At the start of every year, the BBC release a “BBC, Sound of *insert year here*”, also known as the “BBC Longlist”, where they pick 15 artists who they think will make it big in the music industry in the future. 2017 was no different as this year the likes of Rag’n’Bone Man, Declan McKenna and Ray BLK featured on this year’s longlist.
However one thing that has been missing from the BBC Longlist in recently are bands/acts from Scotland, with the last Scottish act to feature being synth-pop act CHVRCHES in 2013.
So why aren’t more Scottish acts getting picked?
Well, one genre of music that has dominated this year’s Longlist and has dominated in the U.K. charts over the past decade is R’n’B with the likes of Ray BLK, Rag’n’Bone Man, RAYE and Jorja Smith all topping the list, all of them coming from that area of music whereas the last Scottish R’n’B artist to receive success was Emeli Sande back in 2012. R’n’B isn’t really popular in Scotland with rock music such as the likes of Biffy Clyro, Glasvegas, Fatherson receiving larger success in recent years.
Furthermore, most of the Longlist acts of 2017 were mainly from London or Southern England with the exception of Cabbage (Manchester), Maggie Rogers (Easton, Maryland) and Anderson. Paak (Oxnard, California) and it’s pretty much been that way all the way through the 2010s and it looks like it’ll stay that way in years to come. There are acts/bands in previous longlists such as Slaves, Years & Years, Royal Blood have all achieved a lot of success however bands from elsewhere such as other previous longlisters CHVRCHES, Kodaline and Two Door Cinema Club have had their fair share of success since getting recognition from the BBC as well with other acts/bands receiving less.
Another thing is radio and Spotify play. If your song gets radio play then more people are likely to talk about your music. Spotify plays are important as well. Take Rag’n’Bone Man’s most popular song, “Human” currently has 129,350,729 views as of now. Compare that to Scottish Alternative Awards 2016’s Best Acoustic award winner Michael Cassidy whose most popular Spotify song “Butterflies” only has a few thousand Spotify views.
Another thing would be that Michael Cassidy hasn’t ventured outside of Scotland, let alone Britain whereas Rag’n’Bone Man has recently played all across Europe as well as a gig in New York.
Some would say that a lot of aspiring acts from not even just Scotland but in Wales and Northern Ireland aren’t getting the recognition that they perhaps deserve however, there are a lot of new bands/artists that don’t aim to the same market as most of the acts chosen by the BBC and while acts like Michael Cassidy, Be Charlotte and The Ninth Wave have won Scottish Alternative Awards for their music, their music is definitely more “alternative” to the likes of Rag’N’Bone Man etc. It doesn’t mean that the music is anyway subpar to the artists picked but they’re mainly known by just Scottish audiences than in the U.K. as a whole.