The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award returns

Submissions to The SAY Award are now open and a brace of new categories have been added to the annual music prize

Article by Jamie Dunn | 30 Jun 2021

Nature is healing. And more importantly: live music is coming back. Also making a return to the physical world is The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award. Its ninth edition, which was won by the then Edinburgh- now Glasgow-based producer and rapper Nova for her debut album, Re-Up, took place entirely in the digital realm, but this tenth SAY Award will be live. Taking place on 23 October at The Usher Hall in Edinburgh, it’ll be one of the first opportunities for Scotland’s tight-knit music community to come together after a year and a half of empty venues and stages.

Submissions to be considered for this year’s SAY Award open tomorrow (1 Jul), and to be eligible the album has to have been released between 1 June 2020 and 31 May 2021, meaning this year’s winner will be an album launched into the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten shortlisted albums all win a prize, with nine runners up taking home £1,000 while the winner receives £20,000 – one of the biggest music prize funds in the UK. 

Two new awards

Interestingly, The SAY Award will be launching two additional prizes during this tenth edition milestone: one which looks to the future of Scotland’s music scene while the other will celebrate a great Scottish album of yesteryear.

The Sound of Young Scotland Award will be a new annual prize designed to help an emerging artist facilitate the creation of their debut album. The winner will be chosen by a panel of previous SAY Award nominees and will win £5,000 to help cut their first record as well as a performance slot at next year’s SAY Award. The Modern Scottish Classic Award, meanwhile, will celebrate an iconic Scottish album that has inspired music being made today. The winner will be chosen by The SAY Award longlisted bands and artists, and the winner will be invited to perform at The SAY Award ceremony.

The timing of this tenth SAY Award couldn’t be better, reckons Creative Scotland’s Head of Music Alan Morrison. “In the absence of live gigs, we’ve spent the past year appreciating music in all its recorded glory,” he says. “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.”

With the last year and a half making it even more apparent how important music is to our lives, it also makes perfect sense to expand The SAY Award. “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,” says Morrison. “The announcement of this year’s ceremony is the light at the end of the tunnel that every music fan has been waiting for.”

Labels and artists, as well as music fans, can submit eligible albums – for free – at from Thursday 1 July. Submissions close at midnight on Thursday 22 July 2021.

Criteria and guidelines can be found at