Award-winning folksinger Iona Fyfe led the campaign which saw Spotify adding Scots to its list of languages. Scots is one of Scotlands three national languages with over 1.5 million speakers (2011 census) and is recognised as a language by the European Charter for Minority Languages. Iona noticed that despite Spotify listing every other UK Minority Language including Manx, Irish Gaelic, Cornish, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic, Scots was omitted. Iona’s music had been incorrectly categorised as English for several years. Iona, who grew up in speaking Doric, a vernacular of Scots, has released most of her music in Scots and studied for a degree in Scots Song at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She won the title of Scots Performer of the Year at the Scots Language Awards in 2020.
In December, Iona published an open-letter to Spotify asking them to add Scots to the list of languages, which received widespread public support. Read the open letter here.
Iona received the support of Clare Adamson MSP, a long-time advocate of Scots Language preservation, who lodged a Parliamentary motion in the Scottish Parliament in support of the campaign to have Scots included as a listed language on Spotify and wrote to Daniel EK, CEO of Spotify USA Inc.
In February, Iona was representing Scotland at Folk Alliance International showcases in Kansas, but held virtually due to pandemic. The event held industry panels, where Iona discussed the commission of the Scots language and lack of resolution with Laura Ohls, Senior Editor at Spotify.
Despite a three month delay from Iona’s letter, Spotify have now added the language to its database.
Iona, from Huntly, was set to have a busy 2020, touring the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and America, but all of her live performances was cancelled due to the pandemic. She has been working voluntarily as Communications Officer for Oor Vyce, an organisation campaigning for a Scots Language Act. Scots is not recognised legally as an official language by the Scottish Parliament and does not benefit from the protection and promotion that other UK minority languages do.
To celebrate Spotify adding Scots as a language, Iona has curated her own playlist of her favourite songs in the Scots Language. Listen here.
On 5th March, Iona is releasing her new single, The Wild Geese available on every platform, and proudly categorised as Scots on Spotify. Download or stream here.
Commenting Iona said:
“It is a big step forward to be able to pressure a global company to change their language policy and add Scots as a language. Being able to categorise my songs under the correct language of Scots means so much to me, and many other singers. Once we achieve a Scots Language Act, then the legislation will place responsibility unto other companies to correctly recognise the language.” – Iona Fyfe