Not long now to the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award semi-finals!

I can’t believe it! It is nearly time for the semi-finals of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award! Are you coming? The semi-final concert is on Saturday 4th October in Coulter Hall, Coulter, South Lanarkshire. As always it will be a brilliant night. Tickets are £10 (£6 conc). You can buy them here or turn up on the night.

The semi-finalists are:

Lucie Hendry – clarsach (Laurencekirk)
Ryan Young – fiddle (Cardross)
Claire Hastings – Scots song (Dumfries)
Heather Downie – clarsach (Dunblane)
Rhoda Naomi Welsh – voice / piano (Stornoway)
Grant McFarlane – accordion (Paisley)
Ainsley Hamill – voice (Helensburgh)
Louise Bichan – fiddle (Orkney)
Gemma Donald – fiddle (Shetland)
Alexander Levack – whistle /pipes (Maryburgh)
Suzanne Houston – piano (Golspie)
Seamus O’Baoighill – fiddle (Skye)

From this final 6 musicians will win through to the final held at Celtic Connections festival, Glasgow on Sunday 1st February.

Applications now open for Future Leaders Programme 2014/15

Creative and Cultural Skills are about to launch our fifth Future Leaders Programme,created specifically for emerging leaders in the Creative & Cultural sector.

The programme is designed to enable participants to develop their leadership and management skills through greater self awareness. By building on individual strengths and personal experience participants will be equipped to lead organisational success and be prepared to meet future challenges.

Please read the Future Leaders flyer for more information and contact Mandy Lothian for an application form.

Robyn Stapleton to sing at Proms in the Park

Robyn-Headshot-smallerGreat news! BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award 2014 winner Robyn Stapleton is to perform at BBC Scotland’s Proms in the Park on Saturday 13th September (7.30pm – c.10pm). She will be appearing alongside Katherine Jenkins, mezzo soprano, Noah Stewart, tenor, Red Hot Chilli Pipers, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and more to be announced.

Families and all music lovers are invited to bring picnics and deck chairs to enjoy the atmosphere and help make this a special night of celebrations.

To book your tickets, click here.

Booking Fee Information

Online: a transaction charge of £1 applies to all online bookings.

Phone: a transaction charge of £1.50 applies to all phone bookings.◦Counter/ In Person: there are no transaction charges for in person bookings.

Postage: if you wish to have your tickets posted, there is a £1 fee for delivery to UK addresses. Unfortunately we cannot post tickets to non-UK addresses.

Event supported by People Make Glasgow

BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award Semi-Finalists Announced

BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award 2015The BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award 2015 semi-finalists have been announced. As usual we have a fantastic lineup of young musicians from all over the country. The finalists are:

Lucie Hendry – clarsach (Laurencekirk)
Ryan Young – fiddle (Cardross)
Claire Hastings – Scots song (Dumfries)
Heather Downie – clarsach (Dunblane)
Rhoda Naomi Welsh – voice / piano (Stornoway)
Grant McFarlane – accordion (Paisley)
Ainsley Hamill – voice (Helensburgh)
Louise Bichan – fiddle (Orkney)
Gemma Donald – fiddle (Shetland)
Alexander Levack – whistle /pipes (Maryburgh)
Suzanne Houston – piano (Golspie)
Seamus O’Baoighill – fiddle (Skye)

Each semi-finalist will perform for 10 minutes in Coulter Hall, Coulter, South Lanarkshire on October 4th. Their performance will be listened to by 5 music professional judges and 6 musicians will be chosen to go through to the finals at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival on Sunday 1st February. Buy a ticket for the semis here.

Simon Thoumire, Creative Director of Hands Up for Trad says “As every year passes I’m always astounded by the amount of talented musicians we have in Scotland. This year is no different and the judges are going to have the hardest time ever trying to separate 6 musicians for the 2015 finals.”

If you would like to feature any of the semi-finalists in your media please contact us and we will pass their details on to you.

The BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award exists to encourage young musicians to keep their tradition alive and to maximise their musical potential by the pursuit of a career in traditional music. Each year the winner is provided with high profile performance opportunities and the necessary tools and advice they require to launch a career in traditional music.

The ‘Award’ takes the form of a competition which includes a fun residential weekend in October at Wiston Lodge, South Lanarkshire for 12 semi-finalists. The weekend includes workshops and advice on all aspects of working in the traditional music business plus a public concert with performances by the semi-finalists. From this concert, six finalists are chosen by a panel of judges to go forward to the grand final. This is held each January at a prestigious concert at Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow where one of the six is judged to be BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award winner for that year.

The competition is organised and run by Hands Up For Trad for BBC Radio Scotland. Hands Up for Trad are an organisation dedicated to increasing the profile and visibility of Scottish traditional music through information, education and advocacy.


This is the fifteenth year of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award.

A list of the previous winners can be seen here

Singer Robyn Stapleton (2014 winner) will be performing at the BBC Scotland Proms on the 13th September.

For more information contact Hands Up for Trad, Melville House, 70 Drymen Road, Bearsden, Glasgow G61 2RH 07775854572

How to make a website

One of the most important things you can do as a musician is have a website. Your website is your store front. Facebook and twitter are all well and good but they are trends and at sometime will disappear. Having a website will always be there with your music, biography, discography, news, techspecs etc. It also looks good to send promotors to your website when they are looking for information.

A few years ago you had to know lots of html code to make a website but while having some html knowledge helps you don’t need it nowadays. You can use WordPress (this site is wordpress) or Wix is also popular (check out or There are plenty of other options as well if you look.

As said above this is what all Hands Up for Trad websites are based on.
Wordpress offers you a backend database option which means that you have a backend of your website that controls what the public side looks like. It sounds complicated but is actually very easy. There are two kinds of WordPress – and The difference is that is a free service (Wix offer this as well) and your website is hosted on their servers. Your website domain would look like It is slightly limited in terms of plugins and widgets compared to is wordpress hosted on your own domain. To make this work you would go to a hosting company like and buy your preferred domain. You would then install wordpress on the domain. Again this sounds very complicated however hosting companies like Bluehost make this very easy. You just go to your control panel and install WordPress. In my opinion this is the better way to go as your website will have lots of functionality. You can download themes to make it look the way you want it, install plugins and widgets to make it do things you want it to.

Here is a tutorial made by Scottish firm Inner Ear. It’s very good and the same techniques work for a website as well. offers drag and drop functionality. Findlay Napier said when designing that he just dragged the widgets he wanted on to the page.

Whatever website type you choose the most important thing you can do is tell people about it. After you have written about yourself, uploaded some music etc you need to let people see it. This is where social media comes in handy. What I would do is write a blog post and then share it on FaceBook or Twitter or Tumbler or anything else current trying to get people to click on the links back to your website. When people visit your website you want to try and collect their email address. This way you don’t have to rely on them coming back to read your news. You can just send it to their inbox where they can click on the link and view your news, buy your music etc.

If you would like any more advice please get in touch.

How to make a video

Making a video of your music is a great idea! Uploading it to YouTube or Vimeo means instant worldwide visibility. This is where young people go to watch their music nowadays and you can’t afford to not be part of the crowd. There are people who can make videos for you and if you can afford it that is the best way to go forward. If you are just starting out and don’t have any cash you need to make one yourself.

So I’m often asked is it easy. Well to make a basic video it is especially if you are making a one camera video. Every computer has free video editing software nowadays – iMovie or Windows Movie Maker and there is a lot more than that.

All you have to do is to find a nice light space to record. Borrow a video camera or use your smartphone, record yourself / band (remember and play well!) and import the video on to your computer. Import it into your video editing programme, top and tail it with credits (your name, website, contact details), render it (usually exporting if from your software does this) and upload it to YouTube etc.

If you have more than one camera you might want to record a more complicated and original set up. That’s not difficult either. Just check the help files of your software and it will tell you what to do next!

Sometimes I will use audio software to ‘strip’ the audio of the video. I’ll then EQ it to make it sound nicer, compress it to make the same volume throughout, add reverb to make it sound bigger (depending on the room you have recorded in) and then normalise it to make it louder. I’ll then import this back into the video editing software and replace the audio already there with the new version.

Once your video is uploaded you can embed it into your website, put it on social media and let promotors see you performing. Brilliant! Instant promotion :-)

Don’t wait for other to make a video before you and get the gigs – just go for it you won’t regret it.

A videographer who works for Hands Up for Trad is Martin Forry of Check him out he does a great job.

Also we work with Bees Nees Media who film the Scots Trad Music Awards for MG ALBA. They offer many services and do a brilliant job.

Sample CD budget

Below is a link to a sample CD budget. I’ve populated it with figures. They are all realistic but you will notice at the bottom of the spreadsheet that there is still a deficit (ie you still don’t have enough money). Practise playing around with the figures – taking things out / finding cheaper options etc until you get a zero deficit.

What you have to do now is to put in your own financial figures (including income). When they are in play around with the figures until you have a budget that works for you. Any questions please get in touch.

How to make a CD?

20140618-113628-41788371.jpgThis is a question I’m often asked. It’s not difficult but you have to plan the process carefully. Usually the first thing I ask is “when would you like the CD to come out?” If you plan to bring out your CD in October lets work back from there.

October: CD release
Mid August: Send CD master to pressing plant / itunes etc
Start of August: Have CD mastered and CD cover / notes etc finalised
Mid/End of July: Mix album
Start of July: Record album in studio / home
June: Rehearse like mad to make sure your album is going to sound amazing
May: Make sure you are happy with your arrangements
April: Decide on material and book musicians / band mates / studio to play and record on album

I’ve written the first March task in capitals as it is really important. You need to know how much it is going to cost so you can decide on different recording options. If you haven’t drawn up a budget before here is a template.

So you have drawn up a budget and you now know how much making a CD will cost you. You now have a few options to think about.

Can you afford to make this CD?
If yes – brilliant – on you go!
If not then you need to start finding cheaper options. You could look at cheaper studios, taking less time in the studio, renting equipment yourself, use less musicians, ask your friends to play for less (or nothing) and make sure everyone gets a cut of CD profits on the gigs. You could also look for funding to help you with the costs of CD from Scottish Enterprise or Creative Scotland. You might also try Crowd funding or asking family for a loan against CD sales. There are lots of options so don’t give up when you first look at your budget. Have a look at out sample CD budget and try out your own figures.

When it comes to pressing your CDs there are lots of options out there however we recommend Birnam CD – a Scottish company who can find you great deals and ensure your CD project reaches a successful conclusion. Contact them when you are preparing your budget and get a cost for pressing 500, 1000, 2000 CDs (what you plan on pressing). One thing to remember is that CDs take up a lot of room in your house so don’t press to many more than you think you can sell!!!

When you have decided on the way forward you next need to book your recording space and simultaneously check that that your band / session musicians are free. When all this is in the diary comes the bits we really like doing – getting the material together and rehearsing until it sounds fantastic!

Running alongside all this rehearsing should be thoughts about marketing. Is my website good enough? Does it let the public know what kind of musician I am? How am I going to tell people about my CD? Am I going to put it on Spotify, iTunes etc? Do I want my CD in the shops? We’ll deal with some of these issues below.

Also you should be getting your CD designed at this point. I think it is best to use a designer rather than yourself for this project. They will understand the printing intricacies and you don’t have to worry about it! I would recommend 16k Design, Louise Bichan, Dave Milligan for great design. You might also want photos taken for the cover (and future promo). You will have to know the names of the tracks and any other text for the inside including recording credits, musicians, designer, track timings and an ALBUM TITLE! Also get a barcode as well. Your pressing company should be able to provide one for you.

Another thing worth doing at this point is applying for a MCPS AP1 license for your album. If you are recording other peoples music on your CD they have to be paid and MCPS will do this for you. Also your pressing company will not press your CD without this. Read more here.

So you are all rehearsed up and your first studio day has come. Remember and get there nice and early as it will take time to get set up. The engineer will get all your microphones set up / sounds etc before you can make your first recording. If you are playing with other musicians make sure you take time to feel comfortable with your earphone mixes so you can hear everybody. Don’t be scared to take your earphones off if it feels better or just have one on. You can also ask for reverb in your earphones if you want it to feel more like a gig more than a dry studio room.

When you are ready to go GO! Remember that first takes are not often the best and it takes a few goes to get into it. Also studios have a bad habit of audibly pointing out weaknesses in your arrangements. Don’t worry about this. Just fix it! You know how many recording days you have so try and work to a set amount of tracks a day. Remember to leave yourself time at the end of the recording days for making any changes etc.

After you have recorded it mixing time. If you have time it is good to take a few days off before going back into the studio so you can listen to rough mixes and decide how you would like the track to sound. Remember again to not spend too much time on each track unless you have a big budget.

When mixing is finished you need to get the album mastered. This process is all about making the final CD. The engineer will make sure the tracks are all the same volume, the correct gaps are in place between the tracks, track timings and the album is loud enough. Often people take the final mixes to another studio to master for a different perspective but again it all depends on budget.

So now you have a stereo master you need to send it away for pressing. Speak to your pressing company so they get it in the correct format. You also have to send your design files away at the same time.

Once you have sent your master away it will take a few weeks to come back to you as a complete product. There is nothing better than holding your finished CD! However you don’t want to hold it for too long. You need to get it to distributors to send to shops, website etc. The main Scottish distributors are Highlander Music and Gordon Duncan Distribution. UK distributors are Proper Distribution. I would be wary of singing an exclusive deal with anyone as they all sell to different areas of the market (but some of them will try to get you to do this). Get a pack together including a CD and some promo info including any gigs you might have and send it to them. Wait a week or two before phoning them to see how many they want. Please don’t be surprised if they say 5 (and you have 1000 sitting in your living room…)

You could also send your master for upload to iTunes, Spotify etc. This is not expensive to do and again there are many companies who will do this for you. I recommend ISA Music, a Scottish company who will do a good job for you.

You should also be thinking about tour dates/ record launch etc however here are a few other things I mentioned above.

Your website is your store front – the place where your fans will find out all about you. You need something that looks good and professional. This does not have to be expensive. It can be free if you are willing to do it yourself. All Hands Up for Trad websites use To run this you need to own your domain which you can buy from loads of companies which you can find with a simple search engine search. Personally I like Blue Host. You can also try which is free and works similarly to There is also Wix and many options out there that will give you free websites. Get your own domain though. You will have it for life and it is a good investment if you are a musician. I’ll write another tutorial on websites however you need to populate your website with a biog, CD info page and maybe a section where you can hear your music (using SoundCloud?). Also a contact page with an email and phone number so potential bookers can get in touch with you.

Telling people about your CD.
When you get your CD back you need to send it to radio stations and out for review. We all love a nice review and the publicity that comes off it. Getting reviews is difficult though as the print market is shrinking but there some great music journalists out there and it is worth sending it to them. (Remember though to watch your costs. Don’t bankrupt yourself sending out too many). We have list of reviewers that is available here Also do some research on your favourite radio stations and send them a CD. Try and find out the producers name and send CD direct to them. You can also check out Hands Up for Trad’s Folk Waves project.

Good luck with all this and if you need any more advice feel free to contact us.