Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale says what today’s new artists need to be successful hasn’t changed much since when his band started their career in London in the mid-90s, despite changing musical technologies.
“It all comes down to the same thing: Extremely good music, a great team and a lot of luck,” Rossdale said.
The English singer is lending his voice to a new talent competition, called neXt2rock 2017, with Cumulus Media radio stations to find and promote undiscovered rock artists throughout the country. Through the four-month long competition that begins Thursday, artists will be selected based on performances of original songs that are also rated by fans.
The final five acts will be judged during a concert in Los Angeles in December by a panel of industry veterans, including Rossdale and Scott Borchetta, the founder of Big Machine Label Group, where Taylor Swift has been signed since she was a teenager. Other judges include Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, producer Bob Ezrin and hit songwriter Desmond Child.
The winner of the competition will get national airplay and a record deal through a joint partnership with Big Machine and John Varvatos Records, which has also signed the Zac Brown Band.
Rossdale, who recently was a celebrity judge on the U.K. version of The Voice, said he was intrigued by the idea of a talent competition based around the radio.
“It’s not television, so it is really about how people sound,” Rossdale said.
Although based in Nashville, Big Machine Label Group isn’t strictly a country music label and works with artists like Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Cheap Trick. Borchetta grew up immersed in the Southern California rock scene before coming to Nashville and was previously involved in Cumulus’ NASHNext competition last year to find a new country artist.
Borchetta said the next generation of great rockers is out there waiting to be discovered and there’s a need right now for outspoken rock voices.
“I don’t want to call it a competition,” Borchetta said. “It’s an opportunity.”
Rossdale said that rock music needs new artists that are inspirational and creative.
“It’s really great to reach for the sky and make whatever genre of music you love, and make it about stuff that is substantial and social,” Rossdale said. “When you get the tune right, it’s great to put the words in there to make people think.”