During the 65th annual BMI Pop Awards on Tuesday night, Barry Manilow received the BMI Icon Award, Ross Golan and Justin Tranter tied for songwriter of the year honors, Shawn Mendes’ hit “Stitches” was named song of the year, and Warner/Chappell Publishing Corp. was crowned publisher of the year.
But arguably one of the evening’s biggest takeaways was Tranter’s entreaty to the industry audience to foster more diversity within the songwriter ranks. “I’m an activist, so I can’t be near a microphone without doing some sort of activism,” he began. “Everyone in this room: Put more LGBTQ people in your sessions, please.” Amid loud cheering and applause, the openly gay songwriter added, “Also, Julia Michaels [his writing partner] is a Latina. Put more women and put more women of color in your sessions and do it now!”
Upon accepting his award, Manilow joined such previous BMI Icon honorees as Nile Rodgers, Stevie Nicks, Paul Simon and Carole King. In addition to charting such hits as “Mandy,” “Can’t Smile Without You” and “Looks Like We Made It,” the Grammy-, Emmy- and Tony Award-winning artist also penned memorable commercial jingles for McDonald’s, Band-Aid and Dr. Pepper, among other brands. He recently logged his 26th top 40-charting album on the Billboard 200 with This Is My Town: Songs of New York and made headlines for opening about being gay and his secret marriage to manager Garry Kief in 2014.
“I’m so honored to receive this award,” said Manilow, who also congratulated all the songwriters in the room. “Even though I love producing, arranging and performing, my heart is in composing music -- and you guys know what I’m talking about.”
Warner/Chappell, the publishing home of Tranter and Golan, scored 17 of BMI’s 50 most-performed pop songs of the year. Among those 17 songs: “Sorry,” “Cake by the Ocean,” “Dangerous Woman” and “We Don’t Talk Anymore.” In a statement released following the awards, Warner/Chappell Music chairman/CEO Jon Platt said, “Warner/Chappell is built around putting songwriters first in everything we do, and being recognized as Publisher of the Year is a tremendous honor and confirmation of our efforts.”
Golan and Tranter each scored four of the most-performed pop songs to tie for songwriter of the year. Golan’s credits include “Dangerous Woman,” “Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah),” “My House” and “Same Old Love”; Tranter’s credits include “Cake by the Ocean,” “Close,” “Hands to Myself” and “Sorry.” Song of the year honoree “Stitches,” recorded by Shawn Mendes, was written by Teddy Geiger, D.J. Kyriakides and Danny Parker.
BMI president/CEO Mike O’Neill and BMI VP of writer/publisher relations Barbara Cane hosted the pop awards at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. The complete list of winners is available at BMI.com.