Singer wins campaign to persuade Spotify to recognise Scots language for first time

An award-winning singer has claimed victory in her campaign to persuade music industry giants Spotify to recognise Scots as a language.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 11:59 pm
Updated Friday, 5th March 2021, 12:44 pm

Iona Fyfe from Huntly, in Aberdeenshire, has persuaded Spotify to create a Scots listing after writing an open letter to the company in December which was widely shared on social media.

She noticed Scots was the only minority language in Britain to be omitted by the streaming giant’s site, which had listings for Scottish and Irish Gaelic, Manx, Cornish and Welsh.

The case was raised in the Scottish Parliament by SNP MSP Clare Adamson who wrote to Spotify boss Daniel Ek to press for a change.

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The 23-year-old also tackled a Spotify editor, Laura Ohls, on the issue when she attended a virtual music industry convention last month.

Ohls later wrote to Fyfe to tell her that Scots had been added to the platform – just days before she was due to release a new single, The Wild Geese, today.

Spotify told her: “We can’t thank you enough for flagging to us and thank you for your patience in us getting this addressed.”

In her open letter, the former Scots Singer of the Year, said: “Scots is not a technical tool or feature, it is a recognised language in which people speak and sing in. A language that people release music in.”

Aberdeenshire singer Iona Fyfe discovered that Scots was the only British minority language omitted from Spotify.

Fyfe, one of the rising stars of the Scottish folk scene, had been due to tour the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and America before all her live shows were called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fyfe, a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Glasgow, told The Scotsman: “I went to the Folk Alliance International conference last year in New Orleans and was showcasing at its virtual event this year.

“I went to a panel discussion which had a senior editor from Spotify specialising in folk music.

“I felt that despite getting in touch with Spotify in December, January and February I had been fobbed off quite a lot. I thought that she would be really sympathetic and she was. I emailed her and within two days she got back to me to say that Scots had now been added to Spotify.

Scots singer Iona Fyfe recorded a Scotsman Sessions video last year.

“I’m really impressed that it’s happened now but disappointed that it didn’t happen sooner. It's really important that more folk singers will be able to get their songs categorised under the correct language.

“It’s really important that a global organisation like Spotify has taken steps to recognise a minority language that 1.5 million people speak.

"However I do think it has happened a little bit late as languages like Cornish, Manx and Welsh had already been recognised on Spotify.”

A statement from Spotify said: "We are pleased to confirm that Scots language is now available as a category for artists to select when submitting music to Spotify, alongside Scottish Gaelic.

"It is incredibly important to us that we support all artists on the platform and we continue to fully localise our product in Scotland as part of this mission."

Ms Adamson said: "Iona is a superb advocate for the Scots language and a fabulous musician.

"Her efforts have been rewarded and I was pleased to help as a long time Scots language advocate myself.

"It's a sair fecht but now the many talented Scots artists on Spotify will be able to have their work properly recognised."Preservation of a language is not just about promoting or celebrating culture or identity – though that is significant.

"Preservation of a language is an inherent acceptance of the people who speak it. That is something worth singing about and that is why I am delighted that Spotify has budged on this glaring omission."

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