LONDON, UK (AP) - British record labels are scrambling to sign big names and the hottest new bands in order to kick-start the music scene, according to the UK's most respected music industry magazine. There has been a recent lull in successful new releases, leading to an unusually high number of greatest hits albums in the charts, Music
But record companies are now trying to build up their rosters for fear of being left behind in next year's chart battles, the magazine says.
Veteran singer George Michael and hotly-tipped new guitar band The Coral are the acts who are set to sign the biggest deals.
Michael's previous two-album deal with Virgin Records has ended, and the star is now looking for a new home.
Universal and Warner are the front-runners to secure his signature, with a view to releasing a new single in the spring, Music Week says.
The Coral are one of the leading new bands to emerge on the British guitar scene, being touted by the music press as future stars. The Liverpool group is set to sign a deal worth more than £1m with either major label Sony or XL, home to The White Stripes, Badly Drawn Boy and The Prodigy, the paper says.
They have recently been featured in the New Musical Express alongside bands like The Music, Vex Red, Crackout and Lostprophets as one of a glut of exciting new British guitar bands.
At this year's In The City music conference, industry executives were predicting a renaissance in the British guitar scene and seeking the best new unsigned bands.
Labels are also seeking future garage stars who can emulate the chart success of So Solid Crew.
Heartless Crew and Pay As U Go are two groups who have just been signed and upon whom expectations will be resting.