Edinburgh to appoint its first music-writer-in-residence to chart industry's recovery

Edinburgh is to appoint its first music-writer-in-residence as part of a joint campaign to bring people back into the city centre and champion the live music scene as it emerges from the pandemic.

The winner of a new competition will get the chance to chart the post-Covid recovery of Edinburgh's live music scene.

They will attend gigs and events of every scale and style in Edinburgh, as well as interview up-and-coming acts and leading figures from the city’s music scene.

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A fee of £100 will be paid to the winner for each review, which will appear on the websites of the Forever Edinburgh and Edinburgh Music Lovers campaigns, and will also be promoted on their social media channels.

The Usher Hall is one of Edinburgh's best-known music venues.

The joint project has been launched to mark the start of the second year of Forever Edinburgh, a council-led campaign which is being funded to the tune of £90,000 by VisitScotland.

The winner of the competition, which is open to writers ages 18 and over, will get tickets to review live music events across the city between May and December.

To enter, they simply have to submit a review of up to 250 words of a gig they have attended over the last year.

Organisers agreed to pay a “nominee fee” per view after an initial backlash when the competition was launched amid claims it was “aimed at budding music writers who want to put themselves forward voluntarily.”

Sneaky Pete's is one of Edinburgh's best-known small-scale live music venues. Picture: Ryan Buchanan

A spokeswoman for the Forever Edinburgh campaign: “The competition from Forever Edinburgh, in collaboration with Edinburgh Music Lovers, was designed to publicise and support the city’s diverse music scene.

“We want to encourage people to get back out to enjoy live music as we emerge from the pandemic.

“It’s an ideal opportunity for a local music fan with a passion for Edinburgh and writing to enjoy eight free gigs in city-wide venues.

“We’re really looking forward to working with the winner to choose gigs and concerts that are of most interest to them.

“Feedback has prompted us to look again at the criteria and we can confirm that the winner can choose to write reviews or just participate in an interview about their experience, and that payment will be made for each review that the winner chooses to write that is published through our channels.”The competition has been launched after the Edinburgh Music Lovers campaign, which was created to champion Edinburgh as a “music city,” joined forces with the Edinburgh Music Tours company to publish a new book charting the history of the city’s music scene.

This year will see concerts return to Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh Castle, Leith Theatre and the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston.

Other signs of revival include an announcement on the reopening of the historic Royal High School building for the Hidden Door festival, the green light for the first new purpose-built concert hall in the city for a century, a takeover and revamp of the Corn Exchange venue by the Academy Music group, the return of HMV to Princes Street and the opening of a new vinyl record shop in Bruntsfield.

Edinburgh Music Lovers founder Jim Byers said: “Telling more people about music in Edinburgh is something I’m very passionate about so it’s great to see Forever Edinburgh championing music like this.

"Local venues and artists need support more than ever and a music writer in residence can help showcase Edinburgh to music fans around the UK and also showcase and develop their writing skills at the same time.”

Karl Chapman, head of cultural venues at the city council, said: “With the buzz of live events returning across the city, there’s never been a better or more important time to celebrate and champion music. Live music can bring people in the city together and it can also help bring new visitors to Edinburgh.

“This is a great new way to let more people know about the great venues, events and artists we have here in Edinburgh and to nurture and support an emerging writer at the same time.”

Council leader Adam McVey said: “While Edinburgh is world famous for its festivals, our exciting local music scene is also worth exploring.

"From grassroots venues like Sneaky Pete’s to the stunning setting of the Usher Hall, and artists from The Proclaimers to Young Fathers, the city has a strong music scene.

“The music scene has been particularly affected by the global pandemic and as it bounces back, we hope this competition can help let more people discover our story and experience more of what's on offer here and now."

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