Bonnaroo contest taps into Nashville indie rock scene

After four rounds of BMI's Road to Bonnaroo competition, four sonically distinct bands – The Non-Commissioned Officers, How I Became the Bomb, Caitlin Rose, and Space Capone – have each earned a coveted spot at the 2010 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. Sponsored by BMI, the competition gives Nashville the chance to show off some of its most-praised indie acts on a global stage.

“The Road to Bonnaroo” competition took place over the course of four 8 off 8th shows—February 22, March 22, April 19 and May 17— at Nashville hot-spot The Mercy Lounge. The shows revitalized—and even redefined—Monday night music, as the venue consistently filled to capacity and late-comers braved one-in/one-out lines after 10 p.m.

As the contest’s live-action litmus test, eight bands performed three-song sets during each installment of the series. To select the evening’s top contender, an industry panel comprising local music journalists, bloggers, and 8 off 8th hosts contributed one half of the verdict, while fan-voting through on-site ballots determined the other half.

BMI’s involvement underscores the organization’s vital role as an early career counselor and support system for aspiring songwriters and bands. As an initial point of contact for burgeoning artists, BMI serves as a fundamental bridge, connecting promising talent with industry decision-makers, as well as invaluable opportunities, including performance slots on stages at SXSW, the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Lollapalooza, and of course, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.