The Internet Phenomenon That Is SBTV


Find out how one of the UK’s biggest online broadcasters started out


SB.TV LogoSBTV is currently one of the UK’s biggest online broadcasters with over 52million video views and 74,000 subscribers. The channel produces content such as street-shot freestyles, music videos, interviews and coverage from major events. The SBTV brand prides itself on three core services – broadcasting, production and editorial. Jamal Edwards, 20, is the founder and CEO of SBTV and more recently his own record label, Just Jam Records. He stated that ‘2011 is the global takeover.’ But where did it all start?

A teenager by the name of ‘Smokey Barz’, a handycam, a YouTube account and four years of graft. At 16 Jamal started videoing grime artists from his local west London estate. The YouTube channel then was very specific and catered to a UK urban audience with ‘mainly grime, underground rap’ videos. One of the first videos he uploaded was of two boys called Soul and Slidez – they were ‘spitting’ over a grime instrumental, being played off of a mobile phone. It was a channel that was very easily accessible and catered exactly to the youth culture at that time and therefore became a hit. With consistent, fresh video updates it wasn’t long before it became common to hear ‘have you seen the new SBTV video?’

Today the channel broadcasts 6 different series. The most popular are the F64 and A64 series and there’s also the Warm Up Sessions, SBTV Interviews, Inspiration Season and Producers House.

The F64 series maintains the original sound and is described on the website as a ‘fresh sixty-four bars of no-frills grime.’ These have been incredibly successful and Jamal Edwards appeared on BBC 1Xtra for a top ten F64 countdown, which saw Black the Ripper earn the title of best F64. The series has also been expanded to accommodate for the influx of female grime/rap artists and features a number of Female 64s.

The Warm Up Sessions also maintain this same basis. ‘Dedicated to grime and hip-hop,’ they feature artists from the obscure such as English Frank and Political Peak to well-known, established industry names such as Bow Wow and Lloyd Banks. This demonstrates Jamal’s tenacity and success in being able to get hold of such big names and also his focus, as he still remains true to the basis of SBTV by featuring small artists.

The A64 series was a vast expansion of direction in terms of music. SBTV has shot fantastic acoustic sessions from Alex Mills, Leddra Chapman, Emeli Sandé who featured on Tinie Tempah’s album Disc-Overy and Ed Sheeran, who has recently been signed to Atlantic Records. Folk, indie, soul and R ‘n’ B were now being featured on SBTV making the channel much more sought after by a diverse audience.

Ed Sheeran, 20, is a singer and songwriter who began writing songs in secondary school. Releasing a number of EPs independently by 2009, he was still only vaguely known and his works received very little recognition, even though the content was of great quality. It was an infamous A64 session that got him noticed. After You Need Me, I Don’t Need You, the most watched video on SBTV having exceeded 2million views, Ed’s following grew massively. Following his SBTV exposure which showcased his ability and diverse approach to music and performing, UK rapper Example asked Ed to tour with him. International star Jamie Foxx also noticed him and asked Ed to perform You Need Me on his radio show. This is just one story of success that has come about as a result of SBTV and Ed himself has acknowledged the part SBTV and Jamal have played in propelling his career.

SBTV interviews continue to flourish with even bigger names than before taking to the hot seat. Interviews started out with artists like Griminal and now SBTV have their own reporter and conduct interviews with industry elites such as Trey Songz and Drake. SBTV was also the first in London to interview rapstress Nicki Minaj when she came to the UK. The Producers House series celebrates the people behind the music and shows viewers footage of the studios where the music is made. So far the series has featured producers such as Red One and Labrinth who produced Tinie Tempah’s no.1 single Pass Out.

Now more than ever is a time in which young people need to have aspirations and dreams and strive to achieve these. SBTV Inspiration Season is a very positive series encouraging ‘positivity and youth empowerment.’ Jamal Edwards delivers this message by posting coverage from events such as the Commonwealth Conference on Investing in Youth Employment. This series also features footage from R&B superstar Trey Songz’ inspirational talk at City Hall, London where Boris Johnson was also present. Jamal became a success at such a young age and it’s commendable that he has added this series to encourage others like him.

What started out as a one man band has now developed into a production team who dedicate themselves to nothing other than producing dynamic online broadcast and editorial content. Jamal didn’t set out and most certainly wasn’t expecting such success when he resourcefully used the free video upload site, YouTube, to distribute his self-shot videos. Though when it proved to be a success, Jamal was able to think business savvy and turned a mere YouTube account into nationally recognised brand. He saw that appealing to a diverse audience would be a major key to success.

Richard Branson with Jamal EdwardsEdwards recently signed a deal with Sony RCA making him the CEO of his own record label, Just Jam Records. The first artist he has signed is UK MC Maxsta, who has already developed a mass following with the release of two projects. With the SBTV touch, Maxsta is surely destined for great success.

Jamal recently met Sir Richard Branson and he hopes that we’ll ‘eventually see an SBTV x Virgin partnership.’ A new website has just been launched which offers all of SBTV’s dynamic content in one place. The new site ‘marks the new era of SBTV’.

If you missed INSIDE SBTV: FROM BEDROOM TO BOARDROOM and want to watch what went into planning the website launch party and what Jamal has planned next – CATCH UP ON 4oD NOW!

To find out more visit the official SBTV website – sbtv.co.uk

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