A nation-wide hunt for Australia’s best unsigned musical acts for commercial radio is underway with the announcement today of nine finalists – three in each of the nominated genres: adult contemporary, pop and rock - to feature in the New Artist 2 Radio Showcase (NA2R).

Chief executive officer of Commercial Radio Australia, Joan Warner, said the nine finalists had been chosen from around 200 artists - a record number of entries for the NA2R.

“These finalists will now compete for the chance to share in a $150,000 advertising prize across the four major radio networks down the east coast of Australia, together with the opportunity to be added to the playlists of selected radio stations,” Ms Warner said.

The finalists are:
Rock: Boston Shaker, Stone Parade, The Dirty Secrets
Pop: Ashleigh Mannix, Emma Dean; Julie Kember
Adult Contemporary: BoomLa, Emma-Louise, Mark Wilkinson

The finalists will be judged by a panel including top commercial radio network program and music directors and a representative of VGM Media and Marketing, MGM Distribution and MySpace. The decision will be made based on each act’s commercial radio potential, with a winner in each section announced later this month.

The winning act in each genre will perform at East on the Gold Coast on October 10, before radio industry leaders and heavyweights, with host for the night, Sea FM’s Big K, well-known for his popular afternoon music show, Hit Music Factory. One artist will then be chosen to perform the following night at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards (ACRAs).

The commercial radio industry initiative aims to discover the next big music star to be played on commercial radio throughout the country and is now in its seventh year. The event is open to unsigned Australian artists who have not charted in the top 100 Australian National airplay chart.

Ms Warner said the initiative was one of the main ways in which the commercial radio sector helped nurture and support new Australian musical talent. “This is an industry-wide initiative which has helped launched some very successful music careers since its inception including artists like Delta Goodrem, Kid Courageous, Sarah Blasko, Thirsty Merc, Jade Macrae and The Sunpilots.”

All the finalists also attend a workshop by leading radio program directors and music marketing experts about how to maximize radio airplay and exposure – a popular feature of the event aimed at helping artists.

The three winners of the event will share in $150,000 worth of advertising airtime on four of the major commercial radio networks: Australian Radio Network, Austereo, DMG Radio Australia and Macquarie Southern Cross Media. In addition, the four networks will choose a genre winner to add to their network play list for early 2009.

“Unearthing new Australian music talent has always been one of the key roles played by commercial radio and the additional benefits provided to NA2R winners this year will help increase their chance of success and exposure – all very positive outcomes,” Ms Warner said.

Media contact: Jenny Stevenson Ph: (0402) 214 039. Finalists’ bios attached. Pics are available.

Melbourne-based, Ben Brazil and Syrene, have merged their musical talents, described as “funk, soul and groove”, along with a 12 piece band made up of some of the finest young musicians in the country. BoomLa’s debut album, called “From Brasil to Cyrene” is available in early October.

Emma-Louise is a 17 year old school student from Cairns in far north Queensland. She started playing guitar at the age of twelve and has been in love with writing and performing her own material ever since. Emma has just finished recording her new EP titled “autumn tongues”, which is scheduled for release in September.

Mark Wilkinson
Based in Sydney, Mark Wilkinson launched himself into the original music scene in 2005. He performs regularly at The Basement, Will & Toby’s and Luna Park in Sydney and has supported Diesel, Sarah McLeod, Marcia Hines and Damien Leith. His debut album and national tour are scheduled for next February.

Ashleigh Mannix
Hailing from the ACT, Ashleigh picked up her first guitar at the age of 11, a few years later adding to this musical experience with her own voice. She is currently exploring new music with guitarist and writing partner, Richie Harris and is looking forward to recording her debut album later this year.

Emma Dean
This Brisbane-based performer has released her debut album, “Real Life Computer Game”. Emma’s music is described as “like pop music but it’s also music theatre” She has been performing solo since a three-year stint with Brisbane duo, Bittersuite.

Julie Kember
From outback Western Australia to busking in the streets of London, and now based in Sydney, Julie’s music is described as “acoustic rock with a bit of pop.” She has recorded her debut album. “Sugar & Stone”, due for release in October. Julie also made it to the final 15 for the reality TV show, “Pop Stars.”

Boston Shaker
Sydney band, Boston Shaker is described as “high energy rock and roll.” The four-member band, started by two brothers, plays local venues around Sydney like the Sando, The Annadale and Manly Fishos. The band has been described by one reviewer as “what happens nine months after hard rock and indie pop crawl drunkenly into bed together”.

Stone Parade
Stone Parade’s blend of melody driven rock and compelling lyrics reveals a band with an interest in the world around them. The band has toured throughout Australia, supporting artists like Maroon 5, Hoobastank , INXS and 3 Doors Down. Their debut album, “Chase the setting sun” will be released later this year.

The Dirty Secrets
This rock band includes Jarrah McCleary (keyboards/vocals), Woody Taylor (drums), Warren Page (bass/vocals) and Mike Sanders (guitars) and their self-titled debut album was released earlier this year. The band has played extensively in Australia and overseas.