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Apply from today for chance to win the cost of making your debut album

By Margaret Chrystall

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Applications open today for the Sound of Young Scotland Award – a funding package worth over £10,000 to support the creation of a debut album.

The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award has today opened up the award to support new Scottish talent.

Emerging Scottish artists can now apply to win a funding package worth over £10,000 to support the creation of their debut album, with the award supported by Help Musicians, Youth Music and the Scottish Government’s Youth Music Initiative through Creative Scotland.

Plus, The SAY Award have revealed a record-breaking 437 eligible album submissions for album of the year.

They also announce that Tiny Changes – Scotland’s young people’s mental health charity – returns as the award's charity partner for a second year.

Musicians can apply for The Sound of Young Scotland Award free via www.sayaward.com until midnight on Monday, August 14.

Introduced by The SAY Award in 2021 to mark 10 years of Scotland’s national music prize – and to stimulate the future of Scottish music, the Sound of Young Scotland Award provides a young and emerging artist with vital financial support to enable the creation of their debut album.

To be eligible for the award, artists must be: 18-25, have never released an album and be a ‘Scottish’ artist (born in Scotland, 50 er cent of the band/group born in Scotland, or have made Scotland their creative base for the past two years. View full eligibility criteria and prize fund details at www.sayaward.com

The Sound of Young Scotland Award winner will be unveiled at the SAY Award Ceremony in Stirling’s Albert Halls on Thursday, October 26, alongside the winner of The Scottish Album of the Year Award and the Modern Scottish Classic Award. A limited number of early-bird tickets are on sale now via www.sayaward.com. The SAY Award also continues its commitment to the support of young people in Scotland by partnering with the country’s young people’s mental health charity, Tiny Changes.

Set up in memory of artist and Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison, the organisation aims to help young minds feel better through a community of tiny change makers.

Berta Kennedy, the 2022 winner of the Sound of Young Scotland Award signed with record label Enough Records last year and is currently working on her debut album.

Berta said, “Winning The Sound of Young Scotland Award was one of the most monumental moments in my career so far – it gave me a whole new platform to showcase my music and the whole experience was massively encouraging. It's so important for young musicians to feel embraced and supported by the Scottish music community and that's what this award can do for emerging artists. I definitely recommend getting involved.”

There is an increased funding package for the Sound of Young Scotland Award winner this year:

Cash grants totalling £5,500 will go towards activities such as studio hire costs, session musician fees, equipment rentals and more.

In-kind use of The Tolbooth’s recording studio in Stirling – up to six days recording time and three days mixing/mastering, or use of venue space for filming and photo requirements

A performance slot at 2024’s SAY Award ceremony, one of the biggest nights in Scotland’s musical calendar, in front of industry professionals, journalists and music fans

A bespoke art prize from The SAY Award Design Commission

One-to-one tailored business advice sessions with industry experts, arranged via Help Musicians

A personal health check-in with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) covering physical and mental health, arranged via Help Musicians

A run of up to 500 vinyl pressings of the album created via the prize; provided in-kind by Seabass Vinyl, Scotland’s first vinyl pressing plant

The cash grants provided via the Sound of Young Scotland Award include support directly from Help Musicians’ recording & release fund; designed to support artists towards creating their next release and distributing their music. Previous Sound of Young Scotland Award winners include Berta Kennedy (2022) and LVRA (2021), with LVRA’s debut album now in the running for 2023’s SAY Award.

Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative manager, Morag Macdonald said: “Scotland’s youth music scene is brimming with talented young musicians who are continuing to push boundaries and genres, creating music that feels fresh and uniquely Scottish. With support from the Scottish Government the Youth Music Initiative is delighted to support this award that not only removes the financial barriers to making a debut album, but also provides access to industry professionals who can offer tailored guidance and support.”

Kara Brown, Tiny Changes said, “The team at Tiny Changes are thrilled to be back as The SAY Award's charity partner for 2023.

"At Tiny Changes, we're focused on helping young minds feel better and music plays such an important role in the lives of so many young people across the country.

"We're looking forward to celebrating some of Scotland's incredible musicians and hopefully inspiring the next generation of new artists in a country filled with outstanding talent."

A cross-genre judging panel of 11 previous SAY Award nominees will review eligible SYS submissions, whittling applicants down to five artists.

The five Sound of Young Scotland finalists will be announced alongside The SAY Award Shortlist, before the judging panel reconvenes to choose the final winner, exclusively announced at The SAY Award Ceremony on Thursday October 26 at Stirling’s Albert Halls.

The SAY Award received a record-breaking number of submissions for 2023, with 437 eligible albums now being considered for Scotland’s national music prize. Albums from some of the UK’s most successful artists were submitted, including records from Lewis Capaldi, Paolo Nutini, Bemz, Joesef and many more. All are now in the running for the £20,000 prize and title of Scottish Album of the Year.

The Sound of Young Scotland Award is supported by Help Musicians, Youth Music and the Scottish Government’s Youth Music Initiative through Creative Scotland. Help Musicians is a charity for professional musicians of all genres, giving them the support they need at all stages throughout their career, whilst Youth Music is the country’s leading young people’s music charity, believing that every young person should have the chance to make, learn and earn in music. The Scottish Government’s Youth Music Initiative is administered by Creative Scotland and aims to provide access to music-making opportunities for children and young people who may not normally have the chance to participate. Together, the three organisations will support the delivery of this year’s Sound of Young Scotland Award; paving the way for future generations of Scottish musicians to thrive and succeed.

Alongside The SAY Award winner, the Sound of Young Scotland Award winner will receive a bespoke prize designed and created by a Stirling-based artist through The SAY Award Design Commission.

The SAY Award is a Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) production and has distributed over £330,000 in prize money to Scottish artists since its inception in 2012.

The SAY Award 2023 is delivered in partnership with Creative Scotland, Stirling Council, Stirling Alive with Culture, YouTube Music, Seabass Vinyl, Ticketmaster, Help Musicians, HMV, FOPP, PPL, Spotify, Go Forth Stirling, Youth Music Initiative, Youth Music and Music Declares Emergency. The SAY Award’s Charity Partner for 2023 is Tiny Changes; Scotland’s first national children and young people’s mental health charity funding projects and ideas that help young minds feel better.

Now in its 12th year, The SAY Award's previous winners include; Fergus McCreadie Forest Floor (2022), Mogwai As The Love Continues (2021), Nova Re-Up (2020), Auntie Flo Radio Highlife (2019), Young Fathers Cocoa Sugar (2018), Sacred Paws Strike A Match (2017), Anna Meredith Varmints (2016), Kathryn Joseph Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled (2015), Young Fathers Tape Two (2014), RM Hubbert Thirteen Lost & Found (2013) and the inaugural winner Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat Everything’s Getting Older (2012).

Early-bird tickets for 2023’s ceremony at the Albert Halls, Stirling are on sale now via www.sayaward.com with 2022’s winner Fergus McCreadie set to perform.

Don’t miss SAY Award 2023 news. You can follow the award on social media across Twitter @SAYaward, Instagram @sayaward, Facebook @SAYaward and TikTok @thesayaward

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