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Block M gives 'U' a chance to record

BY BERNIE NGUYEN

Published September 11, 2006

If you've failed your American Idol audition, take heart. Your chance to make it big might finally be here. In search of what they hope will be "the most original musical piece and performance by a University of Michigan student or group," Block M Records, the University's recording company and studio, opened a school-wide competition called "New Music on the Block" on Sept. 5.

Mary Simoni, associate dean for the School of Music, Theater and Dance and one of the competition's chief organizers, said that "New Music on the Block" is aimed at all the students on campus.

The program was designed with a goal of celebrating creativity in the student body through the promotion of original works composed and performed by University Students, she said.

"It's just because we've seen so much student creativity here in the School of Music, Theater and Dance beyond those students who are enrolled," Simoni said. "We wanted to give them a creative outlet on the label - just the joy of having their music heard by the world."

The contest will be judged by a panel consisting of experienced producers, composers, University faculty and media personalities, according to Block M. The panel will select winners based on creativity, originality and quality of performance, and will award the winning performers with a recording contract for the winter 2007 semester.

Winners will also get a chance to record their music at the newly renovated Audio Studio in the Duderstadt Center. Block M and the School of Music, Theater and Dance will help produce the piece. The new sound engineering program at the school, Simoni said, will bring students together both in the composition and in the production of original music.

"It's directly tied to making our classroom a living/learning experience for all our students," she added.

Distribution of the winning pieces through iTunes is also a possibility.

Simoni said that the School of Music, Theater and Dance and Block M are planning on making the competition a yearly event, and that in the future the program may expand to include video, a rising creative art among the student population.

"It could be video art, documentaries," Simoni said. "It could be music videos."

The contest, which runs through Friday, accepts submissions on CD only, and a submission form must accompany each entry. Entrants may range from single student performances to groups of 100 members. The main qualification is that the work must be original and must be performed by University students who are currently enrolled.

Submissions are due by 5 p.m. Friday, and should be hand-delivered to the School of Music, Theater and Dance and Block M Records in the Moore Building on North Campus. Winners will be notified by Oct. 1, and will receive invitations to perform at the Video Studio at the Duderstadt Center on Oct. 20 and 21.

The competition is sponsored by Block M Records, the School of Music, Theater and Dance, the Digital Media Commons of the Duderstadt Center and Apple, Inc.