Tom Gray, composer, musician and campaigner, has been elected as the new chair of the Ivors Academy by the board.
The Academy is the UK’s professional association for songwriters and composers. Tom Gray, a member of Mercury Prize-winning band Gomez, follows Crispin Hunt, who stepped down last week after five years at the helm.
In a statement, Tom Gray described the appointment as “extraordinary and humbling”.
“In this moment, songwriters and composers feel the need for strong advocacy and representation,” he said. “The Academy’s excellent campaigning has been a source of hope for many. We are a brilliant and joyful community who wish to be our better selves without any grievance, but these are challenging times.”
As leader of the #BrokenRecord campaign which has called for reform of the music industry, Tom Gray has been a key player in the debate about the streaming economy, particularly during the DCMS Committee inquiry.
Gray has run #BrokenRecord, alongside the Academy’s #FixStreaming campaign, which raised the profile of arguments about reform of the streaming market.
We are central to this industry and my intention is merely to put our interests there too
The appointment of the chair follows a series of reforms at the Ivors Academy, which has announced the creation of a diverse members’ senate and an equally diverse board. These appointments result from the strategy launched in 2019 under a rebrand of the organisation to raise the voice of music creators, increase the profile of the Ivors awards, increase charitable support for music makers and grow the membership.
Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies said: “Congratulations to Tom on becoming the new chair. The reputation of the Ivors Academy as the leading advocates for songwriters and composers is growing. Tom is one of the most vocal champions of music and we look forward to working with him in this new role.”
Tom Gray’s full statement
“The Ivors Academy represents British songwriters and composers: their challenges, their rights and, significantly, their successes. To become chair is extraordinary and humbling, and the weight of the role does not come without some anxiety. However, I know why I have been elected and I intend to do what is expected of me.
“In this moment, songwriters and composers feel the need for strong advocacy and representation. The Academy’s excellent campaigning has been a source of hope for many. We are a brilliant and joyful community who wish to be our better selves without any grievance, but these are challenging times.
“We are a fully democratic organisation. To arrive in my new position, I was first elected by the membership to our new Senate. Those 40 creators - from every imaginable musical background - elected me to the most diverse board we have ever had, who, in turn, made me their chair. I cannot overstate the gravity and privilege of this mandate. It feels both a gift and a burden, albeit a beautiful one. A gift to support, champion and reward the brilliance of music-makers, a burden because I want to do nothing but my best for our community. Also, because I suspect there may be some uneasiness at my election, and we should face that head on. Reform is never easy. It isn’t comfortable and is always challenging, but it makes things better.
“Nevertheless, I have no desire for this wonderful, venerable organisation to be treated as an outsider. We are not an angry rabble; we will remain your friends. Critical friends of the issues facing creators but, more fundamentally and always, critical to the process of making music. We are central to this industry and my intention is merely to put our interests there too. I believe Crispin Hunt, our outgoing chair, has done an incredible job in moving the Academy onto this footing and inspiring a reformed association where a comprehensive boy from Merseyside can now be its chair.
“I look forward to working closely with the Academy’s dedicated staff, not least because our awards are so meaningful to creators and equally so to our partners whom I warmly hope to celebrate with. Where we might not always benefit in more practical ways, the recognition of our peers can prove a sincere motivation to keep striving; to make something beautiful; to get up in the morning and, once again, invest in our work. I am a working songwriter and composer. I am your advocate and your friend. I come from a background where directness and honesty are what make families stronger and, with me as your chair, I believe we will be.”
PHOTO: Kenny McKracken