HAMPSHIRE’S budding rock stars should have their microphones and guitars at the ready.

The county council is looking for the best young rock bands and encouraging them to enter the Hampshire Music Service Battle of the Bands.

The contest includes the opportunity to play at a major venue to a live audience and a panel of professionals to find the overall best band.

Closing date for entries is this Friday, and it is open to young people under 17 on July 31, 2014.

Bands that are shortlisted will go through to the second round of the competition and play a live heat in the spring. Winners of each heat then go through to the the final in the summer, where they play at an established venue to a panel of professional musicians.

Councillor Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for education, said: “I urge bands to send their songs to the Music Service as soon as possible – we want to hear you! Who knows, it could be the first steps on the road to budding music career!”

To enter, email an MP3 file of one song, either a cover song or original material, to dean.hallett@ hants.gov.uk or send a CD to Hampshire Music Service, Rookwood Centre, Penshurst Way, Eastleigh, SO50 4RJ.

You will need to include the name of your band, individual band members’ names and which instrument they play, details of your school, college or youth centre and your contact details. Studio quality recording is not necessary – raw talent is enough.