Spanish culture minister Angeles González-Sinde today (Nov. 15) presented a pioneer project to support live music by emerging acts across the country.

"Touring Through Venues" (GPS), a state-backed circuit for popular music, will receive an initial €1.5 million ($2.04 million) budget to promote some 200 concerts by 50 artists in 100 medium and small venues in November and December.

After the presentation, in a three-way conversation between González-Sinde, labels' body Promusicae president Antonio Guisasola, and Billboard.biz, the minister did not flinch when Guisasola said "this is the first time ever that any culture ministry in Spain has supported popular music."

The president of the Spanish IFPI affiliate had earlier told a packed music biz crowd in a leading Madrid music venue that "it is important today that the culture minister has come to a music dive to support popular music", adding "thanks minister for the change of attitude, you are sowing an important seed for the future. Congratulations."

Talking about the multitude of musicians playing small venues every evening, González-Sinde told the music biz representatives that "we believe in their talent, and they must defend it. This initiative is an example of our faith in them."

GPS is an initiative of Promusicae, the Association of Live Music Venues (ACCES), the Independent Labels Union (UFI), the Association of Performance and Technical Representatives (ARTE), the Music Producers Association (APM), and three equivalent groups from the Catalonia region around Barcelona. Public music radio network Radio 3 helped to select the artists to play in GPS.

At the later three-way chat, González-Sinde recognized that "Spain has an important historic musical backwardness which has much to do with the economic crisis, but has never lacked talent. This initiative will have a domino effect, and there is an empty space to fill. I think GPS is here to stay."

Others who praised the initiative during the presentation included ACCES director Armando Ruah, UFI director Mark Kitcatt, Catalan music federation president Max Sunyer, and singer Alondra Bentley.

González-Sinde stayed on for a performance by Malaga-based crooner Zenet (El Volcan Música).