Nusic is all about helping musicians from the Great County of Nottinghamshire, that doesn’t just mean helping get your music out there, it also means helping you learn. So we’re going to share some general feedback from Round One of this year’s Future Sound of Nottingham (the judges round) in the hope that will help you in the future, whether that’s with next year’s FSN or simply making sure when you get that moment with an A&R you definitely play them the right tune.

KNOW YOUR BEST SONG/ MOST APPROPRIATE SONG – These are not always the same thing. What I can say with confidence as at least four of you did not send in what I personally consider your best song and/ or the song most appropriate for FSN (which links to next point), and that’s just from the musicians whose work I am familiar with. Now this is an objective personal opinion but none of those four got through, all artists I would have considered strong contenders for reaching the next round. Make sure you get honest feedback (lots of peeps will just say what they think you want to hear) to accurately work out your best song, re the most appropriate song well that relates to the next point…

DO YOUR RESEARCH – Certain songs will be more appropriate for certain occasions. The Electro Remix of your acoustic folk track will be more appropriate for getting play with Mista Jam on 1Xtra, your original track will be more appropriate for sending to John Kennedy at XFM. Did you bother reading the FSN rules? This research would have told you about the judging process, knowing how the judging works (for example that half your score is based on ‘ability to nail it playing the main stage at Splendour’) would/ should effect which song you sent in. Some of you (artists whose music we were already aware of) sent songs that in my opinion were not as strong as other songs of yours, in this context.

CATCH THE JUDGES EARLY – There’s an old radio guideline that a song really needs to kick in within 20 seconds, certainly if you wish to secure daytime playlist. Not a cast iron rule but when entering any sort of panel situation where judges are listening to lots and lots of music in a short period, it’s a good idea to try and catch their attention quickly, in such situations ears can quickly become impatient. This is not the place for your slow burner anthem that takes four and a half minutes to kick in.

SONG QUALITY – Skool Boy errors this year included poor quality live recordings (when we know the artist has studio versions), instrumental versions (of songs that have vocals) and one artist who only sent 27 seconds of their track! Do the basics right people, and build from there.

DON’T TRY AND GET AROUND THE RULES – You’re unlikely to get away with it, it annoys the organisers and can lead to disqualification. Two acts were disqualified this year.

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY – Remember the expert round comes down to the reaction of three sets of ears to your music (as fourth judge vote is always excluded as outlined in the rules). You could be awesome with tracks that resonate with 97% of the population but it just so happens that the three out of hundred that don’t get it were in the FSN studio. Artists good enough to be played on Radio One didn’t make it through, proof you shouldn’t take it personally as well as an indicator of how buzzing Nottingham’s music scene currently is.


– Another reminder of how vibrant and diverse the Nottingham scene is currently.

– We should possibly have a fifth judge. We exclude the top score to stop any bias in favour of certain acts (this means that random 1o out of 10 is excluded) well maybe we should exclude the bottom score too? To stop any bias against certain acts/ genres, this would delete the random 1 out of 10 given to an act everyone else gave 7’s. Some acts scored highly with three judges (one of whom was excluded as the top score) only to be taken out of the reckoning by the one judge who’s ears really didn’t like them.

Hope that helps.

Yours in Love of New Music (& honest, constructive feedback).


Mark Del