Tonight, 2019’s Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award will be decided at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms, recognising some of Scotland’s most outstanding musical talent. The judges have a hard task ahead of them.
The quality of the albums featured reflects the strength and breadth of the Scottish music industry; it is home to creativity that for decades has produced globally recognised artists. Its cultural importance is matched by its economic importance, and it is only right that we take this opportunity to recognise not just those competing for the SAY Award, but all of those that work for and support Scottish music.
According to the most recent report from Creative Scotland, the music industry employs over 10,000 people in nearly 400 businesses. This accounts for almost 20 per cent of the country’s creative and cultural employment. The Scottish public also shows a marked commitment to music; consumer spending on recorded music is above the UK average, and the country accounts for a greater share of the UK’s live music revenue than its population suggests it should. In the SSE Hydro, Scotland also has the fourth most popular live music arena in the world.
This passion and the music it creates deserves support. As the UK’s licensing company for more than 100,000 performers and record companies, PPL works to offer this by ensuring that those who perform on or own the rights to a recording receive the royalties they are due when it is played on TV, radio or in public.
We have more than 5,500 members in Scotland, a membership which includes artists releasing their first demos session musicians, orchestral performers, independent record labels, and renowned festival headliners. We are here to support those artists and record labels from the very start of their career all the way through to their highest heights.
This is especially important in Scotland, where 90 per cent of music businesses have a turnover of under £1 million and 98 per cent have fewer than 50 employees. These are enterprises that are embedded within and contributing to their local communities. Each source of income for these businesses can be crucial to their success. The SAY Award is an ideal time to champion and support these companies and the contribution they make to the pipeline of Scottish talent.
We are proud to help remunerate and nurture this new music. Along with our friends at PRS for Music, we have provided funding via PRS Foundation to help many Scottish artists develop their career. Every SAY Award shortlist since it began in 2012 has featured at least one PRS Foundation-supported performer or band, and more than ten Scottish artists so far in 2019 have received financial support to play shows internationally, produce music and market their releases. PRS Foundation has helped many progress their careers to where they are today – indeed, six awardees are on the shortlist for this year’s SAY Award.
So where next for the current crop of talent? One need not look far to see what is possible.
Calvin Harris, one of Scotland’s great success stories, has been a top 10 PPL Most Played artist for the past three years; he charted ninth in 2016, fifth in 2017 and second in 2018. ‘One Kiss’, his collaboration with Dua Lipa, was the best-selling single of 2018, according to the BPI.
His success demonstrates the impact the Scottish music industry can have around the world and the quality of talent that it produces, and there is no better time to celebrate it. To all those shortlisted in the SAY Award, to the 10,000 people that work in Scottish music, to the general public that supports it – congratulations on another fantastic year of music.
Peter Leathem is chief executive officer of PPL