Glasgow music scene ‘could benefit from backing’

ONE of Scotland’s leading promoters believes Glasgow could become as well known for its live music as Edinburgh is for its festivals – if it wins proper financial backing.

Shirley Manson appeared at the 15th annual Scottish Music Awards on Saturday. Picture: Getty
Shirley Manson appeared at the 15th annual Scottish Music Awards on Saturday. Picture: Getty

Donald MacLeod, organiser of the Scottish Music Awards, said he was dismayed that the event was not properly supported by bodies like VisitScotland and EventScotland, and had failed to attract broadcasters.

The founder of promoters CPL said the country had failed to make enough of Glasgow’s official designation as a UNESCO City of Music.

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Shirley Manson, Mogwai, Admiral Fallow and Camera Obscura were among the acts to appear at the 15th annual Scottish Music Awards on Saturday.

The event was held at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow just days after it emerged that the city had claimed three spots in a poll of the best places to spot new music talent in the UK.

Mr MacLeod, founder of the Cathouse and the Garage in Glasgow city centre, said there was a danger that the new SSE Hydro arena – which staged the MOBO awards in its first month and has secured next year’s MTV awards – was promoted at the expense of “grass-roots” music and wants more public funding for live music in the city.

He would like Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow – home to a string of live music venues as varied as Nice & Sleazy and the Royal Concert Hall – to be heavily promoted at home and abroad as the nation’s “entertainment mile”.

Mr MacLeod told The Scotsman: “The awards are a hot ticket and we always get a good turn-out of acts. But to me it is still one step away from becoming something special. I’m very disappointed we don’t have television coverage of the event at the moment. The industry is actually in a healthy state at the moment.

“I’d compare Glasgow with Edinburgh, which has got this title as a festival city now, but it took a long time for it to get the backing to make it what it is today. It took many, many decades.

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“Live music is one of the biggest industries that we have but there should be a lot more public funding and help than we get at the moment. It’s all very well having the pinnacle of the Hydro if we are not supporting the grass-roots.

“I see that gradually changing, with things like Creative Scotland supporting the Scottish Album of the Year Awards, but the Scottish Music Awards should be right up there in the calendar of EventScotland and VisitScotland.

“They really need to drum up the whole industry more.”

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An official report on the music scene, published in September by Creative Scotland, found that more than 10,000 people worked in the sector, including 400 music-related businesses, while official figures show there are currently 130 gigs on in Glasgow on an average week, with the live music scene believed to be worth £75 million to the city’s economy every year.

But the independent study also called for a national music policy to be instigated and said the government “paid little attention” to the needs of the sector.

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland said: “Music events are hugely important to Scotland, not just for social and cultural reasons, but also in terms of economic value.

“A recent report from VisitBritain showed that over 1.4 million people attended music events in Scotland in 2012, with music tourism contributing a staggering £150 million to the Scottish economy.

“VisitScotland and EventScotland support both small and large music festivals, events and awards across the country from the Wickerman Festival in Dumfries to Celtic Connections in Glasgow and many, many more.

“The SSE Hydro is a magnificent new venue for Glasgow and Scotland and the MTV announcement endorses this, but smaller events and venues are of equal importance and we will continue to support them as part of Scotland’s vibrant and diverse music culture throughout Homecoming 2014 and beyond.”

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Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop, who attended Saturday’s awards, said: “It would be fantastic if the Scottish Music Awards were televised.

“You have the best talent and there is a great vibe. The event is a snapshot and reflection of all that’s best about Scotland’s music scene.

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“It’s a statement of the moment which covers a whole range of different music.”