Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens has joined O2's Think Big project to 'Build-a-Band'. Budding stars can send a video audition via the O2 Think Big Website by September 13.
We spoke to Huw and his Think Big partner Chris Crichlow to ask all about how the project will bring young people together and champion new talent.
So what's this 'Build-a-Band' project all about?
Huw Stephens: "We're looking for lots of talented musicians who will come together with their talents to create a band and play some of our Think Big gigs. There are four happening - Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, London."
Chris Crichlow: "Think Big is designed to be a platform to support young people. O2 Think Big is a programme that provides support and funding for young people to realise their ideas and make a positive change in their community. Build-a-Band completely encapsulates that.
"We're giving young people the chance to come together and cohesively create a song. We're going to be working with a songwriter and producer to help them get off the ground to make sure that everything's up to scratch and then give them the opportunity to play the gigs."
Are you looking for anything in particular in the artists?
Huw: "We're going at it completely open-minded. The only thing is they have to be between 16-245 and super-passionate about the instrument or the musical talent that they have. They might be a brilliant vocalist of any kind - from opera to hip-hop, MCs."
Chris: "We really welcome the diversity of the whole thing."
Huw: "Same for the instruments - literally anything, from the harp to the piano."
The Olympics Opening Ceremony really boasted the musical diversity of the UK - is this another way of showing that off?
Huw: "I think so. We know there's a lot of talent out there across the board in all genres in every corner of Britain and we definitely want to celebrate that and showcase it. Hopefully by putting this band together we'll be able to show something creative and exciting. The Opening Ceremony was a brilliant example of different styles of music that have come out of Britain over the last decades."
How will the band be put together?
Huw: "We're inviting people to upload their auditions then, myself, Chris, the O2 team and the producer and songwriter will be selecting musicians who we think will have the potential to create the band and do the gigs together - it's a very democratic process - there's no bias."
Have the producer and songwriter been confirmed?
Huw: "It's still being sorted at the moment - it's not confirmed yet but we're talking to exciting people."
Chris: "Very, very talented people as well. Huw's a big advocate of new music and we're really happy we've got him on board. We want a producer of the same calibre, who on top of being able to master their craft can work with young people and is an advocate for young music. It's just working out the right fit."
With arts cuts, is it more important for corporations to get involved in projects like this?
Chris: "I think it's more important then ever... Think Big is one of the most dynamic projects that there is... I think more and more companies need to step into this. If every good PR and marketing team decided to work out things like this for their companies, who knows what we might have?"
Artists can up their material via YouTube - how has technology changed things for bands?
Huw: "Every website and social network can be changed to suit your style. You can do as much or as little, but as long as you're there. I think it's really important. Soundcloud, YouTube and Vimeo doesn't lie - you can see how many people have listened and comments. It's more accessible for music fans and it's easier and cheaper for musicians."
And the down-sides?
Huw: "Well, anyone can put their stuff up there, so stuff can get lost, and sometimes the quality control isn't as high as it was."
Does making music free-to-stream mean that people don't value it the way they used to?
Huw: "Music's always been a disposable thing - I think that's why it's good. Music's always been out there, and you can listen to new songs for the rest of your life and not commit to one song or one artist or one album. But the really good stuff that you love you will invest in - you might go and see it live, or you might want to own it. After watching watching a YouTube video 100 times you might want to buy it."
Chris: "Although times have changed and you might not go to HMV and buy your artist's CD, you will probably sit on YouTube or Spotify and listen through - but where sales may go down with albums and singles, they will go up with live and merchandise. People want that experience. Jay-Z and Kanye West 'Watch The Throne' tour was absolutely crazy. People might not have gone out and bought the album physically but watching it is an experience in itself."
This is a very different type of competition to X Factor - does the stranglehold these artists have on the chart from August to December deny other artists space?
Huw: "Honestly? Yeah. I say personally. I think those shows are brilliant entertainment shows, and I think they're great TV and it's great viewing. Occasionally, now and again a great artist will break through and prove that they can make it and be successful. Leona Lewis, Will Young, One Direction.
"But that's what the charts are. Sales are down everywhere and the charts are representative of what people buy. The charts don't lie either. Hopefully this project will help prove that real talent will shine through. I think the Olympics have proved that - that hard work and dedication that makes real superstars. This isn't a competition at all - it's more of a project. A chance for people to showcase their talent. There's no record deal to win, no TV show - we're not judges. We're just here to help make it happen."
As a champion of new music - who's your big tip for 2012
Huw: "I'd go for Dog is Dead who release their debut album soon. They've released a few singles. They're from Nottingham, very young. Just a really melodic band with some nice ideas and a really young fanbase and some really good songs. Their album is called All Our Favourite Stories. They're my tip for the top."
The Build-a-Band project is open to any vocalist or instrumentalist, DJ or MC between the ages of 16-25 with raw talent and a determination to succeed.
To be in with a chance of becoming part of this grassroots Think Big band, Huw Stephens is asking young people to send an audition video via the O2 Think Big website by September 13.