About Sound Of...
What’s the Sound Of list about?
The Sound Of list was started in 2003 with the aim of showcasing the most exciting rising stars. It has gained a reputation as a democratic survey, giving a glimpse into the future of music and predicting some of the biggest acts in the world. Previous winners have included Adele, Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, HAIM, Years & Years and Jack Garratt.
The acts that appear on the Sound Of list are all hand-picked by a panel of impartial experts from the music industry.
How are the pundits selected?
This year, 170 UK and International tastemakers were selected by BBC News to vote for their Sound Of 2017. The full list of the pundits is published online.
Although the panel includes a selection of the BBC’s most respected new music presenters and producers, the majority of the pundits are from newspapers, magazines, blogs, commercial radio & TV. Other music industry figures from music streaming services such as YouTube, Spotify and Deezer also feature. This year’s list also includes organisers and bookers for some of the biggest UK and international music festivals like Glastonbury, T in the Park, Download, SXSW, Eurosonic Noorderslag, EXIT and Primavera. Music experts from international publications & new music stations who are influential to the music scene on a global scale, like Sirius XM, Triple J, 3FM, KCRW, Billboard, Pigeons and Planes, Pitchfork and Hype Machine have also voted this year.
We hope to represent a huge spectrum of music from across the world, covering a diverse range of musical styles and backgrounds.
When selecting the pundits, the BBC’s looking for the most genuine and passionate music fans, whose day-job also involves showcasing the best new music to a wider audience. None of the pundits are paid for taking part.
Who can the pundits vote for?
The pundits do not pick from a predetermined list. We ask them to nominate acts who they are personally most excited about. We want the list to be based on passion and musical quality, disregarding notoriety, hype or record deals.
Artists from any musical genre and any country are eligible, whether or not they’re signed. They must not have been the lead artist on a UK top 20 single or album by 30th October 2016. They must not already be widely known by the UK general public (for example, member of a hit band going solo or soap star, a winner of a national talent search show such as X Factor or The Voice in the last 3 years (i.e. 2014 onwards)).
Pundits must not vote for their family or close friends, or any artists who they have a commercial relationship with.
What kind of artists end up in the final list?
It’s not necessarily about predicting the artists that will be famous in 2017. However, as our pundits have a level of influence over the music that gets heard by the general public, it can be seen as a good barometer of future success. Previous winners have included Adele, Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith, HAIM, Years & Years and Jack Garratt.
The winner often has quite broad mainstream appeal because there are so many pundits involved, but the top 15 tends to include more alternative acts. The likes of George The Poet, Shamir, James Blake, Kelela, King Krule, Jai Paul and Mura Masa have all featured on the longlist in previous years.
All the acts on previous lists, including archive content from the shortlisted acts, are available on the BBC website.
How does the voting process work?
The pundits vote by email, choosing their three favourite new acts in order of preference.
There’s only one panel of voters, and only one round of voting. The 3 nominations from each of the pundits on the panel are counted, with a pundit’s favourite artist getting 3 points, second favourite getting 2 points, and third favourite getting 1 point. In the event of two artists getting the same amount of points, the order is decided by which artist had the most votes as a pundit’s first choice. If the result of the first choice is the same, then it goes to second choice and so on. If in the unlikely situation the result of each choice is exactly the same then the artists will be awarded a shared place. Only the shortlist of the top 5 artists (which is announced in early January) is listed in order of the amount of points they received; the artists who placed 6-15 are listed alphabetically.
BBC News can exclude artists or individual votes at its discretion if it believes there has been a breach of these criteria, there is a clear conflict of interest or there is a deliberate attempt to manipulate the result, but it remains impartial and unbiased.
What happens after the votes are counted?
The longlist (top 15) artists are announced in alphabetical order on 28th November 2016, on the BBC website.
The shortlist (top 5) artists are revealed in a countdown between 2nd and 6th January 2017, on Clara Amfo’s Radio 1 Show.
From mid-November when the voting closes until early January when the winner is revealed, we work closely with the artists (and their managers and labels) to get interviews and live performances, which are used on the BBC website and in coverage of the project by BBC News. We also make a TV programme for the BBC Red Button & BBC iPlayer which launches early January 2017.
What do the artists gain from being on the list?
The BBC Music Sound Of list, along with other similar new music lists such as the BRITs Critics’ Choice, are generally thought to be used by the UK music and media industries to give a broad steer when it comes to promotion priorities and live bookings, but this obviously isn’t guaranteed.
There’s no prize for the winner, and the artists on the list aren’t contractually guaranteed any future promotion from the BBC as part of their involvement.