Open Mic UK
|Open Mic UK|
|Location(s)||Live fest at IndigO2, London, United Kingdom|
|Patron(s)||Live and Unsigned|
Open Mic UK is a live music competition run by Future Music Management  in the UK for singers, vocalists and solo artists. Acts compete at regional auditions to get the chance to perform live at live music showcases to reach an annual national final, which has been held at the IndigO2 within The O2 London since 2010, and more recently in National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. The event, which offers a recording contract and investment to the final winner, was described by Joel James of BBC York & North Yorkshire as "one of the toughest competitions in the country."
According to its organisers, Open Mic UK is the largest music search in the United Kingdom for vocal groups and solo artists. The competition was originally devised by Chris Grayston as a spin-off from the Live and Unsigned competition as a result of the high number of solo singers and vocalist entrants to that competition, who were without their own songs. Entrants compete in a series of local and regional heats for a chance to perform at the National Grand Final, and the chosen acts in each category compete at the final event. The competition attracts around 10,000 competing acts each year, but in recent years has substantially grown; with an estimated 12,000 acts set to compete in 2015.
Singers, rappers, groups, and acoustic singer/songwriters of all genres are accepted as competitors. The competition used to be divided into three age categories; 16 and under, 17-23, and 23 and over. - however, since the 2013 competition these age categories have changed to Under 16, 16 to 20 and 21 and Over.
Acts can perform either covers or their own original material live, and demos and recorded material are not accepted. Judges from the music industry, celebrities and record labels score all performances on the basis of vocal/musical talent, stage performance, star quality, and individuality, and the winning acts in the age categories must earn the most points from judges. There is also a point where the audience can vote in order to aid those in the judges' top scores to make it to the next round of the competition.
Each year the different category winners are invited to go on the Open Mic UK Tour, performing up to 100 different gigs across the United Kingdom. Other regular prizes include master classes and a music video.
The annual grand prize for winning the overall competition includes a management deal and an investment. In 2009, this included recording an album in professional studios with an industry vocal specialist. The winner also received a £25,000 investment, a recording contract and a management deal. In 2010, there was an overall £50,000 pool of prizes for winners, with a grand prize investment of up to £30,000. the prize was the same for the 2011 & 2012 competitions.
Since the 2013 competition the main prize has been £5,000 for the winner to spend on music development, as well as an extensive publicity & development package. In addition to giving all acts feedback from the judges, the competition also awards prizes across the board regionally; including recording studio time and singing lessons.
The 12-year old singer/songwriter Birdy won both the under 18s category and the overall contest. She performed her own song at the competition called "So Be Free" in front of 2,000 people, both singing and playing keyboard. Her prize was to record her album in a studio, and she subsequently signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records. In 2011, her version of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love" reached the top twenty of the UK music charts. The single entered the UK Singles Chart Top 40 on 13 March 2011 at number 25 and in the same week reached number 10 on iTunes' UK singles chart.
The 2009 Grand Final was split into both the South and North finals with the respective finals taking place at Portsmouth Guildhall and The Willows in Manchester. The regional finals leading up to the event took place that October, with the Cardiff final taking place at the Coal Exchange, and another large event at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall.
Among the performers at the National Grand Final were Vicky Gladwin, Heath Lanzillotti, and Lisa Crawford. 16-year old pianist and singer Megan Thomas was unanimously voted the winner of the Under-18 category in the North Grand Final, and soprano Kirsty Michele Anderson, an 18-year-old from Hinckley, won her age category as well, with the Over 25 North Final being won by Paul Speak-Heaton. Anderson later went on to perform at Walkers Stadium on Boxing Day, and in April 2010 became the youngest soprano in history to play Mimì in Puccini's opera La bohème. The South Grand Final winners were London busker Jon Curtis who won the over 25-category, Luke Banot who took the 18-24 category, and Under 18 winner Esther Boxell. The Overall winner of Open Mic UK 2009 was the singer/songwriter Luke Banot.
In 2010, the regional finals again took place throughout the United Kingdom in October. The National Grand Final was an all-day event on 15 January 2011 at The O2's indigO2 venue in London.
Among the final participants were Katie Benbow of Dyserth. Hatty Keane from Macclesfield was the winner of the Under-18 category, and 12 years young Rosanne Hamilton runner up. Hatty was crowned the overall runner-up. Keane afterwards signed with Future Music and the music company BGM, and later toured as the support for Britain's Got Talent 2010 winners Spelbound. She counts names such as Taio Cruz and producer Deejay amongst her fans. The overall winner was Fran Classic, who also won the 18-25 category. Since winning her category, Hatty Keane has gone on to secure a management contract with BGM (Baby Girl Music).
The 2011 final took place on January 22, 2012 at the Indigo2. A 16 year old MC named Shak from Coulsdon won both the under-16 category and was named overall winner. He performed a version of Mac Miller's "Best Day Ever" and was given a recording contract for a single and a development contract with Future Music. Shak also won the award for the Urban Pop genre, which was selected by Flavour Magazine.
Sham from Brixton won the 17-22 category, and Sheena McHugh from Coalville won the 23 and over category. Runnerups included Vicky Turner, Tayla-Blue, and Quackhouse, from youngest to oldest. Caroline Eve and Karla Bernardi won Exposure Awards, and won studio time. Beth Penrose won the MUZU exposure award, and was given resources to shoot a music video.
The 2011 Open Mic UK competition also saw a very young Lauren Thalia go far in the contest  who later got to the Grand Final of ITV’s Britain's Got Talent (series 6) show receiving over 2 million views on YouTube.
Also making a second appearance in the Open Mic UK competition in 2011 was The X Factor (UK TV series)' runner up Jahméne Douglas who won his Bristol Regional Final only to get a bout of nerves in his Area Final.
The 2012 Grand Final took place in January, 2013 at the Indigo2 after auditions started in August that year. The tour guest act was Lucy Spraggan who later that year got signed to Columbia records  and was the most searched musician on Google in 2012.
Shaz Rahman won the 17-20 and Rickey & The Hats won the 21 & Over category.
Other notable acts in the 2012 competition included Lauren Platt, who finished in 4th place in The X Factor (UK series 11). Giles Potter, Alejandro Fernandez-Holt  - both of whom competed in The X Factor (UK series 10) and got as far as the Judges’ Houses  and Bootcamp respectively - and Arisxandra Libantino who came very close to winning ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent.
2013 was the first year that the National Grand Final took place at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham and was also the first time that the winning act came from the highest age category; with 28 year old Heidi Browne from Shropshire taking the overall title.
The judging panel for the National Grand Final included: Kerrang Radio, Planet Rock, and 4Music presenter Alex Baker; Sony Music Entertainment talent producer Eddie Evelyn-Hall; Mark Hill - who boasts four Ivor Novello Awards, a number one album, two number one singles and over 10 million record sales worldwide; managing director of River Studios, Gareth Henderson - who has produced for the likes of Alesha Dixon, Corinne Bailey Rae, Birdy and Luke Friend; Tanya Anderson - who has choreographed for acts on the JLS Farewell Tour and the Music Video Awards; A&R scout for Universal Music Group James Morgan; showbiz journalist Jon Hornbuckle; founder of www.music-news.com Marco Gandolfi; songwriter/producer Simon Britton - who has worked with the likes of Eminem, Sting, Usher, Michael Jackson, and Sean Paul; producer and presenter for BBC Introducing Merlin D; and head of Future Music Management Chris Grayston.
|2009||Luke Banot||Megan Thomas,
|Kirsty Michele Anderson,
|2010||Fran Classic||Hatty Keane||Fran Classic||Eden Vernett Showers|
|Date||Grand Winner||Under-16||17-20||21 & Over|
|2012||Siana Schofield||Siana Schofield||Shaz Rahman||Rickey & The Hats|
|2013||Heidi Browne||Natalie Shay||Wildwood Kin||Heidi Browne|
- Chris Grayston (2008-2013)
- Mark Hill (2008-2013)
- Charlie Hedges (2012) 
- Si Hulbert (2012) 
- Dane Bowers (2010-2012)
- Lee Latchford-Evans (2010)
- Liz McClarnon (2010)
- Ras Kwame (2010-2012)
- Shola Ama (2010-2011)
- Michael King (2010-2013)
- James Dakers (2010)
- Gareth Henderson (2008-2013)
- Vic Bynoe (2010)
- Mesha Bryan (2008-2010)
- Darren Ashford (2009, 2010)
- Paul Stanborough (2010)
- Steve Lyon (2010)
- Simon Keegan (2010-2013)
- E Plus (2011-2012)
- Pete Cunnah (2011)
- Annie Nightingale (2011-2012)
- Semper Azeez-Harris
- "Hatty Keane". WDPJ Media. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- "Future Music Management Home Page". Future Music Management. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "The Open Mic 2010 Grand Final Winners At The O2". Open Mic UK. January 2010. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
- "Open Mic UK National Grand Final to take place at the NEC Birmingham". Open Mic UK. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-10.
- James, Joel (23 October 2009). "York singer's talent show success". BBC (Yorkshire). Retrieved 2011-02-17.
- "Indig02". TheO2. 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- Hewitt, Phil (29 November 2009). "Review: Open Mic UK national grand final, Guildhall, Portsmouth". Chichester Observer. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
- "Anderson has been crowned winner of Open Mic UK 2009!". KirstyMicheleAnderson.com. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- "Local talent shines on the Mic". Life in Fleetwood. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- Ellwood, Pip (January 23, 2012). "Teenage MC Wins Open Mic UK". Entertainment Focus. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Open Mic UK Home Page". Open Mic UK. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "Birdy Open Mic UK Winner Is Flying High". Open Mic UK. May 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "Luke Friend X-Factor 2013 hopeful & Teenstar 2013 winner admits: I just don’t use shampoo". Hear Me Raw. November 17, 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-13.
- "Lucy Spraggan Open Mic UK Guest Act Provides Unsigned Music Advice". Open Mic UK. August 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "Jahmene Douglas A Fromer Open Mic UK Contestant Has The X-Factor". Open Mic UK. December 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "Open Mic UK Competition Dates - Think You've Got What It Takes?". CulutureFly. May 10, 2013. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- McLaren, James (13 January 2011). "Katie Benbow up for Open Mic award". BBC (Crymru Wales). Retrieved 2011-02-17.
- O'Brien, Joe (21 October 2009). "Talented guitarist axed from competition...because he's only seven". Daily Record. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- Minard, Jenny (29 September 2010). "Hopefuls compete in Open Mic UK". BBC (Berkshire). Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- "Singing Contest Prizes". Open Mic UK. 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "Birmingham Music Competition Feedback for the Open Mic UK Birmingham Regional Finals". Open Mic UK. October 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "Free Music Studio time in Sheffield". Open Mic UK. August 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "The Importance of Singing Lessons". Open Mic UK. 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- Almroth-Wright, Indy (6 December 2008). "Twleve year-old 'Birdy' wins UK talent contest". BBC (Hampshire). Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- "The Pylewell Park Food and Drink Festival: Birdy". New Forest Fairs. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- "A new teen star is about to go top 10". Global Radio. 6 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- Radio 1 chart, BBC
- Now Birdy: Skinny Love Tune Blog, March 2011
- George, Sarah (2 October 2009). "Open Mic UK Regionals hit Cardiff". Alt.Cardiff. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- Salter, Amy (17 December 2009). "Ormskirk teenager set for stardom after winning Open Mic UK competition". Ormskirk Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- Peplow, G (2009). "Singer in Final". This is Leicestershire. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- "Kirsty Anderson Performs at the Walkers". Leicester City Football Club. 28 December 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- "Kirsty Michele Anderson: About This Artist". St Mary's Perivale. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- "Chorus and Principals previously appearing with Stanley Opera". Stanley Opera. 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- Pope, Rhianne (13 October 2010). "Friends go head to head in music contest". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- "Open Mic UK Competition Winner Hatty Keane signs to BGM". Open Mic UK. 8 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- "Open Mic UK competition winner Hatty Keane to support Spelbound on UK tour!". Open Mic UK. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- "2010 Winners". Open Mic UK. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- "Live Music Interview: Hatty Keane". This Is Lime. 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- Johnston, Gordon (January 24, 2012). "Teenage MC Crowned Open Mic UK Winner". Glasswerk News. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "*BREAKING NEWS* Teenage MC crowned Open Mic UK winner!". Newsik. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Open Mic UK Crown Their Winner". Fame Factor Magazine. January 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "A Level student wins Open Mic UK 2012". CraveOnMusic.com. January 23, 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "16yr Old Open Mic Champion Crowned!". TheBizzNiz. January 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "The Open Mic UK Winner is… Teenage MC: Shak". The Music Mag. January 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Schoolboy Wins Open Mic UK Competition". PappzD!. January 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Shak crowned singing competition winner of Open Mic UK at The O2 London". OpenMicUK. January 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Open Mic UK Lauren Thalia Aldershot Regional Final". In Hampshire. January 29, 2013. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- Thalia, Lauren (Musician) (April 21, 2012). Lauren Thalia Turn My Swag On (YouTube Video). UK. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "Siana Crowned Singing Competition Winner of Open Mic UK at The O2 London". Open Mic UK. January 2013. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "Open Mic UK 2012 Auditions Start Soon". Love Music News. June 15, 2013. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- Ruby, Jennifer (March 27, 2013). "Spraggan's back! X Factor's Lucy signs record deal with Columbia ahead of headline tour". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "X Factor lesbian Lucy Spraggan top Google trend of 2012". Gay Star News. December 11, 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "X Factor 2013 spoilers". Unreality TV. August 31, 2013. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- Potter, Giles (Musician) (October 6, 2012). Giles at NEC Open Mic Saturday 6 October 2012 (YouTube Video). UK. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- Fernandez-Holt, Alejandro (Musician) (October 11, 2011). Open Mic UK Alejandro Fernandez Holt Brighton Regional Final (YouTube Video). UK. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- Potter, Giles (Musician) (October 5, 2013). Giles Potter sing You’re Beautiful by James Blunt — Judges Houses — The X Factor 2013 (YouTube Video). UK. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "X Factor’s Alejandro Fernandez-Holt new Bootcamp twist has killed my singing dream". Metro. September 29, 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "OPEN MIC YORKSHIRE -Results from the North & North East England Area Final!". Open Mic UK. December 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "Britain's Got Talent: Arisxandra Libantino Misses Out". This Is Nottingham. June 8, 2013. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "X Factor’s Alejandro Fernandez-Holt new Bootcamp twist has killed my singing dream". Open Mic UK. September 29, 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- Weekly, Marcus (January 20, 2014). "National Music Competition Crowns Heidi Brown Open Mic UK Winner". Culture Fly. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "Alex Baker - Kerrang Radio". Kerrang Radio. 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "Eddie Evelyn-Hall - Twitter". 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "Artful - TwoPointZero Portfolio". 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "Gareth Henderson - MD/Producer/Coach". River Studios. 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "Dancers Pro - Tanya Anderson". Tanya Anderson. 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "Jon Hornbuckle - Homepage". Jon Hornbuckle. 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "Interview: Marco Gandolfi". Verge Magazine. November 1, 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "Simon Britton Music". Simon Britton. 2011. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "LinkedIn: Merlin D". Merlin D. 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- "Mark Hill Music Producer Confirmed To Judge Unsigned Music Contest". Open Mic UK. December 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "Charlie Hedges To Judge Open Mic UK". Open Mic UK. December 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-04.
- "Si Hulbert". Open Mic UK. December 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-07.
- "Lights Down staff". LightsDown Theatre School. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- "E Plus". Open Mic UK. December 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-04.