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The musical landscape is changing… Today the term ‘unsigned’ does not carry the same stigma as it once did.

A young music fan’s perception of what ‘unsigned’ artists create differs greatly to generations before. Even artists themselves like Macklemore and Stormzy are turning their backs on traditional and 360 recording contracts to remain totally independent and retain creative rights to their music.

“The model has shifted away from the need of a typical record deal and this needs to be acknowledged.”
Simon O’Kelly CEO

It would be cool if there was an awards show recognised by the industry which champions such artists right? Well there is…

The Unsigned Music Awards or UMA for short are designed to discover, fund and reward the most promising emerging and proudly independent talent. Supported by Jack Daniels, See Tickets and Marshall Amplification the inaugural UNSIGNED MUSIC AWARDS will take place held at The Troxy Theatre, London on Thursday 27 October 2016. Other partners include Sentric Music, Tunecore, LADbible and TimeOut.

Application is free and open now for artists of all genres. So if you are aband, singer, mc, producer or aspiring musician of any kind then be sure to sign up here. Applications open until 31st August 2016.

Winners will be rewarded with the chance to work with some of the industry’s most reputable publishers, booking agents, sync agencies, managers, studios and much more with UMA facilitating such opportunities. Applicants don’t have to wait for the show itself to benefit from their involvement; selected artists will be offered gigs, sessions, online features and more over the next few months. Also stay tuned for a special announcement as a funding scheme is in the works for the winners and selected artists in the run up to the show.

More info in brief:

  • 100 active music industry professionals on the voting panel.
  • 16 categories, 5 nominees in each, 16 winners.
  • All nominees are guests on the night.
  • 70 Round tables including industry professionals, partners, sponsors and press.
  • 5 Live performances selected from within the UMA applications.

Keep up to date with news by going to the UMA website here where you can alsofind more information on the voting panel, a full list of categories and details on how to apply.

The UMAs are brought to you by Simon O’Kelly, Georgina Thomas and Ben Connor. Three twenty-somethings all of which share a wealth of experience within all aspects of the industry from live performance, management, live events, TV and radio. Their infectious passion and energy for both music and business shines through and it is this personal touchwhich sets them apart from other award shows. Simon explains in a recent interview with Noisey…

“I feel that unsigned artists deserve the same airtime, attention and glamour as international superstars, because with that leverage, we can start to build a new and respectable industry for some truly deserving artists.”


Not just an awards show, this dynamic young and passionate enterprise aim to become a go-to portal for both their applicants and other unsigned artists worldwide with their website providing invaluable resources and a blog section showcasing ‘One To Watch’ artists.

‘Inside The Music Industry’ Podcast series starting 29th February:
Simon and the team are they are proud to announce the ‘Inside The Music Industry’ Podcast series which is dedicated to providing vital industry insight for all entries. The first of which will be released Feb 29th with special guest Andy Parfitt, the longest serving head of Radio 1 and now head of content at Vevo. Future guests include Louis Brown (Project Manager at Island Records, now Head of Label at Metropolis) and Lily Crockford (previous artist manager to the likes ofJessie J, Ellie Goulding andIggy Azalea).

Georgina describes…

“We’re calling upon the experience of active professionals within the music industry to deliver the secrets from behind closed doors, which would otherwise only be available through costly music industry events and seminars. Episodes cover sync, publishing, booking agents, management, radio plugging, social media, record labels and everything inbetween.”