Back to the top

FSN 23




The voting process is quite complicated, there is a lot of method in the apparent madness though! Pinky promise.

Every rule is about trying to create as epic an experience as possible for the musicians taking part, hopefully the best gig of their lives, one that might even change their lives.

It’s a mixed voting system, between audience vote and an ‘Industry Professionals Panel’ 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 vibrant gig for the musicians. We appreciate there is a risk we simply end up pissing off everybody.


– Addresses the natural numerical advantage of bands with audience 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 well connected, Industry Professionals, who can help your career. On the Nottingham level this panel is huge, pretty much every major player in Nottingham is represented {the one exception is Dean Jackson from the BBC, who prefers to stay neutral (as we do, so we empathise)}. This in itself is a big opportunity regardless of the result. Several previous FSN Finalists have secured management, been booked for Splendour independently, as well as received key gig support slots. And that’s not counting the champs!

Those Industry Professionals are:

  • Anwyn Williams – Splendour / DHP Family
  • Gemma Cockrel – Leftlion Magazine
  • Verity Cowley – BBC Radio Nottingham
  • Summaya Mughal – BBC TV / Radio
  • Craig Chettle – Confetti / Notts TV
  • Jackie P – Kemet FM

Our primary brief is to curate a panel full of the Nottingham residents most able to help our Finalists. We also seek to ensure demographic diversity too. Our brief is to find:

– Individuals who have a significant audience (which we define as thousands to tens of thousands) plus the freedom to give exposure to local musicians.

– Individuals with significant professional music industry connections, such that could lead to high profile gigs or even management/ label introductions.

– The majority of our Industry Professionals will have both.

– And in 2019 we added a new criteria – Industry Professionals who can advise you / help you with getting career-changing funding


– 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 vibey crowd and better atmosphere for all artists. 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 someone else’s three chord hit is not enough.


–  Three announced ‘audience votes’ throughout the night via a decibel-o-meter on stage taking precise Db readings of audience volume level (from the same location).

The thinking:

– A decibel-o-meter on the stage encourages the crowd to come to the front and get boisterous, not awkwardly stand quietly at the back like a school disco, creating a better atmosphere for all.

– Taking three ‘audience votes’ throughout the night ensures fans of all artists are encouraged to watch all artists thereby creating a better atmosphere for all.

– Having three specific announced (on the night) ‘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 artists not worrying about being seen as ‘unfaithful’!

Creating a better atmosphere for all.

We will announce these audience vote moments on stage, we will then read out each artist name and precisely measure the noise from the crowd for each artist. This will be done near the start at 630pm, near the last artist and one time at random.

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

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

Six Industry Professionals scoring you out of 50 to form a score out of 300.

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
– 7th – 40
– 8th – 30

After three votes we will have a score, out of 300, giving each artist an overall score out of 600. Needless to say the highest two scores out of 600 win the main stage slots at Splendour.

Complicated yes, but all aimed at creating the best possible atmosphere for all, as well as seeking a winning artist talented enough to win the love of the Industry Professionals’ and of you – the public.

Should there be a tie, the artist with the highest overall ‘Splendour Suitability’ score from the panel, becomes the FSN Champ. Should scores still be tied, the Splendour representative on the Industry Professionals panel, will cast the deciding vote.

FINALLY… Performance rules:

– Be nice.

– Sets must be no longer than 15 minutes.

– Sets may comprise no more than 4 songs. This was a change for 2018 (it used to be 3). Sets must still be no longer than 15 minutes, if an artist does go over fifteen minutes, one point will be deducted from their final score for every second they go over.

– No covers. We roll with the Wikipedia definition: “a new performance or recording of a previously recorded, commercially released song by someone other than the original artist or composer.”–  You can swear if you wanna, but it probably ain’t gonna help your ‘Splendour Suitability’ score.

– Samples must not be so long they sound like covers, our broad rule of thumb is that a sample longer than four bars starts to raise eyebrows, longer than eight bars and we may well feel unable to allow it. Obviously the sample can be looped ad infinitum. Official Hip-Hop term that.

If in doubt Chair of Judges Jackie P and Nusic Founder Mark Del will make final judgement call, where clarity is lacking due to no precise rule currently relating to the precise matter arising, decision will be made in the context of this question, “does this align with the spirit of FSN?”

For context a reminder of that spirit – to create for Notts musicians the opportunity to play in front of huge audiences, on iconic stages, in front of Industry Professionals that can help them.


And did we mention be nice?



Pick your strongest, most appropriate original track – and email it to us at nusic@leftlion.co.uk w the subject line ‘FSN 23 ENTRY’. You MUST also confirm your ‘Nottingham-ness’, and that you are available to play on July 2nd (Rock City Final), plus July 22nd & July 23rd (Splendour).



YOU MUST BE FROM OR LIVING IN THE GREATER NOTTINGHAM URBAN AREA – Get your Google on if you don’t know what that is.

ALL-INCLUSIVE – To encourage all musical genres and musical combinations to seize this opportunity, we have a number of rules that aspire to encourage a diversity of participants in FSN that reflects both the incredible musical diversity across Nottinghamshire as well as our own founding principle about supporting all genres. FSN is not just about bands, as awesome as the bands of Notts are. So:

  • We have a rule to ensure solo artists are not disadvantaged.
  • We have a rule to make FSN accessible to electronic artists, rappers and MCs (in other words, musicians who often perform purely with pre-recorded backing).
  • We have a rule to ensure artists performing Hip-Hop, Grime, Soul, Reggae, World, (any form of) Electronic Music plus any genre related to these six musical families, from whom we classically have less entries (proportionally), are encouraged to seize this opportunity.

Details on these rules below.


  • At least two solo artists must make the Final eight. This would normally mean if eight bands (definition = non-session musician featuring musical combos of two or more) take the top eight places then the 7th and 8th place bands will be replaced by the highest-placed solo artists.
  • 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 their songs without contribution from any session musicians they play with), 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.


  • At least one of the Eight Finalists will be an artist who performs Hip-Hop, Grime, Soul, Reggae, World, (any form of) Electronic Music plus any genre related to these six musical families. This (we acknowledge subjective) judgement call on which artists qualify will be made by Judging Chairwoman Jackie P from Kemet FM and Nusic Founder Mark Del. Their frame of reference is ‘Would this song be played on Kemet FM and/or BBC 1Xtra?’. This rule is not perfect, but it comes from a good place, aspiring to make sure FSN is open to all genres.


  • We have two rules to ensure raw talent is recognised, and to ensure that FSN does not end up featuring purely artists who have already had the opportunity of playing either Splendour or the FSN Final.
  • No more than two artists who have already played Splendour (in previous years) can make it through to the Final. This means that should the Final Eight have three artists that have played Splendour before, the third would be replaced by the next artist that has not played Splendour previously.
  • No more than two artists who have already played the Rock City FSN Final can make it through to the 2023 Final.


  • Group One – Those who have won / headlined any previous NUSIC ‘musician helping event’. For the avoidance of doubt this means ALT BLK ERA, BETSEY, REMY, THE DANDYLIONS, BROTHERHOOD, SUPER FURNITURE, SUSPECT ALIBI, 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 (on either day).
  • Group Three – Musicians who are unable to perform at least three original tracks live in the final. To clarify the minimum requirement for playing live is a live vocal, singing over a backing track, 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/s – What if you are a new artist that includes members who used to be in one of the artists listed in ‘Group One’? This is where it gets reeaaalllll complicated. It wouldn’t be fair to have pretty much the same artist get to play that main stage again would it? But also it wouldn’t be fair for a band of six to be excluded because one of them played triangle as a session musician back in 2016. So. If your new artist contains the same humans as before, you cannot enter. If your new artist has two or more members of an artist listed in ‘Group One’ it must be at least four years since your old act got through. If you are the only member of a ‘Group One’ artist, in your new artist, and there are at least three of you in total, you may enter now. Unless you are the lead singer / front person, in which case again it must be four years since your ‘Group One’ artist made it. Sorry singers, but you are the key distinguisher of any artist. Sometimes there are downsides to being the star, but hey, you get all the groupies.


  • After some thought on this one, 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, so we will let them. Whilst also declaring any potential internal conflicts of interest so that things are transparent. It’s worth remembering that none of the Nusic team vote. Any current volunteer from the Nusic team who enters FSN will be asked to take time out from Nusic for the duration of their time in FSN.
  • Anyone who actually works for Nusic, can not enter FSN. Neither can any artists they manage.

2023 FSN Transparency Declarations (This will be updated weekly) =

  • No artists have yet entered this year, that are related, living with or in love with current members of the Nusic Team.


  • Check FAQ11 in our #NusicFAQs: nusic.org.uk/faq

By entering #FSN2023 you agree to accept all the above.


PS – If you made to the end – big up. Here’s a puppy. x


Nusic 2021