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Unsigned artists' music goes on sale in Tunbridge Wells
By Hamish Reid
BBC Kent

Frank Taylor
Frank Taylor jumped at the idea of selling unsigned bands' music

Tunbridge Wells already has a thriving music scene, with The Forum offering a venue for unsigned and signed artists.

Now Ape, an independent record shop, is stocking CDs from Kent's up and coming artists.

Often their music is only available online, via websites such as MySpace, or as downloads.

Dale Nash, who works in the shop, and is in two bands himself, knows how difficult it is for new talent to find its way into the CD market.

Frank Taylor started Ape Records five years ago and knows the challenges facing independent record shops, with downloads being popular, and the high street crowded with the big music stores.

When Dale Nash, who works at Ape with Frank, came up with the idea of giving some of the valuable shelf space to local unsigned bands, artists and DJs, he jumped at the idea.

It is hard to get people to part with their money when you're in an unsigned band
Dale Nash

"He didn't have to persuade me what so ever. It thought it was a great idea.

"We are not looking at making money out of it. We make £2 a CD just to cover our sales tax and the issue costs, we just ask bands to tell their friends about the shop." Frank said.

Dale, who is also a member of the bands In Tyler We Trust and Monday Night Project said: "There is so much talent around Kent, and as well as playing gigs, it would be a good bit of exposure to have physical sales.

"It is hard to get people to part with their money when you're in an unsigned band, but if it was in a shop they will feel they're supporting local music."

Dale Nash
Dale Nash is combining playing in a band with selling CDs

Dale advises bands on prices and labelling. "People sit at home and print on labels and put CDs into plastic wallets, as long as they say who they are they can sit on our shelves. It's all about exposure."

Most customers come in for advice, rather than knowing exactly what they want and buy more than one CD at a time.

Frank and Dale hope that by being able to offer a selection of music, more people will hear Kent's growing range of unsigned artists.

Gracing the shelves already are bands such as The Charlie Rivers Band, Blind Archers and The Help Movement, who regularly play at The Forum in Tunbridge Wells, and Dale is hoping to forge further links with the Tunbridge Wells venue.

Frank and Dale are always keen to help local bands.

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