Why live music competitions matter in 2011

Live and Unsigned is the UK's biggest unsigned music competition and MusicRadar is onboard for the 2011 event, which promises to be the biggest yet. Here's Live and Unsigned on why any act serious about making it in today's tough music industry should get involved…

Mick Jagger has gone on record saying that the music industry only made real money for the acts and managers involved for a period of twenty years from the 1970s-1990s. And Jagger believes that this golden period was just a fluke. Today more and more acts are having to present not only musical talent, but also the ability to effectively market themselves and run their own fan base.

As difficult as it is to hear for the hardcore romantics, being able to belt out a tune is no longer enough to make it - you only have to look at the latest YouTube success of the likes of Justin Bieber to know that you can't sell your music without creating a brand and an audience to run alongside it.

Nurturing talent

Events Director for Live and Unsigned Chris Grayston has been in the music industry for over 20 years and believes that competitions, such as Live and Unsigned, offer acts the tools with which to get themselves noticed and are more key than ever to nurturing talent.

"Live and Unsigned is firstly and essentially about original music talent- our panel of judges are led purely by the performances of acts," says Chris.

"However it is important for acts to build up a fan base and by providing acts with show tickets, prizes for achieving press coverage and the support of our own press and marketing team, we offer acts the chance to reach out to their fans and increase their following."

Many record labels are erring on the side of caution and offering development deals rather than hallowed contracts, bands now more than ever need to provide a whole package to be attractive to the music industry.

On page two, Live and Unsigned have put together some essential tips for bands looking at furthering their careers, whether through professional competitions or social media.

Next: 10 tips for furthering your band's career

10 tips for furthering your band's career

1. Keep it tight! Practice makes perfect - not just musically, but performance-wise as well - your efforts will only pay off if you're on top of your game.

2. Play the biggest venues you can accommodate - competitions such as Live and Unsigned offer acts the kudos of playing larger venues at an earlier stage in their careers.

3. Keep it social! You should be keeping your networking sites fresh and active -aim to update social networks frequently on a daily basis to keep fans engaged.

4. Get to know your local journalists! Every time you play a gig, let your local paper know - invite reviewers to your gigs and keep them informed of major news.

5. A video gives a thousand views - take advantage of any opportunity to get band footage out there, the more enticing your channel, the more likely you are to have viral success and attract fans and attention. Bands such as OK Go suddenly became popular because of success on YouTube. If you have a great song you want the public to hear, they won't hear it unless you put it out there. It's important to use websites such as YouTube and Vimeo to your advantage.

6. Use friend power - creating your own street team is one of the best ways to gain new fans - why not get them to approach queuing gig goers with your latest flyers and samples?

7. Increase your exposure by making contacts in the music industry - your connections with record companies and managers need to be professional and functional. People sitting around waiting to get noticed, don't get noticed.

8. Tendering for support slots with more established bands helps increase exposure; this can also be achieved by applying for spots at festivals and tours. Competitions often offer festival slots as prizes, so it is worth keeping an eye out.

9. Competitions such as Live and Unsigned provide valuable feedback from industry professionals. And of course with Judges from Radio 1, Kerrang, NME plus local radio media partners,you never know who is going to start playing your tracks.

10. Teamwork is key! Make sure each member of your act is on the same page, if you can't work in harmony with each other, how do you expect to managers and industry contacts to work with you?

Auditions are about to start so act soon as places are in high demand. For information on how to secure your live audition for 2011 visit Live and Unsigned here.