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Looking back at 2021

Graham Davies, Chief Executive of The Ivors Academy and Trust, reflects on progress to champion, support and represent the UK’s songwriters and composers.

Cleveland Watkiss and Julian Joseph at The Ivors Composer Awards 2021

Creative recovery must be at the centre of pandemic recovery

Looking back over the past twelve months it is clear how hard many music creators have been hit by the pandemic, and how The Ivors Academy and Trust continues to step up in these challenging times.

Figures from UK Music illustrate what’s happened to music creators since Covid struck. In 2019 music creators provided half of the music industry’s £5.8 billion contribution to the economy. That is more than the labels, publishers and live music combined. In 2020 music creators’ revenues fell by nearly 60% compared to the year before, and at the same time the music industry’s economic value to the UK halved. As songwriters and composers, you don’t only originate the ideas that lead to all the amazing music we enjoy, you significantly contribute to our economy, culture and wellbeing.

And while we’ve seen recovery, it’s all too fragile. Creators should be at the centre of pandemic recovery because our music industry is the best in the world, our music powers the UK economy like few other sectors and the pandemic has shown how vital music is to the health and wellbeing of our society. So, our mission is to be the strong, supportive and representative Academy our industry needs. Our progress to date gives us confidence and momentum toward this aim.

Creating new opportunities

Supporting creators to start, develop or rebuild their careers is the purpose of our Trust which we re-launched this year with a new group of Trustees. The Trust has worked with a range of amazing organisations to open-up opportunities through artist residencies, bursaries to join the Academy, creative development programmes and we’re aiming to establish over 100 mentoring relationships.

The Trust relies on donations, grants and corporate support. So, please think about making a donation, it will make a real difference to songwriters and composers that need our support.

Becoming truly representative

To be a force for positive change we need to represent the UK’s music creators and forge ahead with a progressive agenda to help create a fairer and more ethical music industry. This year we’ve taken more strides towards that goal. We have exceeded all of our diversity targets, across gender, ethnicity, disability, LGBTQI, age and location. We now have one of the most diverse Boards and Senate in the music industry.

Our first annual gender and ethnicity pay gap report identified that there is more we can do to recruit, develop and support a diverse workforce, which we are committed to doing this.

Members overwhelmingly voted in favour of a new governance structure, which has greatly helped increase representation across backgrounds, identities and genres. Our message is clear to everyone that creates music in the UK – The Ivors Academy is here for you. Join and be part of your community.

This year it was important that we launched a new joint membership offer with the Musicians’ Union to provide more support, networks, benefits and representation at a 25% discounted rate. It’s open to existing and new members of both the Academy and MU, so take a look.

Campaigning for your rights

In partnership with the MU and music creators we have campaigned hard for your rights. This year our Fix Streaming campaign with #BrokenRecord has made huge progress.

Earlier this month during a debate in Parliament of the Brennan Bill, Ministers and MPs recognised that music creators deserve fairer pay from streaming and said they want to see industry reform. If the music industry cannot reform itself, then Ministers stated that legislation would be considered. So, change is coming, and The Ivors Academy working with music makers has played a big part to get us to this point.

The Brennan Bill was based on the DCMS Select Committee’s landmark inquiry intro streaming, which called for a ‘complete re-set’. We campaigned for the inquiry and made sure that we and many music makers were heard by the committee.

Our strength comes from your voice, and we’re proud that creators have been at the forefront of our Fix Streaming campaign. From Academy Fellow Joan Armatrading speaking to MPs, to Member Senators Fiona Bevan and Tom Gray giving evidence to the Select Committee, Senator Rebecca Ferguson rallying support from MPs in front of Parliaments, to thousands of music makers signing our petitions and hundreds submitting evidence to the Select Committee – we’ve stood together and been heard.

MPs and songwriters in front of Parliament

Looking ahead, we’re pleased that the Government agreed with one of our key asks and referred the case for a market study into the economic dominance of the major music groups to the Competition and Markets Authority, who are carrying this out.

The Government want more research on some of the issues that the campaign raised, and we are part of industry groups the Government have established to look at issues including data and contract transparency. As part of this research, we supported the Intellectual Property Office’s landmark study into music creators’ earnings in the digital era.

For some time we have raised issues with data that lead to royalties from streaming being misallocated or unallocated, and this year we revealed that £500 million a year globally does not go to the correct rights holders. To address this, Björn Ulvaeus launched our joint campaign with The Music Rights Awareness Foundation, Credits Due, at The Ivors with Apple Music. The campaign calls for accurate song data to be attached to recordings at the point of creation, and we’re working with studios internationally to do this.

Bjorn Ulvaeus and Fiona Bevan

In 2021 we launched our Composers Against Buyouts campaign with the MU, to oppose coercive contract practices experienced by media composers and promote the importance of royalties. This campaign will continue into 2022 as we work with broadcasters to push for better terms and improved commissioning standards. This year we also ran the #PaySongwriters campaign, which called for songwriters to be paid a per diem rate of £75 plus 4 points on the master from the label share. The campaign drew support from independent labels and music groups, and major songwriters from the US and UK.

Celebrating craft

After a year away, The Ivors with Apple Music and The Ivors Composer Awards came roaring back, celebrating and incredible range of achievements in songwriting and composing. This year we presented 36 Ivor Novello Awards, each one presented by music creators, musicians and performers to their peers. We recognised emerging talent, lifelong achievements, outstanding collections of work, innovation, inspiration and talent.

Lianne La Havas with Best Album at the The Ivors 2021 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London 21/09/2021

We took steps to increase participation in our awards – for the first time in 20 years Academy members could vote for Songwriter of the Year, the chart requirement was removed from song and album categories at The Ivors, and to recognise the impact of the pandemic we broadened the definition of a premiere to include recordings and livestream performances for The Ivors Composer Awards.

Yazz Ahmed presents the Sound Art Award to Caroline Kraabel at The Ivors Composer Awards in the British Museum on Wednesday 8 December 2021

Ivor Novello Awards uniquely celebrate the craft of songwriting and composing, and this year we increased that celebration by holding the first Ivors Week. As well as bringing members, industry and award winners together Professor Brian Cox, Brian Eno, Hannah Peel and Dr Tamsin Edwards joined us for the David Ferguson lecture to explore the music industry’s role within the climate change emergency.

2021 has shown that there has never been a greater need for a strong, representative, supportive and progressive Academy. I believe that we are meeting that need head-on and we’re determined to keep making progress in 2022 to support you, our world-class songwriters and composers.

Thank you to all our members, supporters and partners.

If you’re not yet involved, please join and make a donation to our charitable Trust.


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