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The 2019 Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition Is Now Open

Gretta Ray
Emma McEvoy

Gretta Ray

Got a great song? The Vanda & Young Global Songwriting Competition wants you.

Songwriters from around the world are invited to enter the annual contest, which opened today and carries a cash prize of A$50,000 ($35,000) for the first-place winner.   

The prize takes its name from the legendary songwriters and founding members of The Easybeats, Harry Vanda and the late George Young, and has been dominated in recent years by female songwriters, including Kimbra (2011), The Preatures' Isabella Manfredi (2013) Gretta Ray (2016) and last year’s recipient, Amy Shark.   

An all-time high 4,056 entries were submitted last time from 3,296 songwriters in 30 countries, with Shark going on to snag the bounty, courtesy of APRA AMCOS, Alberts and BMG. The runners-up are also winners, with second place taking home $A10,000 ($7,000) thanks to AMPAL (Australasian Music Publishers Association) and third place scoring A$5,000 ($3,500).

Gretta Ray wasn’t on a stage, or in the studio when she learnt of her win three years ago. But she was, nevertheless, honing her craft. “I wasn’t touring. I was in the thick of high school exams,” recounts Ray, who was just 18 at the time.

“I’d chosen a range of subjects that would help with my music and writing, so I was trying to focus on school at that point.”

She got the call from APRA. Her song “Drive” beat out thousands of hopefuls, and the official presentation was set to take place in Sydney the next day. But a flight up from Melbourne proved tricky. “I told them, ‘I would but I had to sit an exam an English exam.’ I had a moment, it was a lovely problem to have, a really good problem presented to me.” Ray completed the exam, and was pleased with her result. She flew to Sydney the day after to collect her prize and the cash, considered the biggest sum for a songwriting contest anywhere on the planet.

Competition applicants pay an entry fee of A$50 per submission, with all money raised going to Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia programs. More than A$1 million has been raised to date.

A 64-member music industry judging panel will pour over the entries, which close late on April 12, 2019. Visit apraamcos.com.au/vandayoungsongcomp for more.