A Mix-Tape for Gus is “so personal” that even Emily herself found it hard to promote (“‘A Mix-Tape for Gus’ Music Documentary | Emily Levy”, 2014). Without stating outright, the show deals with music and its relationship to mental health.
Over half an hour Emily plays tracks from mixtapes her brother Gus used to make for her. The listener hears about what these tracks meant to Gus’ sister Emily and his best friends before he died in an accident. The tapes were used as a coping mechanism and inspire Emily today in her work as a singer, songwriter.
Music speaks to the brain in a way nothing else does. “It is more compatible with the brain than speech” (Pickett, 2016) and it releases dopamine, the feel good hormone you get after taking cocaine (“Music ‘releases mood-enhancing chemical in the brain’ – BBC News”, 2011). This explains how it is used as a coping mechanism and how music helps when a tragedy leaves you speechless.
The show however is emotional, not scientific. It works better that way and is paced effectively quickly going from emotional insight to track and back again fairly quickly. It cleverly veils educating the audience about music therapy by never discussing it in a concrete scientific way, loosely fulfilling Radio 4’s remit (“BBC – Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra – Commissioning”, 2017).
However, on the programmes page it talks about replacing human algorithms with a computer algorithm. Due to “its core 55-75 demographic” (BBC Trust Radio service review, 2010) Radio 4 probably chose to promote the show in this way since services such as Spotify are primarily used by younger people with approximately less than 20% of its users being 55-75 (“UK: Spotify users by age group 2015 | Statistic”, 2015). In my opinion promoting the show in this way is a mistake and undermines the shows aim.
‘A Mix-Tape for Gus’ Music Documentary | Emily Levy. (2014). Emilylevy.co.uk. Retrieved 12 February 2017, from http://emilylevy.co.uk/news/mix-tape-gus-music-documentary
BBC – Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra – Commissioning. (2017). Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 12 February 2017, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/commissioning/radio/articles/radio4
BBC Trust Radio service review. (2010) (1st ed., p. 11). Retrieved from http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/regulatory_framework/service_licences/service_reviews/radio_347/audience_research/audience_research.pdf
Music ‘releases mood-enhancing chemical in the brain’ – BBC News. (2011). BBC News. Retrieved 12 February 2017, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12135590
Pickett, J. (2016). Soothing of the psyche – music as therapy for illness and loss – Getintothis. Getintothis. Retrieved 12 February 2017, from http://www.getintothis.co.uk/2016/11/soothing-of-the-psyche-music-as-therapy-for-illness-and-loss/
UK: Spotify users by age group 2015 | Statistic. (2015). Statista. Retrieved 12 February 2017, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/590982/distribution-of-spotify-users-in-the-united-kingdom-uk-by-age-group/