APRA Music Awards: How to hold a major virtual awards show

• Tones And I, Hilltop Hoods, KIAN & Jerome Farah dual APRA winners

The show had to go on and it did. Despite significant challenges brought on by COVID-19, the 2020 APRA Music Awards took place Monday evening, but this year in the global online space as the Virtual APRA Music Awards.

In a shortened version of the usual live, gala event, the awards went ahead to celebrate the talented song writers that have achieved outstanding success in the previous year.

The verdict is in for the biggest peer-voted music award in Australia. APRA members have chosen Dance Monkey by Tones And I as the Peer-Voted APRA Song of the Year. In what can only be described as a phenomenal song writing success story Tones And I is also the 2020 Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year, an honour that is determined by the APRA Board of Writer and Publisher Directors.

Tones and I

Hip-hop trailblazers Hilltop HoodsBarry Francis (DJ Debris), Matthew Lambert (Suffa) and Daniel Smith (Pressure) – have been named Songwriter of the Year. Their album The Great Expanse (released 2019) is a song writing tour de force, chock full of the band’s classic Aussie wit, punchy beats and lyrics that speak to the human experience.

Hilltop Hoods are dual winners for 2020 with Leave Me Lonely taking out the Most Performed Urban Work. They share their honour with co-writer Leigh Ryan aka Plutonic Lab. It’s the second year in a row that Hilltop Hoods have won the Most Performed Urban Work category.

Hilltop Hoods

“We’ve spent our entire lives writing and making music. To be awarded ‘Songwriter of the Year’ by the APRA Board is an absolute honour. We couldn’t be more thrilled or grateful,” said the Hilltop Hoods.

In his first appearance at the APRA Music Awards, seventeen-year-old songwriter KIAN, and co-writer Jerome Farah, received awards for Most Performed Australian Work and Most Performed Alternative Work for their beguiling collaboration Waiting. Hailing from Castlemaine, VIC, KIAN has gone from strength to strength since winning triple j’s Unearthed High competition in 2018, with Waiting reaching number 20 on triple j’s 2019 Hottest 100 and achieving double platinum status. Songwriter and producer Jerome was a dual APRA nominee in 2019 for his work with Baker Boy. Jerome and KIAN have joined creative forces again on KIAN’s new single Every Hour.

Taking out the Most Performed Country Work in back-to-back years was country pop crossover songwriter Morgan Evans, for his feel-good song Young Again. John Butler received his 6th career APRA Music Award for Just Call in the category of Most Performed Blues & Roots Work.

John Butler and Mama Kin

Winning their first ever APRA Award, for Most Performed Dance Work, were all-star co-writers Hayden James, Matthew Kopp (who performs as Running Touch, and is the featured vocalist on the track), Jack Glass (Bag Raiders), and Cassian Stewart-Kasimba (Cassian), who earned themselves the honour for Better Together.

Dean Lewis took out the Most Performed Pop Work for the emotional 7 Minutes, while Troy Cassar-Daley’s powerful anthem Shutting Down Our Town, (performed by Jimmy Barnes featuring Troy Cassar-Daley) has scored a gong for Most Performed Rock Work. Troy was inspired to write the song after reading Jimmy Barnes’ memoir Working Class Boy, where Jimmy writes about growing up in Elizabeth, SA and the impact of the closure of the Holden car factory.

For the third consecutive year, Sia (along with co-writer Greg Kurstin) took out the Most Performed Australian Work Overseas for Cheap Thrills.

Meredith Music Festival was earlier named Licensee of the Year for their excellent music citizenship, and Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s duet Shallow was previously announced as the Most Performed International Work.

The 2020 Virtual APRA Music Awards were hosted by APRA AMCOS Ambassador and previous Songwriter of the Year honouree Briggs. Musical Director Kate Miller-Heidke worked her magic curating the music performances remotely. The virtual awards featured stellar performances of artists taking on each of the five Song of the Year compositions. John Butler and Mama Kin performed a joyful rendition of Guy Sebastian’s Choir, Kira Puru and Mo’Ju teamed up for their interpretation of Thelma Plum and Alexander Burnett’s Better in Blak. Folk troubadour William Crighton put his spin on 5 Seconds of Summer’s Teeth, while Los Angeles-based Nikka Costa and Justin Stanley performed The Teskey BrothersI Get Up. From New York City, The Dawn of MAY delivered her mesmerising interpretation of the Peer-Voted APRA Song of the Year Dance Monkey.

You can re-watch the 2020 Virtual APRA Music Awards here until Wednesday 24 June.

The 2020 APRA Music Awards nominees and subsequent winners are determined by performance activity as reflected by earnings between 1st July 2018 to 30th September 2019.


Peer-Voted APRA Song of the Year Title: Dance Monkey
Artist: Tones And I
Writer: Toni Watson
Publishers: Kobalt Music Publishing obo Tones and I

Songwriter of the Year
Hilltop Hoods

Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year
Writer: Toni Watson pka Tones And I
Publishers: Kobalt Music Publishing obo Tones And I

Most Performed Australian Work
Title: Waiting
Artist: KIAN
Writers: Kian Brownfield / Jerome Farah*
Publishers: Kobalt Music Publishing obo KB Recording / Mushroom Music*

Most Performed Alternative Work
Title: Waiting
Artist: KIAN
Writers: Kian Brownfield / Jerome Farah*
Publishers: Kobalt Music Publishing obo KB Recording / Mushroom Music*

Most Performed Blues & Roots Work Title: Just Call
Artist: John Butler Trio
Writer: John Butler
Publishers: Downtown Music Publishing obo Family Music

Most Performed Country Work
Title: Young Again
Artist: Morgan Evans
Writers: Morgan Evans / Chris DeStefano* / Joshua Kear^
Publishers: Warner Chappell Music / Sony/ATV Music Publishing* / Downtown Music Publishing^

Most Performed Dance Work
Title: Better Together
Artist: Hayden James feat. Running Touch
Writers: Hayden James* / Matthew Kopp^ / Jack Glass+ / Cassian Stewart-Kasimba
Publishers: Kobalt Music Publishing obo Future Classic* / BMG Rights Management^ / Universal Music Publishing+

Most Performed Pop Work
Title: 7 Minutes
Artist: Dean Lewis
Writers: Dean Lewis / Nicholas Atkinson* / Edward Holloway*
Publishers: Kobalt Music Publishing obo Specific Music / BMG Rights Management*

Most Performed Rock Work
Title: Shutting Down Our Town
Artist: Jimmy Barnes ft Troy Cassar-Daley Writer: Troy Cassar-Daley
Publisher: Mushroom Music

Most Performed Urban Work
Title: Leave Me Lonely
Artist: Hilltop Hoods
Writers: Barry Francis (DJ Debris) / Matthew Lambert (Suffa) / Daniel Smith (Pressure) / Leigh Ryan* / Richard Berry^
Publishers: Sony/ATV Music Publishing / Native Tongue Music Publishing* / Campbell Connelly^

Most Performed Australian Work Overseas
Title: Cheap Thrills
Artist: Sia
Writers: Sia Furler / Greg Kurstin*
Publishers: Sony/ATV Music Publishing / Sony/ATV Music Publishing obo Kurstin Music*

Most Performed International Work
Title: Shallow
Artist: Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
Writers: Stefani Germanotta*^ / Mark Ronson*+ / Anthony Rossomando*> / Andrew Wyatt*>
Publishers: Universal/MCA Music Publishing* / Sony/ATV Music Publishing^ / Native Tongue Music Publishing+ / Downtown Music Publishing>

Licensee of The Year
Meredith Music Festival

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