Ernie Ball's Battle of the Bands 9

“The Battle of the Bands event started out being a way for us to get our brand name out there and provide a chance for unsigned acts to expand their fan bases,” says Ernie Ball’s Brian Ball. “But now the project has grown to the point where it’s a full-on side entity of the company.”

Small wonder. Ernie Ball’s ninth annual Battle of the Bands attracted more than 10,000 unsigned acts, each one vying for a chance to perform at the 2005 Vans Warped Tour on the company’s state-of-the-art mobile stage. By entering, each band also received its own micro site at where members could post mp3s, photos, and other data to promote themselves. The Battle of the Bands site ultimately hosted more than 20,000 mp3s (with 3 million plays), and as the groups actively promoted their micro sites, traffic to jumped 50,000 spots on Alexa’s traffic rankings, putting the string company’s traffic on a par with Fender’s Web visits and actually eclipsing Gibson.

While the Battle of the Bands showcase is obviously a marvelous way for unsigned bands to help themselves by upgrading their marketing prowess, Ernie Ball also tosses in some very cool promotional opportunities. During the Vans Warped Tour, four “hometown” bands in each tour stop are selected to strut their stuff on the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands stage. In addition, a panel of eight music-industry professionals judges each and every band that enters the contest for musicianship, originality, professionalism, and the ability to draw in their region.

“Musicianship is the most important aspect,” stresses Ball. “A band has to be tight, and the musicians must play well.”

Finally, the four top acts as selected by the judges are offered a concert appearance at a major Los Angeles club. The Battle of the Bands 9 celebration was held December 16, 2005, at the Sunset Strip’s Key Club. The featured bands were Your Name In Lights (, Race the Sun (, The Felix Culpa (, and Glass Intrepid ( All proceeds from the event were donated to Unite the United, a charity benefitting those affected by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.