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BASCA in association with PRS for Music announce that the 64th Ivor Novello Awards will take place on Thursday 23rd May 2019 at the Grosvenor House, London from 11.30am to 4.30pm.

The Ivors celebrate, honour and reward excellence in songwriting and composing and are judged by the music writing community.

The 64th Ivor Novello Awards will recognise works released in the UK in 2018. They will also honour songwriters and composers with gift of BASCA awards, which recognise outstanding contributions to UK music.

The Ivors 2019 timetable is as follows:

Monday 10th December 2018:
– The Ivors 2019 Rules and Guidelines Published.
– BASCA invites entries, across six nominated categories for song and album releases, film, television and video game scores.

Thursday 24th January 2019
– Tickets on Sale

Thursday 7th February 2019
– Entries close across six nominated categories for song and album releases, film, television and video game scores.

Week commencing 22nd April 2019
– The Ivors 2019 Nominations Announced

Thursday 23rd May 2019
– The 64th Ivor Novello Awards

 

For more information on The Ivors please visit www.theivors.com

Contact:
Fran Matthews or Cindy Truong
awards@basca.org.uk
020 7636 2929

 

Songs of War is a songwriting competition to inspire the UK music community and commemorate 100 years since the end of World War One, while shining a spotlight on the need to support children forced to live with the brutality of today’s conflicts.

A panel of music industry heavyweights including AC/DC lead-singer Brian Johnson will choose a winner who will have the opportunity to perform their song at the Hard Rock Cafe on November 29th and have it played on national radio.

The competition organised by music agency Soundcheque coincides with the release of ‘A Private War’, a Hollywood biopic based on the true events of war photographer, Paul Conroy (portrayed by Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades) and celebrated war correspondent, Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl).

Paul is also a musician and songwriter and wrote the song Take Good Care for Joss Stone and Dave Stewart. Paul will join the judging panel as well as providing photography from Syria and Libya for the competition video.

Paul Conroy says:
I use music as a way to relax and let the creative juices flow when I’m not in the field. For me there have always been two aspects to music:- making it, and then, getting it heard.

 I met Laura at six years ago after I was wounded in Syria and have always been impressed by her passion for music. This competition offers anybody with music in their soul an amazing opportunity to get their music heard by an incredible panel of judges with an equal passion for music.”

Laura Westcott, Competition Organiser says:
“I heard Paul Conroy’s tragic yet inspirational story the day he arrived in hospital after escaping from Homs. His heart was broken for Marie and all the other innocent people he saw suffering and being slaughtered in Syria.

Besides being an incredible photojournalist, Paul is also a songwriter and musician. Not many people know that he wrote the war-themed song ‘Take Good Care’ for Joss Stone and Dave Stewart. I had the privilege of hearing Joss and Paul perform this song, and it became my inspiration for the competition.

‘Songs of War’ aims to bring conscious awareness to the ongoing conflicts through the universal language of music and its power to evoke emotion.”

The competition requires UK based artists to submit original songs about conflict/peace/hope to a panel of hand-selected music industry judges for review.


The panel includes:-

Brian Johnson (AC/DC)
Crispin Hunt (BASCA Chairman)
Eddy Temple-Morris (Virgin Radio)
Chris Difford (Squeeze)
Claire Sturgess (Absolute Radio)
Jeremy Vine (Radio 2, Channel 5)
John Giddings (Solo, Isle of Wight Festival)
Nicky Bignell (Head of sync BBC)
Ed Potton (The Times)
Sunta Templeton (Radio X)
Yann McCullough (James Bond Spectre)
Dan Gillespie Sells (The Feeling)
Chris de Burgh

See full judging panel here

An extensive prize list is on offer to the winning act, including:

  • £1000 Cash
  • Recording time at Richard Branson’s family Home Studio
  • National Radio Support
  • One year free membership to SYNCR for paid opportunities in Media / Film / TV

A live show will be held in Mayfair, London on Thursday 29 November, at the prestigious Hard Rock Cafe, Hyde Park and live streamed via SYNCR Live on a donate per view basis.

The winner of the competition will be invited to perform alongside an existing line-up which features Samuel Jack (whose song “Refugee” features in the video) and Jack Savoretti whose grandparents are both refugees.

Jack Savoretti says:
“Songs about war can have many faces… some are protest songs, others can be uplifting, inspirational and some are simply there to give courage… More than the ideology behind how wars start and end, I’ve always been fascinated with songs that tell the stories of those who live through war.”

The winner will also receive a series of one-to-one mental health coaching sessions, courtesy of Music for Mental Wealth to help better prepare the recipient for a career in the creative industry.

This competition is one of the first of its kind to offer Mental Health support as a prize.

Sarah Handy, Head of Sales and Marketing at The Hard Rock Cafe says:
“Philanthropy has been at the heart of Hard Rock’s business since 1971.  We have provided financial and volunteer support across the globe to wide ranging causes including human trafficking, breast cancer research, hunger relief, homelessness, disaster relief, and much more. We continue to use the power of music to improve lives. Music is energy. It stirs emotions, inspires, connects and restores.  We are a brand that knows the power of music. It’s who we are. So we are delighted that Hard Rock Cafe London has been asked to be involved in this competition to raise awareness through the sound of music of the devastations created by war”.

Jim Benner, Music Events Specialist at War Child UK says:
“War Child’s heritage has its roots in music and as the charity turns 25 it’s a privilege to continue to work with the best acts and artists to strive for a world with no child’s life torn apart by war. The winner of the brilliant Soundcheque competition joins the list of musicians such as  Coldplay, Sam Smith and Florence + The Machine as a War Child artist performing and raising money for our crucial work.”

To apply, or for more information, please visit: soundcheque.com/warchild

The Music Modernization Act has been unanimously passed by the United States Senate, meaning an overhaul of music licensing legislation is soon to occur.

The Modernization act includes the CLASSICS Act, which guarantees artists and labels who recorded music before 1972 a federal right to be paid for those recordings when played by digital radio outlets.

Mitch Glazier, President, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said: “As legendary band the Grateful Dead once said in an iconic pre-1972 song, ‘what a long strange trip it’s been.’ It’s been an epic odyssey, and we’re thrilled to almost be at our destination.

“For the modern U.S. Senate to unanimously pass a 185-page bill is a herculean feat, only achievable because of the grit, determination and mobilization of thousands of music creators across the nation.

“The result is a bill that moves us toward a modern music licensing landscape better founded on fair market rates and fair pay for all. At long last, a brighter tomorrow for both past and future generations of music creators is nearly upon us. We are indebted to the leadership of Senators Hatch, Grassley, Feinstein, Alexander, Coons, Kennedy and Whitehouse for helping get us there.”

Click here for some further reading.

On 26th August 2018, it was announced that Tony Hiller had passed away, at the age of 91. The following statement was released on his Facebook page:

“Tony Hiller died this Sunday evening 26th August 2018. An amazing man that will be long remembered. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, songwriters and followers from around the world.”

Perhaps most known for writing hits for Brotherhood of Man, Hiller had won three Ivor Novello awards – including Most Performed Work and International Hit of the Year – and a Gold Badge Award for his services to the British music industry.

Over 500 other artists have recorded Hiller’s songs including Elton John, Olivia Newton-John, Andy Williams, Ray Stevens, The Miracles, The Hollies, Sonny and Cher, The Osmonds, Glen Campbell, and The Fortunes.

“Music may not change the world, but it brings people together,” said Billy Bragg at this year’s Ivor Novello Awards.

Billy – revered and loved for his gift to politicise people through his songs – was awarded PRS for Music Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Whether standing at the picket line supporting miners or spearheading an initiative that gives prisoners access to musical instruments, Billy has given a voice to those who may have otherwise remained sidelined. It’s no surprise that he heralds “empathy as the currency of songwriting” because a song can make you feel for someone’s plight or situation.

With the gap between rich and poor at its highest level in decades, it’s clear we need empathy more than ever to change hearts and minds – a theme that resonated in one of the more politically charged ceremonies in the history of The lvors.

 

Questioning the times

From picket line anthems to modern day political diatribes, rapper Dave won Best Contemporary Song for Question Time, co-written with Fraser T Smith. It was praised for its potent lyrics that challenge the status quo and hold ministers to account for the fire at Grenfell Tower; its burnt-out shell of a building is surely one of the starkest reminders in recent history of what can happen when we choose not to empathise.

Dave described Fraser T Smith as “one of the most talented musicians I’ve had the pleasure to work with” and thanked him for taking “a big chance on me”, not least as a 17-year-old who’d only just left Richmond College. Fraser himself commented: “Who would have thought that a seven-minute progressive rap song with no chorus could win an Ivor?” “It shows the state of British music is in good hands,” he added.

He also acknowledged the hard work involved in the craft of songwriting: ”l’ve written thousands of songs, including a lot of bad ones. To receive this award means the world to me.”

 

A song with staying power

Occasionally, one of those “thousands of songs” will change a songwriter’s life – a sentiment joyously expressed by Steve Mac and Johnny McDaid who won PRS for Music Most Performed Work for Shape of You, which they co-wrote with Ed Sheeran.

One of the most phenomenally successful songs ever, Shape of You peaked at no. 1 on the singles charts of 34 countries, including the US Billboard Hot 100. It’s also the most streamed song on Spotify, with over 1.32 billion streams.

Johnny sent a message to all songwriters: “Everyone who wakes up in the morning with the intention to write a song – don’t stop doing it. The songs will last longer than we do.”

 

Billy Ocean’s legacy

From Love Really Hurts Without You to When the Going Gets Tough, Billy Ocean’s incredible songs have been loved by millions for the past four decades and will no doubt stand the test of time. He was overcome with emotion as he collected his International Achievement Award and reflected on his legacy.

“It’s amazing when you write something in your youth that’s still appreciated today” he said.


Extraordinary women

Mica Levi won Best Original Film Score for the Jackie Kennedy biopic Jackie – her work was described as “an uncompromising, brave and definitive part of an extraordinary film.” She is the first woman to ever win the title in The lvors’ 63-year history.

Sustaining the legacy

Thea Musgrave CBE is proof that a career in music can keep you young and engaged. Even though she’s just celebrated her 90th birthday, Thea says she is “still learning”. She was presented with The lvors Classical Music Award in recognition of an outstanding body of work in the classical genre, which also showed that it’s possible to flourish as a female composer in a male-dominated industry.

Thea added: “Those of us who work in the arts have the sacred mission to sustain the legacy, which confirms the common bond of all human life – even as we do it through our own unique cultural, temporal, ethnic and individual voices.”

She also talked passionately about ‘Every Child a Musician’ – a programme that aims to give every primary school child the opportunity to learn an instrument, and make music a meaningful part of their lives. This is just one way in which the music industry can encourage and develop the next generation of new voices.

 

Developing the next generation

In his opening speech, Chair of BASCA Crispin Hunt urged this issue to be addressed. He also questioned whether the industry is employing the right methods to allow talent to surface. In 2017, only two of the Top 200 albums were by debut acts.

But he also believes that music is entering “a new dawn”.

“We’ve got unbelievable, visionary new ways of reaching the people,” he said. “And believable visionary new people leading the industry. BASCA’s going to play an instrumental part in making sure music’s future is brighter, fairer, more diverse and more inclusive.”

 

A welcome return

This year saw the return of a category honouring composition in the gaming industry.

Joris de Man, Alexis Smith and Joe Henson won Best Original Video Game Score for Horizon Zero Dawn. In his speech, Joris de Man thanked producer Marius de Vries for giving him his first break “I wouldn’t be here without him.”

He also added: “This is a tribute to the unsung heroes of the industry – the husbands, wives and partners.”


The joy of collaboration

Guy Garvey won Best Song Musically and Lyrically for Magnificent (She Says), co-written with Craig Potter, Mark Potter and Pete Turner. He commented on the joy of collaboration in songwriting.

He said: “I love having the opportunity to put my voice to their music. And for us to be judged by our peers really does mean the world.”

The song, celebrated by the judges for its heartfelt, beautiful imagery, was inspired by the concept that we’re born with everything we need inside of us to overcome all of the problems we encounter.

 

Multiple nominations

Dan Jones, who was nominated twice in the Awards – along with Ed Sheeran, Stormzy and Everything Everything – won Best Television Soundtrack for The Miniaturist. He also acknowledged the collaborative nature of composition thanking the “amazing directors and team of musicians” he works with.

 

The golden boy of grime

Gang Signs & Prayer picked up the Album Award, proving that Stormzy, the ‘golden boy of grime’, has grown into a mature and self-reflective songwriter. His album explores many of the contradictions and challenges young black people continue to face in modern-day Britain. But tracks such as Blinded by Your Grace and 100 Bags also reveal his more sensitive and spiritual side, where he expresses his love for God and pays a heartfelt tribute to his mum.

Stormzy was clearly overjoyed to win the award. He said: “The lvors is the only award ceremony to recognise your pen and your art, so I proper wanted to win this one.”

 

Twice Songwriter of Year

Stormzy also expressed praise for Ed Sheeran, who was awarded Songwriter of the Year. He first won the title back in 2015 when his ascendancy was already safely assured. But 2017 revealed an exceptional body of work with the release of his album Divide. The tracks Shape of You and Castle on the Hill enjoyed phenomenal, record-breaking success but they also showed off his romantic and playful way with words and his skills in genre blending. In the same year; he also wrote for; and collaborated with, a wide range of artists – from Liam Payne to Andrea Boccelli and Taylor Swift.

He said: “This is the only awards show I really care about so thank you. I owe the success of these songs to my publisher and record label too.” He also thanked Eric Clapton -who presented him with the award – for inspiring him to pick up the guitar.

 

Celebrating inspiration

When Shane MacGowan accepted The lvors Inspiration Award he described himself as “just a bandleader” and “just a songwriter”. But he is much more significant than that to his legion of loving fans and musical peers who hold his music – which blends poetry. anarchy and authenticity – in the highest esteem, not least for “keeping us sane”. His work spans four decades but as the actor Aidan Gillen – who presented him with the award – said he has created songs that sound as though they’ve “existed forever”.

 

A collection to believe in

A career in music inevitably brings many highs and lows. But some songwriters know from an early age it’s the only path they’ll ever want to tread.

This was the case for Cathy Dennis who had an epiphany at the tender age of seven that she was going to work in music. As she picked up her award for Outstanding Song Collection, she gave a moving tribute to those who supported her during the darkest periods of her career, especially Simon Fuller and her publisher Concord Music. She said: “You helped me believe in myself again.”

 

Lionel’s belief

Lionel Richie, who collected the PRS for Music Special International Award, also reflected on how important it is for writers to believe in themselves.

He said: “There is a time in your career when you have to take amazing chances because God is only whispering to you – if you keep listening you’ll prove everybody wrong.”

 

Full list of winners and recipients:

PRS FOR MUSIC MOST PERFORMED WORK
Compiled and title sponsored by The Ivors, sponsor this award credits the song that received the most broadcast, online and general performance in the UK during 2017.

Shape of You
Written by Steve Mac, Johnny McDaid and Ed Sheeran
Published in the UK by Rokstone Music – Universal Music Publishing, Spirit B-Unique – Polar Patrol and Ed Sheeran Limited – Sony/ATV Music Publishing (UK) Ltd

BEST ORIGINAL FILM SCORE
Recognising outstanding original composition for a feature film, this year’s judges described the winning score as an uncompromising, brave and definitive part of an extraordinary film.

Jackie
Composed by Mica Levi
Published in the UK by Beggars Music

INTERNATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
Presented to Billy Ocean, in recognition of the excellence, and international success, of this song catalogue.

BEST CONTEMPORARY SONG
This award recognises outstanding originality in songwriting and this year’s judges felt the winning song captures the personal and political landscape and in particular they praised the truth and execution of the lyrics.

Question Time
Written by Dave and Fraser T Smith
Published in the UK by Warner/Chappell Music Ltd and Kobalt Music Publishing

THE IVORS CLASSICAL MUSIC AWARD
Presented to Thea Musgrave, in recognition of an outstanding body of work in the classical genre.

BEST ORIGINAL VIDEO GAME SCORE
Recognising outstanding composition for a video game, this year’s judges felt that the winning score had an impressive scope, depth and attention to detail whilst retaining sensitivity to the emotional content.

Horizon Zero Dawn
Composed by Joris de Man, Joe Henson and Alexis Smith

BEST SONG MUSICALLY AND LYRICALLY
Recognising excellence in songwriting craft, this year’s judges said that the winning song succeeded structurally, musically and with heartfelt, beautiful imagery.

Magnificent (She Says)
Written by Guy Garvey, Craig Potter, Mark Potter and Pete Turner
Published in the UK by Salvation Music Ltd – Warner/Chappell Music Publishing Ltd

PRS FOR MUSIC OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO BRITISH MUSIC
Presented to Billy Bragg, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British Music.

BEST TELEVISION SOUNDTRACK
Recognising outstanding, original composition for a television programme, the judges said the winning work was exquisitely composed with exceptional attention to detail.

The Miniaturist
Composed by Dan Jones
Published in the UK by Faber Music and Sony/ATV Music Publishing (UK) Ltd

ALBUM AWARD
This award recognises exceptional songwriting and consistency across an album as a whole. The judges described the winning album as an astonishing open hearted body of work that fully captures the spirit of 2017.

Gang Signs & Prayer
Written by Michael ‘Stormzy’ Omari
Published in the UK by Warner/Chappell Music Ltd

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
Presented to a British or Irish songwriter who has released an exceptional body of work during the award year, the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year 2017 was presented to Ed Sheeran.

THE IVORS INSPIRATION AWARD
Presented to Shane MacGowan in recognition of the power of his songwriting to inspire the creative talents of others.

OUTSTANDING SONG COLLECTION
Presented to songwriter Cathy Dennis in recognition of her outstanding body of work.

PRS FOR MUSIC SPECIAL INTERNATIONAL AWARD
The only Ivor Novello Award independently presented to an international writer, the PRS for Music Special
International Award recognises a songwriter whose work has left an indelible mark on British music. It was presented to Lionel Richie.

For more information, visit the Ivors website.

 

BASCA, in association with PRS for Music, announce the winners of the 63rd Ivor Novello Awards.

 

PRS FOR MUSIC MOST PERFORMED WORK
Compiled and title sponsored by The Ivors, sponsor this award credits the song that received the most broadcast, online and general performance in the UK during 2017.

Shape of You
Written by Steve Mac, Johnny McDaid and Ed Sheeran
Published in the UK by Rokstone Music – Universal Music Publishing, Spirit B-Unique – Polar Patrol and Ed Sheeran Limited – Sony/ATV Music Publishing (UK) Ltd

BEST ORIGINAL FILM SCORE
Recognising outstanding original composition for a feature film, this year’s judges described the winning score as an uncompromising, brave and definitive part of an extraordinary film.

Jackie
Composed by Mica Levi
Published in the UK by Beggars Music

INTERNATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
Presented to Billy Ocean, in recognition of the excellence, and international success, of this song catalogue.

BEST CONTEMPORARY SONG
This award recognises outstanding originality in songwriting and this year’s judges felt the winning song captures the personal and political landscape and in particular they praised the truth and execution of the lyrics.

Question Time
Written by Dave and Fraser T Smith
Published in the UK by Warner/Chappell Music Ltd and Kobalt Music Publishing

THE IVORS CLASSICAL MUSIC AWARD
Presented to Thea Musgrave, in recognition of an outstanding body of work in the classical genre.

BEST ORIGINAL VIDEO GAME SCORE
Recognising outstanding composition for a video game, this year’s judges felt that the winning score had an impressive scope, depth and attention to detail whilst retaining sensitivity to the emotional content.

Horizon Zero Dawn
Composed by Joris de Man, Joe Henson and Alexis Smith

BEST SONG MUSICALLY AND LYRICALLY
Recognising excellence in songwriting craft, this year’s judges said that the winning song succeeded structurally, musically and with heartfelt, beautiful imagery.

Magnificent (She Says)
Written by Guy Garvey, Craig Potter, Mark Potter and Pete Turner
Published in the UK by Salvation Music Ltd – Warner/Chappell Music Publishing Ltd

PRS FOR MUSIC OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO BRITISH MUSIC
Presented to Billy Bragg, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British Music.

BEST TELEVISION SOUNDTRACK
Recognising outstanding, original composition for a television programme, the judges said the winning work was exquisitely composed with exceptional attention to detail.

The Miniaturist
Composed by Dan Jones
Published in the UK by Faber Music and Sony/ATV Music Publishing (UK) Ltd

ALBUM AWARD
This award recognises exceptional songwriting and consistency across an album as a whole. The judges described the winning album as an astonishing open hearted body of work that fully captures the spirit of 2017.

Gang Signs & Prayer
Written by Michael ‘Stormzy’ Omari
Published in the UK by Warner/Chappell Music Ltd

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
Presented to a British or Irish songwriter who has released an exceptional body of work during the award year, the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year 2017 was presented to Ed Sheeran.

THE IVORS INSPIRATION AWARD
Presented to Shane MacGowan in recognition of the power of his songwriting to inspire the creative talents of others.

OUTSTANDING SONG COLLECTION
Presented to songwriter Cathy Dennis in recognition of her outstanding body of work.

PRS FOR MUSIC SPECIAL INTERNATIONAL AWARD
The only Ivor Novello Award independently presented to an international writer, the PRS for Music Special
International Award recognises a songwriter whose work has left an indelible mark on British music. It was presented to Lionel Richie.

For more information, visit the Ivors website.

The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors (BASCA) has unveiled a new campaign #soldforasong

BASCA applauds the recent commitments by major labels to share in any financial benefits from Spotify’s forthcoming direct listing with their artists and associated indie labels,  and calls for similar commitments from music publishers that any such benefits, direct or indirect, received by them from the pending Spotify direct listing or Facebook licence advances will be shared transparently and fairly with the writers they represent.

A decade after its launch Facebook has recently concluded licensing agreements with the major music publishing companies and BASCA understand that those deals involve lump sum advance payments worth many millions of pounds.

There are concerns however that no pledge has been made by music publishers to equitably share any financial benefit derived from such licenses with songwriters and composers.

BASCA welcomes the news that going forward Facebook is seeking to put in place music recognition technologies to ensure that future usage data is correctly reported to ensure songwriters and composers will be accurately remunerated.

An ongoing issue, however, is that Facebook currently has no systems in place to identify the music used on their platform retrospectively.  BASCA is therefore seeking assurances from those music publishers that have concluded deals with Facebook that any so-called ‘unattributable’ income derived from these deals is distributed equitably and transparently with songwriters and composers.

In addition, they are demanding that sufficient efforts are made to establish correct usage and not just to distribute monies via an ‘assumed’ market share analogy.

BASCA also calls for any financial windfall received by the music publishing community from Spotify’s upcoming direct listing on the New York Stock exchange, which commentators suggest might value the company in excess of $19bn, to be shared honourably, fairly and transparently with those that composed the catalogues being exploited.

Crispin Hunt, BASCA Chair says: “The so-called ‘evergreen’ catalogue is arguably only so verdant because it has been historically over-watered in lieu of correct data.  With the potential of today’s technology for granular digital data such anachronistic inaccuracy is no longer excusable in music – the right music must receive the right monies. If it’s played it should be paid.”

 

Vick Bain, CEO of BASCA said, “Facebook and other user generated content platforms, as well as digital services such as Spotify have benefited incalculably from exploiting our members work and indeed this has allowed them to become among the world’s wealthiest corporations. They, and the publishers who license music to them, have an obligation and a duty to safeguard the future sustainability of our industry and to ensure that songwriters and composers are given their fair due of these potential riches.”

In response to the proposed Music Modernisation bill by Representative Doug Collins, BASCA Chairman, Crispin Hunt has stated the following:

“As you may know, Representative Doug Collins has recently proposed an act that is currently going through congress and the senate called the US Music Modernisation Act.
Though the premise of this act is warmly welcomed by BASCA, the practice presents songwriters with reason for concern. BASCA initiated a conversation with ECSA (the European Composer & Songwriter Alliance), and have jointly written to Representative Collins to express our concerns and offer our engagement in addressing some of the issues presented by the bill.
As the US is possibly the UK’s largest market, this bill will affect UK (and sadly, EU) writers’ and composers’ income streams in the future – and so it is essential that our voice is heard and appropriate amendments are made to the bill to fine tune it, so that it doesn’t disadvantage non-US composers.”

 

ECSA and BASCA’s letter to Representative Collins was leaked online and can be read below:

Dear Representative Collins,

We write you from the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance, Europe’s largest songwriter’s organisation representing creators from 27 European countries. Our British member BASCA, copied to this letter, who represents songwriters such as Sir Paul McCartney, Coldplay or Annie Lennox encouraged us to contact you in a matter of mutual concern.

We learnt that you proposed a new bill – the Music Modernization Act – which shall, in essence, establish a new collective licensing entity providing a blanket license for the mechanical right for online streaming services operating in the US. We are advised that whilst your bill does not expressly authorize the new collective from also licensing the performing nght, it also does not expressly prohibit the collective from doing so

As you may know, European repertoire accounts for up to 25% of the Top 100 songs played on US radio stations.1 We therefore follow with great attention copyright legislation in the US, being one of the biggest markets for European songwriters and we understand that the new collective licensing entity will also govern all foreign repertoires, including the European one

We join our US colleagues in believing that the reform of the music licensing process is and must continue to be an exceptionally high legislative priority – especially the need to raise music royalty rates to equitable levels to sustain the songwriter community.

Whilst there are many good points about 1he draft bill, we also join the views voiced by the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA) in an open letter to you dated 21 December 2017: there are a number of very serious problems set forth in the bill and in general we believe, that the bill rather favours the interests of the multi-national publishers, rather than those of individual, hardworking songwriters. Please allow me to respectfully remind you that the latter are the very justification of copyright law to exist as legal institution. In tum, publishers mainly represent their own interests, which are not necessarily congruent • with those of contracted songwriters.

Just by way of example, in Europe, collective management entities are governed by songwriters, who hold a 70% majority on boards of those entities. We cannot accept a concept that sets out that a board of directors of a new collective rights management entity, providing blanket licenses of mechanical rights for the entire US territory, which is governed by eight publishers versus only two songwriters who must be “self-published” at that. How can such an arbitrary governance structure ensure that the legitimate and vital interests of individual creators are well represented by vis-a-vis multi-billion publishing companies, particularly when there is no other oversight?

Respectfully, there are many other problems with the essential lack of fairness in the bill, which are too numerous to detail in a short letter. By example. one other obvious flaw is the distributing of unidentified monies on a market share basis. How can the market share, which in too many historical instances is acquired on dubious grounds in the first place, justify a blanket pay-out of un-matched royalties? Because the bill establishes a two-tiered system allowing major publishers to essentially opt-out of the collective with a direct license, the bill inexplicably distributes unidentified monies using the market

share of those publishers who will not otherwise be administered by the collective and will not likely be included in the pool of unidentified monies.

A few other questions that are of concern to songwriters: Where is the business plan for the collective? A century of practice is to be changed without even a business plan that the governed have a chance to review? And what justifies the denial of statutory damages? And how is the board of directors elected? Finally, why should companies directly licensing online music service providers be eligible for

membership on those boards? And how will cooperation with foreign CMO’s be handled, also in terms of data exchange? ·

We appreciate that the introduction of a bill is simply a first step. We trust that you will carefully review the bill andtake our views into account. We will do our best to provide you with a more detailed comment in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get back to us.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

 

The letter can be found on Artists Rights Watch, here.

Shiva Feshareki likes taking risks. Her first show performing with the jazz organist Kit Downes last year was not planned, rehearsed or even discussed in detail until the night of the show, despite it being broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
While most performers might baulk at that prospect, particularly as it brought together the unlikely timbral coupling of Feshareki’s turntables with the organ at the Church of St John at Hackney, she was unfazed.The decision was a conscious one, she explains over Skype: “We didn’t want to plan anything, or talk about it too much, so that we could get into a really deep zone of free improvisation beyond our conscious thinking”. The piece revolved around huge blossoming drones with low end rumble, a sound like sputtering helicopter blades competing with the ecstatic chords of organ’s high soaring notes. “It was a massive success,” she says.
Feshareki describes herself as an experimental classical composer: “I’m experimental in the sense that I’m constantly trying to find new ways of thinking and new ways of working, but I’m classically trained at the Royal College of Music,” she says. She is also a turntablist, manipulating vinyl records using her own techniques, and hosts a radio show, ‘New Forms’, on London internet station NTS.

Winning Awards
She has just been awarded this years’ British Composer Award for Innovation, but her first prize came age 16, when she won the BBC Young Composer of the Year Award for her first notated work.
It was for two pianos, three violins and a vibrating tool she devised in the design and technology department, to ride on the strings inside the piano. While studying composition at Royal College of Music, she won the usually traditionally classical Concerto Competition, for a turntable concerto.
Feshareki identifies as a composer first and foremost, although she played violin for a short while. The 29-year old has just submitted her doctorate, and in September 2017 began a year as composer in residence at the Purcell School for Young Musicians. All this as well as presenting Occam River XV by French composer Eliane Radigue alongside a new work by computer and dance music producer Lee Gamble and the London Contemporary Orchestra, at the Great Masson Cave in the Peak District.
To get to the cave, the audience travelled by cable car to the top of the Heights of Abraham: “There’s this beautiful view of the Peak district and then you descend into this really deep cave,” Feshareki says, “and both Eliane and Lee’s music has this sense of depth.

“I wanted people to treat the art of listening in a different light,” she explains. “People travelled from all over the country, so they prepared themselves for an experience, they made an effort, a journey, and on the way back they could reflect on the experience.” Feshareki names early electronic composers like Radigue, as well as Dahne Oram and James Tenney, as massive influences on her work and process. “These composers have a much broader perspective on sounds,” she says. “It’s often an aesthetic that’s very unique and that has come out of experimentation. I love composers like this, firstly because they’re part of an era of music where people were really experimenting with new and radical ways of making music, and because they see a broader picture of sound that isn’t just music or composition, but is science and society as well.”
Feshareki’s activities, from commissions and performances, to collaborations and radio shows, always have a social element. She operates what has historically been a difficult space to navigate: between contemporary electronic music and formal classical composition, but she sees this as an opportunity to build new scenes through working with other people, collaborating with cellists Natalie Clein, DJ/Dance Music Producer Kasra V, gong and gamelan player Cathy Eastburn, singer-songwriter Laura Marling, and sound-artist Simon Fisher-Turner, amongst others.

 

 

Making a Scene
She explains that while she’s looking for collaborations that can raise questions in terms of composition and communication as well as sonically, the outward facing impact of a project is also crucial. “Through doing so many different types of collaborations with people from different worlds, it’s like I’m building my own artistic scene, the sort of scene that I’d like to see exist,” she says.

The scene Feshareki has seen manifesting this year, marked by cross-pollination, like Lee Gamble being interviewed on Radio 3, or music from her NTS shows starting to be used as repertoire. Before 2017 she spent time bouncing around absorbing disparate scenes and genres, seemingly disappearing from some because she had emerged in others. “There’s something really exciting about dipping your toes into different scenes” she says. “It’s really enlightening, you see that this scene works really differently to that one, in its audience or the way people work. I wish more artists had this opportunity, because it gives such a broad understanding of factors like artistic relevance and impact.”

This ‘one foot in, one foot out’ approach to engaging with the classical and contemporary experimental music scenes she traces to being born to Iranian parents and brought up in London: “For me it’s about how we can find a dialogue between all these scenes and these worlds to find a common ground,” she says. “As someone who has a heritage that’s different to the country that I live in, it brings a shift of perspective.” Feshareki can trace her route into composing back to vivid childhood memories of playing on her older brother’s Casio keyboard. “He’d be at school, and I’d come home from playgroup at noon, go to his room and play his keyboard. I still remember the pieces I wrote then, can still sit at the piano and play them.” Then in her late teens she became fascinated

with watching DJs with turntables at parties, the physical, gestural possibilities of the decks. She then started playing on a friend’s pair of Technics, toying with their sonic possibilities rather than beat-matching or DJing, seeing how she could change the sound of different movements, which resulted in her developing her own sampling and turntabling techniques.

“I try and reshape the idea of the turntable throughout my work,” she explains, describing how in one piece she took the concept of a spinning circle and applied it to a composition, “where the movement and speed of the turning table directly impacts the sounds created”. In a more recent composition for the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra titled ‘O’, Feshareki treated the orchestra as a giant turntable where the sound moved in circular direction.
She also uses these techniques on her NTS show, which she counts as artistic research, and a way to develop new work. As such, new techniques and ideas are tested live on air, sometimes without the listeners knowing. In one instance ten new tracks were made live on air, by pulling ten random records from her shelves and sampling them on the fly: “I listened back to hear what worked and what didn’t work. People might find that exciting, as there’s nothing polished about my shows. I always want to feel like I’m inviting other people in.”

 

Taking Risks
This rawness to her compositional practices leaves Feshareki open to failure, which she readily accepts. While experiments on NTS shows and her performance with Kit Downes were successes, things do go wrong: a collaboration with a YouTube gamer was a disaster she is reluctant to detail, but is honest and sanguine about risks not always paying off. She describes her ongoing collaboration with the sound artist Haroon Mirza as very productive and positive, but not because their performances have always gone right. One of their first projects at the ICA, with the London Sinfonietta in 2014, fell apart almost before it had started: “The work was so complex and so ambitious,” she says. “We had eight turntables, octagonal-designed LEDs, really specific staging, four videos and a big group of musicians. It’s was 50-minute piece, but within maybe the first two minutes everything malfunctioned and we had to stop the performance.”

While this sounds like a performer’s worst nightmare, Feshareki sees it as little more than a technical failure: “with these really exceptionally risky collaborations, I know they’ve been risky because they’ve massively failed at the time,” she explains, “and you feel awful when it happens, but then in retrospect you’re just so grateful for how it’s enriched you, your future work and your future thinking.”

 

In December, Feshareki has more risks planned, working with musician and guitar player Nik Colk Void and Mirza again, to activate the latter’s  installation at Zabludowicz Collection in London. When discussing possibilities for the residency, the conversation comes back around to her British Composer Award for Innovation, and the way her collaborations are part of a focus on reaching out to make conversations happen between people and between scenes: “It’s really important for me to try and raise these new questions, even if I can’t answer them myself,” she says. “With my compositions and with my artistic practice I want to raise new questions, then maybe other artists can answer them, creating new ways of working and new ways of thinking.”

It may be some comfort for all songwriters and composers to know that there are times when even the most successful people in the industry doubt their abilities. For example, Grammy award winning artist Imogen Heap, who has resorted to googling ‘how do I write a song?’ in one of her darkest hours of creative desperation. This was just one of the enlightening nuggets of information uncovered during our inaugural David Ferguson lecture, which also featured musician and artist Goldie, classical composer Roxanna Panufnik and UK Music Chair and Beggars Music owner Andy Heath on a panel discussion.

Dealing with Digital
Of course, if only finding inspiration was the one challenge writers faced in today’s music industry. The crucial question is: how do songwriters and composers thrive following the digital revolution?
Respecting the creator’s value – which appears increasingly compromised in monetary and creative terms – was central to much of the late David Ferguson’s campaigning, whose legacy was honoured throughout the evening. Even before the extent that YouTube and Google would go to exploit creators, David fought against an inequitable practice within the industry – that of film and TV companies blackmailing songwriters and composers into assigning rights of their music, while agreeing on the terms and conditions.
And as David’s wife Silvina Munich and Andy Heath recalled, he fought with uncompromising tenacity on behalf of writers to ensure they received fair recompense for their work. David realised that composers and songwriters are the “most vulnerable and abused” parties in the entire value chain of the music industry – yet at the same time, they create the very foundation upon which that industry is built.
While Andy noted signs of an improving commercial environment – such as an increased appreciation for soundtrack, and channels such as Amazon and Netflix are proving not to be ‘uncompromising bullies’ – he believes the tussle has only just begun.

Publishers that Promote
Frustration remains about the power of companies who retain copyright of an artist without working with the composer to promote their music in a “more imaginative and creative way”.
“If publishers are to benefit from a composer’s work their activity must add value to their career,” argued Andy. “They need to be more focused on creating opportunities for the writer as there are to be no passengers in this climate today – everyone must justify their position in the value chain.”
He noted the many different ways for publishers to support writers – from helping them acquire the fairest record or management deal, to exploring opportunities for sync uses or commissions from orchestral performances.
“The right publisher may not always be the one who offers the highest advance,” he cautioned. “It’s more important to work with people who you can build a decent team and relationship with.” Roxanna agreed that a decent publisher will offer emotional, as well as financial, help in what can be a lonely business for composers.
Goldie reflected on his early career. Back then he embodied a “live for today attitude” that negated the important role of the publisher in protecting copyright, and ultimately the value of his content.
“It was about having the money now, the idea of collecting payment almost seemed uncool,” he said. “I definitely recommend that writers understand their rights regarding copyright because it pays dividends in years to come. Although you might not see its worth in your current contract, you’ll be thankful you protected it in the future. It’s also important to have a decent manager to help you navigate this too.”

Fighting for More
It’s not always easy to “fight for more” in the negotiation stage. Imogen said that songwriters and composers should know that there are other avenues and opportunities for their content. After years of dealing with “complicated housekeeping” Imogen actually stopped releasing music because she wanted to step back and assess where the money was coming from.
However, Andy argues this is only possible when you have ‘leverage’, and that a publisher is valuable before a songwriter or composer’s career is established. He also advises hiring a lawyer before signing anything.

Though Roxanna’s music defies being pigeonholed, the majority of her money is made through commissions. Her streaming royalties remain fairly pitiful – £36 for 6000 downloads to be precise. She highlighted the financial disadvantages that women with children face, which can further reduce their earning potential: “At one point, my childcare cost more than my earnings,” she said. “It was only possible to live because my husband was the sole breadwinner.” Clearly, more needs to be done on a legislative level to support women in this situation.

Collecting Royalties
Where technology has created many opportunities for songwriters to share their work – TuneCore, the Orchard, AWAL and CD Baby are just some of the digital aggregators that offer musicians and songwriters the chance to distribute their music – it’s also complicated the issue of transparency.
As Andy noted, the majority of publishers will pay the proper amounts to songwriters and composers but this is increasingly difficult, especially with the complexities of collecting royalties in the US. He added that although IMPEL (Independent Music Publishers’ E-Licensing) have appointed MCPS (the Mechanical Copyright-Protection Society) to license and administer the online mechanical rights in their Anglo-American repertoire, we need “a global system that’s run by independent publishers, who are able to negotiate with Digital Service Providers”.
Roxanna said that writers must also empower themselves. She said: “Take responsibility – go into PRS’s database and check that you’re registered.”
The panel also acknowledged that money often materialises from the more ‘random’ ventures that their manager or publisher may initially advise against. Imogen wrote the song ‘Hide and Seek’ in 2005 and ignored advice to give it a more formulaic structure. Many of her songs have been used in blockbuster and indie films, but it’s this one that continues to be covered by artists.

 

How to Make Money in Music – Our panel’s top tips:
Imogen Heap – “Keep your promises and finish what you start, as you never know how it could pay off 20 years down the line. If you feel completely overwhelmed with all the tasks you need to complete, start with what you see immediately in front of you.”
Goldie – “Trust that your sculpture already lies within the marble. Believe in the heart of your work and don’t try to process everything all at once.”
Roxanna Panufnik – “Only write what you want to listen to. If you let your personal essence shine through, this will ensure you stand out from the crowd.”
Andy Heath – “Remember to consider how commercially viable your work is and whether or not the structure of your piece satisfies the needs of the audience.”

 

You can watch the panel discussion and Andy Heath’s keynote below:

David’s belief in the power of music to enrich lives was so strong that he bequeathed a vast portion of his estate to BASCA. This has enabled us to set up the BASCA Trust, a charity that raises awareness of songwriting and composing to the wider public and provides grants to talented students in need of financial assistance. Find out more at: bascatrust.org.uk

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