Local music manager Rob Wilkie has organised a Whanganui battle of the bands competition, with four weeks of heats leading up to the grand final.
Wilkie, who manages Whanganui singer-songwriter Ra Costello, said people had started to ask him about the competition before he'd even began to advertise it.
"I was quite surprised that people were coming up to me and asking about it, because I hadn't really said anything to anyone," Wilkie said.
"Word's already got around, so we're off to a good start.
"The main centres seem to have battle of the bands competitions every year, but I don't think there's been one here for a while."
Wilkie's management company Ricochet will provide the prize money, he said, with two bands performing each Thursday night during November, and the best four battling it out at the grand final.
"We won't have to rely on getting money from door sales or anything like that, and there'll be a $2000 first prize, $1000 for second place, and $500 for third.
"All genres of music are welcome, but there has to be at least two people in the band.
"One other rule is that there can't be any prerecorded music, like loops for instance, everything has to be played live.
"Each band will have a 45-minute set in the heats, with 10 minutes to set up and five minutes to pack down, and if they do go over that 45 minutes there's a chance they'll be penalised for that."
Three judges would mark each band for originality, stage presence and musicianship, Wilkie said, with a full backline provided for the grand final to allow contestants to focus solely on performing.
"At the moment I've set the age limit for the bands at 16 to 28.
"If I took the age up to 45, for instance, I think the younger kids might get a little disheartened competing against more seasoned bands, and they might turn around and say 'how are we meant to compete with them?'
"I guess I just had to draw a line somewhere, but if this event goes well then I'll be looking to expand things for next year, with bands of all ages and maybe even a bigger venue."
Wilkie said he founded Ricochet Management in a bid to look for new talent, and had also recently started a lighting and PA rental company called Louder than Light.
"I've been putting everything into Ra [Costello] for the past six months.
"The way I came across him was down at the [Whanganui River] markets, where he was performing.
"I walked up to him and asked if he had a record contract and he said 'no', and then I asked if anyone had been interested in investing in him and he said 'no', so we had a couple of meetings and went from there.
"In terms of the hire company, I've just invested about $40,000 into some new lighting gear and a PA, and that'll be what we're using for the grand final of the battle of the bands at Lucky Bar."
Wilkie said he thought it would be better to offer cash for the competition prizes rather than equipment or recording time.
"At the moment, especially with Covid-19, I think musicians probably need a little bit of extra money to help with living and things like that.
"I know it's been hard for artists to make ends meet, so hopefully this competition can help out a bit.
"I'd love to run a battle of the bands type thing every year, but we'll start from here and see how we go."
The preliminary heats will be held at Lucky Bar each Thursday during November, with the grand final on December 5.
For more information on Ricochet Management's 'The Big River BOB', send an email to email@example.com