SMIA XpoNorth 2018 Announcement

We had a fantastic time at this year’s XpoNorth Festival, which took place on 27 and 28 June in Inverness. The SMIA has been a partner of the festival for many years now, and this year we were delighted to run a panel on Music Business Model Innovation as well as co-host the Opening Party with our friends at Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE). 

Below is the speech given at the Opening Party by Dougal Perman, Executive Chair of the Scottish Music Industry Association, where he announced some upcoming SMIA projects and programmes. Have a read to see what we have planned and how we can work with you to help grow your music business.


Welcome to XpoNorth! This is one of the most exciting events of the year. The creative energy is inspiring and the opportunity to learn about and engage with many sectors of the creative industries is highly valuable.

I’m delighted to represent the Scottish Music Industry Association and for us to bring you this networking reception, in association with our friends at Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Thanks to HIE, XpoNorth and Ironworks for having us! This region is increasingly vibrant and produces lots of creative talent, especially in music. We want to work with musicians and business people from all over Scotland are are looking forward to doing more in Inverness and around the Highlands and Islands wherever possible.

I became chair of the SMIA two years ago and was just getting into it at XpoNorth. Back then we had lean resources but still managed to achieve a lot, especially with the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award which goes from strength to strength. We launched this year’s campaign in May and crowdsourced 253 eligible albums for consideration by nominators. Check out the albums on It’s an amazing compendium of new music in Scotland across all genres and scenes. The nominations are now in and The Longlist is being compiled. It will be announced with a party at King Tut’s in Glasgow on Wednesday 1 August featuring Emma Pollok, a special collaboration between Stina Tweeddale from Honeyblood and Carla J. Easton from TeenCanteen and a DJ set by Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite. The ceremony is in Paisley Town Hall again on 6 September. Keep an eye on the SAY Award website for more information.

Last year was challenging for us as a small organisation but we did run a series of workshops, talks, research projects, training and mentoring. And now we are delighted to be recipients of Regular Funding from Creative Scotland which will help us run a series of programmes that will be open to everybody. Our mission is to help improve the infrastructure of the music business in Scotland. We want to represent value, create opportunity and inspire change.

We’re excited to launch a series of business skills workshops, starting in August. The workshops will be delivered in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness and be live streamed or filmed and made available via the SMIA website. We’re conducting a series of research projects to identify opportunities for trade. And we’re collating a catalogue of learning resources. And later in the year we will launch a Music Business Model Innovation Programme that companies can apply to for intensive consultancy and business development support.

Innovation is vital. It’s a much used buzzword, but essentially the notion of doing things differently to achieve progress is immensely valuable. Ironworks is a great example. This is a brilliant venue, one of my favourites. And it’s great to have a one thousand capacity venue in Inverness, as this creates a more level playing-field with the rest of the country and enables the city and the region more widely to be more competitive. But filling that on a regular basis is challenging and some artists simply wouldn’t achieve the sales milestones to make Ironworks a viable option for them. Having identified a mid-sized venue as the missing infrastructure element in the city, Ironworks developed an innovative solution to solve this issue. Instead of constructing a new building, they built a new venue within this one. By investing in technical and staging infrastructure, this venue can be scaled down as appropriate to produce an environment suitable for a whole range of acts that otherwise may not have  visited the region. Critically, this additional set up doesn’t compromise on production values, producing a fantastic experience for artists and audiences. Since they introduced this innovation, Ironworks have booked 60 additional shows this year, which is fantastic news. That means more money flowing through the local economy, more people working and more artists playing in Inverness. However, the wider ambition is to continue to impact consumer trends and expose regional audiences to the broadest, most diverse programme possible. Ironworks are hugely grateful to all the support it has received, particularly from organisations such as HIE, however, it will take time and support to truly impact consumer trends and fully establish this new set-up. SMIA would consider this a critical element of the region’s infrastructure and we hope it receives all the support it requires to truly realise this vision.

And all of this is open to everyone as we introduce a new Basic Membership which is free and all we ask for is a bit of information and for you to get involved. Our paid membership levels have been revamped too and offer enhanced benefits.

We’re restructuring the company a bit too, as we’re going to introduce an Advisory Board. It will be made up of music industry practitioners from all the different parts of the music industry ecosystem, and will advise our company board as well as make sure that the industry is being properly represented by the SMIA.

We have influence and are making a difference. We are pleased to have seats at the table of government, parliamentary and public agency advisory groups and delighted to have contributed to a piece of work that inspired a debate on music tourism development in the Scottish Parliament last week. We are close to UK-wide and international industry organisations who we work with on campaigns.

It’s important to us to launch this activity at XpoNorth, a place where creative people get together to learn, generate ideas and do business. If you work in music, or if you want to, or if you’re involved in another creative industry sector and want to find out how you can use music in your business, come and talk to us.

I’m here with several colleagues, including Robert Kilpatrick and Tam Coyle. Come and speak to us about getting involved and let’s work together to create noise, stir things up and make a scene.