Last week, Crispin Hunt stepped down as chair of UK songwriters body The Ivors Academy, citing his desire not to be ‘bed hogging’. This morning, his replacement has been confirmed: Tom Gray, founder of the Broken Record campaign.
Gray’s appointment follows his election to The Ivors Academy’s 40-strong Senate, which in turn elected him to sit on the organisation’s board, which in turn voted for him to be the body’s new chair.
“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,” said Gray in a statement this morning.
“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.”
Gray’s appointment comes amid a newly-launched market study of the music industry by competition regulator the CMA, as well as a year of government-organised working groups to discuss reforms to the streaming economy.
The queue to be a fly on the wall in those working groups, not to mention the meetings of industry umbrella body UK Music, starts here.
That said, today’s news isn’t a seismic upheaval. The Ivors Academy has been one of the prominent supporters of the Broken Record campaign, which Gray founded in the spring of 2020 as a response to musicians’ complaints about streaming royalties and label contracts.
Hunt was also a vocal backer of Broken Record, while CEO Graham Davies gave evidence to the UK’s recent parliamentary inquiry outlining the body’s concerns about the streaming economy’s impact on songwriters.
Even so, as chair of The Ivors Academy, Gray will face the prospect of working constructively with some of the other industry bodies – notably the BPI – which he has criticised so fiercely over the past couple of years. He addressed this issue directly in his statement.
“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,” he said of the new role.
“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.”
Gray continued: “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.”