if you’re into scottish music at all then you’ve probably heard about the SAY award. heralded by many as a celebration of scottish music and scotland’s answer to the mercury music prize (which i believe was actually the inspiration for this award), the intentions appear to be good in terms of its organisation. however, the poor implementation of seemingly everything to do with the reward renders those good intentions redundant, and in some ways i believe it could be detrimental to the music scene of scotland.
essentially what it boils down to is that the head of chemikal underground set up an award whereby scottish bloggers and industry professionals and the like nominated a bunch of albums which were then whittled down to a longlist of twenty. this will become ten albums in a week, and then these go to a public vote (apologies if any of the details are wrong here). the public decide the winner who gets 20000 pounds, and the nine runners up get 1000 pounds a piece. seems fair, right? well, i believe that the inclusion of a public vote in order to decide the winner makes the whole thing worthless.
people are fucking stupid, and will go with whatever they’re told to do. cue bands spamming their mates on facebook (which is fair enough, for twenty grand i’d be doing that too) and the whole thing just becoming a massive battle of the bands. it’d be fair enough if the sum of money being fought for was more equally spread out, but a difference of 19000 pounds between a runner up and the band who spammed their fans the most? that seems absurd to me.
to be honest though, 20000 pounds as an award for one band seems absurd to me. i have no problem with bands getting money, i’m all for that, and i’m glad the runners up are getting something too, but again, it just seems crazy to give that much money to one band. i know it’s meant to be a celebration of scottish music, but when the distribution of funds is this limited, i don’t think there’s much to celebrate. the scottish music scene gets next to no funding as it is, and to get however much it is from the funding board for the award, including the 29000 pounds put up as prizes for bands in total, and then just splash out on an awards do just seems fucking ridiculous to me. you want to celebrate creativity in scottish music? forget award shows. let the music do the talking.
put that money directly into creativity. as opposed to giving the winner 20000 pounds and the runners up 1000 each, spread it out across the entire longlist. that’s almost 1500 quid to each of the 20 artists on the longlist. i think anyone who needs more than that to make an album in this day and age is deluding themselves (in most cases, that should be far more than enough). hell, that’s not even covering the cost of the awards do. think of how much money which could be directly funding scottish creativity is being pissed away on a stupid awards ceremony and “celebrating what scottish music has to offer” for one fucking night of the year. make timeless things - albums. don’t just wank off over one fucking release and let every other scottish release pass by.
which is another thing - even though the public voting system is beyond stupid when the prize is this significant, the judging panel even before that seems somewhat limited. i was somewhat surprised at the broadness of the longlist (there’s some more ambient experimental stuff and even some avant garde classical material) but in twenty albums released over the past year, you’re telling me that they thought that nothing from the thriving hardcore, experimental rock, metal and underground jazz scenes were worth including? don’t be fucking ridiculous. once again it comes down to the same small sector of the scottish music industry circle jerk which is stopping the funding from going where it needs to go and stifling creativity at seemingly every step.
so yeah, even if the intentions are good, the way this has been implemented just smacks of arrogance and in some ways serves to stifle creativity as opposed to aid it, so i can’t get behind it. its narrow scope and vast misjudgement in terms of distribution of funding sends me into a rage. it may seem like i’m over-analysing this, but in my eyes, until shit like this gets sorted out, scottish music doesn’t have much to celebrate.