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Award Access Guidelines

Our Award Access Guidelines have been published as part of the Academy’s commitments to championing equality, diversity and inclusion. They set out our approach to making sure that our awards are accessible and identify how we are removing barriers to entry. The Academy also publishes rules and guidelines for our presentation of Ivor Novello Awards at The Ivors and The Ivors Composer Awards.

Our thanks go to Sound and Music for publishing their Fair Access Principles, which have been used as the basis for our approach.

We welcome feedback, perspectives and comments about the Academy’s work in this area. Please send comments to the Academy awards team at awards@ivorsacademy.com 


  • Entries are free or the fee is reduced to music creators who are members of The Ivors Academy and there is financial assistance for those with a financial barrier to joining

The Ivors Academy is a not-for-profit membership organisation. We are funded by our members with additional income from awards, royalties and subsidies. We manage our finances carefully to make sure that we provide value for money to our members.

The Academy offers a tiered discount for Standard and Professional members to enter works for The Ivors and The Ivors Composer Awards. There are bursaries available for music creators who need financial assistance to join the Academy. If a music creator decides not to join the Academy they would pay an administration fee to enter, which has been kept as low as possible.

  • Entries are regardless of educational level, qualification or background

The Academy makes awards based on musical achievement and contribution to the industry regardless of education, qualification, background or difference.

The Rising Star Award has an age limit of under 25. This award deliberately provides recognition of emerging talent amongst younger creators. This award forms part of initiatives to actively encourage younger music creators to join the Academy which includes our Under 25 discounted membership, Youth Network and Youth Council.

  • The Ivors and The Ivors Composer Awards are annual celebrations of excellence

The Academy presents awards annually to songwriters, composers and industry representatives. Through our awards we recognise excellence in songwriting and composition from the previous year whether of commercial recording release or live concert performance.

The use of an annual time-limit is on the release and performance. The use of this time-limit is essential for the relevance of the awards, with deadlines for entries not having changed for many years.

  • Support is available for entrants when applying

We regularly review our communications, information and processes to ensure that no music creator is disadvantaged by an application process or feels excluded if they ask for an alternative method to enter an award.

We have a dedicated awards team who are available to assist any music creator, publisher or representative seeking to enter works for our awards. We are open to all comments and feedback about how these process and communications work to help us review and improve.

Where we do not have an open call for entries, particularly in the awarding of Gift of the Academy awards, instead we encourage those interested to send recommendations for consideration to awards@ivorsacademy.com.

  • Entry timescales are realistic

We have run our awards for many years with well-established dates for when entries open and close. This is to help many in the community to plan and prepare for the entry process.

All calls for entries are open for a minimum of six weeks.

We strictly adhere to published deadlines to ensure our awards are fair and consistent to all award entrants. We will extend our entry deadlines, for all, if we receive feedback that there has not been enough notice, there are circumstances causes issues for all entrants or other relevant concerns.

  • Named points of contact for entrants

As well as a dedicated awards@ivorsacademy.com team email address, our awards team names and job titles are published on our website and all direct communications with entrants are from individuals in the team.


  • Our judging process is open and transparent

Details of the award criteria, rules and guidelines are published on the Academy website and updated each year. Our judging processes and panels are overseen by an independent adjudicator to make sure we follow the published rules.

Details about the judges are published each year when the winners are announced.

  • Anonymised judging of works and non-anonymised judging of individuals

Our awards cover a range of criteria which seek to recognise excellence in different categories. Where the award recognises an individual’s potential and ambition – or is for an outstanding contribution to music or body of work – the Academy and our Committees consider the diversity and backgrounds of the potential recipients.

For awards recognising musical work, we operate an anonymisation policy which asks judges to avoid finding out who is the writer of the works being considered, and all attributable information is removed from the materials presented to the judges. While judges may be able to identify the writer from the scores or recordings provided, they are asked to set this aside as much as possible to judge the work, not the individual.

This policy was introduced following the 2015 Graham Devlin Review of the Composer Awards, which followed consultation composers and songwriters. We have seen positive trends towards increasing diversity of award nominees and winners since adoption of this policy, which points to it being a positive step to awards equality. This policy is reviewed annually by our creator-led awards Committees and continues to have strong support.

  • Inclusive and representative judging panels

The Academy is committed to striving for inclusive, representative and respected panels. As part of our 2020-2022 twelve-point equality, diversity and inclusion action plan, we aim for all panels to include a 50% gender balance, 30% Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation, 10% creators with disabilities, involvement of a minimum of one person aged under 25 and avoidance of London-centric representation.

  • Rotation of judging panels

The Academy annually reviews and appoints members of judging panels to facilitate regular rotation. The judges on our panels change each year.

  • Expenses

Where judges are expected to attend physical meetings the cost of travel and expenses is covered. Currently judging meetings are held virtually to reduce the time and cost of travel.

We ask judges to volunteer their time. From 2021 we plan to offer financial assistance on a case-by-case basis if finances are a barrier to entry.


  • Remaining flexible around participation

The Academy seeks to enable as many songwriters, composers and representatives to participate through our awards as possible. The Academy seeks to adjust and remain flexible to deliver on this aim.

  • Feedback to entrants

Individual feedback to entrants is not possible. We receive hundreds of entries each year and to provide feedback on each entry would place unsustainable administrative and time pressures on the organisation, the judges and Committee members.

We believe that providing feedback would undermine participation of our judges, who are peers of the entrants. They participate on a strictly confidential basis, and to provide detailed feedback would undermine the basis on which our awards are given.

  • Respond flexibly to remove barriers to access, with an open and approachable mind-set

We aim to constantly listen and learn to improve our processes. We welcome and actively encourage feedback, perspectives and suggestions. Comments should be sent to awards@ivorsacademy.com.

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