You’re a budding singer/songwriter or you’re in a band and all you want is to be heard by someone who knows music, provide some constructive criticism, and maybe help you get your break. You live somewhere like Cork, Manchester, Prague, Shanghai, Chicago or even Kathmandu for that matter, so making the trek to audition for a national talent contest either just isn’t on the cards, or you’re not really looking for that kind of razzle-dazzle.
Enter the 2011 YouBloom Song Contest, the annual internet-based competition conceived by YouBloom founder Phil Harrington and musician/songwriter Bob Geldof. Harrington and Geldof, along with A&R man Nigel Grainge (The Waterboys, Sinead O’Connor, The Boomtown Rats, World Party and Steve Miller Band), songwriter/producer Rupert Hine (Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks), and record producer Damion “Damizza” Young (Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Mariah Carey) have joined together to offer their experience and guidance, instincts, contacts, knowledge of what it takes to be successful in the music biz, and their ears to singer/songwriters and bands from all over the world who submit an audio performance of an original song to the YouBloom website.
In the YouBloom Song Contest, artists enter their songs into rounds of heats, playoffs and finals with cash prizes. In each round, as well as member voting playoffs, there is a judging session with a panel led by the iconic Bob Geldof, a long time friend of YouBloom Founder, Phil Harrington.
YouBloom is the brainchild of entrepreneur and musician Phil Harrington.
“My vision and that of everyone involved with YouBloom is to build a new global economy of artists which will change the dynamic of the industry and at last drive the internet to deliver creatively and financially for artists.
The current file-sharing and free-download culture makes it almost impossible for unsigned artists to monetize their music and YouBloom seeks to change that.”
“However, we felt it was important to bring YouBloom into the real world, so that is why we are launching a program of YouBloom Live events, where we can start to showcase the talent on YouBloom in real time to a live audience. I will be over from LA for our first YouBloom Live event in London, which will be a really exciting night for us.”
“For too long new artists with talent have not been able to get a good listen or a fair deal,” says Phil. “It’s also frustrating that the only music competitions being supported by the media tend to be focused on Karaoke-style contests which ignore the need to encourage and support originality, which is the real core of music.”
In order to provide support for the participating artists in the Contest, Phil set out to introduce a judging panel of industry experts who would provide valuable constructive critiques during the contest, calling in long-time friends Bob Geldof, A&R genius, Nigel Grainge and songwriter & music producer Rupert Hine. Says Harrington, “Bob and Nigel work really well together having forged a close relationship after Nigel signed The Boomtown Rats to his Ensign label. They are all passionate about the need to find and nurture undiscovered musical talent.”
“This contest is about finding the next generation of influential writers and performers and helping to give them a more financially viable future,” echoes Nigel. With their intention to assemble a cross-genre panel of judges they enlisted US megawatt record producer, Damion “Damizza” Young for the 2010 Contest.
Last year’s grand prize YouBloom Song Contest winner, pop/folk singer/songwriter Neev Kennedy, and the three Grand Finalists, were honoured at a special YouBloom LIVE awards event and live performance showcase at the Cobden Club in London on February 10 when the 2011 Contest was launched. Geldof, Harrington and Grainge presented Kennedy with a Grand Prize trophy plus a cash prize of €10,000 (£8,500) and fans received an in-concert taste of Kennedy and Grand Finalists soul/R&B artist Renny C, rock/pop singer/songwriter Marina V, and indie rockers Intermission. Also playing that night was Her and The Colours, Quilla Constance, Joseph Dean Osgood and The Guilty Ones.
“Song contests have been done before a million times. But this isn’t X Factor or American Idol. That’s great television and entertainment and can find spectacular voices, but we would like to find the songwriters and let their peers decide their value and thus their audience,” says Geldof. “It’s not a re-invention of the wheel, just a little push of the same wheel for those who should be heard. Last year, our first year, the model proved itself in a suitably modest way. The contestants liked it. Thousands participated. Maybe millions will vote this year, but even if they don’t, some good music and artists have already come out of it, and that’s what we set out to do. Who knows where it will go?”
Nigel Grainge, the man who found so many of our more famous songs and signed and developed the artists, says “the essential A&R function of record companies is disappearing now that talent spotting logic is being left to the web. We’re allowing the audience to find and sift the talent as was done in the past and decide which artists will develop.
That’s the key. We can offer some guidance, given that we’re all ancient, but that’s about it. It’ll be interesting at least. I’m looking forward to seeing what turns up.”
YouBloom Song Contest Annual Semi-Final 2010