A Devon-wide Battle of the Bands has been launched, with a heat taking place in East Devon.

The contest is open to young musicians at secondary schools aged up to 18. This year's competition brings together existing contests that have run in recent years in North, South, East and West Devon.

There are four heats being held at participating schools in June. For East Devon, this will be at Cranbrook Education Campus on Wednesday, June 19.

The other heats are at the Plympton Academy, Plymouth, on Monday June 17, Coombeshead Academy, Newton Abbot, on Tuesday 18, and Petroc College, Barnstaple, on Thursday 20.

The winners of each heat will battle it out at the final at Bomba in Exeter on June 27.

There are prizes including free recording, mixing and mastering a song for release on streaming platforms for the first, second and third prizes. Radio exposure and performance slots at music festivals in the South West are also up for grabs.

The providers in each area have been brought together by the Devon & Torbay Music Education Hub, the Music In Devon Initiative and Devon production company R&K Systems. The organisers hope that by expanding the contest they will attract an even greater number of young musicians and actively encourage them to get involved in the South West music ecosystem.

Young musicians up to 18 years of age wanting to take part need a teacher from their school to visit the Devon & Torbay Music Education Hub’s website and apply by completing the online form on their behalf; https://forms.office.com/e/3PvaHFP4RJ

The Upper Hand were the overall winners of the East Devon competition in 2023. Their prize was free recording of a song with R&K Systems, which ended up becoming a five-track EP, and a string of paid gigs.

Other East Devon winners got performance slots at festivals including Exmouth, Sidmouth Folk and Yarty Party, along with gigs at local venues, and studio recording and rehearsal time.

Aaron Samuel, lead singer of the Upper Hand, said: “Entering last year’s competition was a great experience for us as a band to pitch ourselves at the forefront of a growing music community in Devon, and the opportunities we have had since winning the event have been great at putting us on the path we want to venture down as an upcoming artist.

“Some of our favourite memories in our journey so far have included playing at Sidmouth Folk Festival, Goren Festival, alongside The Barefoot Bandit at the Beehive Theatre, and most recently at the Devon Music Awards after being crowned ‘Devon’s Best New Artist 2024.’ All those came as a byproduct of the Battle of the Bands, and we are extremely excited to be currently recording our first singles with R&K Systems and Pete Marten as part of our spoils as victors. We cannot thank the competition and the organisers enough for giving local artists such as ourselves these opportunities.”

David Knox of R&K Systems said: “We were amazed by how many young musicians signed up to get involved in last year’s contest in East Devon last year. So, this year, we are delighted to team up with the Devon & Torbay Music Education Hub and MIDI to expand the contest to the whole of Devon. I can’t wait to discover a whole new crop of bands and to create opportunities for young musicians wanting to join the music industry.”