Channel 4‘s search to find the best unsigned act kicks off again in November, with the winner nabbing a professional recording contract from Universal Music. And this year sees a few new technical innovations, as you’d expect in a contest sponsored by Orange and Sony Ericsson.
Presenter Alex Zane confirmed that phone voting would be on offer to fans this time around.
"You’ll be able to vote by phone this year, which I probably shouldn’t be telling you but we’re all friends here," he told a room full of journos at this week’s launch party.
Zane, who hosts Orange Unsigned Act for a second year running, described this year’s crop of finalists as "genuinely fucking phenomenal".
That will be great news for music fans as for the first time downloads of the artists’ efforts could be available – a much-needed innovation in a competition where the acts write and perform their own new material almost every week.
“Yes, you were correctly informed, there will be downloads available throughout the series. Will have to get back to you with the finer details though…” a spokeswoman told Absolute Gadget.
The competition received applications from 7,500 acts this year, thanks partly to the decision to include singer/songwriters for the first time.
Judges will once again include Simon Gavin (who Zane described as so rich he "pisses pound coins"); Blur’s Alex James (who uses the phrase "Two words: Ugly Bugly" to describe one act); and soon-to-spawn radio presenter Jo Whiley.
However, this year the trio are joined by Radio 1 lovely Lauren Laverne and a number of guest judges (including Kelly Osbourne, who in one typically shy and retiring clip asks a band member: "How the fuck do you play with one arm?")
We’ll keep ‘em peeled for news of exciting downloads and let you know more…