Scotland’s national music prize, The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award, today returns for its 10th year, calling on music fans, labels and artists to submit eligible albums – for free – at from Thursday 1st JulySubmissions close at midnight on Thursday 22nd July 2021.
Following last year’s digital campaign, The SAY Award ceremony will return as a live event, taking place at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on 23rd October 2021. The event will follow conditions outlined by the Scottish Government, with physical distancing measures expected to be lifted by the time the event takes place.
Albums released between 1st June 2020 – 31st May 2021 can be submitted for consideration, meaning that all eligible albums – including the eventual winner – will have been released during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following a year of turmoil and significant challenges for the music industry, The SAY Award will celebrate musicians creativity during lockdown, awarding the final winner a £20,000 cash prize; one of the most lucrative prize funds in the UK. All nine runners up each receive £1,000, as well as bespoke prizes created through The SAY Award design commission. There is no fee to submit an eligible album, and digital releases which fulfil the criteria are also deemed eligible. To submit albums, plus view eligibility criteria and guidelines for 2021’s award visit

2020 was an innovative and record breaking year for Scotland’s national music prize. From the first digital campaign and ceremony due to the pandemic, to the youngest ever winner and the most eligible album submissions to date, The SAY Award shone a spotlight on Scotland’s thriving and diverse music industry at a time when it was needed most.

Last year’s winner Nova said, “Winning The SAY Award 2020 during the pandemic has been a total rollercoaster. I’ve seen so many Scottish artists grow over the last year, just like I have, so the winner this year is bound to be fantastic. Who knows? Maybe we’ll end up doing a track together.”

Celebrating its 10th year in 2021, to date, The SAY Award has distributed over £250,000 in prize money to Scottish musicians and has championed 180 Longlisted albums from the likes of The Twilight Sad, Calvin Harris, CHVRCHES, Lewis Capaldi, Kathryn Joseph, Young Fathers, Paolo Nutini, Anna Meredith and many more since its inauguration back in 2012.

This year’s celebrations will see The SAY Award return bigger and better than ever, with over 2,000 guests set to attend the final ceremony on Saturday 23rd October. It will also see the introduction of two new accompanying awards to the main album of the year prize; allowing a full-circle celebration of Scottish music throughout time. Recognising an iconic Scottish album and investing in the country’s future recorded output, The SAY Award will introduce the ‘Modern Scottish Classic Award’ and the ‘Sound of Young Scotland Award’ (nodding to the much-loved and renowned Postcard Records).

Modern Scottish Classic Award
Recognising Scottish music’s past with an annual award for an iconic Scottish album which has inspired music being made today.
  • Winner chosen by The SAY Award 2021 Longlist.
  • Special performance at 2021’s Ceremony to celebrate the winning album.
  • Winner receives a bespoke art prize created through The SAY Award Design Commission.
The Sound of Young Scotland Award
Driving Scottish music’s future by giving an annual award to an emerging artist to facilitate the creation of their debut album.
  • Winner chosen by a panel of previous SAY Award nominees.
  • Winner is given a performance slot to showcase at The SAY Award Ceremony 2022.
  • Winner receives up to £5,000 funding to facilitate the creation of their debut album.
  • Submissions open plus full details published on Friday 23rd July 2021.

Robert Kilpatrick, Creative Projects and Communications Director, Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) said: When we launched last year’s SAY Award 3-months into the pandemic, we were only just beginning to understand the devastating and enduring impact it would have on our artists and wider music industry. Amidst challenges once unimaginable, we worked to keep music at the forefront of the national conversation; affirming its life-changing value, and demonstrating the urgent need for support for all who contribute to its place in our lives.

“12 months on, many challenges remain, and our artists and wider music industry continue to have to tread water and navigate mass uncertainty. The resilience our industry’s shown has been nothing short of inspiring, and the coming together of artists and industry professionals alike has been instrumental in mitigating the worst of the impact.”

“As we begin to emerge from what is hopefully the worst of Covid-19’s effects, this year’s SAY Award is a particularly special and important one. All eligible albums will have been released throughout the pandemic, which is no mean feat for artists and their teams operating in an ever-changing and turbulent landscape. These records have been released when our society has needed them most, and due to this, The SAY Award 2021 will truly showcase and celebrate the passion, power and value of artistic endeavour.”

“It’s also year 10 of SAY, a special milestone for both the award and Scotland’s music scene, and we’re delighted to be introducing some exciting new elements – including two accompanying awards – to mark the occasion. We look forward to celebrating the cultural impact and contribution of Scottish albums across the next four months, before returning to a physical Ceremony at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall; a night our music industry will undoubtedly remember for many years to come.”

Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland said: “The timing couldn’t be better for the 10th anniversary of The SAY Award. In the absence of live gigs, we’ve spent the past year appreciating music in all its recorded glory. Vinyl was dusted off, CDs were polished, track after track was streamed. And, throughout that lockdown period, the power of the album shone through, providing a lifeline to a more positive world, sometimes creating moments of inner calm, sometimes connecting us to distant friends.

“It’s fitting, therefore, that The SAY Award has expanded its remit. In 2021 we’ll celebrate not only the best Scottish album of the last 12 months but also a classic from the past and a launchpad for the future. The announcement of this year’s ceremony is the light at the end of the tunnel that every music fan has been waiting for.”

From classical, electronic, hip-hop, jazz, pop, rock and tradThe SAY Award album submissions reflect the ever-evolving Scottish music scene, demonstrating the strength and diversity of the country’s musical output. Once all eligible albums have been collated, 100 impartial ‘Nominators’, chosen from sectors including journalism, music retail and music venues across Scotland, nominate and rank their five favourite albums in order of preference. The SMIA assigns a score to each title in a Nominator’s Top 5, before announcing the 20 highest scoring albums as The SAY Award Longlist.

The Longlist will then be cut down to a Shortlist of 10 albums, one of which will be chosen by music fans via a 72-hour online public vote. The remaining nine albums will be chosen by The SAY Award judging panel.

Developed and produced by the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), the 2021 campaign is delivered in partnership with Creative Scotland, the City of Edinburgh Council, YouTube Music, Spotify,  Ticketmaster and PPL with Music Declares Emergency returning as the award’s Charity Partner for a second year. With COP26 taking place in Glasgow throughout November, sustainability is at the heart of The SAY Award’s plans, and the SMIA will look to use its flagship project to demonstrate and instill best practice for the music industry both now and in the future.

Now in its tenth year, previous winners of The SAY Award include 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).

To keep up with The SAY Award 2021 journey, make sure you follow the award on Twitter @SAYaward, Instagram @sayaward and Facebook @SAYaward.


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