HMV is taking the hunt for new artists into its own hands by fronting a talent search across its chain of UK and Irish stores.
Dave Bates' label db Records, Modest! Management and live music magazine The Fly have all been secured as partners for The HMV New Music Search, which will provide a new route for up-and-coming acts to reach some of the industry's most experienced ears.
HMV marketing director John Taylor believes it is the first time a major retailer has played such an active role in trying to uncover new artists. The initiative follows the launch 14 months ago of the chain's monthly Playlist CD, which showcases recommended new acts.
"It's an extension of us getting behind new artists as much as humanly possible," says Taylor. "We're not trying to judge them ourselves. We don't want to pretend HMV is an A&R department. It is to uncover artists for people like Dave Bates to listen to."
All 164 of HMV's UK and Ireland stores will be involved in the April 2-launched initiative, providing hopefuls with entry kits which then need to be returned - complete with a demo CD - to their local store. The demos will be forwarded to db Records, which will make the final decision on which acts will be recorded and possibly signed. The initiative will also put an emphasis on alternative artists aged up to 23, although the partners promise every demo will be heard.
The acts submitting demos will be considered for possible inclusion on HMV's Playlist CD. And the promotion will be the subject of a significant in-store push by HMV, while The Fly will also promote it within its pages.
Dave Bates says demos are the "lifeblood" of db, with the emphasis on uncovering and developing long-term talent. "For me, we've only ever been interested in developing artists with real values and real artistry and imagination, commitment and dedication," he says. "I don't want to work with artists who do it as an alternative to working in a bank or on a checkout. I want someone who lives for writing and playing."
Artists discovered will also be passed on for consideration to Modest! Management. Its founder Richard Griffiths says that his involvement with Fame Academy highlighted there is "enormous talent" out there, but the problem is finding and getting to it. "We're all music fans and we want to find some great new artists," he adds.