Virgin Money is investing in the music industry by providing aspiring musicians with a £10,000 development grant to help them further their careers.
The eight chosen groups or artists will also have the opportunity to perform live at Virgin Money’s retail stores across the UK and at special events at the brand’s partnership venues, The O2 in London and The SSE Hydro in Glasgow.
The first round of artists will receive their funding at a time when the music industry has been suffering from cancelled festivals, postponed live shows and closed venues.
Virgin had planned to launch with a live showcase, but in the absence of events the programme has launched digitally with a show presented by the campaign's official ambassador, Laura Whitmore.
The first year of the Virgin Money Emerging Stars Programme will run through to June 2021 and culminate in an event to showcase the eight emerging acts at Indigo at The O2. They will also benefit from a national marketing campaign supported by Virgin Money and its partners, including promotion across Virgin Money’s customer experience channels.
R&B and soul singer-songwriter Aaron Taylor, indie-rock band Mosa Wild and indie-pop artist Dylan are the first three acts to become part of the initiative. They were selected by an industry panel who considered factors including music credentials, "it" factor and anticipated career longevity.
Toby Leighton-Pope, co-chief executive of AEG Presents, was on the panel. AEG owns The O2 and promotes tours and festivals through its AEG Presents division. Leighton-Pope said he could envisage the selected artists performing at a number of AEG events, including London's British Summer Time and All Points East festivals.
He said: "There are so many amazing artists that we need to find a way to support. And to have this partnership with Virgin Money is fantastic and we are excited about the next phase of this.
"All Points East is our cooler, contemporary festival in east London. We have five stages and over 60 bands, and we push tons of emerging stuff through there. Mosa Wild performed at the festival in 2019 – it was a midday slot during the very early stage of their career. We try to bring people through at different stages all the way up to headlining. Nothing would make me happier than seeing Aaron Taylor at BST in Hyde Park next year."
The programme forms part of Virgin Money's "Brighter music moments" campaign, which focuses on offering unique music experiences and content for customers and the wider public.