In an effort to engage young readers, the Norwegian media group Amedia hosts its own annual music contest called Bandwagon. More than 70 local newspapers in Norway are participating in the talent contest.

Amedia was established when A-pressen media group bought Edda Media from Mecom in 2012. Today, Amedia owns more than 78 newspapers, of which the majority is local. Within this network, the company wants to develop to reach young newspaper readers.

Last year, Bandwagon ran a pilot that included 26 newspapers. The winning band, “The BonBon,” has since become very popular. Before Bandwagon, The Bonbon had only one live event; now they play almost every weekend, the highlight being a June appearance at the Norwegian Wood Festival in Oslo.

This year, Amedia escalates its focus and investment, involving 71 local newspapers and their readers to recruit participating bands and artists. This is an exciting project because it is about user-generated content. We have established a new digital platform for artists and given them an opportunity to spread their music.

Bandwagon 2013 launched on May 1 and so far involves more than 900 bands with 1,800 songs. By the end of August, each newspaper will have a winner. Those winners will go to one of 12 regional finals, each in a different city. These live events will occur the last two weekends in September.

To make the events more spectacular for both the audience and the finalists, the concerts are reinforced with famous headliners such as Morten Abel, Karpe Diem, Vinni, Lars Vaular, Big Bang, and Timbuktu. The concerts will also be streamed directly on all the newspaper Web sites.

We want the regional finalists to feel that they are performing in a professional context. The event agency, Mentometer, produces all the concerts. The main sponsor partners are Sparebank 1 and the Hi-Fi Club.

The national final is on November 16 at Rock City in Namsos. The winner of Bandwagon 2013 will be chosen on stage. In addition to the Bandwagon winner, we will announce the winner of a €32,000 music grant, for which Bandwagon artists can apply.

The criterion for all artists and bands participating is that they must have written their own songs. This makes the Bandwagon concept different from competition such as “Idol” or “X-Factor.”

The motivation behind Amedia is our goal of reaching new and young groups of readers. Music is content with very high user involvement and high commitment. Also, our journalists establish contact with the audience in a new way. When the artists produce content and post it, the culture journalists easily grab it and present new artists.

Bandwagon is also been adapted for mobile and tablet devices. Each local newspaper presents a local, digital version of Bandwagon.

The winner also gets distribution of music through the streaming service, Wimp, and later on other platforms, such as Spotify and iTunes.

The project has already broken even financially. But our main motivation is to create engaging content on a platform that is attractive both to readers and to artists.