Remember those fierce 'battles of the bands' competitions that used to take place at raucous clubs last century? It may sound anachronistic in these days of Myspace and iTunes, when artists can put their music out there for all to hear with a minimum of outside involvement. But there's something to be said for a bunch of hungry bands getting up there on stage in a crowded club, armed with one song to prove that they're the best. That's the concept at least for the Global Battle of the Bands Challenge, an international competition that began in 2004 with 16 countries participating and has gained in popularity and stature ever since. This year, the number of participating countries has risen to 37, including, for the first, time Israel. "After the plague of musical reality shows and Karoake cover versions, people are ready for the real thing," said promoter Carmi Wurtman, the director of GBOB Challenge Israel. Every year local qualifying heats and national finals take place in participating countries around the world, with the winners of these going forward to world final held in London on December 13, with the winner receiving an artist development package worth $100,000. THE GBOB Challenge Israel will see qualifying events taking place in six locations across the country. The qualifying heats are: October 18 - Barby Club, Tel Aviv; October 19 - Yellow Submarine, Jerusalem; October 20 - Baroque, Beersheba; October 25 - Pitriah, Kibbutz Dan; October 26 - Beat, Haifa; October 27 - Barby, Kfar Sava. The winning bands from those heats will go on to the National Final at the Barby, Tel Aviv on November 11 on the way to the finals in London. "We may be a small country, but there are a lot of talented bands here and we want to make sure they all get the opportunity to join the competition," said Wurtman, who initiated Israel's participation in the competition along with the Barby's Shaul Mizrahi and Blue Sun Music's Brian Steiner. "Any band can register, from youth bands to wellknown musicians. We're ready to open more heats should the need arise." All it takes to enter the competition is a modest NIS 20 fee per band member. The requirements are that the 'bands' consist of two to eight members, that all the music is live with no playbacks, and that the songs are original compositions and not cover versions. A set of music professionals will act as judges at the local competitions, with their votes counting for half the final decision and the audience votes counting for the other half. Past judges at the London finals have included U2 producer Steve Lillywhite and former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock. Previous GBOB winners have since signed deals with Warner Brothers, Universal and EMI as well as production deals with leading producers including Jim Lowe (Stereophonics, Charlatans) and Danny Saber (U2, David Bowie), as well as opening act slots on tours with AC/DC. "Israeli artists can break out of the borders of the country and hit the international market. With all the talent here and huge variety of musical styles, we believe that Israel could provide the surprise of the competition," said Wurtman. To register for the GBOB Challenge Israel, go to http://www.gbob.com/challenge1/country/117/2 For questions, bands can turn to email@example.com or call (02) 570-2012. And don't forget to bring your guitar picks.