Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The UK Blog Sound of 2015 Results


Yesterday the BBC announced its Sound of 2015 poll results. Today it’s the turn of the music bloggers. This post contains some blurb on the UK Blog Sound of 2015 results followed by our own personal thoughts and a possible criticism / question around the voting process - which we take a lot of responsibility for. (See Our Own Personal Thoughts On This Years List  And A Big Question That Needs Further Consideration below)

The aim of the Blog Sound of 2015 is identical to the BBC Sound Of list; it attempts to showcase some of the best new and emerging artists. However, the artists nominated are voted for by 62 UK-based music bloggers rather than just people working in the music business. A small number of these bloggers may work in the industry, but the majority are simply hardcore fans who write their blogs because of their genuine passion for music, normally with no financial incentive to do so. 

This poll is not about picking acts who bloggers think will be famous. The bloggers involved are asked to vote for their favourite artists, irrespective of chances of commercial success. This is an essential part of the criteria for voting.

And what is an 'emerging artist?' That was left for each individual blog to decide!

How The Voting Worked

This year the Blog Sound Of 2015 poll asked each blog to pick its 3 favourite emerging artists and rank them in order of preference. In total 148 artists received at least 1 vote, showing that bloggers certainly aren't all listening to the same thing. The acts scored 3, 2 and 1 points respectively. 

The bloggers could choose any artist they wanted, providing the artist had not had a top 40 hit (including as a collaborator on a song) by the time voting started. Whilst choosing 3 artists in order is the same method as the BBC list, the BBC rules require voters to choose artists that have not had a solo top 20 hit but exclude collaborations. This means for example that Years & Years were excluded from the Blog Sound voting by virtue of having collaborated on the The Magician’s top 10 hit Sunlight, whereas they qualified for the BBC list. Voters were also asked to not vote for any artist that they were related to or has any financial interest in. Once the scores were calculated where 2 artists tied on the same number of points the artist with the most first place votes was ranked higher.

The Longlist

The 15 most popular acts that form the long list include artists that are on major labels as well as indie and unsigned ones, such as Brighton based indie band Fickle Friends, fuzzy sounding Glasgow punks Halfrican, goth ‘n’ soul singer Chløë Black, recent XL signing Låpsley and singer songwriter Sophie Jamieson, an artist who appears on the list for the second time running having also appeared the previous year. There is some minor correlation with the BBC list  but many differences.

The act who gained the most amount of points in the poll will be announced on January 2nd 2015.

The Full Blog Sound of 2015 Longlist

And the nominees are....

All We Are - Liverpool 3 piece who describe their music as 'psychedelic boogie'.

Black Honey - Brighton based indie band formerley known as Kill Moon

Chløë Black - Tags her music as 'goth 'n' soul'

Coasts - Indie rock band from Bristol who have comparisons with Foals

Deers - A band from Spain who first created a stir with some lo-fi demos earlier this year.

Fickle Friends - Danceable indie music from another Brighton based band.

Flyte - Classic old fashioned songwriting with an indie pop twist.

Halfrican - Glasgow based punk rock

Honne - R&B influenced electronics and soul pop.

Låpsley - Solo artist from Liverpool making downtempo electronica with a range of influences.

Prides - Synth pop group from Scotland, who performed at the Commonwealth Games

Shura - Singer songwriter and producer using synths to create a mellow pop sound.

Soak - Singer songwriter from Derry whose real name is Bridie Monds-Watson.

Sophie Jamieson - Singer songwriter who has been compared to Daughter. Was alos on last year's list.

Tei Shi - Describes her music as 'mermaid music'. Make of that what you will!

Our Own Personal Thoughts On This Years List  And A Big Question That Needs Further Consideration

We’re pleased to see 2 of our own choices making this year’s list (we’ll reveal who they are in January when the winner is announced) and 3 of our own 10 Ones to Watch 2015 list (here) making the cut, namely Chloe Black, Coasts and Låpsley.  Also 2 of the acts on this year’s list (Flyte and Sophie Jamieson) featured in our own Ones to Watch for 2014 a year ago. 3 of the artists selected also appear on the BBC Sound Of List (namely Låpsley, Shura and Soak ) and 8 of them have featured on Breaking More Waves in the past.

It’s also worth noting that 8 of the artists on the BBC list didn’t receive one single vote by UK music bloggers in the Blog Sound list, although 1 of them (Years & Years) was excluded from the blog list due to their top 10 hit with The Magician earlier this year (the Blog Sound rules being different from the BBC rules). Of the 7 that qualified for the Blog Sound poll that didn't receive any votes, 6 of them were black males - in fact every single black male on the BBC list. This sits uncomfortably with us, and we'd be really interested to know what others think about this.

There is also a complete absence of hip-hop / grime / dance music acts on the Blog Sound list, whereas the BBC list embraces much more diversity - something that one of the Blog Sound voting blogs Music Like Dirt has written about eloquently in previous years (see here and here). 

As one of the organisers of the poll, in putting together the voting list we’ve tried to encourage a diverse range of bloggers with different tastes to vote, but it's something we struggle with every year. One of the big problems is that the blogs that are more likely to vote for a hip-hop or electronic dance act largely ignore our email requests to vote and the few who do engage are therefore in a minority so the artists they vote for are less likely to make the list.

The question is, is the lack of diversity a problem?  In the 4 years the Blog Sound poll has been running there hasn’t been one single hip-hop / rap artist nominated and very few dance acts. Black and ethnic artists hardly get a look in. Indie music (as a broad generalisation in terms of style)  has largely dominated the Blog Sound list. If it continues to do so in the future is the title ‘Blog Sound of 2015’ really a correct one? Does this list really represent the UK blog scene as a whole? A long list can never represent everyone’s views – the fact that 148 acts received nominations shows that. Some bloggers who voted will be disappointed because the music doesn't suit their tastes. But should this poll be reflecting the most popular favourite acts within the blog community, and does this list really reflect that?  And as Neil from Music Like Dirt said last year: "I’d like to think that UK music bloggers are as diverse, culturally rich and musically varied as Great Britain itself, is that really not the case??" It’s one we’ll be discussing and considering with fellow bloggers this year assuming the poll runs again in 2015. 

Whilst we discuss these important issues, one thing the Blog Sound poll has nearly achieved, for better or worse, is one of its original aims which was to provide a complimentary but alternative list of artists to the BBC Sound of list. In this respect the poll has had an 80% success rate. 

You can hear all the artists on this year’s Blog Sound of longlist in the playlist below. We urge you to listen and if you find anything you like to go out and buy / download the song by the artist. Every little bit of support you give can help these fledgling bands keep doing what they do. We'd also urge you to listen to the artists on the BBC poll, particularly if the blog poll results aren't your cup of tea. 

If you have any thoughts on the issues we've raised here about the lack of diversity within the blog poll we'd be interested to hear from you either via Twitter or in the comments section below. Please note that we can't guarantee a reply, but any comments will be read.

The Blogs That Participated In This Year's Poll:

17 Seconds, A New Band A Day, A Pocket Full Of Seeds, A World Of Music And Madness, Across The Kitchen Table, Alphabet Bands, Beat Surrender, Beat2aChord, Both Bars On, Brapscallions, Bratfaced LDN, Breaking More Waves, Brighton Music Blog, Daisy Digital, Dots And Dashes, Drunken Werewolf, Echoes and Dust, Electronic Rumors, Even The Stars, Everything Flows, Getintothis, God Is In The TV, Hearty Vibes, Hitsville UK, I Love Pie, Just Music That I Like, Kemptation, Like 1999, Lipstick Disco, Little Indie Blogs, Love Music : Love Life, Music Broke My Bones, Music Liberation, Music Like Dirt, My Day By Day Music, Never Enough Notes, Not Many Experts, Notes For A Road Sign, One Album A Week, Popped Music, Queen Beetch, Rave Child, Scientists Of Sound, Some Of It Is True, Song By Toad, Sounds Good To Me Too, Sound Of Now Music, Spectral Nights, Sweeping The Nation, The Blue Walrus, The Devil Has The Best Tuna, The Electricity Club, The Evening's Empire, The Mad Mackerel, The Metaphorical Boat, The Paper Penguins, This Must Be Pop, Thoughts On Music, Three Beams, Too Many Blogs, The VPME, What If I Had A Music Blog.

The Blog Sound of 2015 Playlist

14 comments:

Scryst said...

Good work on organising this agian Robin. I'm amazed on how you manage to fit in everything you do considering I know how busy your 'out of the blogosphere' life is.

Personally I like the fact that the poll doesn't have any hip hop or grime as I'm not a fan but understand your points. It's difficult if certain sectors of the blogosphere don't want to engage - what can you do?

PS: I really like Honne, hadn't heard of them until today! But Halfrican ???? wtf!!!!

Anonymous said...

You need to get more blogs that cover different genres to vote. Try Abeano, Monkey Boxing, Cruel Rhythm, Pigeons & Planes and House of Coxhead for starters.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Thanks Anon.

3 of the 5 blogs you named were asked. 3 never responded to the 3 emails we sent. 1 wrote back saying he didn't want to be involved - no reason given but he did comment 'it was too similar to be BBC' and that he worked at Radio 1.

Of the other 2, 1 is an American based blog and therefore can't vote, the other we didn't contact this year although we had tried in previous years and had no response.

This is one of the issues we face with engagement.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Correction: 2 never responded of the 3 we asked.

Nick Harland said...

Interesting point regarding the lack of black artists - not something I immediately noticed when viewing the list. I pride myself on the wide variety of genres that I blog about over on One Album A Week - I've written about my fairshare of hip-hop and reggae artists this year for example. Raury only just missed out on my picks, but I think generally it's more down to the individual tastes of each blog more than anything else.

Oldierob said...

Robin,

As usual it's a great list. I commend the concerns about the diversity of the list. Any pole will be representative of the people that vote and if you have a polarised voting pool then you will have a polarised response. You question whether the pole is representative of UK Music bloggers. The only way to find out is to understand what is the make up of the community, that will tell you.

They key to more diversity is a more diverse voting pool and engaging with the wider community early enough to encourage them to vote. My day job is in organisational surveys(we survey over 3.5 million people a year around the world) and there are ways we work with organisations to increase their response rates.

Another consideration is to go for a 2 round system to produce a diverse long-list using a forced ranking across specified genre and then ask again for votes.

There are Pros and Cons to any proposed version. The key has to be for you and the other organisers to be clear about wehat is the end result you want and then work from there.

Happy to meet up at Great Escape for a morning coffee

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Thanks for the comments Rob - you're right the pool is polarised. There are blogs out there who could potentially help shift the diversity of the pool but one difficulty I've suffered is engagement. I hope to try and address this next year.

Yes let's meet up for coffee one morning at Great Escape - would love to learn from your day job experience!

Anonymous said...

A FEW GLARING OMISSIONS IN THE VOTERS, SUCH AS CRACK IN THE ROAD AND GOLD FLAKE PAINT?

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Hi Anon

Both of those blogs were asked to vote but never responded to our emails. We have asked Crack In The Road for the last 3 years but they never respond. Gold Flake Paint asked to be involved last year and was included (and voted) but didn't respond this year.

Ayo 'Ayohla' Adepoju (WPGM) said...

Hi guys, I run We Plug Good Music / Conversations About Her. I really like and have respect for the Blog Sound Of and have been keeping tabs on it since 2013.

I had concerns about 'urban' blogs not being included in the voting for this two years ago, I think I raised it with the one of the organizing blogs when they emailed us to share the results on our website at the time and asked a few peers if they had been contacted. Put Me On It did say they were indeed contacted.

I wanted to get involved then but don't think I can now (we are now also a digital PR company so some conflicts might arise), I would suggest the editors at RWD Magazine, Flavour Magazine, GRM Daily, Complex UK and SBTV but I guess it also all depends on what you would class as a blog and if these publications fit into that.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Hi thanks for the comment

Ah yes, the 'what is a blog' dilemma.

We've tried to keep the voters to smaller indpendent blogs rather than ones that run into 'webzine' territory - Drunken Werewolf and God Is The TV veer close to this. I think some of the sites you've mentioned probably wouldn't be classed as 'blogs' in the way that I view them, but this is something else that needs to be thought about before next year.

Henry Weston said...

The purpose of the Blog Sound of 2015 is equal to the BBC Sound Of list; it challenges to display some of the extreme fresh and developing artists.
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Henry Weston said...

Some of very few bloggers can work in the business, but many are only committed followers who write blogs because of their honest desire for singing, usually with no economic encouragement to do so. Mba Dissertation Help UK

Henry Weston said...

Those eight artists who were on the list of BBC didn’t get a single vote which made them disappointed and causes them to make their own blog.
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