CHANGES are afoot for buskers seeking fame and fortune on the Boulevard of Dreams for Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF) 2013.
Launching the new Australian Country Music Busking Championships (ACMBC) website today at the Capitol Theatre, ACMBC busking coordinator and three-times Golden Guitar winner Deniese Morrison said this year's primary focus was talent identification and development.
"I just know there's going to be another Beccy Cole, Keith Urban or Kasey Chambers out there in 2013," Ms Morrison said.
This year buskers need to register via the new user-friendly website and can upload YouTube clips, photos and short biographies to whet the public's interest.
For the first time, buskers will be on show to the public before they hit Tamworth streets and be able to garner votes prior to appearing at the 2013 festival.
"Fans can vote before the festival even begins via the website. A top 10 ranking will appear for those with the highest votes," she said.
Those determined to be the pick of the crop by a panel of judges will be invited to take a spot in Peel Street, while the other two busking zone areas would be Kable Ave and Bicentennial Park.
Ms Morrison said issues commonly brought up at the end of festival by retailers and fans was that of overcrowding, excessive volume levels and performers being "drowned out" by louder genres of music.
"This year, buskers will be strategically spaced out in the three blocks from Bourke to White streets, so everyone has the chance to be heard," she said.
There would also be a higher emphasis on working with buskers to schedule performances on a roster basis, enabling everyone to be "seen in their best light".
But whatever your age, talent level or genre, "everyone is welcome," she said.
Ms Morrison said consultation with retailers and festival stakeholders had been made in the lead-up to the launch and they were "over the moon about the changes".
Recognising the importance of busking to the festival would also be a priority this year with the concert promoted as a feature event in Bicentennial park on Australia Day.
The busking competition which regularly attracts 500- 600 entrants, is widely recognised as the launch pad for future Australian country music stars.
Troy Cassar-Daley, Keith Urban and Beccy Cole began their careers as buskers on the streets of Tamworth in earlier years.
Ms Morrison said she was excited about the changes and believed they would open the doors to future talent.
Tamworth singer Ryan Sampson, who played at today's launch, said he got his first taste of musical stardom when he was a 6-year-old on Peel St.
Strumming a guitar with his brother singing "Nobody's Child" in front of Chandlers store, Ryan said the pair had the "cuteness" factor and made piles of money from appreciative festival crowds.
"I remember I was so nervous and shy but I was madly in love with country music."
The official website can be found at www.tamworthbusking.com.au
In tomorrow's Leader: what Lawrie Minson and retailers think about the new rules.
What do you think about the changes to the busking competition? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org