Songwriting success: Members making an impact overseas

Wednesday, 21 Jun 2017

Middle Kids

June 21 is World Music Day – a day to celebrate music and acknowledge its influence. Although every day is music day at APRA AMCOS, today we’re taking the opportunity to recognise the incredible success some of our members are having abroad. But our members aren’t just succeeding as performing artists - behind the scenes, songwriters and producers have been quietly racking up number ones worldwide.

Katy Perry’s latest album, Witness, features collaborations with Australasian songwriters and producers across four tracks - proving that our homegrown talent is keenly sought after for that next career-changing hit.

Hitmaker Sia co-wrote Perry’s Hey Hey Hey and single Chained To the Rhythm, while Déjà vu was co-written by Thomas Stell, aka Golden Features and Hayden James. LA-based Australian production team Twice As Nice also have a writing credit on Save As Draft from Perry’s chart-topping album.


Melbourne 23-year-old Sarah Aarons is another Australian songwriter making an impact overseas – she co-wrote the US Platinum-selling track Stay for Zedd and Alessia Cara. Aarons, who also co-wrote the Cosmo’s Midnight hit History and LDRU’s Keeping Score, was recently touted by The Industry Observer as “fast becoming one of Australia’s most successful songwriter exports.”

Now based in the USA, Aarons is one of many APRA AMCOS members who have relocated overseas to tap into more songwriting opportunities. 2016 APRA Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year Alex Hope (Troye Sivan, Broods), dance chart topper Vassy (Tiesto, David Guetta) and club success JVMIE (Dave Audé) all live in the USA, while Grammy Award and 2017 APRA International Recognition Award winner Samuel Dixon (Adele, Sia) is based in London.

When it comes to writers who perform their own works, APRA AMCOS members are also kicking huge goals. Starley Hope, a member since 2003, has had a raft of success with her single, Call On Me, co-written with NZ producer P-Money. The single first found a keen global ear when added to a Spotify Denmark playlist and then gathered speed on charts around the globe – hitting the top 10 in major territories such as the UK, Sweden and Germany. It’s since had hundreds of millions of streams and Starley has just released new single Touch Me.

Hear Starley discuss the impact of streaming in The Industry Observer's podcast.

Another recent success story has been Sydney band Middle Kids who managed to score a performance slot on Conan and a feature on Elton John’s Beats 1 radio show before they’d even released their EP. 

“I feel Australian artists are resonating so well internationally because they really seem to find a sweet spot with alternative music,” says Middle Kids’ manager, Kurt Bailey of Mirror Music Group.

“That space is very wide, especially in the US. People seem to be relating a lot to honest and heartfelt lyrics, real instruments and also just being really nice people. At least that's what I'm finding and seeing with Middle Kids.” 

Highlighting the strength of our writers across genres are contests like the International Songwriting Competition, where  Australian writers recently took out a record 10 first, second and third places from 70 awards. The 2016 John Lennon Songwriting Contest also featured Australian Grand Prize Winners – Crawford Brothers in the Rock category and Alex Varlow in Gospel - and the inaugural Nashville Film Festival Song Contest Grand Prize was taken out by Drew Southwell (Trove).

APRA AMCOS Director of International, Scot Morris, says the success of members overseas is reflected in the steady increase of revenue coming from abroad.

“Gone are the days of isolated international success stories like AC/DC, INXS and Savage Garden,” says Scot.

“With each monthly distribution of international revenue to songwriters, we’re seeing new names in our top sharers lists and they’re climbing the charts month-on-month.”

APRA AMCOS membership is for the world – we represent our members locally and work with our affiliates overseas to collect and distribute royalties from all around the world. If you’d like to know more about your music being used overseas, please contact your local Writer Services office.

Middle Kids pic by Maclay Heriot.

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