The Brit Awards 2006 look set to recognise the emergence of a new wave of artists at the annual ceremony on Wednesday.
Stars like James Blunt, KT Tunstall and Kaiser Chiefs could grab the headlines from more established acts like Oasis and Robbie Williams, while the chart-topping Arctic Monkeys, champions of internet marketing, are in the breakthrough category.
The stars of tomorrow helped ensure some success in 2005 for the British music industry, with seven of the country's top 10 albums made by local artists. "There is such depth of talent across the board," said Gennaro Castaldo of music and books retailer HMV. "Coldplay was the catalyst for that. They created this sense of a new British wave of music and others followed in their slipstream."
He compared Britain to the United States, where veteran Irish rockers U2 swept the board with five Grammys at the recent awards. "America is like an ocean liner that takes a little bit longer to turn around," Castaldo said."The Grammys focussed on the big names of the industry like U2, Kanye West and Mariah Carey. They are happy to celebrate the music establishment whereas in this country we look to celebrate new talent."
In Britain, album sales fell 2.7 per cent last year, but the success of homegrown artists like Blunt, a singer songwriter who once served with the British army in Kosovo, ensured the drop was not as sharp as the 7.2 per cent fall in the United States. "We certainly have had a good year for debut acts with a lot of talent coming through," said Matt Phillips, spokesman for the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) trade group. British companies are keeping up their investment in new music. Today's success is the upshot of yesterday's investment."
But the industry – Britain is the world's third-largest market after the United States and Japan – is not out of the woods yet. "The global market since the turn of the century has declined by about a quarter largely because of internet piracy. It has been tough but I think we are turning the corner," Phillips said.
The Brits shortlist was dominated by Blunt and the Kaiser Chiefs, with both boasting five nominations apiece. Next in line with four nominations come stadium stars Coldplay. An outstanding achievement award goes to Paul Weller, the Modfather, celebrating three decades with The Jam, The Style Council and as a solo performer.
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