APRA AMCOS’ Professional Development Awards Pave The Way For Artists To Make It Big

13 February 2024 | 5:18 pm | Sam Clancy

What’s better than getting noticed for your talent? Getting cash to fuel your creative plans.


APRA AMCOS PDA Winners (Supplied)

In the early stages of a music career, getting on any kind of ‘ones to watch’ or ‘emerging artists’ list can be a big boost.

But, what’s even better than getting noticed for your talent? Getting cash to fuel your creative plans.

Music rights org APRA AMCOS will announce their 13th class of APRA Professional Development Awards recipients on Thursday 15 February. The list of finalists this year features music creators from across the spectrum of genres and all with some early wins on the board already, including Milan Ring, Ninajirachi, Nathan Bird (Birdz), Babitha, Harvey Sutherland, Becca Hatch and composer Emma Greenhill.

But they have yet to really crack the big time. The $10,000 that each 12 recipients will get deposited into their bank account should help make quite a difference though. What backs up that statement? Well, the proof is in the proverbial pudding when taking a glance at some of the previous PDA winners.

From the popular-contemporary sphere, we’ll start with Gotye, who was part of the 2009 alumni. This followed on from his acclaimed album Like Drawing Blood, but before the release and billions of streams and two Grammys for his #1 worldwide hit Somebody that I Used to Know, which was released in 2011. Since then, he’s stayed creatively busy with his band The Basics, running a record label, and the project Gotye Presents a Tribute to Jean-Jacques Perrey.

Notable alums of the Pop award include Papua New Guinean-Australia artist Ngaiire (2015), who has toured internationally, signed recording and publishing deals, and performed her own symphonic show around Australia. Also, Holy Holy’s Timothy Carrol (2013), Gordi (2017) and Julia Jacklin (2017).

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The PDAs have spotted country talent including Newcastle-native Morgan Evans, who won in 2013, ahead of his debut album and before he headed to Nashville and wrote and released a slew of hits including Day Drunk, Kiss Somebody and Love is Real. His stellar peers in this category include previous winners Fanny Lumsden (2017), Sarah Buckley (2021) and Melanie Dyer (2022).

In 2023, the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Music Office (NATSIMO) introduced a suite of three awards to the following winners: Jem Cassar-Daley in the Youth category, singer-songwriter Yirrmal in General and Senior recipient, funk-rock band leader Andrew Gurruwiwi who hails from Far North Arnhem land. Previous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members to pick up a PDA include hip-hop artist Briggs (2015) and versatile songwriter and composer Brendon Boney (2011).

Pushing boundaries in their respective fields – whilst also blurring genre lines – Fijian -Australian hip-hop rapper JESSWAR picked up a PDA in 2021 and electronic artist/producer Beatrice Lewis in 2019. JESSWAR keeps kicking goals and in 2023 took home the AIR Award for Best Independent Hip Hop Album for their debut Life’s Short, Live Big. Lewis tours the world with Haiku Hands and continues to perform and create with Kardajala Kirridarra.

Screen composers Michael Yezerski (2001) and Caitlin Yeo (2011) have both gone on to make music for an incredible slate of productions across TV, film and streamers and pick up multiple Screen Music Awards. Yezerski is known for The Black Balloon, Cabinet of Curiosities - Pickman's Model and was nominated for a 2023 Emmy for Netflix’ Ivy + Bean: The Ghost That Had to Go. Yeo’s scores for SBS’ New Gold Mountain and True Colours are some of her recent notable works.

Saxophonist Jeremy Rose (2015) is one of Australia’s leading jazz composers and innovators through his Earshift Music record label, Earshift Orchestra and Jeremy Rose Quartet.

What does the future hold of the 2024 winners? We will no doubt see it play out on the stage and on air in the years to come.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sam Clancy is a staff member of APRA AMCOS.