CRA: Three unsigned acts have been announced today as the winners of the Australian radio industry’s search for the next big on-air discovery, the New Artist 2 Radio (NA2R) initiative. The winners are Boston Shaker (rock category); Ashleigh Mannix (pop category) and Emma-Louise (adult contemporary category).

The winners will share in a $150,000 advertising prize across the four major radio networks down the east coast of Australia, with an opportunity to be added to the playlists of selected radio stations from early next year.

Ashleigh Mannix: (Pop) 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-Louise: (Adult contemporary) 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.

Boston Shaker: (Rock) 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”.

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

The winners were decided by a panel including top commercial radio network program and music directors and a representative of VGM Media & Marketing and MGM Distribution as well as MySpace. The decision was made based on each act’s commercial radio potential.

Judge, Allan Cameron, Program Director SEAFM/2GO, Macquarie Southern Cross Media said:
"It's encouraging to see the future of Australian music is alive and well, with such a great amount of entries and high quality of this year’s NA2R entries. To be able to give the up and coming artists an opportunity to get a well deserved break into commercial radio is a gratifying experience."

The winners were announced at a workshop held today in Sydney which included leading radio program directors and music marketing experts, talking about how to maximize radio airplay and exposure – a popular feature of the event aimed at helping artists. All nine finalists in the event: Boston Shaker, Stone Parade, The Dirty Secrets (rock category); Ashleigh Mannix, Emma Dean; Julie Kember (pop) BoomLa, Emma-Louise and Mark Wilkinson (adult contemporary) attended the workshop.

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 NA2R 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.

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 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. Each winner will be released and distributed through MGM with ongoing media and marketing support provided by VGM Media & Marketing.

“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.