And so the shortlist for this year's Scottish Album of the Year has revealed, including the identity of the winner of the public vote (Paolo Nutini), which places one of the longlisted albums directly on the shortlist.

In the run up to this year's award, that element of the contest was widely seen as being a two-horse race between Nutini's Caustic Love and Belle And Sebastian's Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance, with the previous form of fans of the Glasgow group in online voting reckoned to be likely to give the Paisley soul-boy a run for his money. Back in 1999, the third B&S album, The Boy With The Arab Strap, won the band the Best Newcomer title at the Brit Awards as a result of a mobilisation by the fanbase that Steps, the favourites for the category, proved unable to match. In those days the internet was as much of a mystery to many as the name of the band was to most viewers of the Brits.

The ten albums on the SAY shortlist then have the sales boost of a three week promotional period before the 2015 winner is announced at Glasgow's O2 ABC on June 17. My hunch is that the judges will stay true to the award's indie roots (and B&S still just about qualify for inclusion in that), but it would do the Scottish Album of the Year title no harm at all were the top prize to go to Nutini, giving the mighty Atlantic label an excuse to re-promote the album making that boast, at a time when politics has put the brand of Scotland on the front page and the top of the news bulletins globally. As one of their number in the award's inaugural year, however, I know the judges will not be swayed by such base considerations.

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We once talked of an "awards season" but such a thing seems to extend for much of the year now, and there is not a sphere of human activity, not just artistic endeavour, that does not hand out gongs at some point, with the catering and tourism sectors possibly setting the record for the most prizes available. If a restaurant has not won some award or other, it really only suggests an unwillingness to enter any races. I have some sympathy with that, having only entered journalism awards when absolutely bullied into it by editors. Many years ago I discovered that Willie Hunter, probably the finest stylist to grace the pages of The Herald, had declined to enter any awards, and if that was good enough for him, it is an example to follow. Nevertheless, this current season of Scottish arts awards, with the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland preceding the SAY Award by just a few days, will be commanding my full attention. I have never been involved in the selection of the CATS (again, my choice) but I have watched with all due respect as they have become an increasingly important part of Scotland's theatrical year, making clear to all what the critics already knew: that the sector produces a quality of work that far exceeds what might reasonably be expected in a small nation.

The SAY award is younger but already proving the same equation in music. Arguably it has an even clearer purposes because the decline in the importance of the hit parade as sales of music diversified has meant an increase in the importance of awards in all genres as the main measure of success. A Darwinian reliance on competition brings problems, but they are more than outweighed by the benefits.