Awards Legal Media

ASA receives complaint about unsigned bands competition

By | Published on Friday 23 March 2012

Live And Unsigned

An band called Underline The Sky have filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority against previously reported new bands competition Live And Unsigned, claiming that they were one of the winners of the competition in 2010 but are yet to receive all the prizes that adverts for the contest promised would come with victory.

The band say that they were promised two festival sets as part of their prize, including an all-expenses paid trip to perform at a festival in India, plus an amplifier worth £1500, but have so far received nothing. By taking their complaint to the ASA, the band presumably reckon they were misled by the competition’s advertising materials in breach of the Authority’s code of conduct, though the powers of the advertising industry regulator are somewhat limited in a case like this.

Organisers of the five year old new bands competition, which this year is being filmed for a Sky TV programme, say that all the acts who took part in their 2010 edition were notified about the withdrawal of the amp prize before competing, and that the two festival sets promised fell through because the events themselves were cancelled. Live And Unsigned’s Chris Grayston added that alternative prizes of greater value had been offered, but either declined or ignored.

Responding to Underline The Sky’s ASA complaint, the BBC found some other bands also disgruntled with what they had received after winning elements of past Live And Unsigned competitions, though more past participants and winners seemed pleased with their experiences and winnings when questioned by the Beeb’s reporter, including another artist whose prize had had to change post victory.

Among the critics were 2009 indie genre winners The Loaded Dice who said that the promise of a 20 grand investment was tied to a management contract the band didn’t feel they could sign, while The Trinity Band from Derby, overall winners of the contest in 2011, were also disappointed, saying a trip to play a festival in Canada was “a shambles”, and other UK dates organised by Live And Unsigned promoter Future Music fell though.

They told the BBC: “How are we out of pocket when we have just supposedly won a £50,000 investment? After winning the so called ‘largest unsigned competition in the country’ we believed there would be a machine or system in place, interviews set up, or a team working on this for us. There wasn’t”. But Future Music countered that it had, in fact, invested in the 2011 winners, but that they lacked the “organisation and drive to be a very successful band”.

Whether the ASA will rule that past advertising by Live And Unsigned actually breached its code remains to be seen, though – as with any hyped unsigned bands competition – the issue here might be more about managing expectations than delivering on a list of prizes. One of those who spoke positively about Future Music’s competition to the Beeb stressed that participating was a good experience providing wannabe bands were realistic about what can be achieved in the battle of the bands arena.

Thom Rylance from Manchester band The Lottery Winners: “If I’m asked, which I often am, if I would recommend a band to enter Live And Unsigned I’d say: ‘Of course you should, but don’t expect to just become famous overnight, even if you win it, because it just doesn’t work that way'”.