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—————— FUTURE SOUND OF NOTTINGHAM 2015 ————————–

Listen to this year’s FSN Finalists here

Information on the 2015 Future Sound of Nottingham will first be announced (as always) on the Nusic New Music Podcast.


The Future Sound of Nottingham 2015 is up and running, with that Splendour main stage up for grabs as usual. Not to mention the Rock City main stage too! As always, 24/7 365 days a year, our role in curating the Nottingham side of things at Splendour is transparently outlined in our FAQs here: www.nusic.org.uk/faq


At 11am on 110515 the New Music Podcast will announce the finalists of #FSN2015, listen here.

At 11pm on Monday 27th April semi final voting will go live, click here. The voting link is located within the podcast post, at the top.

This year Voting is direct via our website nusic.org.uk. We are using an online poll verified by email submission that:

– Drives people to the website, hopefully building audience and therefore resulting in more people listening to your music (we acknowledge this aspiration is undermined once artists work out the direct link to the vote and start sharing that link, we ask them not to, let them know it makes us sad and kills a New Music Fairy everytime they do it, but can’t stop them – banning them from doing so is impossible to police so not an option).
– Lets you see scores (helps artists know how they’re doing).
– Lets peeps share and publish the poll all over social media (if that functionality is working).
– Requires a verified email address to vote (which means once a vote is placed a link with be sent to that email address requiring verification), this is to stop multiple voting.
– We also have some code that let’s the website recognise emails, this serves a dual purpose of preventing multiple voting and helping you work out if your vote has counted.
– Let’s us see a list of all emails registered so will be able to see any cheating.
– Allows us to keep the votes secret in the last 24 hours of voting, we do this to drive audience to the podcast (wanting to find the result) giving your music more exposure.

We ask voters if they’d like to sign up to the Nusic and the LeftLion email newsletters, this is optional, any voter not wishing to do that will miss out on the joy of our newsletters in their inbox but their vote will still count.

For the record Nusic team members do vote in the public vote, before it goes live, as part of the testing of the system, their votes will be discounted. At know point in the whole of FSN do Nusic members actually vote themselves.

You should also know that Al G from LeftLion is running this poll for us and he is a bit of an IT genius, if you cheat he will spot it. We will issue one warning if we see any suspicious emails (any more than five starts to raise eyebrows), two strikes and sadly you are out of FSN.

11am 270415 – The current New Music Podcast announces the semi finalists for this years FSN (at 11am on April 27th), listen here .

A list of all entries received so far can be found here.

11am 130415 – The New Music Podcast announces the Round One judges, final deets on how to enter plus shares a wee FSN secret, listen here.

11am 300315 – The New Music Podcast contains details on how to enter FSN Round One, listen here.

11am 160315 – The New Music Podcast contains the details on the first way to enter this years FSN – #SpreadTheLove2015, listen here.

11am 020315 – The New Music Podcast contains the first mentions of this years FSN.

We recommend checking out FAQ34 in our FAQs – nusic.org.uk/faq


FSN 2014
FSN 2013
FSN 2012
Scroll down the FSN tab for 2011, 2010 and 2009

FSN 2015


The voting process is quite complicated, please let us explain the method in the apparent madness, every rule is about trying to create as epic an experience as possible for the musicians taking part.

It’s a mixed voting system, half being audience vote, half being ‘expert’ Judges vote. This is an attempt to get the best of both worlds in terms of fairness and also to create a system that helps stimulate a great event. We appreciate there is a risk we simply end up pissing off everybody.


– Addresses the natural numerical advantage of bands with public votes and so re-balances things a bit towards the solo artists.
– Makes sure raw talent, yet to build any following, is recognised.
– Gives you a chance to perform in front of connected, important music industry players, on the Nottingham level this Judging Panel is huge, pretty much every major player in Nottingham is represented. This in itself is a big opportunity regardless of the result. For example in both 2013 and 2012 FSN artists have so impressed the judge representing Splendour that they have booked them for Splendour even though they didn’t win (Sam Jones in 2013, Indiana in 2012). Last year two of the six finalists secured management from judges off the back of their performance.

Those Judges are:


Read more about them TBC

We are aware the judging panel is not massively diverse. Our brief is to curate a judging panel full of the Nottingham residents most able to help our finalists, demographic diversity is not a deciding factor, ‘ability to help’ is. We define that as:

– Individuals who have a significant audience (which we define as thousands to tens of thousands) plus the freedom to give exposure to local musicians. E.g Drowned in Sound’s Dom G, LeftLion’s Ali E, Simon Wilson at The Post etc.
– Individuals with significant professional music industry connections, such that could lead to high profile gigs or even management/ label introductions. E.g. Anton Lockwood & Craig Chettle who both worked full time in the music and media industries for over a decade, over which time they’ve accumulated a large number of contacts in live, media, labels and management.
– The majority of our judges will have both.


– Helps mobilise your fans. Knowing they can make a difference encourages friends, family and fans to come down and support, in the process creating a better atmosphere for all. That’s really key, it’s a better vibe for everyone.
– Ensures that talent talented enough to have built a following gets recognised. It is ironic when people moan, ‘they only won because they have more fans than us’, why do they have fans? A significant following implies you’re creating music that is connecting with people, our ‘no covers’ policy ensures good looks and the ability to play some one else’s three chord hit is not enough.

AUDIENCE VOTE METHOD – Three announced ‘audience votes’ throughout the night via a decibel-o-meter on stage taking precise Db readings of audience volume level. The thinking:

– A decibel-o-meter on the stage encourages the crowd to come to front and get boisterous, not awkwardly stand quietly at the back like a school disco.
– Taking three ‘audience votes’ throughout the night ensures fans of all acts are encouraged to watch all acts thereby creating a better atmosphere for all.
– Having three specific announced ‘audience vote moments’ means everyone will know when the vote is being taken and when to make extra noise for their fav. It also means at all other times they can get behind all acts not worrying about being seen as ‘unfaithful’! Creating a better atmosphere for all.

We will announce these audience vote moments on stage, will then read out each artist name and measure the noise from the crowd for each artist. This will be done at the start at 7pm, near the last act and one time at random.

The Judges will be marking you out of ten on these criteria:

– Stage Presence – swagger, presence, engagement with audience.
– Raw Talent – as perceived by the individual judge.
– Quality of Performance – in time, in tune, hitting notes etc
– Quality of Songs – as perceived by the individual judge.
– Splendour Suitability – would you ‘work’ opening the main stage?

Eight judges scoring you out of 50, the top score and bottom score will be removed and the remaining six will form a score out of 300. We remove the top and bottom score to help ensure independence and fairness. We want our judging process to be impartial and independent, striving for that over time we have realised its IMPOSSIBLE to put together a judging panel of individuals with knowledge of the Nottingham Music scene who do not have connections with musicians in that scene, everyone has their favourites. By excluding the top vote you make sure any ‘freak’ 50 out of 50 given to the act who features one of the judge’s neighbour’s sons girlfriends does not bias the result. by excluding the bottom vote you make sure any ‘freak’ 0 out of 50 given to the act who features the bully of one the judge’s kids at school does not bias the result.

Each of the three ‘audience votes’ will be out of 100, scores will be allocated like this:

Highest Db – 100
2nd – 90
3rd – 80
4th – 70
5th – 60
6th – 50

After three votes we will have a second score out of 300 giving each artist an overall score out of 600. Needless to say the highest score out of 600 wins that main stage slot at Splendour.

Complicated yes, but all aimed at creating the best possible atmosphere for all as well as seek a winning artist talented enough to win the love of the ‘experts’ and the people.

FINALLY… Performance rules:

– Sets must be no longer than 15 minutes.
– Sets may comprise no more than 3 songs.
– No covers.
– No samples longer than four bars.
– Be nice.


In contrast to Round One which was an expert Judges vote, the Semi-Finals are a public vote. We wanted to mix things up, an expert vote ensures new talent yet to build a fanbase gets a chance (as well as solo artists who often miss out in public votes simply due to there being less of them in the ‘musical entity’), a public vote ensures local musicians who have been good enough to build a fanbase get to acknowledge that, additionally the public vote is accompanied by a dedicated version of the NEW MUSIC PODCAST offering the public an easy way to hear all the Semi-Finalists.

The public vote is open from 11pm Monday 27th April through to 11.59pm Wednesday 6th May (2015). It will be an ‘open’ vote (in that you can see who is winning) until 11.59pm Tuesday 5th May 2015. At this point we intend to (technology allowing) make the vote private, this will build some tension and drive audience to the NEW MUSIC PODCAST (giving more exposure to more musicians) where we will announce the results exclusively 11am Monday 11th May 2015.

Re the earlier point re solo artists. At least two solo artists must make the final six. So if four bands (definition = non session musician featuring musical combos of two or more) take the top four places in the public vote then the 3rd and 4th place bands will be replaced by the highest placed solo artists.

The Indi Rule means two artists are already in the final, and this year they both happen to be bands (as defined above). Therefore the thirteen artists in the Semi-Final vote will be competing for four places.

Our definition of a band (above) does allow for solo artists who are not playing solo. An act with more than one person playing on stage that is named after the lead singer (who writes all the songs totally by themself), and in which the other musicians are effectively session musicians (and so are significantly less motivated to put the effort in to secure a Final place), is deemed a solo act. We’ll be direct with you, this is probably the trickiest grey area to address in the whole of FSN. Over the years we have found this definition to be the best compromise, we know it’s not perfect.


– Due to a quintuple tie for the final place in the semi-finals there are thirteen artists in the Semi-Final vote.

– Transparency declarations: No member of any of the Semi Finalists are current interns members of the Nusic team, one half of The Hargreaves did do an internship with Nusic in 2013.

Artists entering FSN are welcome to enter the comp that will run to play the main stage of No Tomorrow Festival. Should you win that comp, and still be in the running for Splendour, we will high five your awesomeness and then kindly ask you to step down from FSN. It wouldn’t be equitable to have the same artist play the main stage at both festivals.


YOU MUST BE FROM NOTTS – This means you (if more than one of you the majority of you i.e half or more) either LIVE (studying at Uni DOES count) in the Great County of Nottinghamshire and/ or Greater Nottingham Urban Area, and/or were born/ brought up here (whilst now living somewhere else e.g. you are at Uni elsewhere). You must cite Notts as your hometown on all social media (we will check), you are allowed to state more than one place e.g. Notts and London.

ALL GENRES – to ensure we live our Third Commandment and represent a diversity of genres at least two of the twelve semi-finalists will be urban artists (definition of urban = would be played on Radio 1Xtra/ Kemet FM, Chair plus Jackie P from Kemet FM make this judgement call).


Group One -Those who have won/ headlined any previous NUSIC or NOTTS UNSIGNED competitons. For the avoidance of doubt this means JOY MUMFORD, THE GORGEOUS CHANS, THE AFTERDARK MOVEMENT, KAPPA GAMMA, KAGOULE, THE MONEY, LONG DEAD SIGNAL, DOG IS DEAD, FRONTIERS and THE TURF. Previous runners-up and finalists CAN enter.
Group Two – Any Nottingham artist already announced on the bill for THIS year’s Splendour.
Group Three – Musicians who are unable to perform at least three original tracks live. To clarify the minimum requirement for playing live is a live vocal, singing over a backing cd, Ableton etc.
Group Four – Artists who only play covers, no covers are allowed to be entered or performed, FSN (and Nusic generally) is all about encouraging original song writing.

Grey Area – What if you are a new act that includes members who use to be in one of the artists listed in Group One? To be able to enter this year it must be either at least four years since your old act got through or over half the members of the current act must not have been in the last act.

ENSURING NEW TALENT GETS A CHANCE – No more than six artists who have already played Splendour (in previous years) can make it through to the Semi-Finals. This means that should the judges (who vote ‘blind’) vote through seven acts who it turns out have played Splendour before, the seventh act would note make it through.

JUDGES – Will be announced Monday 13th April via the New Music Podcast. As always we will put together a panel of the most ‘able-to-help’ industry peeps we can find in Nottingham, this means whether or not you ‘win’ you get your music heard by people who can help you. Our main concern with the panel is filling it with people who can help you, reflecting the broader music industry this does often result in our panels being quite male dominated. That said we know it’s important to have relatable role models so we do try hard to ensure that the panels are not all male.

JUDGING PROCESS – Each judge will twice mark each act out of ten, after listening to one track from each artist without knowing who the artist is. The first mark will be for ‘raw talent’ as perceived by that individual judge. The second mark will be for ‘ability to nail it playing the main stage at Splendour’ as perceived by that individual judge. Scores from the judge giving the highest score will be excluded (explained below), new for 2015 the lowest score will also be excluded. The other three Judges (as there will now be five in total) will have their scores all added together giving each act a final mark out of 60. The top two (subject to the criteria outlined above and below) acts will go straight through to the final (see ‘Indi Rule’ below), the next ten acts go through to Semi-Finals (public vote). The 11th and 12th acts in the Semi-Final public vote will be the SPREADTHELOVE and NOISE GEN winners. None of the Nusic team vote.

WHO ARE THE JUDGES? – Listen to the New Music Podcast on 13th April to find out.

WHY DO YOU EXCLUDE THE HIGHEST SCORE? – It’s about ensuring independence and fairness. We want our judging process to be impartial and independent, striving for that over time we have realised its intrinsically impossible to put together a judging panel of individuals with knowledge of the Nottingham Music scene who do not have connections with musicians in that scene, everyone has their favourites. By excluding the top vote you make sure any ‘freak’ 10 out of 10 given to the act who features one of the judge’s ‘neighbour’s son’s cat’ does not bias the result. This score will only be used if there is a tie.

WHY DO YOU EXCLUDE THE LOWEST SCORE? – This is a new idea for 2015 and is about our continued to efforts to ensure independence and fairness. We want our judging process to be impartial and independent, striving for that over time we have realised its intrinsically impossible to put together a judging panel of individuals with knowledge of the Nottingham Music scene who do not have connections with musicians in that scene, everyone has their favourites AND their prejudices. By excluding the bottom vote as well as the top vote you make sure any ‘freak’ 0 out of 10 scores given to an act who features the kid from school who used to bully the judges son, that makes music in a genre that a particular judge absolutely hates etc does not bias the result. This means there is a fifth judge this year to ensure we have three ‘valid’ votes for each artist.

I’M CONFUSED NOW CAN YOU SUM THAT UP BRIEFLY PLS? – Well as you asked so nicely. Five judges. Top judge score excluded. Bottom judge score excluded. Remaining three judge scores make the traditional Round One score out of sixty.

CAN PEOPLE WHO WORK WITH/ FOR YOU ENTER? – After some thought on this one, yes, ish. We have a large number of volunteers from the Nottinghamshire scene who help and support us in helping you, many are musicians themselves. Not letting them enter would effectively ‘punish’ them for helping out. We will declare any potential internal conflicts of interest so that things are transparant. It’s worth remembering that none of the Nusic team vote. Any current member of the Nusic team who enters FSN will be asked to take time out from Nusic for the duration of their time in FSN.

2015 FSN Transparancy Declarations =
– TBC – Number of artists entering this year that were related, living with or in love with current members of the Nusic Team. No one loves us – sniff, sniff.
– Any Nusic volunteers linked to FSN entries will be ‘firewalled’ from the judging process.

CAN PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE JUDGES ENTER? – Yes, and that’s why we exlude the top vote to prevent any bias (see above).

OK HOW DO YOU ENSURE NO BIAS? – By trying our best. Three points to the answer. None of us (those of us working on Nusic on a day to day basis) will be judges, in fact all our judges are music and/ or media professionals connected to Nottingham, who work elsewhere. Secondly, any acts who have specific links with us and make it through to the semi-finals we will declare so everything is transparent. Thirdly our cunning judging mechanics explained above.

The ‘semi-final twelve’ will be announced on Mon 27th April via the New Music Podcast. The judges decision is final, by entering the competition you agree to accept this and all the above.

We will not publish the specific scores for all artists for two reasons:

1) We want the judges to be able to score honestly and not worry about getting grief when musicians see the scores they gave them.
2) We don’t want to discourage people, if you see you came last with 3 points out of 60 that’s not very encouraging, and we’re all about encouraging.

WHAT’s THE INDI RULE? – Across the three rounds of FSN we try and mix democracy (public votes) with expertise (Judge votes), we feel this has worked quite well since 2009, for example the FSN2012 winners THE AFTERDARK MOVEMENT were in the top two in all three rounds. But we are always trying to make it better. In 2012 we also had an extreme case, an incredible raw talent who’d never done a single gig in their life entered the competition and rightly (as shown by their subsequent success) won Round One (the Judge vote) by a mile, the largest points victory ever in fact. Despite their clear stand out talent they did not get through round two, they were so new they had no following yet and not enough neutral voters took part to see them through. As Nusic is all about uncovering new talent we were frustrated that FSN was not able to ‘cope’ with such an extreme scenario (by extreme we mean so good whilst simultaneously so unknown, thereby winning round one but totally out of it in round two), so we’ve brought in a new rule. The top two in the Round One expert vote will get automatic byes through to the final.

That’s it, keep listening to the New Music Podcast for the latest!

Have we mentioned you need to listen to the New Music Podcast?

Nusic 2021