Title: The Unsigned Guide
Page Count/Review Word Count: 864
Boy, oh boy – I have 864 words to cover, and I’m not sure how to fill them up. I guess I should start out by explaining just exactly what the Unsigned Guide is – basically, it’s a website that’s designed as a database for unsigned musicians, and you can pay a certain amount of money each month to gain access to it. In return, if you sign up for at least a year, you get a paperback, printed copy of the guide, which is what I’m reviewing here.
Unfortunately, my copy is a couple of years out of date, but I don’t think I can let the recency of the data influence my review – after all, if I wanted the latest edition then I would have upgraded my membership, or I would have just used the website. As it is, I didn’t, but not because of the service that was provided – because I wasn’t doing many live music dates, and so I didn’t see much point continuing my membership. That’s not a complaint against their service, which was top notch, and a bargain for the price that I paid – I just didn’t have a use for it.
As a consequence, whilst I’d love to say great things about this, I think that needs to be tempered with the fact that it isn’t for everyone – it’s perfect for the manager of a touring band, but maybe not so much use to an indie singer/songwriter who’s looking for open mic nights. After all, most of the information that’s contained in the Unsigned Guide is available elsewhere as well – it’s just not as easy to get to. I say ‘most’ – organisations are able to submit themselves for inclusion, which usually works out to their benefit anyway, and so they do have access to a lot of stuff that you might not be able to get elsewhere, as well.
And it covers all sorts of areas, too – whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here, whether you’re trying to book some shows or whether you’re trying to connect with the press or to shoot a music video. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to do all of the hard work yourself, by sending out e-mails or picking up the telephone, but this will be a bit like your bible whilst you’re doing it. You’ll find yourself flicking through it on an almost daily basis, especially if you’re trying to go pro and you’re dedicating your full attention to your music.
When it comes to gaining access to the Unsigned Guide, you have a couple of options – you can either pay monthly, or you can take out a long-term subscription. The latter is usually the best value for money, and you have to do that if you want to own a physical copy of the directory. It’s worth doing, because you can carry it around with you and start looking through it on the train or on the bus, and then you can follow up with it next time you’re back at your computer.
One of the good things about having the physical copy is that it also contains plenty of bonus material, such as interviews and thought pieces on the state of the music industry, from the people who are in the know. Because of that, it’s worth reading through the introductions and the appendices, although it does take a while to make progress because the print is pretty small and the pages are thin due to the quality of the paper.
The best way to describe The Unsigned Guide, then, is as a musical equivalent of the Yellow Pages, created by musicians for musicians to give them all of the tools that they need to forge their careers. I’d be interested to know how many successful bands and musicians owe their success to the guide – even if you’re a manager, rather than an unsigned musician trying to make it on your own, then you’re going to find it useful.
So is it worth it? Yes, it is – for the price that you pay, you easily get your money back. After all, the monthly cost of it is just the same as a couple of pints, and less than a train ticket would cost if you had to travel somewhere. And if you pay monthly, like I ended up doing after my first year was up, it’s easy to cancel, too – you could always use it for a couple of months while you’re arranging a tour, then cancel your membership, and then sign back up again when you’re looking for somewhere to shoot a video.
And so there you have it – that’s how to write an 864 word long review of The Unsigned Guide. It’s been interesting, like a crossover of two different worlds – the music that I make and the books that I read. I already read a lot of stuff about writing and marketing, but music is under-represented in my bookcase. All of the pages I own about music seem to be in this one book. Hope this helps.