Live and Unsigned

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Live and Unsigned
LiveandUnsigned logo.png
2011 version of logo
Genre Music Competition
Begins January
Ends July
Frequency Annually
Location(s) United Kingdom
Years active 11
Inaugurated 2007
Most recent 2012
Participants 40,000 annually

Live and Unsigned was a music competition in the United Kingdom for unsigned bands and vocal groups to perform live for substantial prizes. .[1] It was founded 2007, and has attracted over 40,000 entrants annually since its inception.[2] Competitors perform in their own genre and style to a paying audience and judging panel.[3][citation needed] The competition tours the UK holding auditions in various regions,[3] and the Grand National Final is held at The O2 in London.


Live and Unsigned was founded in 2007, in the United Kingdom.[4] Singers and bands perform original music live in front of a judging panel and live audience.[5] Chris Grayston promoted the event and serves as head judge until 2012.

Advertising standards investigation and new management[edit]

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.[6]

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.[6]

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.[7]

In September 2012, 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.[8]

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." [9] They fulfilled their contractual obligation for that year, and hosted the Live and Unsigned 2012 winners CoCo and the Butterfields at the 2012 festival,[10]

As of 2013, Live and Unsigned came now under the management of Mercury Artist Management, Daniel O'Gorman, Mongasta International and Lonesome Road.[citation needed] The new management team implemented significant changes to the submissions process, voting, advertising and PR which they feel make it a far more Musician-Friendly Competition.[citation needed]

As of March 2013, Grayston is no longer associated with the competition.[citation needed]

The original company was dissolved in 2014.[11]


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.

2011 winners The Trinity Band at the Grand Final


Applicants can compete in Indie, Urban/Pop/Acoustic, Alternative, and Rock categories.[12] 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.[13]


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.[4][14] The grand winner earned a £50,000 recording deal.[12] The winners of all the different categories are invited on the UK Live and Unsigned Tour.[12]


The Live and Unsigned judging panels have included:

Chris Hawkins is frequently listed by the organisation as a judge, however he has disputed any involvement with the event on his Twitter feed.[24]

Annual events[edit]


The 2007 Grand Final was held in May 2007 at Portsmouth Guildhall to an audience of 2,200[25][26] and the competition was divided into age categories. 2007 regional winners included Sean Rumsey.[13][26] The beat-boxing duet Ghoodfellaz'z, who won the North West region competition, won the Urban Award at the National Grand Final.[3] Hardly Heroes won the under-17s Best Band Award,[27] Fizz Reynolds won the Under 18's Award for female singer and the overall under 18's award[13] and 13-year-old Jake Ward won the Under-18 category for boys.[25] B-Kay and Kazz were awarded the best Live and Unsigned vocal group.[13]


2008 Live and Unsigned winners Kiddo360

In 2008 Welsh indie/electronic band Kiddo360 won the Grand Final, and went on to win a Vodafone Award.[3]


Auditions for 2009 began that January,.[28] Because of high demand, auditions were limited to 500 per region.[3] regional finals took place across the UK and each act performed one cover song and one original song.[29]

The London singer RHEA won her Under-18 category at the Finals.[18] 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.

The Lottery Winners hearing they have won in 2010


In 2010 the Grand Final for 2010 took place at the Indig02 at The O2 Arena in London.[19] Category winners for 2010 included rock band Underline The Sky, acoustic act Sam Garrett, and alternative group We Beat The System.[1] The judges voted Indie band The Lottery Winners as overall winner.[15]


The National Grand Final in 2011 took place at the Indig02 on July 23,[4][20] 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.[30]

Another winner in 2011 was overall runner-up Lucy Spraggan, who was initially offered a festival slot in Australia as part of her prize.[30] 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,[31][32] a new website,[33] a music video,[33] which at the time of writing has received over 455,000 views,[34] and as a result gained several additional festival slots amongst which included London Summer Jam,[35] Osfest,[36] Strawberry Fields Festival,[37] Cockermouth Rock Festival.[38][39]

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 [40] on 2 September 2012.[41] despite being removed from iTunes


The National Grand Final in 2011 took place at the Proud2 in The O2 on July 14,[42] Contraband won the Rock/Metal category, winning themselves a festival slot at Butserfest and a free Natal Drums drum kit.[43][44] Leon Bratt won the Acoustic/Solo category, winning himself festival slots at JustSoFestival and Looe Music Festival, as well as free studio time.[44][45] Molly Smitten-Downes won the Urban/Pop category, winning herself a slot at Sundown Festival as well as free studio time.[44][46] 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.[44][47]

CoCo and the Butterfields 2014 in Norwich (photo by Roger Blackwell)

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,[48] 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,[49] and a slot at Beach Break Live.[50]

Overall winners[edit]

Date Artist[30]
2007 B-Kay and Kazz
2008 Kiddo 360
2009 The Detours
2010 The Lottery Winners
2011 The Trinity Band
2012 CoCo and the Butterfields

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Sunderland band We Beat the System beat the competition". BBC. July 23, 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  2. ^ a b "The Trinity Band win Live and Unsigned 2011 at Live Fest". Music Radar. July 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-27. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Live and Unsigned returns". Eastwood Advertiser. October 7, 2008. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Bristol band The New Root make area final of Live and Unsigned competition". Guide2Bristol. May 5, 2011. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  5. ^ a b "Elmor on the road to grand national final". Music News. February 22, 2008. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  6. ^ a b "Live and Unsigned investigated over prizes claims". BBC. March 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  7. ^ "ASA ends Live and Unsigned Investigation". BBC. May 30, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  8. ^ "ASA upholds Live and Unsigned complaints". 
  9. ^ "Bingley Music Live is to drop talent contest link". Telegraph & Argus. April 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-20. 
  10. ^ "CoCo and the Butterfields". Bingley Music Live. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b c "Kirrie Band Members Tune Up For National Grand Final". Forfar Dispatch. March 17, 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Get live, get signed!". Belper News. January 24, 2008. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  14. ^ "Tom's boys are out to rock the competition". Halifax Courier. December 28, 2007. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  15. ^ a b c "The Lottery Winners crowned best band at Live and Unsigned Festival 2010". StereoBoard. July 12, 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  16. ^ a b "2010: Live and Unsigned festival". The O2. 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-02. 
  17. ^ "Music Industry Judges". Live and Unsigned. 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  18. ^ a b c "Live and Unsigned winner snapped up by Princes Hall". Get Reading. July 16, 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  19. ^ a b "2010 Live and Unsigned". eFestivals. April 21, 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-02. 
  20. ^ a b "Leamington performers hope to take their big chance at O2 final". Leamington Courier. May 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  21. ^ "Adam Perry to Judge Live and Unsigned". 'Live and Unsigned. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  22. ^ "DJ Ras Kwame joins live and unsigned judges". Subba Cultcha. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-12-15. Retrieved 2013-01-16. 
  24. ^ "Chris Hawkins' Twitter feed, disputing involvement with Live and Unisgned". March 2, 2011. Retrieved 2012-04-17. 
  25. ^ a b Kinnell, Lydia (May 31, 2007). "Wonderful world for Jake". Andover Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  26. ^ a b Mail, Simon (April 20, 2007). "Alex hopes to land record deal". Bucks Free Press. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  27. ^ "Teenage rockers are tipped for the top". The News (Portsmouth). June 28, 2007. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  28. ^ Beckwith, Gary (February 22, 2009). "Live and Unsigned 2009". Sunday Sun. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  29. ^ "Band to contest UK talent search". BBC. May 22, 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  30. ^ a b c "Live and Unsigned Winners and Results 2011". Live and Unsigned. July 26, 2011. Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. Retrieved 2011-07-27. 
  31. ^ "Lucy Spraggan Open Mic UK Guest Act Provides Unsigned Music Advice". Open Mic UK. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  32. ^ "Lucy Spraggan's Twitter". Lucy Spraggan. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  33. ^ a b "Advertising Standards Authority ASA Investigation of Live and Unsigned". Live and Unsigned. Archived from the original on 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  34. ^ Lucy Spraggan Last Night (Beer Fear) Official Music Video HD. Melmo Films. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  35. ^ "Free studio time free amps and festival slots for Live and Unsigned acts that competed in Camden London Results". Live and Unsigned. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  36. ^ "Osfest 2012 Review". LoveMusicNews. LoveMusicNews. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  37. ^ "The Summer Festival Season Has Been Taken By Storm By Live and Unsigned Alumni". Live and Unsigned. Live and Unsigned. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  38. ^ "Cockermouth - Bar Stage". Cockermouth Rock Festival. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  39. ^ "Live and Unsigned Alumni Play Summer Festivals". Music Radar. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  40. ^ "Chart Archive - Lucy Spraggan". ChartArchive. Retrieved 2012-09-04. [permanent dead link]
  41. ^ "Uk Pop Charts For Week Ending September 8, 2012". Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  42. ^ "Live and Unsigned 2012 The Grand Final". Music Radar. July 16, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  43. ^ "Line-up for Butserfest 2012 revealed". The News (Portsmouth). Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  44. ^ a b c d "Live and Unsigned 2012 Results". Live and Unsigned. July 14, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  45. ^ "Meet The Live and Unsigned 2012 Winners - Leon Bratt". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  46. ^ "Sundown to host Live and Unsigned Winners". Sundown Festival. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  47. ^ "Live and Unsigned Winners Coco and the Butterfields Receive £2,000 Fret King Black Label Guitar Prize". Guitar Planet. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  48. ^ "Coco And The Butterfields Win Live & Unsigned". The Fly. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  49. ^ "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. 
  50. ^ "CoCo and the Butterfields crowned best unsigned act 2012". International Life. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 

External links[edit]