Unsigned Music Awards Scraps Physical Award Ceremony

There won’t be an award ceremony to honor this year’s Unsigned Music Awards (UMA) winners.

Jorja Smith
Joseph Okpako/WireImage
– Jorja Smith
Live at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London. Smith is nominated for three UMAs.

“It became clear to us that the awards event is not the heart of UMA, but that our true value was in the role we can play in raising the profile of new artists,” the people behind the awards wrote in a statement.

Simon O’Kelly, Georgina Thomas and Ben Connor founded UMA in 2016 to provide opportunities and a platform for the many unsigned artists out there.

The 2018 nominees are still going to be awarded in categories including Live Act, Songwriter, Record, Urban Act, Music Video, Rock Act, Female Act, Male Act, Folk Act, Jazz/Blues Act, Electronic Act, Produced Record, International Music Video, International Record and the UMA Choice Award.
There just won’t be a ticketed ceremony, and people who’ve already bought their tickets will be refunded.

Jorja Smith is in the lead with three nominations in total (Best Female, Best Songwriter, Best Record for Project 11), followed by Dave, who’s nominated as Best Urban Act as well as in the Best Music Video category for the visuals to “Question Time.” Smith already won the Critic’s Choice award at this year’s BRITs.

“All nominees will still be recognized and the winners announced and awarded through a new process which we will unveil in the near future, and we promise that we will remain a company that places artists at our core, for many more years to come. The UMAs will live on – as will the awards – just in a brand new form,” the UMA statement continues.

UMA considers an artist unsigned, if they fully own and control their master recordings, “and – in line with the generally accepted definition of unsigned that refers specifically to record deals – does not have a record deal with a third-party record label,” according to the official regulations.

Artists that have licensing, publishing or administration deals, managers, booking agents or other representation, or release music under their own independent label also qualify as unsigned.

UMA also announced that it has appointed a new chairman, who is going to be revealed in the coming weeks. The team promises “a heavy weight in the music industry who is responsible for producing some of the biggest live events, TV broadcasts and award shows in history,” adding “he’ll be a massive help in taking the UMAs to the next level.”

In an interview with Pollstar last year, O’Kelly mentioned a few other UMA programs aimed at pushing unsigned artists’ careers. It remains to be seen whether those programs are going to go ahead, as the company declined to further comment for the time being.