VisitScotland bid to attract millennial Scots to traditional music

For years the sights and sound of the pipes and drums have been used to sell images of Scotland around the world.

The Treacherous Orchestra are among the bands to be featured in the new VisitScotland campaign.
The Treacherous Orchestra are among the bands to be featured in the new VisitScotland campaign.

But now VisitScotland is to deploy cutting-edge bands shaking up the traditional music scene - to try persuade young Scots to holiday at home instead of heading overseas.

A new campaign being unveiled in Glasgow today is urging “Scots millennials” to seek out dance music, electronica and fusion acts at festivals and gigs in some of the most remote parts of the country.

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The tourism body wants to transform perceptions of traditional music among many Scots by raising the profile of acts who put a contemporary spin on the genre.

Skerryvore are one of the most popular draws at music festivals in the islands.

It also wants to highlight how traditional music has been embraced by the like of stunt cyclist Danny MacAskill, who used the music of the late Martyn Bennett for his acclaimed video The Ridge, which was filmed on his native Skye.

The Skye Music Festival, Belladrum, in the Highlands, the Knockengorroch World Ceilidh, in Dumfries and Galloway, and Oban Live are among the festivals to feature in a new promotional video.

Set to a throbbing soundtrack of Gaelic song accompanied by dance-beats, the latest VisitScotland is far removed from footage drawn from events like the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Braemar Gathering.

The campaign - which is backed by Creative Scotland and promoters Hands Up For Trad, organisers of the Scots Trad Music Awards - is aimed at boosting the value of the 16-34 year-old domestic market, which is said to be worth £267 million to Scotland’s economy.

Skerryvore are one of the most popular draws at music festivals in the islands.

Research has also found “music tourism” is worth £295 million to Scotland, with 928,000 people attending festivals or gigs across the country in 2015, supporting 3230 full-time jobs.

But the campaign has also been developed against a backdrop of cancellations of more high-profile events like T in the Park, Wickerman and Brew at the Bog this year.

It was launched to coincide with both the Celtic Connections music festival and a year-long celebration of history and heritage.

Bands like Manran, who played to a full house at the Barrowlands last weekend, Niteworks, who headline a show in the Old Fruitmarket and provide the soundtrack to the new VisitScotland advert, and the Treacherous Orchestra, who have a gig at the O2 ABC on the final weekend of Celtic Connections are being highlighted in the campaign.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “Of all aspects of our rich Scottish heritage I think it must truly be in our music that we see the true spirit of Scotland come to life.

“Scotland is home to a fantastic array of music festivals which provide a platform for our exciting and evolving traditional music scene. We want to share this incredible part of our culture with our young people and show the changing face of traditional music.

Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland, said: “When I look at Scotland’s trad music scene, I see young talent grabbing the spotlight with both hands.

“We have fantastic young singers, fiddlers, accordionists, pipers and instrumentalists of every type and all of them are leading our cultural heritage towards a bright future.”

Simon Thoumire, creative director of Hands Up For Trad, said: “Trad music is the spine of Scotland and it is an amazing tool to connect our young people with our culture and heritage.”