An Open Letter to Open Mic UK
April 30th 2014
Dear Open Mic UK,
Thank you for your email.
By legal definition you may be a legitimate ‘talent show’ but you really ought to be more honest. This is a huge money making scheme. Having read your terms and conditions it seems you ask singers to pay £5 to enter your competition, charge successful singers a £30 deposit which is only refundable if they ‘turn up, make an effort and compete as asked’, and although not obligatory, you pressure successful singers to ‘try their hardest’ to sell 25 tickets each.
I would not be surprised if pressure was also placed on singers to rent a crowdaka to bring lots of friends and family to each ‘round’ at their personal expense and, if audiences were also encouraged to take part in expensive text message voting. I would also not be surprised if you were connected to similarly exploitative events such as Live and Unsigned.
You say you are connected and have worked with the ‘likes of Sony, Warner and Universal Music’ but aside from Birdy, I haven’t heard of a famous singer whose success is attributed to Open Mic UK.
That you emailed me asking me to ‘work’ for you as a talent scout is actually quite funny. Yes, I am extremely well connected both in London and Kent. As an established voice coach and choir leader I access 230 singers on a weekly basis. The contract you have asked me to sign asks me to openly publicise your competition by distributing the 1000 flyers you will send me, whilst recruiting singers to audition. The final reward for this is a commission of £100 for every 10 singers who successfully audition, £150 for every 15 singers and £200 for every 20 singers. Essentially, you are asking me to work for free on a commission basis with no guarantee of fair pay for my efforts. But primarily, you are masquerading this as an ‘opportunity’ to be a ‘talent scout’. It’s absolutely ludicrous!
But moving on and back to my comment about your approaching me being ‘funny’… As you will recall, I am quite connected, yes. And as I said before, I do have access to 230 singers each week of the year. I am also legitimately ‘connected’ and two of my students have signed record deals (they did not pay a fee to do this). I am, however, grateful that you contacted me as what I will now do is inform the 230 singers I teach on a weekly basis to not enter your competition.
In summation, you have taken the X Factor concept – an already exploitative competition – and turned it into a money-making scheme, whilst asking singing teachers to work on commission rates only, and poor ones at that.
I suggest that you take your competition and shove it up your arse.
Vocal Coach, Choir Leader, Composer, Campaigner for Musicians Rights
P.S. I have reported this ‘scheme’ to the Musicians’ Union