The Scottish Album of the Year Award launches today for 2020, calling on music fans, artists and labels to submit eligible albums to be in the running for Scotland’s pre-eminent music prize. Submit eligible albums now at www.sayaward.com
Returning for its ninth year, The SAY Award’s roots are deep within the diverse Scottish music scene and it is widely recognised as one of the country’s most reputable and prestigious music initiatives. Coming together to celebrate the passion, value and diversity of Scottish music in 2020, artists, labels and music fans are now encouraged to submit eligible Scottish albums released between 1 April 2019 and 31 May 2020 to The SAY Award Website. The SAY Award strives to be egalitarian throughout all stages of the campaign, reflected in the fact there is no fee to submit an eligible album for consideration, and digital releases that fulfil the criteria are also deemed eligible. All submissions must be made before midnight on Friday 31st July 2020.
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, The SAY Award campaign will go digital this year for the first time ever. In line with Government guidelines and with audience and artists’ safety at the forefront, The SAY Award’s live events will move online this year, meaning music fans across the country will have the chance to be part of the traditionally exclusive final award ceremony. All over the world, the music industry is striving to ascertain how to operate in this new normal, as the ramifications of the massive economic and cultural impacts continue to be felt. The SAY Award is committed to providing Scottish artists and music fans with an inspiring campaign which embodies the passion and resolute nature of Scotland’s ever evolving music scene.
The albums celebrated by The SAY Award, spanning all genres and sounds, are the stories of Scotland’s people. At this time of crisis, when much of our culture is confined to our borders, it is more important than ever before to shine a light on the incredible talent Scotland has to offer. With international opportunities and visibility for Scottish music significantly limited at present, this year The SAY Award will feature Judges from four selected international territories for the first time in the award’s history; building upon and maintaining vital and valued international links for Scottish music.
It is without doubt that the past few months of lockdown have created significant challenges at all levels within the music industry, however, the resilience and determination of the musical community within Scotland has proven that music truly has no boundaries, as The SAY Award brings people together to celebrate the passion, value and diversity of Scottish music in 2020.
Robert Kilpatrick, General Manager of the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) says:
“Scotland’s music industry is in crisis. For many of my industry colleagues, celebrating our music scene may be the last thing they’ll feel like doing. How can we celebrate when venues have closed, are closing and will continue to close unless something more is done? When our young people are losing access to music? How do our young people become future talent, active fans and economic supporters of our industry?
How do we celebrate when artists have lost all their live income? When our international opportunities and connections are under threat? When promoters, studios, producers, engineers, crew, music retail and multiple other sub-sectors of the industry are continually and sorely feeling the impact. There are no easy answers, and as the situation continues, Scotland’s music industry remains at significant risk, with a strong reliance on people coming together to create or experience music, as well as a high level of self-employment.
Never more than now is it important we celebrate Scottish music. By celebrating, we promote it’s visibility, highlight it’s value, develop audiences and stimulate opportunity at a time it’s never been needed more.
The SAY Award campaign has been re-imagined for 2020 and has been designed to help mitigate some of the key challenges our industry faces. Thanks to our partners continued support, we can continue to champion outstanding Scottish music.
We hope you join us, and best of luck to all eligible albums.”
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture said:
“These awards are a key moment for us to recognise Scotland’s diverse and evolving music scene and the central role it plays in our culture and creative industries.
“This also demonstrates the resilience and determination of our musical community, and I hope, with The SAY Award going virtual for the first time in history, even more people can get involved.
“We do not underestimate the devastating impact this pandemic has had on Scotland’s creative industries, particularly those that rely on audiences and live performances, but we will continue to do all we can to help this sector recover so that they can continue to make a vibrant and rich contribution to Scotland.”
Recognising some of Scotland’s most inspiring and talented artists, previous winners of The SAY Award include Auntie Flo, Young Fathers, Sacred Paws, Anna Meredith, Kathryn Joseph and more. With more albums than ever before submitted for consideration in 2019, The SAY Award now calls on Scotland’s music industry to celebrate the strength and diversity of its musical landscape in these unprecedented times. To submit albums, plus view eligibility criteria and guidelines for the 2020 award – visit www.sayaward.com.
Winner of The SAY Award 2019, Auntie Flo said:
“The Scottish music scene is world renowned and The SAY Award does a great job of highlighting its breadth of talent. Winning The SAY Award was proof that artists who are properly independent, that work across diverse cultural boundaries and between different scenes and genres can be rewarded for their efforts. I hope my winning it inspires an even more diverse range of submissions this year.”
Sacred Paws, winners of The SAY Award in 2017, said:
“Winning an award is definitely not something we ever imagined for ourselves! We felt extremely validated and uplifted by the Scottish music community through The SAY Award. It really helped us feel less like outsiders in the music industry as well as encouraging us to find confidence in ourselves and in our music.”
Offering one of the most lucrative prize funds in the UK, The SAY Award winner will collect a £20,000 cash prize, whilst nine runners up are each awarded £1,000, making the award a truly remarkable cornerstone of the Scottish music industry, celebrating music of all genres on one bold and unifying platform. Year on year, The SAY Award supports the Scottish art industry by commissioning an emerging designer to create bespoke prizes for the 10 Shortlisted artists, offering a creative complement to the award’s musical counterpart. Each year, the physical awards accentuate the enduring links between music, art and design in a country overflowing with talent.
Founded in appreciation of the album as an artform, The SAY Award has illuminated the Scottish music scene since its inauguration in 2012, recognising the commitment, credibility and ambition required to create and release an album by the entire ecosystem of musicians, songwriters, producers, sound engineers, labels and more. Recognising an album as greater than the sum of its parts, the award regards albums as stand alone artworks in their own right and as culturally significant and artistic achievements. From classical, electronic, hip-hop, jazz, pop, rock and trad, The SAY Award album submissions reflect the ever-evolving, eccentric Scottish music scene and demonstrates the strength of the country’s musical output.
Developed and produced by the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), the 2020 campaign is delighted to announce that it will be delivered in partnership with Creative Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council, YouTube Music, 54EP, Sweetdram, Culture & Business Fund Scotland via Arts & Business Scotland, PPL, Summerhall, Ticketmaster and new charity partner Music Declares Emergency.
The SAY Award are proud to welcome Music Declares Emergency to their diverse list of partners, as The SMIA commit to running this year’s campaign in the most environmentally responsible way possible. With the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) due to be held in Glasgow in 2021, The SAY Award looks forward to providing Music Declares Emergency with a platform to educate the music industry on how to work towards becoming more ecologically sustainable and regenerative.
Talking about the new partnership, Music Declares Emergency said, “We are honoured to have been chosen by The SAY Award as their charity partner for this year. As the climate emergency becomes ever more immediate, the continued response of the UK music industry has been vital in placing action on the agenda. The support of such an incredible and important organisation is vital in spreading our message and connecting the music community and inspiring them to drive change. Thank you SAY and tell everyone – there is #NoMusicOnADeadPlanet.”
Last year saw The SAY Award relocate from Glasgow to Edinburgh, with the award ceremony held in the breathtaking setting of The Assembly Rooms. Although going digital this year, The SAY Award is delighted to again be placing a spotlight on Edinburgh throughout 2020’s campaign; not least through new partnerships with Edinburgh-based venues 54EP and Summerhall. This year’s final award ceremony takes place on Thursday 29th October 2020, with more details to be revealed.
This year will also see Live at The Longlist transformed into a virtual event. Introduced in 2017, the event has been held in iconic venues around Glasgow and Edinburgh including O2 ABC, King Tut’s and The Queen’s Hall. This year, Live at The Longlist will be broadcasted as a YouTube Premier and fans can expect a night of celebrating the remarkable talent Scotland has to offer on 2020’s Longlist, alongside three live performances from previous SAY Award Nominees.
Once all eligible albums have been collated, 100 impartial ‘Nominators’, chosen from sectors including journalism, broadcast and radio, music retail and live music venues from across Scotland, will consider the titles from The SAY Award’s Eligible Albums list, nominating their five favourite albums and ranking them in order of preference. ‘Nominators’ include specialists in a variety of genres, such as jazz, hip hop, classical, electronic and traditional, as well as key influencers from elsewhere in the arts. The SMIA assigns a score to each title in a Nominator’s Top 5, before announcing the 20 highest scoring albums as The SAY Award Longlist for 2020.
Following the live stream event, the Longlist will then be cut down to a Shortlist of only 10 albums, one of which will be chosen by music fans via a 72-hour online public vote. The remaining nine albums will be chosen by The SAY Award judging panel. A variety of judges from the music industry will come together to choose the Shortlist albums and previous years’ panels have included Craig Armstrong, Turner Prize winning artists Douglas Gordon and Susan Philipsz, film and television director Michael Hines, DJ and Promoter Sarra Wild, Edinburgh International Festival Director Fergus Linehan, Filmmaker Lynne Ramsay and Director of YWCA Scotland, Patrycja Kupiec.
Creative Scotland’s Jamie Houston said:
“Scotland’s dynamic music scene is brimming over with talent in every genre from those at the top of their game and a new generation of musicians painting a glowing picture for the future.
“The SAY Award provides an important spotlight for that talent, and in a year when so much is changing, there has never been a more important time to celebrate and support the depth and breadth of music-making here.
“I’d encourage everyone to buy albums, discover great new music and vote for your favourites from indie, hip-hop, jazz, classical, trad and everything in-between.”
Sweetdram co-founder Daniel Fisher says: “We started 54EP to bring creative communities together, and despite this strange turn the world has taken, we’ve managed to find a way to push that objective forward. Although we’re obviously gutted not to be able to launch 54EP in its intended format as a live music venue, we’re very excited to convert it into a vast affordable space for artists to create and perform without compromising their health or safety. New music as an outlet is more critical now than ever – so hopefully this will go a small way to helping the grassroots music scene in Scotland thrive in spite of what’s going on.”
Sweetdram co-founder Andrew MacLeod Smith says: “Music is massively important to us – we’ve got the meatiest sound system and biggest vinyl collection at any distillery in Scotland, probably the world – so having the opportunity to partner with The SAY Award for the second year running is particularly special. As independent flavour-driven distillers who make spirits that sit in the spaces between conventional categories, we appreciate how difficult it can be to strike the right balance between creative conviction and commercial imperative. Thanks to the great work being continuously carried out by the team at The SAY Award, and the SMIA in general, we hope that Scottish musicians can find increasing ways to stay loyal to themselves artistically and still afford the rent, especially during these strange times. Of course it’s a shame we can’t all celebrate in person this year, but we’re hugely excited for the virtual party the team have cooked up: a much-needed and well-deserved audial distraction for everyone who has suffered through the past few months.”
Sarah Mitchell, Director of Membership and Communications at PPL says: “PPL is proud to support The SAY Award, which provides a platform for the musical talents and styles that Scotland is home to. Last year’s genre-blending winner, ‘Radio Highlife’ by Auntie Flo, epitomised this, with its diverse range of influences reflecting the creativity of its maker and the country that produced it. As submissions for this year’s award open, we look forward to listening to the best of Scottish music and wish every entrant the best of luck.”
Rowan Campbell, the General Manager of Summerhall says: “As a champion of Scottish music and creativity, Summerhall is pleased to support The 2020 SAY Award in this re-imagined way. It feels to us that there has never been a more important time to support and empower artists, performers and musicians to keep doing what they do best, create and inspire us all, until we can get back to what we all love, LIVE MUSIC.”
Andrew Parsons, MD Ticketmaster UK, said: “Having partnered with the SAY Award since 2017, we’re really excited to be on board again this year – now more than ever it’s essential we come together to support the industry. We’ve witnessed Scottish artists make incredible strides over the last 12 months, the pool of talent is remarkable, and I have no doubt we’re going to see a very impressive Shortlist.”
Previous winners of The SAY Award include Auntie Flo ‘Radio Highlife’ (2019), Young Fathers ‘Cocoa Sugar’ (2018), Sacred Paws ‘Strike A Match’ (2017), Anna Meredith ‘Varmints’ (2016), Kathryn Joseph ‘Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled’ (2015), Young Fathers ‘Tape Two’ (2014), RM Hubbert ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’ (2013) and the inaugural winner Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat ‘Everything’s Getting Older’ (2012).