Musicians' Site Signs Beatles Producer George Martin

The man who signed the Beatles to their first recording contract has joined, an online venture for musicians. On October 21, the San Francisco-based website announced that Sir George Martin has assumed the position of chairman of its advisory board. The board's membership includes some of the music industry's best-known professional and creative talent, according to co-founders Tom Zito and Jerry Harrison.

Harrison is a record producer and former member of the rock band Talking Heads. The site was launched in September, with the goal of identifying the best emerging bands. Beginning in November, will rate bands through a review system in which fans and other musicians vote. Those who achieve the highest ranking will be offered $250,000 recording contracts, according to a company press release. Musicians in a wide variety of genres—rock/pop, alternative, urban/hip-hop, electronica/dance, R&B—are invited to upload their music onto's site for review by their peers, using what company founders call a "proprietary ratings engine."

George Martin brings decades of experience to his new post. He personally edited some of the most innovative albums in pop history, and produced 30 No.1 hit singles. A composer and musician himself, Martin was an early pioneer of advanced technology in the record-production process. His interest in the creative applications of technology has continued unabated since. "Not only has George been responsible for some of the most successful musical careers in the last three or so decades, but he also has a reputation for never compromising the interests of his musicians," said CEO Tom Zito. "At our focus is also squarely on the musician in looking to identify, as well as cultivate and develop, the best of the emerging bands. We are honored beyond measure that this shared commitment has resulted in George's agreement to join our company."

Martin was equally enthusiastic about his new role. "Over the past 18 months I have turned down dozens of invitations to join Internet music companies, either because they were more about the distribution and delivery of music, or because the premise was not compelling enough to me personally," he commented. "The appeal of is the unique way in which it is using Internet technology to find talented new groups, most of which would have stood little chance of being heard by industry pros in this age of label consolidation. Young talent is something that remains very close to my heart, and I am looking forward to hearing some of the great new bands that are out there."