The SAY Award: A Preview

Och Aye The New takes a look at the brand new Scottish Album of the Year Award.

A wonderful thing has happened recently in the Scottish music scene. It comes in the form of The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award, a brand new award developed by the Scottish Music Industry Association and Creative Scotland. It will offer the lucky winner a prize of £20,000 and each of the nine runners up a cool £1,000. Consideration is given purely on artistic merit rather than sales, and it is open to any genre of music.

A longlist of twenty albums has already been selected by a large panel consisting of people from various areas of the industry - bloggers and DJs to editors and academics. The current list will be whittled down to a shortlist of ten on 17th May. One of these ten will be guaranteed a place in the shortlist by public vote, which opens on 14th May. Votes can be cast on a specially designed mobile app (which is also streaming each album in turn) or via the website. The winner will be announced at a ceremony on 19th June in Glasgow.

The longlist consists of the following records:

6th Borough Project - 'One Night In the Borough'
Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - 'Everything's Getting Older'
Bwani Junction - 'Fully Cocked'
Chris Stout's Brazilian Theory - 'Live In Concert'
Conquering Animal Sound - 'Kammerspiel'
FOUND - 'factorycraft'
Fudge Fingas - 'Now About How'
Happy Particles - 'Under Sleeping Waves'
Jonny - 'Jonny'
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - 'Diamond Mine'
Mogwai - 'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will'
Mungo's Hi Fi - 'Forward Ever'
Muscles Of Joy - 'Muscles Of Joy'
Remember Remember - 'The Quickening'
Richard Craig - 'Inward'
Rustie - 'Glass Swords'
Steve Mason & Dennis Bovell - 'Ghosts Outside'
Tommy Smith - 'Karma'
Twin Atlantic - 'Free'
We Were Promised Jetpacks - 'In The Pit Of The Stomach'

It would be easy to liken the SAY Award to the Mercury Prize - the prize money is the same and the contenders have been selected by a panel. However, something about the longlist makes me think that this is not the same thing at all. The albums selected are genuinely diverse in style and there is no sense of a ‘token’ inclusion as many of the acts are relatively obscure.

There is already a really great sense of community amongst musicians in Scotland. We see artists supporting and promoting each other and many interesting collaborations happening, as is evidenced by some of the inclusions in the longlist. This award will really serve to further forge these bonds.

When I look at the artists that have been selected I can see that most of them have not had major record company investment behind them in order to make their records. I know of several bands who could achieve so much more than they currently do if only they had a little money behind them. How can they get out on tour, play their music to people and promote their record if they can't afford it? This £20,000 prize could be genuinely life-changing to some of these artists.

But it ain't all about the cha-ching-cha-ching! The featured albums will also receive the kind of exposure usually reserved for the lucky and elite of the music industry. What's more we, the music loving public, get a chance to discover music we might not have come across otherwise. For example, I had never even heard of Happy Particles until I saw the longlist and I honestly haven't stopped listening since.

The final point I want to make about the SAY Award is that not only does it bring all these wonderful opportunities I've already mentioned, but it is also an ideal occasion to really celebrate the rich spring of diverse musical talent that Scotland is overflowing with. And we really don’t need much of an excuse for a celebration, do we? Sláinte!

OATN will be profiling the shortlisted artists over the coming weeks leading up to the ceremony, so do check back regularly for more information.

For the latest SAY Award news visit their website, Facebook or Twitter.

You can download the SAY Award app for free here.