Just over a year ago The Scotsman launched Under the Radar, a monthly report from Scotland's underground music scene compiled by industry insiders Olaf Furniss and Derick Mackinnon.
Since then, the intrepid duo have reported on the explosion of new music venues in Edinburgh, the dramatic ups and downs at troubled indie radio station XFM Scotland – oh, and they also gave readers early warning that a certain four-piece called Glasvegas were about to break into the big-time, which, of course, they duly did.
Under the Radar has always had a strong online presence: every month Derick and Olaf pick a track they like by an unsigned band and post it on scotsman.com for readers to listen to. But Under the Radar's online operation is going to step up a gear. As of today, it won't just be a place where we tell you what we like – it will become a forum for people from all four corners of the Scottish music scene to come together and swap music and ideas.
Bands will be able to upload their latest tracks for fans to listen to, and fans will be able to give them instant feedback. Touring artists will be able to post details of upcoming gigs and festival directors will be able to put out calls for acts.
In time, we hope the Under the Radar site will become a one-stop-shop for all your Scottish music needs – and of course, it won't cost anyone a penny to use.
To mark the start of this brave new world, we're giving away three free downloadable tracks from hotly-tipped Edinburgh/Glasgow band Jakil. (They're not just hotly-tipped by us, either – these guys beat off stiff competition from more than 100 other groups to win Radio Forth's prestigious One To Watch Award, and influential radio DJ Vic Galloway has predicted they'll sell five million records.)
One track, Change My Mind, is taken from the band's new EP Plan B, which is due to be released through iTunes on Monday.
The other two tracks are Spin and Who Are Ya, well-known songs to the band's loyal and growing following as they regularly gig around Scotland. To download them onto your digital music player of choice, simply go to swts.oldsite.jpimedia.uk/undertheradarblog click the song titles to download.
We hope you like the tracks. Feel free to leave a comment on the new Under the Radar website – that's what it's there for.
We hope to have more music available on the site in future months. The website will be regularly updated and Under the Radar appears in Review on the last Friday of every month.
GO TO our new website to see the expanded version of Under the Radar. Now there is a forum that will allow bands to post their music for others to listen to and get feedback from all the other users, to post band news and give details of gigs and other news. The forum will also be a place to drop in and swap views and ideas with other music-lovers. We hope it will become a must visit one-stop-shop for all the unsigned bands out there in Scotland and beyond.
• Visit: swts.oldsite.jpimedia.uk/undertheradarblog
JAKIL may not be a signed band – yet – but they are certainly keeping busy with recordings out and gigs in progress. Their new EP, Plan B, is being released on iTunes and all good download outlets on Monday.
Also in December, Jakil will headline two consecutive nights at Studio 24 in Edinburgh – an over-14s gig on Friday 5 December followed by a free over-18s gig on Saturday 6 December (tickets from www.ticketweb.co.uk).
They play Glasgow's ABC2 on 16 December (tickets www.abcglasgow.com; 0141 332 2232), and follow Feeder and James Morrison in playing Edinburgh's Picture House on 20 December (tickets 0844 847 1740).
In 2009 there are plans to take Jakil to the Highlands with a tour of smaller venues in the north and west of Scotland.
• There is further information on the band at www.sonicbids.com/jakil
THREE FREE TRACKS
Plan B, which is coming out on Monday, available to buy through iTunes. This is the first chance for fans to get their hands on it at Scotsman.com – and it's free.
Who Are Ya? – this was Jakil's debut single, released in January. It reached number one in the download chart and outsold X Factor finalists Eton Road in the week of its release.
Spin – this was the lead track from Jakil's eponymous debut EP, which was released in August this year.
Available for download at: swts.oldsite.jpimedia.uk/undertheradarblog