A sound way to bring in tourists

HOTELS, bars and restaurants across the Capital are to be urged to play traditional Scottish music.

A campaign was being launched today to persuade licensed premises to either play more CDs by home-grown acts or bring in performers to play live.

Tourism chiefs, brewers, licensed trade leaders and record companies are behind the drive, aimed at boosting foreign visitors’ experience and promoting up-and-coming acts.

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Free CDs are being offered to licensed premises in the hope that they will play music by the likes of Capercaillie, Shooglenifty, Martyn Bennett and Salsa Celtica, instead of Scottish-themed "lift music", or karaoke favourites by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Abba. The campaign, which Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Board has thrown its weight behind, will also see specially- programmed live music sessions staged across the country over the summer, the creation of a dedicated website, and co-ordinated promotion of Scotland’s numerous traditional music festivals.

The promotional drive, organised by VisitScotland and top Scots travel and music writer Louden Temple, was due to be officially unveiled today as brewing giant McEwan’s announced its backing for a series of new music sessions in more than 100 pubs and clubs across the country.

A survey commissioned by McEwan’s found that 46 per cent of Scots felt more traditional music should be played in Scottish pubs.

Another leading brewer, Scottish & Newcastle, has already ordered a batch of an initial sampler CD, produced by the East Lothian-based record company Greentrax, for use in its pubs.

Greentrax chief Ian Green said: "There’s nothing worse than going into a top hotel or restaurant and hearing awful canned music, or the likes of Abba, Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra. It puts our country to shame because, along with Ireland, we probably have the best traditional musicians in the world.

"There are various places in Edinburgh that promote live music well, but there are certainly more in Glasgow, and the Capital should be leading the way with this kind of thing."

Mr Temple said another seven sampler CDs were being planned with other record companies.

He added: "The big problem, with no disrespect to pub landlords or restaurant owners, is simple ignorance about the traditional music that is being produced in this country. It’s disgraceful that they hardly know these acts exist.

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"Absolutely everyone we’ve sent the initial CD to has been 100 per cent positive about the music and we’ll be sending them the other CDs once they’re ready. We’re hoping to get the website up and running in the next three months to let people know where they can hear live music and the idea is to greatly increase the number of places where sessions are on."

A spokeswoman for VisitScotland said it had ordered a batch of the CDs and was planning to distribute them to travel journalists to ensure they were up to date on the latest acts.

"By ensuring visitors to Scotland have ready access to traditional music, we can enforce our musical heritage and culture and realise the benefits for the economy."

A spokeswoman for ELTB said: "Traditional Scottish music has always been popular with visitors, providing an entertaining and enjoyable example of our culture.

"By staging good quality live Scottish music, pubs and restaurants are providing a further service to customers that should enhance their experience of Scotland."

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