PRS for Music celebrates songwriters and composers in support of #WouldHaveBeenTheIvors

Above: Ivor Novello Award winners. Credit: The Ivors Academy/Mark Allen

PRS for Music, the organisation that represents the rights of over 145,500 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and worldwide is today supporting The Ivors Academy’s #WouldHaveBeenTheIvors campaign, by looking back at the glittering list of songwriting royalty who have won PRS for Music-supported Ivor Novello Award categories over the past three decades.

Critically acclaimed songwriters and composers from Stephen Sondheim to Lionel Richie, to Kate Bush, Madonna and Ed Sheeran have all won Ivor Novello Awards, the highest accolade in songwriting and screen composition. The only prize to be judged exclusively by fellow music creators and presented by The Ivors Academy, the awards are the pinnacle in the careers of many in the songwriting and composing field.

Between 1991 and 2019, PRS for Music contributed to and supported three prestigious Ivor Novello Award categories, the PRS for Music award for: Most Performed Work; Outstanding Contribution to British Music; and Special International Award.

Andy Bell and Vince Clarke won the first PRS for Music Most Performed Work Award for Erasure classic, Blue Savannah, released in 1990. While Kenney Jones, Ronnie Lane, Steve Marriott and Ian McLagan were the first to take home the PRS for Music Outstanding Contribution to British Music award as The Small Faces in 1996, and Hal David won the inaugural Special International Award in 1999.

Gary Barlow is the only songwriter to have won three PRS for Music-supported Ivor Novello awards, spanning three decades, for his widely celebrated work with Take That. He has received the Most Performed Work award twice, for Back for Good in 1996 and Shine in 2008, and he received the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award in 2012 alongside his Take That band mates Robbie Williams, Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Jason Orange.

Other songwriters and composers who have won the PRS for Music Most Performed Work Award more than once include Cathy Dennis for her work on Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head in 2002 and Britney Spears’ Toxic in 2005, William Orbit for his work on Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger in 2000 and All Saints’ Pure Shores in 2001, and Fred Fairbrass, Richard Fairbrass and Robert Manzoli for the Right Said Fred hits I’m Too Sexy in 1992 and Deeply Dippy in 1993.

Robbie Williams is the only songwriter to have won awards both as a solo artist and as part of a group, winning the PRS for Music Most Performed Work Award (1998) for Angels in 1999 and the PRS for Music Outstanding Contribution to British Music in 2012 with Take That.

The PRS for Music Special International Award is the only Ivor Novello Award independently presented to an international writer, recognising those whose work has left an indelible mark on British music. Winners have included Stevie Wonder (2001), Brian Wilson (2003), Quincy Jones (2007), Diane Warren (2008), Nile Rodgers (2014), Mariah Carey (2019) and the legendary Bill Withers (2017), who sadly passed away in April this year.

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I don’t have any particular technique. I don’t know an F-sharp from Ninth Street. I don’t want to know. That wasn’t my approach. I only need to be musical enough to make a package to wrap my poetry.

Bill Withers speaking to PRS for Music's M magazine about his songwriting in 2017

To date, over 130 individual songwriters and composers have received a total of 141 PRS for Music supported Ivor Novello Awards. Of these awards, only 15 have been awarded to women, with awards going to Adele, Chrissie Hynde, Anne Dudley, Shaznay Lewis, Lily Allen, Emeli Sandé and more.  

PRS for Music has had a long-established relationship with The Ivors since its inception in 1956. Named after composer and PRS member, Ivor Novello, the accolade continues to shine a light on outstanding songwriting and composition to this day. This relationship continues in 2020 with PRS for Music returning as the title sponsor of the PRS for Music Most Performed Work Award and the PRS for Music Icon Award (previously named Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award). Nominees for the PRS for Music Most Performed Work 2019 will be announced on Monday 20 July.

Ivor Novello Award winners are traditionally announced in May, but due to Covid-19, will be announced on 2 September this year.

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Although we can’t come together to congratulate the nominees, let’s use this day to remember the fantastic creative talent that drives our industry and look forward to honouring the winners when they are announced on 2 September. Let’s stand together for songwriters, composers and publishers, all of whom are admired and respected the world over.

Andrea C. Martin, CEO, PRS for Music

About PRS for Music

PRS for Music represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and around the world. As a membership organisation it works to ensure that creators are paid whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. In 2019, 18.8 trillion performances of music were reported to PRS for Music with £810.8m collected on behalf of its members, making it one of the world’s leading music collective management organisations.

PRS for Music’s public performance licensing is now carried out on PRS for Music’s behalf by PPL PRS Ltd, the new joint venture between PPL and PRS for Music.

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