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Features February 27, 2020

Sarah Aarons, Joel Little and Sia steal the show at inaugural Global APRA Music Awards in LA

Sarah Aarons, Joel Little and Sia steal the show at inaugural Global APRA Music Awards in LA
Ashely Irwin, Colin Hay, Sia

With Sarah Aarons, Joel Little and Sia in attendance, it was fitting to have LA’s Grammy Museum play host to the Australian and New Zealand songwriting industry tonight.

And while the inaugural Global APRA Music Awards ceremony had plenty of the glitz and glam you’d expect at a red carpet music event – especially with Maya Jupiter hosting and performances by Wafia and Kimbra – it was the most quintessential Australian and New Zealand event for one big reason: It’s heart.

During her opening address, APRA Chair Jenny Morris OAM honoured the sheer bravery of songwriters who made the trek to LA to “scratch an itch”.

“You had the fortitude and the drive, and the talent to come this far, to this scary place,” Morris said. “Perhaps you made Los Angeles your home, perhaps it’s where you dropped your bags for extended periods of time. It might be one of many international stops for you. But you came here to scratch an itch, to write songs, to compose music, to pursue one-of-a-kind opportunities. And that’s brave, and bold.

“[…] You’re part of a wave of members who are bringing unique stories to the world.”

Brisbane-born artist Mallrat AKA Grace Shaw recently relocated to LA to live with fellow artists and songwriters Allday and Phebe Starr. When Shaw took out the first award of the evening for Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year, she joined songwriters / producers Leah Haywood (dreamlab) and Louis Schoorl onstage not just to say thank you, but to honour her peers.

“I love all of those nominees so much,” she said pointing to Sarah Aarons and Kito in the second row. “Queens.”

Mallrat released her third EP Driving Music last September, rounding out a banner year which included her U.S. late night television debut, a support tour with Maggie Rogers, and a sold out headline tour of Australia. 2020 sees a continuation of her purple patch with a #3 placing on triple j’s prestigious Hottest 100 countdown for her song ‘Charlie’.

When Emmy Award-winning composer Ashley Irwin took the stage to pay tribute to the Distinguished Services Award recipient, he made sure touch on Colin Hay’s incredible success at home and abroad, both with Men At Work and as a solo songwriter and actor. But things soon took an especially ‘Australian’ turn.

“I’ve been asked to tell a story about Colin Hay,” he teased.

Irwin’s friendship with Hay dates back to 1977 when the pair toured together, but he remembers one particular night quite clearly. “We were invited to a room to watch a movie,” he said. Colin’s audible reaction from the front row could only be described as horrified.

“Let me just say it involved our drummer, his bodybuilding girlfriend, a plush stuffed monkey and a banana. I think you can draw your own conclusions to that one. This was way before Men At Work,” Irwin clarified. “We didn’t see each other for a long time after that – not because of the movie!”

‘Home movie’ anecdotes aside, an unequivocal standout of the night was when Sia took the stage to present Colin Hay with the Distinguished Services Award. Sia rarely attends or even accepts awards (remember the time she got Pete Wentz to accept all her ARIAs?) but last night was a family affair.

Sia grew up with the Men at Work frontman, who is her father’s former bandmate and a close family friend who she grew up referring to as her “Uncle Collie.”

Taking the stage in a white gown, Sia said proceeded to tell her history with Hay. From his inviting her to New York and letting her watch The Late Show With David Letterman, to her (almost) attending the Grammys with him as a 12-year-old, to him being her favourite songwriter of all time, Sia’s speech was full of tears and laughs, both on and offstage.

WATCH: Sia honour Distinguished Services Award recipient Colin Hay

Colin Hay received a standing ovation for his speech. With Sia by his side he said:

“I came here not so much by design, but circumstance. I ran away from Melbourne because I was having a bit of trouble with the drink,” he said candidly.

“[…] I don’t know how distinguished my services have actually been but I don’t think you can overstate the importance of being of service. I think creating music is a beautiful service that helps bind the connective tissue of humanity.”

The Overseas Recognition Award was presented by songwriter, electronic artist and producer VASSY and was awarded to New Zealand’s Joel Little, who at this stage in his career needs no introduction.

For the uninitiated, Joel Little is one of the world’s top songwriters and producers, having co-written on Taylor Swift’s #1 Lover album, and having won a Grammy with Lorde for ‘Royals’ in 2014. Little has collaborated with Jarryd James, Jonas Brothers, Tove Lo, Khalid, and Imagine Dragons, among others.

Joel Little

When APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston took the stage to present trophies to new additions of The 1,000,000,000 List, he ignited another standing ovation from the Clive Davis Theatre; this time for Director of Member Relations Milly Petriella.

“Our company is all about heart and having great people,” he said. “This Billions Award is about recognising people’s achievements but what I want to do is have you come up here, because you are one in a billion.”

Before the shouts of “we love you” came from the back of the theatre, Milly said: “It’s a great honour to work with all of you. I enjoy every minute.”

While the Global APRA Music Awards will head to Nashville (March 1 at Clementine Hall) and London (March 6 at Ham Yard Hotel Soho), the LA Awards offered a little bit extra for local songwriters.

In June last year APRA AMCOS introduced its The 1,000,000,000 List to acknowledge extraordinary success from songwriters who had accumulated over one billion streams globally for an original song. The most recent awardee was 5 Seconds Of Summer, who on a whirlwind trip to Australia stopped by the APRA AMCOS headquarters in Sydney.

Tonight saw Georgi Kay awarded for ‘In My Mind’, Leroy Clampitt and James Wong for ‘Company’, Dann Hume for ‘See You Again’, Sarah Aarons for ‘Stay’ and ‘The Middle’, and Joel Little for his three songs ‘Royals,’ ‘Young Dumb & Broke’ and ‘Whatever It Takes’. Meanwhile nine of Sia’s songs were acknowledged earlier. Full list and credits below.

Damien Trotter, Managing Director of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, said onstage: “[The Billion List is] a great initiative. To Dean, Milly and the whole crew that put this on I think it’s an idea that’s going to be copied by other PROs around the world.”

Melbourne export Sarah Aarons, already a Grammy nominee for Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey’s ‘The Middle’ took out the final award of the night, Songwriter of the Year. The trophy was presented to Aarons by previous APRA Music Award winners and Gotye-collaborators Kimbra and Franc Tetaz.

Aarons had previously won the APRA Songwriter of the Year at the 2019 APRA Music Awards and has just this week announced her next future hit ‘Other Side’ co-written with Max Martin for Justin Timberlake and SZA. The track, out tomorrow, will join a long list of impressive co-writes for acts like John Legend, Hilltop Hoods, Khalid, Jonas Brothers and Ingrid Michaelson.

During her acceptance speech Sarah Aarons said, only half joking: “I’m just trying to be nearly as good at Joel Little.”

Sarah Aarons

Aarons then addressed the songwriters in the room and all those watching the live stream on APRA AMCOS’ Facebook page: “Anyone in this room that’s an APRA member, this is so in your reach.”

Dean Ormston said of the Awards: “Australian and New Zealand songwriters and composers are pushing musical boundaries and attaining incredible goals in a globally competitive environment, with unprecedented results and achievements to their credit.”

“We want to acknowledge that in Los Angeles as well as in Nashville and London, where so many success stories are set, and where many of our members do their work and make a home.”

WATCH: The Live Stream of the Global APRA Music Awards 2020 in LA



Mallrat – Grace Shaw (Writer) | Kobalt Music Publishing obo Dew Process (Publishers)

Presented by Leah Haywood & Louis Schoorl


Joel Little (Writer) | Sony/ATV Music Publishing (Publisher)

Presented by VASSY


Colin Hay

Presented by Sia, Introduced by Ashley Irwin



Sarah Aarons (Writer) | Sony/ATV Music Publishing (Publisher)

Presented by Kimbra & Franc Tetaz

THE 1,000,000,000 LIST – LA HONOUREES

In My Mind (Ivan Gough and Feenixpawl feat. Georgi Kay)

APRA AMCOS member co-writers:

Aden Forte (Peppermintblue Publishing, obo by Universal Music Publishing)

Georgi Kay (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Ivan Gough (Peppermintblue Publishing, obo by Universal Music Publishing)

Josh Soon (Peppermintblue Publishing, obo by Universal Music Publishing)

See You Again (Wiz Khalifa with Charlie Puth)

APRA AMCOS member co-writers:

Dann Hume (Warner Chappell Music Publishing and Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Joshua Hardy (Warner Chappell Music Publishing)

Phoebe Cockburn (Warner Chappell Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Charlie Puth, Cameron Thomaz, Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks

Company (Justin Bieber)

APRA AMCOS member co-writers:

Leroy Clampitt (Native Tongue Music Publishing)

James Wong (Native Tongue Music Publishing)

Additional writers: James Abrahart, Thomas Troelsen, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Andreas Schuller, Justin Bieber

Stay (Zedd, Alessia Cara)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Sarah Aarons (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Linus Wiklund, Anders Froen, Alessia Caracciolo, Anton Zaslavski, Jonnali Parmenius

The Middle (Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Sarah Aarons (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Jordan Johnson, Anton Zaslavski, Kyle Trewartha, Stefan Johnson, Michael Trewartha, Marcus Lomax

Royals (Lorde)

APRA AMCOS member co-writers: Joel Little (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Ella Yelich-O’Connor pka Lorde (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Young Dumb & Broke (Khalid)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Joel Little (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Khalid Robinson, Talay Riley

Whatever It Takes” (Imagine Dragons)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Joel Little (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Dan Reynolds, Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee, Daniel Platzman

Alive (Sia)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Sia (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Adele Adkins, Tobias Jesso Jr

Chained To The Rhythm” (Katy Perry)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Sia (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Ali Payami, Katy Perry, Skip Marley, Max Martin

Chandelier (Sia)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Sia (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Jesse Shatkin

Cheap Thrills (Sia)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Sia (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Greg Kurstin

Diamonds (Rihanna)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Sia (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Benny Blanco, Stargate ( Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen)

Dusk Til Dawn (ZAYN feat. Sia)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Sia (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers:  Zayn Malik, Greg Kurstin, Alexander Oriet, David Phelan

Elastic Heart” (Sia)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Sia (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Diplo, Andrew Swanson

The Greatest” (Sia)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Sia (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Co-writers: Greg Kurstin

Titanium” (David Guetta feat. Sia)

APRA AMCOS member co-writer: Sia (Sony/ATV Music Publishing)

Additional writers: Giorgio Tuinfort, David Guetta, Afrojack

:: Global APRA Music Awards London: Winners

:: Global APRA Music Awards Nashville: Winners

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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