U.K. entertainment retailer HMV is bringing back its Next Big Thing festival in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh in February. The second edition of the event for more than 100 emerging artists is taking place from Feb. 4-13.
HMV is staging the event through its live division Mama Group, which operates HMV-branded music venues. Tickets are £10 ($16) for multi-artist shows (the ticket price covers production and other costs, and the artists treat it as a promotional performance).
The festival aims to showcase the best new and emerging talent from all genres tipped to break through in 2011. Polydor-signed singer songwriter Claire Maguire performed at the launch event last night (Dec. 1) at the Borderline and will join new artists including Fenech-Soler, Dutch Uncles, Lauren Pritchard, the Japanese Popstars, Caitlin Rose, Wretch 32, Sarah Blasko and Little Dragon on the festival line-up.
Labels hosting gigs at the festival include Deconstruction, Communion, Transgressive, Moshi Moshi, Memphis Industries, Mute and Blow Up.
London venues staging festival shows include the Borderline, Camden Barfly, Heaven, the Jazz Café, the Relentless Garage and Upstairs at the Relentless Garage, as well as Birmingham’s HMV Institute and the HMV Picturehouse in Edinburgh. Ted Baker and Gaymers Cider are among the event sponsors.
The 2010 line-up featured Polydor/Universal artist Ellie Goulding, Professor Green (Virgin/EMI), Marina and the Diamonds (679/Warner Music), Paloma Faith (Sony) and Eliza Doolittle (Polydor).
In a statement, Universal Music U.K. commercial managing director Brian Rose said the festival has “proved a really engaging platform for new and emerging artists to connect with fans and the wider public at the very point when their careers may be lifting off.”
Columbia Records U.K. managing director Mike Smith said HMV has backed up the live platform for new acts “by delivering that all-important retail support in-store and online for many of the participating artists.” Columbia priority artist Lissie performed at the first edition of Next Big Thing this year.
Jason Legg, HMV Live manager and co-promoter of the festival, tells Billboard.biz this year’s Next Big Thing will be about “harnessing all the elements of what we’ve become as a company.” That includes venues, artist management, concert promotion, retail, online, digital and ticketing.
With the launch of HMV Digital this year alongside the existing physical mail order online business and bricks-and-mortar stores, Legg says it “does make the commercial element [of the 2011 festival] a lot easier – [artists] are bound to have a download even if they don’t yet have an album.”
This year artist performances were recorded and ticket buyers were emailed access to a free one-track download. For 2011, Legg says HMV is going to “be a lot smarter.” Live tracks will be offered as free “grab tracks” and bonus content for those who pre-order releases by artists performing at the shows.