Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The SAY Awards - Calvin & Emeli: Too Big To Care?

"I want as many people as possible to hear about as many of these albums as possible ... so getting a plug from artists with their following would be a real bonus."  The words of SAY Awards organiser Stewart Henderson when speaking with The Pop Cop upon the unveiling of The SAY Award 2012 long list.  The artists he is referring to are global stars Emeli Sande and Calvin Harris, both of whom have an album, 'Our Version Of Events' and '18 Months' respectively, nominated for the overall prize of £20,000 and honour of being crowned the best Scottish album of 2012.

Stewart does go on to state that any decision to plug the awards is the choice of the artist, a very diplomatic statement indeed.  Yet I think it's fair to say that Stewart, along with those who support, fund and organise the awards, were hoping for some positive coverage and some acknowledgement from two of pop musics biggest stars.  Indeed I commented on a previous Scottish Fiction radio show, that were even a fraction of Calvin Harris' and Emeli Sande's fanbase to discover some of the other artists on the long list simply through curiosity of what the awards are all about, it would be a major success for promoting Scottish music.

For that to happen though, the two artists in question would need to mention it to their fans.

Now I'm willing to be corrected on this, but after spending some considerable time trawling through both artists Facebook, Twitter and official websites, there's not a single mention from either, or their management/PR, that their albums have been included for this award.

Perhaps they don't like to boast?  Modesty, after all can be very becoming of a music superstar.  Yet with mentions of Ivor Novello success from both, plus endless plugs regarding recent Brit Awards won (Sande) and the amount of number ones from the album (Harris), it appears that's not the case.

Could it perhaps be, that both artists, either intentionally or otherwise, don't see this as something important enough to devote even a Facebook or Twitter post to?  Again, the publicity that the awards could gain out of it is huge.  Calvin Harris' Facebook account has 2.25 million 'Likes', and his Twitter account has 2.3 million followers.  Emeli Sande clocks in at a very impressive 816,000 Facebook 'Likes' and 991,000 followers on Twitter.  Given that there's bound to be a high amount of crossover between the artists Facebook and Twitter fans, plus shared fans too, you'd be looking at potentially 3 million plus people WORLDWIDE seeing a post, perhaps with link to the website, acknowledging The SAY Award nomination.  Considering that the next biggest online fanbase for any of the remaining 18 artists is Django Django, who have 81,000 Facebook 'Likes' and 21,000 Twitter followers, this should illustrate how small some of the other artists, all of whom as far as I can tell have mentioned the awards, are.

Now clearly neither Sande or Harris need £20,000.  Nor are they I imagine particularly bothered about whether they can add SAY Award winner to the list of accolades both albums already have.  (Although the cynic in me thinks should either win, they won't be shy in letting people know).  And further to that I don't think either album will win, or is expected to win.  Quite frankly there are much better albums on the long list, and I wouldn't be surprised to see both dropped from the final shortlist of 10.  (The public vote may decide otherwise.)  What is disappointing is that neither have taken the slightest opportunity to acknowledge the nomination or promote grass roots music in the country they have their roots in. 

It's a sad affair, and perhaps highlights all too well, the problems facing Scottish musicians as a whole.  Outside of our very supportive own bubble of labels, funding bodies, blogs, press, and DJ's, hardly anyone cares.  And when those from within do become big enough for people to care about, they seem to adopt the same attitude.  Ah well, while Emeli tweets from LA, and Calvin Instagrams from London, I'll be happy to shake the hands of RM Hubbert, Julian Corrie, Dave Hook a.k.a Solareye, Philip, Matt and Josh from PAWS, Louis Abbot from Admiral Fallow.  They, and their fellow musicians who struggle against a London-centric industry, yet still create such varied and wonderful music and art are the real heroes of Scottish music.

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