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Ulster school bands get ready for blast-off

By Claire McNeilly

Ulster students should have a blast at forming their own bands and music companies - and romp home with a record deal to boot.

That's the message coming from the organisers of Blastbeat - an award-winning international social enterprise and music business programme.

And now the search is on for eight schools in Northern Ireland which will be given the opportunity to participate in the much sought-after scheme.

Secondary school students - aged between 14 and 18 - from each of the schools will form their own mini music and multi-media company (MMC).

Within a structured three-month period, they will complete and implement their own business plan, marketing activities and financial management - as part of organising and staging a music concert.

The event - called Blastbeat battle of the bands - will feature six young acts. As the programme is sponsored by Coca Cola, there are no charges to the school or students for participation.

Students keep the profits of their work, but are encouraged to share some or all of that with charities of their own selection.

Schools will benefit from full support from the Blastbeat team and will have the chance to develop links and partnerships with other participating schools, locally and overseas.

The students, schools and their MMC companies will compete against 24 others in Ireland for a cash prize of £3,350.

They will showcase their work and achievements at the all-island finals to be held in the Ambassador Theatre in Dublin on May 1, 2008.

The winners will then go on to represent Ireland at the international finals held in January of each year.

The winning band in the all-Ireland competition will win the offer of a record deal from independent record label Blastspace Records to record a studio album, which will be distributed by Warner Music.

Each participating school will have between eight and 15 pupils directly involved in their own social enterprise company, each choosing their own roles and working together as a team.

A recommended 25% of the profit generated by each company will be donated to a charity of their choosing.

Robert Stephenson, founder and international director of Blastbeat, said that the programme was a positive initiative and he recommended interested parties to view the numerous videos on

"Blastbeat is a tried and tested means of nurturing multi-media, musical and social entrepreneurial skills among teenagers," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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