For the past six months or so, Intel, in conjunction with record label KIDS, has been running an unsigned bands competition. The site, at www.intel.co.uk/studio, allows bands to upload their songs, and people to rate the music that bands have already uploaded.
The top bands each month have been be invited to play live in Camden at the (lovely but expensive for drinks) Proud Galleries. The winning band each month is entered into the final, which takes place at Proud Galleries on the 3rd December. The prize is a record deal with KIDS.
The judges at each competition are Dave Eringa (the Manics’ producer), Roger Moreton (Razorlight’s manager), Mark Beaumont (formerly of the NME) and Dave Fawbert (who runs KIDS, and is so far removed from the stereotype of ‘record label boss’ that it’s not even funny, and he’s also in a kickass band).
I’m all for tech companies spending lots of money on music to find brilliant bands, but I’m not convinced this is the best way to do it. As we saw with Orange and Sony Ericsson’s MobileACT Unsigned last year, these things often turn into a bit of a ridiculous charade. The same kinds of bands always sign up, and the ones that rise to the top are the lowest common denominator indie, schmindie bands, and awful funk-rock “fusion” acts.
I’d rather they paid for some really good music bloggers to be able to give up their jobs and write about music full-time, then helped the bands that the bloggers were most excited about get an album out, and do a tour. That would be phenomenally exciting, and probably result in some far more interesting, groundbreaking, bands getting a wider audience for their music.