Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) appoints Robert Kilpatrick as Interim CEO and Creative Director

We’re pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Kilpatrick as Interim CEO and Creative Director, who commences post with immediate effect. He will now lead the SMIA’s executive team and work with the company’s board to increase the value of Scotland’s music industry both at home and on the world stage; economically, socially and culturally. 


The SMIA now comprises over 4,000 members working across Scotland’s music industry ecosystem. The organisation provides a voice for its membership when speaking to Government, Parliament and development organisations. It delivers a wide range of services, projects and events designed to stimulate domestic and international growth, sustainability, development and innovation; all with equality, diversity and inclusion at the core.


Kilpatrick will be supported in his new role by the now 15-strong SMIA Company Board, with the organisation having recently been bolstered by the appointment of 10 new Directors. The SMIA has also opened applications for a new Chair of its Company Board, with experienced industry professionals encouraged to apply here.


Having been involved in the SMIA since 2014, Kilpatrick has spent almost a decade building the organisation in a range of executive roles delivering work to support and champion Scotland’s music industry. With a proven track record in creative and strategic direction, project management, leadership and business development, Kilpatrick was instrumental in the SMIA successfully securing Regular Funding from Creative Scotland in 2018, enabling the company to scale up its operations and increase both the impact and accessibility of its support services.


For the past seven years, Kilpatrick has led the development and delivery of the SMIA’s flagship project and Scotland’s national music prize; the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award. The SAY Award has grown year on year and distributed over £330,000 in prize money to Scottish artists since its inception in 2012. Previous winners include outstanding musicians Fergus McCreadie, Mogwai, Young Fathers, Anna Meredith and Kathryn Joseph. As part of a partnership with Stirling Council, 2023’s Ceremony returns to Stirling’s Albert Halls on Thursday 26 October. Tickets are on sale now at The 20-strong SAY Award Longlist will be announced on Thursday 14 September. 


Robert Kilpatrick previously worked for music licensing organisation PPL, as well as for festivals including The Great Escape and Bestival. A graduate of BA Commercial Music at the University of the West of Scotland, he gained a First Class honours degree and was awarded the Court Medal for best performance on the programme. In 2019 Kilpatrick co-founded Scottish indie-label ICEBLINK LUCK with Stina Tweeddale (Honeyblood).


Outgoing CEO Ronnie Gurr has guided the organisation through a post-pandemic year that’s been tough for many in the Scottish music industry, but also seen some notable successes. His insight into the current challenges and opportunities in the sector has been very valuable, and his work at the SMIA on developing career pathways and industry-ready skills – an area he has worked on for many years prior to joining the organisation – has been fruitful. The SMIA’s executive team will continue to form academic partnerships to empower the next generations of music industry professionals in Scotland.


Speaking of the new appointment, Nick Stewart, Interim Chair of the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), said: “Robert understands the SMIA’s importance better than anyone else. Hard-working and driven, he has been instrumental in achieving the organisation’s aims. He is a powerful, experienced and very capable advocate for the musicians, technicians, promoters, artist managers, tour managers, venues, publishers, agents, label and countless other industry roles that need strong representation and industry development now more than ever. Our board, which includes representatives of key industry organisations from across the UK, are unanimous in our support of him in this challenging role at a key time for the Scottish music industry. ”


Robert Kilpatrick, newly appointed Interim CEO and Creative Director of the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), said: “Having lived and breathed the SMIA for almost a decade, I’m incredibly honoured, proud and excited to now be leading the company, and I’d like to thank our Company Board for placing their confidence in me to undertake such a crucially important role.


Scottish music inspires me like nothing else; it’s the stories of our lives, the heart of our cultural identity and the glue that binds us together. I’ve worked with and learned from some incredible people over the years, and I look forward to building on our strengths and driving the SMIA and our industry forward. My special thanks goes to outgoing CEO Ronnie Gurr for all his hard work over the last year, as well as to former SMIA Chairs Dougal Perman and Stewart Henderson; both of whom have been invaluable to the development of the SMIA and me personally over the years. 


The SMIA and Scotland’s music industry have had no shortage of challenges in recent years, and as we now face rising costs compiled with reduced consumer spending, strains on public funding and the lasting impacts of both the pandemic and Brexit, artists, industry professionals and music businesses at all levels continue to face instability and require key support. The SMIA’s role as a sector-support organisation therefore continues to be vitally important, and the strength and depth of experience across our team will allow us to continue to deliver strategic work that makes a meaningful difference.”


In addition to the news of Kilpatrick’s appointment, the SMIA has launched its search for a new Chair of its Company Board. Dougal Perman was Chair of the SMIA from 2016 to 2022, and stood down in March following a number of years leading the board and representing the company, Since then Nick Stewart, Director of notable grassroots venue Sneaky Pete’s and former Music Venue Trust Scottish Coordinator, has been Interim Chair.


The SMIA now seeks an experienced industry professional with a wide ranging knowledge of the Scottish music industry who will lead the board, support the development and delivery of strategy and act as a spokesperson for the organisation. Applications are now open until 5pm on Friday 15 September.


Photo credit: Jean Yuzheng Zhang