Welcoming the golden age of Welsh music
On Wednesday 27 November Adwaith were announced as winners of the Welsh Music Prize 2019, the award for best Welsh album of the past year. Their record ‘Melyn’ was described as “a deserved winner” by the BBC’s Huw Stephens, co-founder of the Prize: “Adwaith have made a real impact with their personal, beautiful music that captures what it’s like to be young, female, frustrated and bewildered at the world we live in.”
The quality of Adwaith’s album, and the short and longlists, come as no surprise; Wales has been home to a wealth of talent for many years. Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey became worldwide stars in the 60s – and still are to this day – while in recent times we have had fellow Prize winners Boy Azooga, Gruff Rhys and Future Of The Left all leaving their mark on the country’s music scene.
It is thanks to the music produced by these bands, and the wider Welsh music industry, that popular culture has woken up to the breadth and depth of talent in the country. The Guardian, in December ’18, declared that “Welsh-language pop is having a party – and everyone’s invited”. BBC Cymru and the Arts Council of Wales announced “a golden age of Welsh Music” in June of this year. And in August this year BBC News described the “rise and rise of Welsh pop music.”
This praise has not appeared overnight. Over the last 15 years there has been a concerted effort from those in the Welsh music industry to not just develop and grow talent, but also to effectively showcase those artists already making music. Sŵn Festival, loosely based on SXSW, the international new music showcase in Austin, Texas, launched in 2007 and used multiple venues across Cardiff to give a platform to new music, Welsh or otherwise. FOCUS Wales has taken a similar multi-venue approach in Wrexham, establishing North Wales as a hotspot for new talent in addition to the established scene in Cardiff. It launched in 2010, and the Welsh Music Prize quickly followed in 2011 – yet another platform for the country’s talent.
This investment has been worthwhile, with both short and longlists of the Welsh Music Prize full of brilliant and engaging records. It is proof that, with the right support in place, the awareness and reputation of a country’s music scene can be significantly bolstered.
PPL has long been supporting Welsh music, providing an important source of income via our royalties. We collect a licence fee for when recorded music is used on the radio or on TV and in public places – such as a pub, bar, nightclub, shop, office etc – and distribute this to those that performed on or own those recordings. In Wales we have nearly 3,000 members, ranging from session musicians and independent labels to globally-renowned artists.
But it is not just through performance royalties that we help the country’s music scene. We support the Welsh Music Prize, Sŵn and FOCUS Wales in creating a platform for artists, and in sharing knowledge on how to sustain a career in music. At each event we host our PPL InSession seminars which are designed to introduce people to PPL and its collections services. Our staff, experts on the music industry in their own right, join other discussion panels to share their knowledge and experience of careers spent in music.
PRS Foundation also does positive work in funding Welsh talent. Alongside ourselves and others, the Arts Council of Wales and Wales Arts International partner with the PRS Foundation’s International Showcase Fund and Momentum Music Fund. Designed to support artists in taking the next step in their careers, be it through an overseas show or new album, these funds have been supporting musicians from Wales and the UK for years.
With such cross-industry support for Welsh music, it is no wonder that it is now, deservedly, seen as a force to be reckoned with. The Welsh Music Prize has yet again shown the calibre of talent to which the country is home. We congratulate Adwaith on winning, but also every band that was considered in the judging process. PPL is proud to support the Welsh music industry.