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BBC Music Sound Of 2015

Sound Of 2015

About Sound Of 2015

The list was started in 2003 and has a history of predicting the acts that will make it big. Previous winners include Sam Smith, Adele, Ellie Goulding, HAIM and Jessie J.

What’s the Sound Of list about?

The BBC Music Sound Of 2015 aims to showcase the best and brightest rising stars. The list has been running annually since 2003, gaining a reputation as a democratic survey that gives a glimpse into the future of music.

The acts that appear in 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, 139 UK-based tastemakers were selected by BBC News to vote for their Sound Of 2015. 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 and commercial radio & TV. 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 them work full-time for record labels, management or PR, and none of them can make money directly from the success of the artists. None of the pundits are paid for taking part.

This year’s pundits list includes specialist DJs from the likes of Team Rock Radio and Amazing Radio, critics from publications like The Guardian and Q Magazine, music supervisors from iconic TV shows like Made in Chelsea and editors from websites who are experts in their field, such as Resident Advisor and Maximum Pop.

The Pundits

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 cannot have been the lead artist on a UK top 20 single or album before 27th October 2014. They must not already be widely known by the UK public (for example, a member of a hit band going solo or a soap star). They must not have made it to the semi-final or final rounds of UK talent search shows such as X Factor or The Voice in the last 3 years (i.e. 2012 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 2015. 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, Jessie J and HAIM.

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 James Blake, Kelela, King Krule, Jai Paul and Savages 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.

Previous winners

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 fairly uncommon 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. 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.

The BBC does not reveal the number of votes/points received by individual artists, nor does it BBC publish a list of who voted for what.

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 1st December 2014, on the BBC website.

The shortlist (top 5) artists are revealed in a countdown between 5th and 9th January 2015, on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show.

From early 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 – this year’s launches on Friday 2nd January 2015.

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.

The BBC doesn’t pay the artists for their time spent doing promo, apart from the usual nominal musician fees for live sessions.