HE'S Southampton's answer to Simon Cowell.

With 25 years experience in the music industry, he set the likes of Birdy, Lucy Spraggan and Luke Friend on the road to stardom.

Chris Grayston has unearthed, managed or signed a host of undiscovered musical talents through his Future Music competitions over the years.

Many of them have gone on to sign contracts with major record labels after Chris, acting as A&R scout for the shows, put them forward for TV talent contests like The X Factor and The Voice.

He has promoted sell out events at Wembley Arena and The O2 in London for acts including Zane Lowe, Tinchy Stryder, Kids in Glass Houses, The Hoosiers, and Funeral for a Friend.

Plus he owns the recording studio Riverside Studios in Totton, famously used by Craig David and Artful Dodger in their heyday.

Now the events director, music promoter, record label owner, distributor, songwriter and producer can add author to his resume.

Chris has now released a new book that gives aspiring singers advice on how to make it in the music industry.

The Secret to Success in the Music Industry sees the 45-year-old father of three share his knowledge and experience for the benefit of aspiring singers.

It offers a unique insight into all areas of the music industry, provides fundamental advice, and addresses the many hurdles singers encounter when trying to make it in the industry. It also offers expert advice for all singing levels, from beginners right through to advanced singers.

Chris, who lives in Shirley, has seen over 75,000 acts through his music competitions Live and Unsigned, Open Mic UK, and TeenStar.

He said: "Every year the bar is raised and the quality gets higher and higher. But you don't always know who will make it. Sometimes there's no question, but even if you see an incredible talent, they have to do the right things. Some are incredibly talented, but others make up for something they don't have with hard work.

"I enjoy watching acts develop and thought I would pass on some tips. The secret is to research, plan, and then practice like crazy so that it becomes second nature."

Chris began his career as a music promoter, organising tours and events for some of the UK’s most recognised dance acts including Carl Cox, Andy C, Judge Jules, Spoony and Fabio and Grooverider.

He moved on to developing his own record label Hectic Records, which became known as one of the biggest independent labels in the country, boasting in excess of 100 singles, over a million sales and ten compilations.

It has been over a decade since he decided to find a way to reach out to the tens of thousands of unsigned artists in the UK and devised the three contests aimed at discovering up and coming and under the radar talent.

"Initially we started the competition with a view to find singers to work with, then as we rolled it out we realized not only was it a good place for finding talent, but also a launch platform for giving unsigned artists and singers a step up to the next level," said Chris.

"South Coast Idol started in 2005 and when we took it up to London two years later, I couldn't believe the sheer number of people wanting to audition. I arrived at Fairfield Halls in Croydon to find the queue went round the building three times! I thought, we are not getting out of here tonight.

"The obvious favourite moments are when you first hear singer/songwriters like Birdy, Lucy Spraggan and Luke Friend. But just as pleasing is watching acts develop. So many acts audition just a year or two before they are really ready and we can then offer them advice and we've had some real success stories."

After her Open Mic UK victory in the first year of the competition at the age of 12, Lymington singer songwriter Birdy has gone on to enjoy international success. Since bewitching the nation with her cover of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love, she has released two albums, toured the world, performed at the Paralympics Opening Ceremony, been nominated for a Brit Award, sold 10.5 million records worldwide, written songs for hit movies and sung on Mumford & Sons’ Grammy-winning song Learn Me Right, which was part of the soundtrack for the Pixar animation, Brave.

Lucy Spraggan went on to appear on The X Factor after winning Live and Unsigned and is making a name for herself as a musician who describes her sound as 'A-Flop', a mixture of acoustic, folk and hip hop.

Luke Friend, the 2013 TeenStar winner, announced a new deal with BMG earlier this year, after finishing third in the tenth series of The X Factor.

Other illustrious alumni from the contests include soul/gospel singer Jahmene Douglas, who signed to Sony Music after finishing runner up to James Arthur on the ninth series of The X Factor in 2012 and Jaymi Hensley from Union J, the English boy band who were fourth in the same year.

So who's the next tip for the top according to the man in the know?

"Someone who's going to be really big is Emily Middlemas. She's done our competitions since she was about ten and she's special. Last year she won TeenStar and was featured on X Factor making judges houses. She's a stunning looking girl and really talented."

You heard it here first.

The Secret to Success in the Music Industry is available now from Waterstones instore and online, priced £12.99.