Although I'm not a huge fan of awards ceremonies per se, I am intrinsically linked to the Scottish Album of the Year Award and everything it represents.

Not only do I co-host the event, but the concept (I like albums!), even-handed selection process, inclusive set of genres, and the fact it champions the underdog and shines a spotlight on genuine artists all appeal to me. A longlist of 20 albums is nominated by 100 music fanatics and industry insiders; then the public gets to vote for its favourite and a shortlist of 10 is revealed. Each year a different set of judges then have the daunting task of choosing a winner.

The Brit Awards are now solely about glitz and glamour, rarely showing either. It's a music-biz back-slapping event, concentrating on sales rather than ideas, where independent labels and artists rarely get a look in. The Barclaycard Mercury Prize is commendable, and its heart is definitely in the right place, but the pool from which it draws is almost too large and the cross-section of albums often not representative of what's actually new and exciting. Perhaps it suffers from being the critics' baby.

The SAY Award, however, is forthright, bold, outward-looking and unpretentious - a bit like Scotland itself on a good day. This year it encompasses a wide range of genres including indie, rock, soul, electronica, folk and pop. Some have rightly pointed out that there is a distinct lack of classical, jazz, reggae and hip hop in there, but I suppose that is democracy. I'm sure all passionate music fans have albums they think should be on the longlist, but it still looks incredibly impressive.

And yet the award, now into its fourth year, still flies below the radar in terms of mainstream publicity and public support. There's unending positivity from grassroots music lovers, new music radio shows, blogs, magazines and the occasional newspaper like this one. Younger generations and others already connected to the arts are huge advocates for it. But it can feel a bit like preaching to the converted...

It's sad that a section of Scottish society wants to knock this award - something that sets out to support home-grown talent. We are a nation of roughly five million with an unusually high quota of productive musicians, composers and songwriters; and yet there are those who prefer to criticise and belittle the limited opportunities available to them. Even within the media.

Is it genuine criticism or mere tribalism? Is it simply a lack of understanding? A sense of elitism or feeling left out? Do we still have the cultural cringe? Do we still need vindication from London or the US? It's clear that after the independence referendum and recent election, Scotland's passion for politics has been ignited once again. If people have rediscovered their mojo when it comes to politics then why not music, visual art, film, theatre and aesthetics? These should be completely bipartisan and inclusive rather than divisive.

Scottish football rank low on the global scale and yet we dedicate endless column inches and broadcast hours to covering it. When it comes to music, especially anything vaguely alternative or cutting edge, it's roundly ignored and occasionally vilified. Seemingly it's OK to spend vast sums of money following football teams, and the ongoing soap operas that surround them, but not get behind our local musicians.

I travel far and wide with my work, and everywhere I go it feels like contemporary Scottish music is increasingly revered and respected. While it blossoms, many at home often turn their heads away. Is it simply in our genes to criticise absolutely everything? The vast majority of artists subsist on next to nothing and make their music with no outward investment. They deserve our respect and the SAY Award goes someway to showing some. After all, previous winners Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat, RM Hubbert and Young Fathers have felt concrete benefits from winning the prize.

As in politics, we are always quick to condemn and denigrate, but far slower to applaud. There was a time when there was no SAY Award, no Scottish Music Industry Association, no Creative Scotland, no Scottish Enterprise... no Scottish Government. The systems are falling into place where we can actually form some kind of tangible music industry to help those around us. Can't we occasionally celebrate or pat ourselves on the back?

It's common knowledge our music now plays out on the world stage, and in our globalised society we are now further connected by the internet and inexpensive travel. We can prove our worth. We have the musicians, the heritage, the venues, the festivals and an abundance of incredible albums to shout about.

Now is the time to convert the raw talent into wealth and opportunity for our creative industries and artists therein. The SAY Award is certainly not the only answer or some kind of cure-all panacea, but part of a much bigger picture. With a flourishing local music and arts scene, life is better for all at home and abroad. It requires effort and participation though. If you don't know all the albums on the list, then investigate and have a listen. It's not that hard. You might even enjoy yourself.

You can of course play an immediate part at, with 72 hours between tomorrow and Wednesday to cast your vote for an album on this year's longlist. After that, a shortlist of 10 will be announced on Thursday by my colleague and co-host Janice Forsyth. Get involved.

Vic Galloway presents on BBC Radio Scotland, 9-11pm on Mondays and 11pm-1am on Thursdays, Tomorrow he has Admiral Fallow live in session. Contact Vic at