MUSICIANS have until the end of the month to apply to one of the most lucrative prize funds in the UK.

The deadline for entries to 2019’s Scottish Album Of The Year (SAY) Award is May 31 – and artists need not have released a physical album or pay a penny to apply.

A key part of Scotland’s cultural scene since 2012, the award has recognised many of the most vital artists in recent years with previous winners including Young Fathers, Sacred Paws, Anna Meredith and Kathryn Joseph each being awarded a £20,000 cash prize.

Entry to the award, an initiative of the Scottish Music Industry Association, is free, meaning fans, artists, labels and others involved in music can submit their choice of album with no financial limitation, including those only uploaded to digital platforms such as SoundCloud.

After the May 31 deadline, 100 nominators from Scotland’s music industry will chose their five favourite albums, ranking each in order of preference.

A longlist of the 20 highest-scoring albums will then be whittled down to a shortlist of 10, with nine decided by a judging panel and one chosen by the public. The winner will be announced at a ceremony later in the year, when the nine runners-up will also each be awarded £1000.

Despite the trends for streaming playlists and one-off releases, the award celebrates the album as art form, says Robert Kilpatrick, general manager at the Scottish Music Industry Association.

“Albums are incredibly important pieces of work and linked to time, place and identity,” Kilpatrick says. “They deserve to be recognised as a huge artistic and creative achievement.”

This year the SAY Award relocates to Edinburgh, home to two-time winners Young Fathers.

Last year the genre-smashing trio collected the award for their Cocoa Sugar album at Paisley’s Town Hall, home to the ceremony for the past three years as part of their bid to be UK City of Culture.

When Paisley lost out to Hull in December 2017, the following day Kilpatrick was contacted by two local authorities keen to host the award in future.

“Edinburgh made complete sense to us,” he says. “It excels so much in terms of promoting different cultural strands but music could do with more support. A number of grassroots venues have closed and there’s been various issues to do with noise regulations and so on.”

As well as holding the awards ceremony at the city’s majestic, council-run Assembly Rooms, SAY will host a live event at the Queen’s Hall as part of the Newington venue’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

Kilpatrick says that signs seem positive for the future of Edinburgh’s vibrant but long-beleaguered music scene.

“Our experience of working with the team so far has been great,” he says.

“It is a bold statement of intent from the council that they understand the challenges that some people are facing and that they want to work with industry bodies and other organisations to help people in Edinburgh have a more sustainable and prosperous career in music.”

Kilpatrick says the award has an impact across the industry in terms of nurturing aspiration and helping musicians of all ages and career stages alongside charity partner Help Musicians UK.

“While there is an amazing community spirit within music across Scotland, there can be significant limitations,” he says. “There’s a lot of people doing their individual things while having other commitments. With limited time, money and resources, it can be quite hard to feel like you’re getting somewhere.

“Regardless of what you are doing, the SAY Award is a bold, unifying platform that everyone can get behind. While it’s ultimately a competition, more than that it is a celebration of how much great music is coming out of Scotland.”

To be considered “Scottish” an album will be the creation of a solo artist born in the country or of a band where 50% of the core members are from Scotland. Artists from anywhere are also eligible if they have made Scotland their base for the past three years or more.

“Ela Orleans, shortlisted in 2017, came out with an amazing quote,” Kilpatrick says of the Glasgow-based Polish composer. “She said: ‘The SAY longlist nomination is the stamp of acknowledgement that I am an integral part of the country’s cultural landscape. I cannot express how significant this is for me as an immigrant in this post-Brexit climate.’”

To submit albums and view the eligibility criteria see