THE Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award 2018 has launched, with artists, labels and music fans now able to submit eligible albums to its website for consideration in this year’s contest.

Open to all genres of music, eligible albums must have been released between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, with the submissions deadline being 11:59pm on May 31.

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After that, 100 impartial “nominators” will be chosen to pick out their five favourite albums and rank them in order of preference, with the 20 highest-scoring albums forming the SAY Award longlist for 2018. That longlist will then be whittled down to a shortlist of 10 albums, one of which will be chosen by music fans via an online public vote and the others decided by the SAY Award judging panel.

The winner will be announced on September 6 at Paisley Town Hall for the third consecutive year.

Taking the £20,000 cash prize last year was Afrobeat-inspired duo Sacred Paws with their Strike A Match album. Other previous winners, which began in 2012, include Young Fathers (2014), Kathryn Joseph (2015) and the exceptional Anna Meredith (2016).

As well as the money, the ripple effects of the award, especially in terms of inspiring confidence and creativity in the country’s music, is unquantifiable. As Rachel Aggs of Sacred Paws said on winning the SAY Award 2017: “This is an insane sort of dream. I can’t believe it … We feel validated for what we do.”

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Robert Kilpatrick, general manager at the Scottish Music Industry Association, which runs the award, said: “Now in its seventh year, the SAY Award has illuminated Scotland’s music scene with the ambition, credibility and commitment it so richly deserves.

“Having now championed 120 longlisted albums and distributed £174,000 in prize money, the impact of the SAY Award is indisputable.”