After a hugely successful inaugural year, The Red Stripe Music Award returns for 2008 twice the size and 100% focused on unearthing the very best new UK grass roots music talent.
With over 400 band searches taking place across the UK each year, the average punter can be forgiven for feeling a bit bewildered by the whole process. After all, there’s a huge musical spectrum winning the pop focused admiration of Simon Cowell and triumphing at the battle of the bands in your local indie sweat pit, and it’s genuinely hard to recognise where true quality lies. For your average musician the process is even more confusing and daunting. Well, within this minefield there do actually exist some competitions of notable quality. One of the biggest and farthest reaching of these is the undoubtedly The Red Stripe Music Award.
The award takes the form of a comprehensive live gig series where the best unsigned bands are selected from over 50 gigs across the UK before proceeding to a huge UK final to battle it out in front of fans and industry figureheads to determine the overall winner. This award stands out from many of its competitors due to the clear focus on bands at the very root of the musical ladder, and also for its accessibility to fans and bands throughout the entire country. From the depths of Devon and Cornwall to the apex of Aberdeen, The Red Stripe Music Award visits every significant musical town or city in the UK.
Instead of simply lavishing gifts on the winner, and promptly walking away in the continuing search for even newer talent and brand recognition, the Red Stripe Music Award aims to help nurture that crucial early stage in a band’s career. This year’s prizes reflect that, with the winning band immediately receiving both a slot at the prestigious Great Escape festival in Brighton, now one of Europe’s recognised new band showcase events, and a fully functioning tour van. Red Stripe also follow this up with continuous support in the form of consumer press advertising and of course some valuable liquid contribution to many a dressing room rider.
As a respected media partner, Clash are delighted to be involved in supporting the Red Stripe Music Award. As one of the UK’s best magazines for unearthing new talent and giving an early boost to the bands of the future, we like to put our support into initiatives that represent our own values best. Clash editor Simon Harper says of our involvement: “Clash has tirelessly endeavoured to sniff out the best new music around. We are proud to be working alongside Red Stripe to prove on the live stage as well as online and on the magazine page that our dedication to fresh talent around the country will always be there. With so many dull band contests around full of empty promises, it should be heartening for all those entering that they will have the backing of a brand that cares and a truly influential magazine.”
Red Stripe Brand Manager Jonny Kirkham outlines their intentions as wholly focused on creating a genuine platform for undiscovered talent: “This is the UK’s largest and, I’d argue, most genuine search for grassroots talent because it takes in these very local venues that other brands aren’t able to or can’t access easily. It’s all about going to places like The Boardwalk in Sheffield on a rainy Thursday night in Yorkshire and having a look. If you’re into your music and happen to drink Red Stripe then good, but it’s about the bands first.”
2007’s award and gig series saw events taking place at 25 local venues nationwide, however this year, with over 50 of the UK’s best stages being rocked, the award’s reputation looks set to soar. Over 150 bands will be playing to fans from all across Scotland, England and Wales in a bid to echo the success of last year’s winners, The Runners.
The Runners were just another unknown indie band until they entered the Red Stripe Music Award 2007. Now they’re signed to prolific independent label Weekender Records and having released two singles they’ve achieved extensive radio airplay and press coverage, successfully rocked major shows at The Great Escape and the Lovebox Weekender, and recorded a session for Radio 1’s Steve Lamacq.
The Red Stripe Music Award is now open for entrants. Groups can enter at www.redstripe.net/redstripe/music/awards . So get out and get on it, a genuine career break awaits you.