SFRQ 2012 Launches in NZ Music Month

April 3rd 2012
The future of Kiwi music is tuning up in the wings, fittingly ready to emerge right during New Zealand Music Month.

Smokefreerockquest, New Zealand's only nationwide, live, original music competition gets underway with Nelson heats on May 11, the first of 45 regional heats and finals, leading towards the national final at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton on September 22.

This year organisers expect close to 800 bands to enter - adding up to a total of around 3,000 aspiring musicians. The link between Smokefreerockquest and New Zealand Music Month is significant, according to founder and director Pete Rainey.

"We're into our 24th year and it's the enduring nature of the event that makes its role in Kiwi music so significant - for some people it's a springboard to huge success, while for others Smokefreerockquest is a tool in their roles as music's unsung heroes," he says. "I'm talking about the likes of Ladyhawke acknowledging us as her first real gig, right through to the music teacher in Gisborne who uses this event as a prime motivator for at-risk students."

Rainey says young people will always want to play their music to their peers, which is the key to Smokefreerockquest's longevity.

"Kids' biggest role models are their musical heroes - they emulate them by mastering musical instruments and performing to their peers," he says. "They also want to explore their emotions and concerns in songs. Smokefreerockquest gives them a framework to do all this and provides support, education, motivation and rewards."

The regional events run every weekend until July 21, then the top regional bands submit videos from which the national finalists are selected. At stake is a prize package that includes a NZ On Air new recording and music video grant worth over $10,000, a place on the NZ On Air Kiwi Hit Disc, musical gear to the value of $10,000 from NZ Rockshops, radio promotional support for a single, and video play on youth music channel FOUR. There is also the MAINZ Scholarship for outstanding musicianship, the APRA Lyric Award, the Lowdown Best Song Award and the Smokefree Women's Musicianship Award.

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