and R2 – what it suggests is that the corporation’s “indie” station is working fine at nurturing talent, but that its “urban” station isn’t doing its job, or isn’t being allowed to.

But is this the case? If you look at the Radio 1 playlist there’s an bunch of urban talent on the A-List – Taio Cruz, Estelle and Kanye, Gnarls Barkley, Timbaland: not always the freshest or most imaginative of picks, R1 isn’t “taking chances” on new music in the way it might with Sam Sparro or the Ting Tings (!), but it’s not the shut-out suggested by the stats. So what’s going on here? Either the charts aren’t comprehensive, or, given that playlisting doesn’t guarantee equal exposure, the DJs employed by the station are consistently selecting particular records from the playlist more than others.

(Crossposting this with Blackbeard Blog)