The 2023 Ivor Novello Awards will contain a "number of firsts" according to CEO Graham Davies.
The ceremony, which takes place on May 18, will recognise outstanding songwriters and composers across nine categories. Harry Styles, Kid Harpoon, Cleopatra Nikolic (Cleo Sol) and Dean “Inflo” Josiah Cover lead this year’s nominations with three nods each.
Amazon Music has replaced Apple Music as the new title sponsor in a collaboration designed to "amplify and scale the awards’ recognition and celebration of songwriters globally".
"For The Ivors 2023, we have a number of firsts," Ivors Academy chief Davies told Music Week. "Obviously we have a new sponsor with Amazon Music, and that's a global sponsorship. One of the step changes was to get Apple Music as the sponsor to move the Ivors away from being something that was very much a behind-closed-doors industry lunch.
"The journey that we've been on and the Apple Music partnership was important to that in terms of relevance. And now the Amazon Music sponsorship is equally about how we stay relevant. Our new five-year strategy is global recognition of writers. The Ivors are absolutely valued very, very highly by those that receive them. But we need to grow that recognition in a much bigger way."
For us, it’s about using the awards as a platform to increase engagement in the songwriting profession
Speaking in the latest issue of Music Week, he said: “We're looking at how we get as much engagement from the industry as we can, of course, but also the public, because if people know about the awards, they also then know about the writers. So for us, it’s about using the awards as a platform to increase engagement in the songwriting profession.”
Another first saw one of the award winners announced in advance of the ceremony, with Sting revealed as the latest songwriter to become an Ivors Academy Fellow.
"It was absolutely amazing to be able to announce that Sting will be picking up the Ivors Academy Fellowship," said Graham Davies. “Sting's global achievements are unbelievable. He is a huge internationally recognised artist. And I think ‘artist’ in the broadest sense - Sting's creative output has been incredibly diverse and across many art forms. But his songwriting is something that stands out incredibly strongly, has been incredibly influential and has been a fantastic advocate and spokesperson for UK songwriters."
Sting, who has sold more than 100 million albums throughout his career with The Police and as a solo artist, has already won seven Ivor Novellos including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.
“His music has spanned multiple genres, styles, collaborations, and has been relevant and current in every decade, so he's a hugely important person to our community,” added Davies.
Lauren Laverne is filling some very well worn shoes in Paul Gambaccini, who has hosted the awards since 1988
Sting will become the 23rd Fellow that the Academy has inducted in its 79-year history, joining a roster of songwriters also including the likes of Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Joan Armatrading and last year's recipient Peter Gabriel.
This year's Ivors will also feature a new host, with Lauren Laverne succeeding the long-serving Paul Gambaccini in the role.
“She’s filling some very well worn shoes in Paul Gambaccini, who has hosted the awards since 1988, so we're very much looking forward to that," noted Davies. "The other key development is that we will be having some live performances. Now that's not a first because, for those Ivors aficionados, there were some live performances in the past, but many, many years ago. So that's a new development for us as well."
Nominees in the prestigious Songwriter Of The Year category are: Florence Welch (Florence + the Machine), Harry Styles & Kid Harpoon, Rhian Teasdale & Hester Chambers (Wet Leg), George Daniel & Matty Healy (The 1975) and Central Cee & Young Chencs.
The Ivors, which were first presented in 1956, introduced the Rising Star Award in 2020, which has been won by female artists every year since its inception, with Mysie, Willow Kayne and most recently Naomi Kimpenu taking the honour.
There was this space in terms of songwriters who are not yet fully established
“It was definitely a gap in our award-giving,” said Davies. “[An artist of] any age can pick up an Ivor in terms of the main categories. But what we reflected on is that there was this space in terms of songwriters who are not yet fully established. And we opened that out so anyone could enter. Up until then, the Ivors had been limited somewhat to mainly industry invitations."
Amazon Music will integrate this year’s Rising Star nominees - Cat Burns, Ines Dunn, Tendai, Venbee and Victoria Canal - into its global developing artist programme Breakthrough, which provides long-term, customised global plans for emerging artists during crucial moments in their careers.
“We are looking now, post-Covid, to give development opportunities to those that get nominated for this award, so that there is more to it than just having that highlighting moment and hopefully it's the springboard to the next step in their career,” added Davies.
See the full list of Ivors 2023 nominees here. Click here to read our exclusive digital cover with Sting.
Subscribers can read our interview with Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies.