The Sanremo Music Festival might be a long-running national song contest  — even predating Eurovision — but it’s never been afraid of change. Now broadcaster RAI has confirmed that a big change is coming to the 2019 edition of the Italian song contest.

The Newcomers’ section (Sanremo Giovani) will no longer be part of the main show. It will instead be held as a separate contest in December. Two winners from Newcomers will then earn a place to compete in the main Sanremo contest in February.

The change comes from Sanremo’s artistic director Claudio Baglioni, who took over from Carlo Conti in 2018. RAI’s announcement says the change has been made to strengthen the network’s commitment to discovering new talent.

The standalone Newcomers competition will be open to young artists — defined as those under the age of 36. Twenty-four acts will compete in the pre-Christmas competition.

The series will run from 17 to 21 December and will keep Albania’s Festival i Këngës company in the December Eurovision national final calendar. The two big competition nights will be held on 20 and 21 December. In the days prior, the songs will be introduced to viewers through nightly shows with a very un-Sanremo length of 45 minutes.

The two winners of the competition shows will also earn a place to compete in the Sanremo Music Festival 2019 in February.

The Sanremo Newcomers section has been the launching pad for many Italian artists and has led to winning Sanremo itself, going on to Eurovision or has just been the start of a successful music career.

International classical-crossover singer Andrea Bocelli got his start by winning the Newcomers section in 1994.

Fabrizio Moro won Newcomers in 2004 with “Pensa”, while his Eurovision singing partner Ermal Meta twice competed as part of the bands Ameba4 and La Fame di Camilla. The pair then won Sanremo earlier this year and placed fifth in Lisbon with “Non mi avete fatto niente”.

Raphael Gualazzi won Newcomers in 2011. He was then internally selected to represent Italy in its Eurovision comeback, where “Madness of Love” placed second.

Francesco Gabbani won Newcomers in 2016 with the song “Amen”. He then graduated to the Big Artists section in 2017, which he won with “Occidentalis Karma”. He went on to place sixth at Eurovision 2017 with the song.

While the Sanremo Music Festival has been running since 1951, it wasn’t until 1984 that a standalone Newcomers section was introduced. The section is typically run as a separate contest within Sanremo week and contestants are not able to compete for the grand prize of Sanremo.

But there have been changes in the past. In 1998, the top three placing acts from the Newcomers section were then given a place to compete in the main competition. Controversially, Newcomers winner Annalisa Minetti went on to win the overall contest with her song “Senza te o con te”. The following year, the competitions were kept separate.

In the mid-2000s, Sanremo introduced a number of different categories based on age or gender that all competed for the big prize. In 2007, the festival again reverted to the traditional format of two separate competitions for newcomers and established artists.

While RAI has not confirmed if Italy will compete at Eurovision 2019 and whether Sanremo 2019 will be used in some way as the national selection, it is likely that this will be the case.

What do you think? Is Sanremo wise to move the Newcomers section out of the main show? Will a Newcomers qualifier win Sanremo 2019? Share your thought below!

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Dino
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Dino

If you are over 38, how can one enter a song for Eurovision for Italia?

JustARandomUser
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JustARandomUser

This is kind of late but Fabrizio actually won with “Pensa” in 2007, not 2004. You were also listing participations, his first Newcomers entry was in 2000.

Ermal did participate twice with his bands, but you forgot to mention his third place in 2016, the year that Gabbani won. Funnily enough, they ended up ranking the same in 2017’s Sanremo.

Anisa
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Anisa

I really wish that Ultimo, the winner of Sanremo Newcomers 2018, will compete again at the main Sanremo festival next year and win. He is a brilliant singer-songwriter and all of his songs are amazing.

Boycott Jerusalem 2019
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Boycott Jerusalem 2019

I’m slightly confused but I’m a great piece of music will come out of it when it comes to deciding who will represent Italy in Eurovision 2019.

mad-professor
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mad-professor

40 hours of Sanremo a year? That’s a lot of comedy acts I won’t understand.

Also, I’m assuming they’ll have the same hosts for both the newcomers and main show next year?

AngieP
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AngieP

I really like the idea!

Jo.
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Jo.

The newcomers section had better songs than the senior one this year. Great songs with great ESC potential.

Polegend Godgarina
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Polegend Godgarina

So kinda like in the late 90s when the top three of the youth section would also compete in the main contest. In 1998 legend Annalisa Minetti won both!

PP77
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PP77

we had one time in 1998 that TOP 3 from newcomers in San Remo go to final of San Remo with veterans. And we had that winner and 3 rd place was from newcomers. And veterans didn t like that newcomers was in TOP 3 that year, and San Remo change rules for 1999 .

Frisian esc
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Frisian esc

So that means only two artists under the age of 36 may compete in the actual san remo?…

Gippa
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Gippa

No, it means that only two not known artists (that’s what the “newcomers” stand for, and you have to be under 36) can compete in the actual Sanremo. If you are an established artist, it doesn’t matter your age, you can partecipate.

Frisian esc
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Frisian esc

Ah thanks.

Mark
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Mark

I like Sanremo. However the contest does force artists to perform songs that aren’t exactly their style of genre. Look at Francesca Michielin or Alessio Bernabei; their Sanremo songs are very different to the other songs in their catalog.

However, anything to make the broadcast not drag is fine by me. Even though I fully understand Sanremo is not designed for Eurovision fans.

Eastman
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Eastman

Prediction: a Gabbani-like performer will win Sanremo Giovani and go on to win Sanremo, upsetting some old gravelly voiced legend who was the favourite. Sanremo will then end the Giovani wildcard for 2020.