Dear SMIA Members,
It’s hard to believe that we’re now quickly approaching the end of 2023. On behalf of the SMIA team and Company Board, I’d like to wish you a relaxing festive period and all the best for the new year.
We’re aware that this can be a difficult time for many people, and should this be the case for you (or for any of your colleagues), we’d encourage you to reach out and talk to Music Minds Matter. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Music Minds Matter is Help Musicians’ dedicated and confidential mental health support line and service for the whole UK music community. It doesn’t have to be a crisis, or about music. Music Minds Matter are there to listen, support and help at any time.
It’s been a busy year for our team as we’ve continued delivering work to support our ongoing mission of strengthening, empowering and uniting Scotland’s music industry.
With the SMIA now comprising over 4,000 members, we’ve grown our executive team – now 4 core SMIA staff, soon to be 5 (we’re currently hiring for a General Manager) – and in June we also announced the appointment of nine new Company Board Directors; adding to the wealth of strategic experience required to achieve our mission.
2023 saw us attend industry events including SXSW and The Great Escape; building strategic relationships and supporting the Scottish activity. We continued long-term partnerships with industry conferences Wide Days and Resonate, as well as with the MMF on the Accelerator Programme for Music Managers; enabling two Scotland-based managers to take part in the initiative, which is designed to build sustainable full-time management businesses and to further the ambitions of talented entrepreneurs.
We also established a new Academic Partnership with UHI Perth, enabling the next generation of music professionals to access a host of industry opportunities, and ensuring that graduate skills are mapped to industry needs. Our Academic Partnerships are designed to drive sector growth by strengthening the future talent pipeline, and we look forward to building our network of Academic Partners further in the new year.
We recently delivered the twelfth Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award campaign and Ceremony, which culminated in our 2023 Ceremony at Stirling’s Albert Halls on Thursday 26 October. From a record-breaking 437 eligible albums submitted, we were delighted to see Young Fathers make SAY Award history by becoming the first band to win Scotland’s national music prize three (!!) times. Since its inception in 2012, The SAY Award has now distributed over £360,000 in prize money to Scottish artists and championed 240 Long-listed albums. Watch the highlights video from this year’s Ceremony:
Looking ahead to 2024, we’re gearing up to deliver an exciting year of enhanced activity. In January we’ll be launching a new website (following revealing the SMIA’s new brand identity in early Summer), and we’re soon set to commence a wide range of strategic work designed to increase the value of Scotland’s music industry both at home and on the world stage; economically, socially and culturally. We look forward to sharing more details on this very soon – there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved.
On a personal note, today’s a particularly special one for me, as following being appointed as Interim CEO and Creative Director earlier this year, today my position became permanent. Having been involved in the SMIA since 2014, I’ve spent almost a decade with the organisation in a range of executive roles. I’m incredibly proud and honoured to now be leading the company, and I look forward to working with our incredible team and our ever-growing membership in the year ahead.
Today we also announced the appointment of Jen Hunter as our new Chair. Having worked with Jen in various capacities over the years, I’ve been both impressed and inspired by what a strategic and dedicated cultural leader she is. Her wealth of experience across areas including sector development, cultural policy and governance will be invaluable to the SMIA, and I couldn’t be more delighted to welcome her to the organisation.
Scottish music continues to inspire me like nothing else; it’s the stories and soundtrack of our lives, the heart of our cultural identity and the glue that binds us together. We continue to face no shortage of challenges, but through empowering and uniting the industry it can be strengthened, and by supporting its development – in a way that is by and for all – the SMIA will continue to work to increase its value across 2024 and beyond.
If you’ve already had your fill of Christmas songs, or just fancy a change from listening to ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ on repeat, how about you listen back to the 20 outstanding Scottish albums that made up The SAY Award Longlist this year. You can do so on Spotify, YouTube Music or via sayaward.com
I look forward to seeing and working with many of you in the new year.
All my best,
CEO and Creative Director