Newcomers make a fine showing in the shortlist for this year's APRA Music Awards, nominees for which were announced today (May 27). A record 45 songwriters are tapped for first-time nominations across 21 artists, led by Sydney-based dance crossover act the Potbelleez with three nods.

The Potbelleez' "Don't Hold Back" is up for the most played Australian work category, where four of the five songwriters are first-time nominees. "Don't Hold Back" is also in the running for dance work of the year, along with the Potbelleez' track "Are You With Me?" Both songs are written by David Greene, Ilan Kidron, Jonathan Murphy and Sam Littlemore, and published by MCDJ Music and Universal Music Publishing Pty Ltd.

The 2009 APRA Music Awards, which fete the achievements of the society's songwriters, composers and publisher members, will be held at Melbourne's Peninsula venue on June 23.

One of the more intriguing battles will play out in the coveted song of the year category, which is voted on by up to 30,000 of the society's members. Veteran alternative rocker Nick Cave's "Dig Lazarus Dig" (Mushroom Music) faces off against Kate Miller-Heidke's edgy pop track "Can't Shake It" (written by Miller-Heidke and her husband Keir Nuttall, and published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing Australia Pty Ltd), Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson's self-penned, country-hued "Rattlin' Bones" (Mushroom Music/Universal Music Publishing MGB Australia), Empire of the Sun's psychedelic debut "Walking on a Dream" (written by Nick Littlemore, Jonathan Sloan and Luke Steele, and published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing Australia Pty Ltd) and veteran rockers the Living End's "White Noise" (written by Chris Cheney and published by Universal Music Publishing).

All songs written by an APRA member and released in the preceding calendar year are eligible for consideration.

"I'm so excited," says Jessica Mauboy, who earns a first-time call-up in the urban work of the year category for "Running Back" (written by Mauboy, Audius Mtawarira and Sean Mullins and published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing Australia Pty Ltd, Blind Faith Entertainment Pty Ltd and administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing Australia Pty Ltd.

"I'm just starting to get into the writing of my own music, and the lyrics. I was never much into it," she tells Billboard.biz. "But I've been meeting a lot of musicians and through connecting with them I really believe in that now, and that I can take it to the next level. I'm totally buzzing about getting an APRA nomination. It's a great position and a terrific category."

Eight of the 12 awards handed out on the night are based on statistical analysis. The APRA board of writer and publisher directors decide the songwriter of the year award, the breakthrough songwriter honor, and the Ted Albert award for outstanding services to Australian music.

Subscription TV channel MAX will film the event, and will air an APRA Music Awards special at 8.30pm on July 5.