Live and Unsigned
|Live and Unsigned|
2011 version of logo
Live and Unsigned is a music competition in the United Kingdom for unsigned bands and vocal groups to perform live for substantial prizes. . It was founded 2007, and has attracted over 40,000 entrants annually since its inception. Competitors perform in their own genre and style to a paying audience and judging panel. The competition tours the UK holding auditions in various regions, and the Grand National Final is held at The O2 in London . The Music Competition is now under the New Management of Director Daniel O'Gorman who has promised a bigger, better and fresh approach to the competition, promising "A Complete Overhaul!"
Live and Unsigned was founded in 2007, it is the largest music competition in the United Kingdom. Singers and bands perform original music live in front of a judging panel and live audience. Chris Grayston promoted the event and serves as head judge until 2012. The competition is now under New Management and is headed by Director and Producer Daniel O'Gorman. Panels of judges travel attend regional auditions, with bands then playing regional heats. The winning acts from each regional final then compete in the National Grand Final. As of March 2013, Chris Grayston is no longer associated with the competition. Live and Unsigned is now under the management of Mercury Artist Management under the direction of creative impresario Daniel O'Gorman. After a substantial overhaul Live And Unsigned is now partnered with Mongasta International and Lonesome Road, as well as online platform BandApp and Red Stag Management, it will unveil its new approach, judges, venues and prizes at its relaunch in 2014. 
Applicants can compete in Indie, Urban/Pop/Acoustic, Alternative, and Rock categories. Competitors can win the categories of best Unsigned Indie, Urban/Pop/Acoustic, Alternative and Rock act, and compete for the overall title of Best Live and Unsigned Act.
The overall winner of the competition is offered a recording and a management contract, as well as an investment to release a single. The 2011 investment prize was £100,000 and an opportunity for a world tour. The grand winner earned a £50,000 recording deal. The winners of all the different categories are invited on the UK Live and Unsigned Tour.
The 2007 Grand Final was held in May 2007 at Portsmouth Guildhall to an audience of 2,200 and the competition was divided into age categories. 2007 regional winners included Sean Rumsey. The beat-boxing duet Ghoodfellaz'z, who won the North West region competition, won the Urban Award at the National Grand Final. Hardly Heroes won the under-17s Best Band Award, Fizz Reynolds won the Under 18's Award for female singer and the overall under 18's award and 13-year-old Jake Ward won the Under-18 category for boys. B-Kay and Kazz were awarded the best Live and Unsigned vocal group.
Auditions for 2009 began that January,. Because of high demand, auditions were limited to 500 per region. regional finals took place across the UK and each act performed one cover song and one original song.
The London singer RHEA won her Under-18 category at the Finals. Overall winners of the Rock section of the competition were The Detours. The Loaded Dice won the Indie/Pop category, but later declined the contract.
In 2010 the Grand Final for 2010 took place at the Indig02 at The O2 Arena in London. Category winners for 2010 included rock band Underline The Sky, acoustic act Sam Garrett, and alternative group We Beat The System. The judges voted Indie band The Lottery Winners as overall winner.
The National Grand Final in 2011 took place at the Indig02 on July 23, as part of Live Fest at the O2. The Live Fest event also included performances from Zane Lowe, The Hoosiers, Tinchy Stryder, Roll Deep, Tempa T, The Guillemots, Funeral For A Friend, and Kids In Glass Houses. The Filthy Habits won the Indie category, The Robbie Boyd Band won the Alternative category, The Trinity Band won the Urban, Pop, and Acoustic category, and Loud and Proud won the Rock category.
Another winner in 2011 was overall runner-up Lucy Spraggan, who was initially offered a festival slot in Australia as part of her prize. When the festival was cancelled, organisers at Live and Unsigned offered Lucy alternative prizes including a string of guest act spots at Live and Unsigned and Open Mic UK shows across the country, a new website, a music video, which at the time of writing has received over 455,000 views, and as a result gained several additional festival slots amongst which included London Summer Jam, Osfest, Strawberry Fields Festival, Cockermouth Rock Festival.
Lucy went to on achieve a Top 20 single with Last Night, reaching number 2 by the start of the week but finished in at 11th in the Official UK Singles Charts  on 2 September 2012. despite being removed from iTunes
The National Grand Final in 2011 took place at the Proud2 in The O2 on July 14, Contraband won the Rock/Metal category, winning themselves a festival slot at Butserfest and a free Natal Drums drum kit. Leon Bratt won the Acoustic/Solo category, winning himself festival slots at JustSoFestival and Looe Music Festival, as well as free studio time. Molly Smitten-Downes won the Urban/Pop category, winning herself a slot at Sundown Festival as well as free studio time. CoCo and the Butterfields won the Indie/Alternative category, winning themselves a £2,000 Fret King endorsement, a free TC Electronic amp and a festival slot at Tour Music Fest in Rome.
As overall winners, CoCo and the Butterfields were offered £10,000 to spend on the development of their music and a tour of up to 18 festivals, other prizes for CoCo and the Butterfields over the course of the competition included; free studio time, a free Blackstar Amplification amplifier, a free Vintage guitar, a slot at Paddle Round The Pier, and a slot at Beach Break Live.
As of 2013, Live and Unsigned is under new management, and is officially associated with Mercury Artist Management, Mongasta International ( www.mongasta.com) and Lonesome Road.
|2007||B-Kay and Kazz|
|2010||The Lottery Winners|
|2011||The Trinity Band|
|2012||CoCo and the Butterfields|
The Live and Unsigned judging panels have included:
- Tina Campbell (2012) of Craveonmusic
Advertising Standards Authority Investigations
In March 2012, singer Bronwyn Cooper from the band Underline the Sky filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority that the band had not properly received a festival prize to Asia. Organizers argued they'd offered the band alternative prizes after the cancellation of the festival.
A BBC news article on the investigation quoted 2011 winners The Trinity Band saying their prize tour was "a shambles" and that they had ended their relationship with Live and Unsigned. The BBC quoted other winners who attested to positive experiences, including The Robbie Boyd Band who said they played "to a packed out Italian crowd" for winning the alternative category in 2011. Singer Lucy Spraggan said when a promised trip to Australia fell through, the organizers arranged a replacement trip, and she still has a good working relationship with them.
After Live and Unsigned amended their messaging, the Advertising Standards Authority have noted the complaint as "informally resolved", and have decided to take no further action on Underline the Sky's complaint.
Two members of the public complained to the Advertising Standards Authority over claims on the website that the Live and Unsigned final event was part of Live Fest, and over Noddy Holder's involvement in the event.
The ASA upheld both complaints, and instructed Live and Unsigned these claims must not appear in that form again.
As of 2013, the new management team have implemented significant changes to the submissions process, voting, advertising and PR which they feel will make it a far more Musician-Friendly Competition. This has been spearheaded by its new Director, Daniel O'Gorman who has now partnered the competition with BandApp.
Bingley Music Live
Following the ASA investigation, and an internet forum campaign by Leeds Music Forum, Bingley Music Live announced they were withdrawing from their association with Live & Unsigned "due to the pressure locally and to restore some faith in the local music scene."  They fulfilled their agreement for that year, and hosted the Live and Unsigned 2012 winners CoCo and the Butterfields at the 2012 festival, however this will be the final act from Live and Unsigned to appear. Live And Unsigneds New Management have acknowledged the failings of the competitions previous owners and have stressed that a totally new competition will return in 2014 with New Judges, New Prizes, New Venues and a fresh, energised and fair approach to new, talented and undiscovered musicians.
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- "Sundown to host Live and Unsigned Winners". Sundown Festival. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- "Live and Unsigned Winners Coco and the Butterfields Receive £2,000 Fret King Black Label Guitar Prize". Guitar Planet. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
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- "Free studio time, free amps and festival slots for Live and Unsigned acts that competed in Brighton - Results". Live and Unsigned. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
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- "ASA ends Live and Unsigned Investigation". BBC. May 30, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
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- "Bingley Music Live is to drop talent contest link". Telegraph & Argus. April 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- "CoCo and the Butterfields". Bingley Music Live. Retrieved 2012-08-03.